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Tell Congress to Fund Infrastructure in Tax Reform

Contact your Representatives and Senators
As the Congressional August recess continues, the AGC-co-chaired Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) is asking you to reach out to your representative and senators and tell them to fix the Highway Trust Fund as part of tax reform and invest in transportation infrastructure. Congress does not return to Washington until Sept. 5 and we encourage all our members to use this time to meet with and email your members of Congress and tell them to include a permanent Highway Trust Fund fix as part of any tax reform or new infrastructure initiative.
The Hardhats for Highways site has additional information including a TCC background document and talking points for your visits.
For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at oneills@agc.org or (202) 547-8892.

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AGC-Supported Candidate in Alabama Special Election Goes to Run-Off

Tuesday’s special Alabama Senate Republican primary sent former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and appointed Sen. Luther Strange (received AGC PAC support) to the September 26 run-off election. Judge Moore placed first, capturing 39 percent of the Republican primary vote and Sen. Strange garnered 33 percent and showed strength in the Birmingham area, though he lost substantially in Alabama’s southern region including the metropolitan areas of Montgomery, Mobile, and Dothan.
Judge Moore was twice elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, but removed in 2003 for disregarding a federal court order over the Ten Commandments and then suspended in 2016 for telling probate judges to continue enforcing the state's ban on same-sex marriage despite it being overturned in federal-level court rulings. He resigned from the court in April to run for the Senate.
Sen. Strange came to the Senate by way of appointment by then-Gov. Robert Bentley who later resigned following a criminal indictment. The newly appointed senator filled the vacant seat made available when then-Sen. Jeff Sessions was confirmed as U.S. attorney general. Prior to the appointment, Sen. Strange was twice elected as Alabama’s attorney general.
Looking ahead, the run-off wild card may well be Rep. Mo Brooks’ (R-Huntsville) voters, where the primary’s third place finisher tallied 20 percent of the vote. Despite losing the Senate primary, the congressman announced that he would seek re-election to his House seat.
For more information, contact David Ashinoff at ashinoffd@agc.org or (202) 547-5013.

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Executive Order Seeks to Expedite Infrastructure Projects

Rescinds Obama Order Opposed by AGC
This week President Trump issued an Executive Order entitled, “Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects.” The Order includes several reforms such as establishing a “One Federal Decision” policy under which the lead federal agency works with other agencies to complete environmental reviews and permitting decisions needed for major infrastructure projects, requiring all decisions on Federal Permits be made within 90 days after an agency signs a Record of Decision (ROD), establishing a two-year goal for agencies to process environmental documents for major projects, and holding agencies accountable for failure to make timely environmental reviews and permitting decisions. These reforms are consistent with recommendations AGC provided the administration for improving the federal environmental review and permitting process.
Additionally, the order rescinds an Obama Executive Order, the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, which expanded the definition of “floodplain” that all federal agencies must use – and all builders must follow – for all federally approved or funded projects.  AGC previously asked the Obama administration to repeal this Order when we presented them with our regulatory recommendations, “Making Federal Agencies Responsible Again”.
For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at oneills@agc.org or (202) 547-8892.

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TCC August Grassroots Push to fix HTF and Fund Transportation Infrastructure

As Congress begins their annual August recess, the AGC-co-chaired Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) is asking you to reach out to your representative and senators and tell them to fix the Highway Trust Fund as part of tax reform and invest in transportation infrastructure. Congress does not return to Washington until Sept. 5 and we encourage all our members to use this time to meet with and email your members of Congress and tell them to include a permanent Highway Trust Fund fix as part of any tax reform or new infrastructure initiative.
Additionally, it is important that your elected officials hear from you that you want them to support the Senate’s transportation funding bill for fiscal year 2018, which continues funding critical transportation programs that the Trump Administration is seeking to eliminate (TIGER and Transit New Starts) as well as providing an increase of the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) from $4.50 to $8.50. The PFC increase will allow local airports to better address their airport infrastructure needs.
The Hardhats for Highways site has additional information including a TCC background document and talking points for your visits.
For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at oneills@agc.org or (202) 547-8892.

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EPA Back Tracks on Previous Delay of 2015 Ozone Standard

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reversed its June 2017 decision to delay by one year the final designation of counties that are not attaining the 2015 ozone national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS). EPA will now make those determinations by the October 1, 2017, deadline. The reversal came after news that 15 states and the District of Columbia were filing suit against EPA to enforce the original deadline. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been critical of lawsuits (and settlement agreements) resulting from missed statutory deadlines.
Extending the deadline by a year would have given states more time to develop emission inventories, air quality clean-up plans, and additional mandatory control measures. However, EPA now says that information from the states is more complete than initially thought.
States and counties that are not attaining the new standard will look for strategies to reduce emissions. States could consider restrictions and/or controls on industrial facilities (such as requirements for new construction) and equipment emissions, or additional hurdles and planning requirements for transportation related sources.  Notably, nonattainment counties that are out of compliance with 2015 ozone standards could have federal highway funds withheld.
For more background, click here and here to see related AGC articles or contact AGC’s Leah Pilconis at pilconisl@agc.org.

