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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 [email protected] 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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Help AGC and Urge Congress to Repeal the “Prior Approval” Requirement for Trade Association PACs

AGC of America joined 113 other national trade associations on a letter urging members of the US House of Representatives to support H.R. 2101 - the Prior Approval Reform Act. You can help our efforts by contacting your representative to urge him or her to cosponsor H.R. 2101 - the Prior Approval Reform Act.
This bill, introduced by Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), would repeal the Federal Election Campaign Act’s “prior approval” requirement for corporate member trade association political action committees (PACs). In summary, this requirement discriminates against these associations by making their PACs the only political committees that must first obtain exclusive permission from member corporations before soliciting eligible employees for support. The Act’s onerous prior approval requirement is a relic from the past that is discriminatory, restricts First Amendment rights, and creates burdensome compliance costs and confusion.
For more information, contact David Ashinoff at [email protected] or (202) 547-5013.

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Urge Your House Rep. to Extend Electronic Logging Devices Mandate Deadline for Hours of Service Compliance

Dec. 18 is the deadline for motor carriers to comply with a U.S. Department of Transportation mandate to install and use electronic logging devices on trucks to record drivers’ hours of service. The Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) issued the mandate for all motor carriers required to maintain Records of Duty Status (RODS) for Hours of Service (HOS) compliance. AGC has sought an exemption from this requirement for construction industry truck drivers but that request has not been accepted.
Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has introduced legislation to delay the mandate for two years. AGC is supporting this legislation in the hope that the delay will allow the necessary time to make the case with FMCSA that this requirement is unnecessary for construction. Contact your representative and ask them to cosponsor H.R. 3282 and delay this mandate.
For more information, contact Brian Deery at [email protected] or (703) 837-5319.

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Trump Announces Support for Changes to Immigration Policy

This week President Trump announced his support for a major shift in national immigration policy. Trump teamed with Senators David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in support of legislation – the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act – that would impose a merit-based immigration system and would curtail the family- and humanitarian-based options for entry into the country. The goal of the proposal would be to limit legal immigration, which hovers around 1 million entrants every year by half, and it would also rescind the diversity lottery as well as cap annual refugee admittances.
The legislation is a stark contrast to the bipartisan legislative attempt in 2013 by the “Gang of Eight,” which AGC largely supported. The RAISE Act is expected to face fierce opposition in Congress as it fails to address the undocumented individuals already in the country, a sticking point for any democrat support.
While AGC supports a merit-based immigration system, AGC is concerned that the legislation could fail to deliver the type and number of workers needed for industries like construction, which is currently facing a widespread domestic worker shortage. AGC is also concerned that the legislation fails to address the undocumented individuals already in the country.
AGC looks forward to working with Congress on an immigration package that fully addresses the broken immigration system by strengthening national security, functions efficiently and fairly, and addresses future workforce needs. AGC also looks forward to continuing to work with Congress and the administration on job training and education proposals that will ensure Americans have the skills necessary for careers in the construction industry.
For more information, contact Jim Young at [email protected] or (202) 547-0133.

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AGC Submits Comments to Senate Finance Committee on Tax Reform

This week, AGC submitted comments in response to a letter sent by Senator Orrin Hatch, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, soliciting input from stakeholders on tax reform.  The deadline for submissions was Monday, July 17. AGC’s comments called for tax reform that lowers the rates for all businesses, corporate and pass-through alike. The comments also called for repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), increasing the threshold at which the percentage-of-completion method of accounting is required and raising the exemption level for long-term contracting rules.  AGC also called on Congress to use the opportunity presented by comprehensive tax reform to invest in the nation’s infrastructure and shore up the Highway Trust Fund.
According to Capitol Hill publications, the email inbox set up by the Finance Committee to receive comments was flooded with “hundreds of thousands of submissions.”  While most of these submissions were form letters generated by a group called Americans for Tax Fairness, opposing lower taxes on “millionaires and wealthy corporations,” many other submissions were from traditional stakeholders, like AGC. According the Senate Finance Committee “each submission will be considered as the committee moves forward with its current tax reform efforts.” AGC will continue to monitor the committee’s progress on tax reform.
For more information, contact Matt Turkstra at [email protected] or (202) 547-4733.

