LATEST NEWS

AGC Joins Effort to End Surprise Medical Bills

Surprise medical billing is a growing issue where patients face unexpected charges after they receive medical care. Despite the partisanship in Washington, there are growing bipartisan calls in Congress and by President Trump to end surprise billing, making it one of the few potential legislative accomplishments this Congress. On June 5, AGC joined a broad group of organizations in a urging Senate leaders to prioritize needed reforms to resolve surprise medical billing. AGC supports a legislative solution because surprise bills can create hardship for employees’ financial well-being and lost productivity fighting the bills.

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AGC’s Kevin Cannon Appointed Chairman of OSHA Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health

The U.S. Secretary of Labor appointed AGC of America’s Senior Director of Safety & Health, Kevin Cannon, as the new Chairman of the OSHA Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health, citing his commitment and leadership abilities. Cannon has served as a member of the committee since 2011, representing construction employers as the committee helps advise the Secretary of Labor on safety standards and policy issues.

For more information, contact Kevin Cannon at cannonk@agc.org.

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AGC Supports DOL’s Reasonable Update to Overtime Rule’s Salary Threshold

On May 21, AGC submitted comments to the U. S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) in response to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) updating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime regulations. In line with AGC’s recommendations to the WHD, this NPRM is the second step the DOL is undertaking to revisit the Obama administration overtime rule that dramatically increased the salary threshold for exempt employees and would have resulted in unintended consequences, particularly for small construction companies construction employers in lower-wage regions, and construction personnel. In contrast to the Obama rule, this new proposal would simply update the salary threshold using current wage data, projected to January 1, 2020. The result would boost the standard salary threshold for exempt employees from $455 to $679 per week (equivalent to $35,308 per year).

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Tariff Rate on Chinese Import Goods May Increase

Status of Trade Negotiations with China in Question

On May 5, President Trump announced via Twitter that his administration plans to increase the tariff rate on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent on May 10. He also stated plans to place duties on another $325 billion worth of Chinese import goods. Many of the items that have had duties accessed on them are materials incorporated into the actual construction project itself, necessary parts for manufacturing construction equipment, or the construction equipment itself. Costs for these various supplies, materials, and equipment may rise accordingly, placing further pressure on contractors to increase their bid prices. For a full rundown of trade actions taken by the Trump administration and their impact on the construction industry, click here.

For more information, contact Cory Gattie at cory.gattie@agc.org or (202) 547-4685.

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Federal Property Reform Board Sworn In

Will Identify Billions in Public Asset Disposal

General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Emily W. Murphy recently swore in four new Public Buildings Reform Board members: Angela Styles, Mary Phillips, Nick Rahall, Talmage Hocker, and David Winstead. The board was established by the AGC-supported Federal Assets Sale and Transfer Act (FASTA). The Public Buildings Reform Board is mandated to identify opportunities to reduce the federal real property inventory and make recommendations for the sale of at least $8 billion worth of underutilized and vacant federal properties. AGC has long been involved in pushing for federal real property reform and has supported these efforts in Congress.

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U.S. EPA Concludes Pollution Through Groundwater Does Not Require a Federal Discharge Permit

Suggests improvements based on contractor feedback

On April 15, AGC formally supported and offered substantive feedback in response to a new definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The current proposal provides greater clarity than the 2015 WOTUS Rule (undergoing legal challenges and repeal): it better identifies federal waters, respects states’ primary role in pollution prevention, and balances major case law from the last couple of decades.

In its comments, AGC urges the agencies to further refine newly proposed definitions or points of specific interest to the construction  industry.  Specifically, AGC calls on the agencies to exclude ditches that are part of a community’s public infrastructure from regulation as a federally jurisdictional water.  AGC also seeks a full exclusion for stormwater control features, a standard methodology(ies) for distinguishing between ephemeral versus intermittent waters, limits on the timeline and extent of documentation for historical inquiries, more examples of how the exclusions would work in the field, as well as greater clarity on how the proposal would treat flood controls.

The agencies will now take several months to review and respond to public comments on the proposal and prepare a final version of the rule.  AGC expects them to release a final rule towards the end of the year; however, the first quarter in 2020 is also a possibility.  The agencies have been very deliberative during the “repeal and replace” process and the timelines often are extended as a result.  In the interim, AGC will continue to be involved as the proposal moves through completion and as Congress looks to address WOTUS.  AGC continues to track legal challenges to the 2015 WOTUS Rule that are moving through the courts at the district level.  However, a formal repeal of the 2015 WOTUS Rule by the agencies is imminent.

For more information, please contact Melinda Tomaino at tomainom@agc.org.

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Rep. Mike Kelly Visits AGC Member Jobsite in Pennsylvania

On Thursday, April 25, AGC of America in partnership with the Master Builders’ Association of Western Pennsylvania, Constructors Association of Western Pennsylvania and P.J. Dick, Inc. hosted Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) for a tour of a vertical construction project in Erie, Pennsylvania.  While touring the site, construction officials, AGC staff, and Rep. Kelly discussed the need for Congress to address the workforce shortage in the construction industry and pass a long-term infrastructure bill.  Rep. Kelly is the lead co-sponsor of AGC-supported legislation to create a new category of Private Activity Bonds (PABs) for the construction or rehabilitation of public buildings and AGC thanked him for his support.  Additionally, Rep. Kelly serves on the Committee on Ways and Means, and he discussed the effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on the Pennsylvania economy.

If your company is interested in hosting a member of Congress for a job site tour please contact Jenni Traver at jennifer.traver@agc.org.

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Congress Takes Notice of Change Orders Delays

AGC-Backed Bill Encourages Transparency and Fairness

On April 18, Reps. Marc Veasey (D-Tex.) and Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) introduced an AGC-backed bill—H.R. 2344—that would require a federal construction contracting agency to pay at least 50 percent of the actual (incurred or committed) cost percent of the cost of the unilateral change order which would lessen the negative impacts from unilateral change orders directed by the government.

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AGC on the Jobsite in Virginia

Pushes Congress to Address Workforce Needs

On April 22, AGC of America in partnership with AGC of Virginia and R.E. Lee & Son Inc. hosted Representative Denver Riggleman (R-VA) for a tour of a construction project in Charlottesville, VA. The tour took place at the more than 5,000 square foot addition that R.E. Lee & Son, Inc., is building for ReadyKids, a local non-profit for early childhood development. While touring the site, construction officials and Rep. Riggleman discussed the need for Congress to address the workforce shortage in the construction industry and pass a long-term infrastructure bill. They noted that a January 2019 AGC of America survey of Virginia construction contractors found that 92 percent of those contractors are having a hard time filling some or all positions. To see the full press release from the visit click here.

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AGC Comments on FAA Drone Rules

On April 15, AGC of America submitted comments to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on two regulatory proposals dealing with the use of drones. AGC supported FAA’s proposal to lift its ban on the nighttime operation of drones and to allow flights over people with appropriately categorized drones. AGC’s comments pointed out that operators should be able to rely on the manufacturer’s certifications about the drone’s compliance with the FAA standards and not have to independently verify them. AGC also suggested that flights over construction sites that have limited access should have a special waiver because construction workers are generally informed of potential flyovers and spotters can be used to ensure that operations are carried out safely.

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