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PBGC Report Shows Continuing Problems with Multiemployer Pension Plans

AGC Calls on Congress to Make Additional Reforms
Last week the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) issued its FY 2016 Projections Report detailing an increasing multiemployer pension program deficit with the probability of PBGC insolvency by 2025 without action. The deficit increased to $59 billion in 2016 and is projected to increase to $80 billion by 2026. According to the report, 100 plans are expected to become insolvent over the next 20 years, a handful of them being in the construction industry.
While the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 was meant to address many of the troubled plans, it was slow to be implemented and used by the Obama Administration. The law allowed plans heading toward insolvency to apply to the Treasury Department for benefit reductions if those reductions would allow the plan to remain solvent. To date, 15 plans have applied to Treasury with three applications having been accepted, several others remain under review.
AGC continues to monitor the viability of the PBGC and will oppose schemes to place excessive fees or premiums on plans to fund the failing PBGC. AGC is also advocating that Congress authorize a new type of multiemployer pension plan design, composite plans, that could provide an additional voluntary option to provide a lifetime benefit for employees, requires no government funding, and provides a much needed relief for employers and has been supported by labor and management. AGC hopes congress could begin consideration of the proposal this fall.
For more information, contact Jim Young at youngj@agc.org or (202) 547-0133.

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AGC Urges Labor Department to Rescind “Persuader Rule”

AGC of America submitted a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor on August 10 in support of the Department’s proposed rule to rescind the controversial “persuader rule” issued during the Obama Administration.
The “persuader rule” expands the reporting obligations of labor relations “consultants” – which is broadly defined – who conduct activities to persuade employees about their rights to join a union or bargain collectively, as well as the reporting obligations of employers who receive assistance from such consultants. By narrowing the “advice” exemption to the reporting obligations, the rule requires reporting even when the consultant communicates only to the employer and has no direct contact with employees, if an object of the communications is to “persuade” employees. The rule was issued last year but was enjoined by a federal district court on a nationwide basis prior to implementation.
AGC’s comment letter reiterates the concerns that AGC raised during the original rulemaking. These concerns include various legal and practical problems, as well as the anticipated damaging impact in the construction industry. The letter asserts that the Department should promulgate rules that encourage employers to seek expert advice rather than rules, like the “persuader rule,” that hinder them from doing so.

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Senate Approves Nominee for National Labor Relations Board

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Marvin Kaplan along a party-line vote to be a board member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Despite the administration change in January, the NLRB has been operating under Obama appointees because of two vacancies. AGC welcomes the addition of Kaplan to the board given his extensive labor policy background as a previous administration and congressional staff member. The addition of Kaplan moves the NLRB one step closer to changing the five-member board from majority Democrat to majority Republican.
Management attorney William Emanuel (R) has been nominated for the final board slot and is expected to be confirmed soon by the Senate. Upon his confirmation, the NLRB will operate under a majority of Republican nominees for the first time since 2009.
For more information, contact Jim Young at youngj@agc.org or (202) 547-0133.

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AGC and Others Urge Action on Trump Appointees

Senate Leaders Finalize Deal that Significantly Increases Number of Trump Appointees Approved by the Senate
AGC signed onto a letter this week with more than 90 groups that said that “the  slow pace of confirmations is depriving agencies across the government of critical leadership and in the case of independent agencies, the quorum necessary to conduct critical business.” It noted that there were numerous nominees ready to be confirmed (“over 80 nominees to administration positions have been reported favorably by the committee of jurisdiction but were awaiting Senate confirmation”) and, it is estimated that at the current rate, “it will take 11 years to confirm all of the president’s nominees to executive branch positions.”
The Senate has now moved from health care to nominations and Senate leaders reached agreement on a package of nominations that gets President Trump closer to his predecessors in the number of nominees confirmed in the first six months of their administrations.  At the start of this week, only 49 key positions in the administration were filled by Trump appointees. Since then, more than 60 more nominees have been confirmed by the Senate.
AGC is meeting with agency personnel to work on rolling back regulations as soon as the nominees are confirmed by the Senate. But, most agencies had few political appointees confirmed before this week (Dept. of Labor and the EPA each had 1 political appointee through the confirmation process at the beginning of this week). We hope for more action on nominees before the Senate adjourns for their August break.
For more information, contact Jeff Shoaf at shoafj@agc.org or (202) 547-3350.

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OSHA Launches Application to Electronically Submit Injury and Illness Data on Aug.

On Aug. 1, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched the Injury Tracking Application (ITA). The web-based form allows employers to electronically submit required injury and illness data from their completed 2016 OSHA Form 300A. The application is accessible from the ITA webpage.
Last month, OSHA published a notice of proposed rulemaking to extend the deadline for submitting 2016 Form 300A to Dec. 1 to allow affected entities sufficient time to familiarize themselves with the electronic reporting system, and to provide the new administration an opportunity to review the new electronic reporting requirements prior to their implementation.
The data submission process involves four steps: (1) Creating an establishment; (2) adding 300A summary data; (3) submitting data to OSHA; and (4) reviewing the confirmation email. The secure website offers three options for data submission. One option will enable users to manually enter data into a web form. Another option will give users the ability to upload a CSV file to process single or multiple establishments at the same time. A third option will allow users of automated recordkeeping systems to transmit data electronically via an application programming interface.
The ITA webpage also includes information on reporting requirements, a list of frequently asked questions and a link to request assistance with completing the form.
For more information contact Kevin Cannon at (703)837-5410 or cannonk@agc.org.

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