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House Budget Resolution Moves Forward

 

Provides Mechanism for Increased Infrastructure Spending
This week, the House Budget Committee advanced their 2018 budget resolution, Building a Better America by a party line vote of 22-14.  The resolution sets spending levels for both mandatory and discretionary programs, provides instructions for tax reform and establishes a mechanism that would allow for increased spending for any potential new infrastructure plan. The bill would significantly increase defense spending while cutting both mandatory and discretionary programs. The fate of the resolution remains unknown with conservative Republicans believing cuts don’t go far enough and moderates believing the cuts go too far.
The budget also sets several policy priorities, including aligning Highway Trust Fund spending to revenue coming into the Fund. In addition, the budget eliminates subsidies for Amtrak, the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grants and the TIGER grant program.  Most of these positions are consistent with previous House Republican budgets; however, they are unlikely to ever be passed into law. The budget also creates a “Reserve Fund” that would allow for an increase in infrastructure funding in the event that Congress takes up an infrastructure spending bill and prevent any objections to such a bill based on budgetary points of order.
The biggest takeaway from the resolution is that it underscores the need for fixing the Highway Trust Fund and providing revenue for increased infrastructure investment as a part of comprehensive tax reform.
For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at [email protected] or (202) 547-8892. Return to Top

 

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Department of Transportation Guidance on Bidder DBE Submittals Pending

The U.S. Department of Transportation is preparing guidance to clarify that states must require all bidders to submit disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) utilization information regardless of whether the state requires the bidder to submit the information at time of bid or allows a five day grace period following bid submission. AGC wrote to Transportation Secretary Chao and asked that the guidance be changed to require only the apparent low bidder to submit this information.
The DBE rules allow states to choose whether to require DBE commitment information with bid submittal or up to five days later. In our comments, AGC pointed out that when U.S. DOT revised the DBE rules during the Obama Administration, there was much discussion on this issue as part of the rule making process and in meetings between DOT officials and AGC members. At that time, DOT indicated that if a state chooses the five day grace period that only the apparent low bidder would be required to submit its DBE commitments.
DOT responded to AGC’s letter indicating that it plans to move ahead with guidance that requires all bidders to submit DBE commitments even if states choose the five day grace period.
For more information, contact Brian Deery at [email protected] or (703) 837-5319.

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House Committee Approves FY 2018 Transportation Funding

This week, the House Appropriations Committee approved legislation funding the U.S. Department of Transportation for Fiscal Year 2018, which begins on October 1. The bill fully funded the federal-aid highway program at the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act authorized level of $44.234 billion, an increase of 2.2% over FY 2017. Transit formula grants were funded at FAST Act level of $9.733 billion. The bill, however, cuts the transit Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program by $650 million. The subcommittee-approved funding level for the Department is short of the $2.3 billion that was authorized in the FAST Act but is more than the $1.2 billion requested by President Trump in the administration’s FY 2018 budget proposal.
The legislation would also eliminate $500 million in funding for the TIGER grant program, which has been funded at that level for the past several years. The Trump budget called for eliminating TIGER grants and the House has routinely done that in years past. However, the Senate just as routinely adds the funds back in to the final bill.
The House bill also provides $500 million for a new AMTRAK Northeast Corridor state of good repair program, although all of these funds are being directed to the New York/New Jersey Gateway program to build and improve transit and rail tunnels into New York City. The Airport Improvement Program (AIP), is set to receive $3.35 billion. The AIP program has been funded at this level for the past six years.
For more information, contact Brian Deery at [email protected] or (703) 837-5319.

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