LATEST NEWS

AGC Discusses Embassy Construction with State Department

On Mar. 5, AGC met with leaders of the Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO).  AGC brought in current and prospective contractors for a two-hour meeting to address the challenges OBO and the construction industry face in building embassies.  Among the topics discussed were OBO’s Embassy After Next program, formal partnering, and difficult contract requirements.  AGC and OBO pledged to continue to work to ensure the delivery of high-quality facilities and infrastructure the American foreign service deserves.

For more information, contact jordan.howard@agc.org or (703) 837-5368.

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House Examines Cost of Inaction on the Nation’s Multiemployer Pension Crisis

AGC urges that Composite Plans Must Be Part of the Solution

On Mar. 7, the House Committee on Education and Labor committee held a hearing focused on the cost of inaction of multiemployer pension crisis and why Congress must address it. Ahead of the hearing, AGC—along with other industry stakeholders—reiterated its commitment to the authorization of composite plans in any multiemployer pension reform effort.  In addition, AGC will continue to advocate against any changes that destabilize plans or make providing retirements benefits to workers more expensive.

The hearing follows an earlier hearing held this year by the House Ways and Means Committee and the introduction of the Butch Lewis Act. That bill, first introduced in 2017, would offer loans to troubled plans through a new agency at the Department of Treasury, called the Pension Rehabilitation Authority. While the proposal was well-vetted during the previous Congress and by the Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans, it appears as though congressional leaders are shifting their interest from a loan proposal to one that provides assistance to troubled plans by giving the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) greater partitioning authority.

For more information, contact Jim Young at youngj@agc.org or (202) 547-0133.

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OSHA Crane Operator Evaluation Requirement Takes Effect

Listen to ConstructorCast Podcast for all the Important Details

As of Feb. 7, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires all contractors to evaluate crane operators under the new final rule regulating crane operator qualification and evaluation. AGC of America spent nearly 16 years working with OSHA under three different presidential administrations to make this rule less burdensome and provide the greatest positive safety impact possible. The latest episode of ConstructorCast covers all the important details you need to know to ensure your firm is in compliance as the requirements take full effect and beyond. Download or stream the episode here.

Our mission to help AGC members does not stop when the ink dries on regulations impacting your construction company. We also want to help ensure you have the information necessary to comply. That is why we created valuable AGC educational resources. Specifically, AGC created a summary of crane operator and evaluation rule operator and evaluation rule and a sample form for crane operator evaluation. These materials represent the hard work of many AGC member safety professionals and AGC staff who want to ensure that this industry is not only safer, but also in compliance with the law. And, more resources will be coming soon.

For more information, contact Kevin Cannon at (703) 837-5410 or cannonk@agc.org.

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House T&I Chairman Calls for Gas Tax Increase

Ranking T&I Republican Favors VMT

Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) noted his intent to introduce legislation to provide a short-term fix for the Highway Trust Fund.  At a Mar. 7 House Ways and Means Committee hearing, he laid out why his proposal—which would authorize 30-year Treasury bonds and whose proceeds would be deposited in the Highway Trust Fund and repaid by increasing the fuel taxes by no more than 1.5 cents per year—makes the most sense from a practical and political standpoint. Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-Mo.) also testified on his interest in focusing on a vehicle miles traveled fee as a long-term solution, while acknowledging something needs to be done in the short-term. AGC will continue to work with leaders in Congress and our industry stakeholders to work on efforts to address the funding crisis facing the Highway Trust Fund.

The heads of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO and the American Trucking Associations also testified at the hearing. Each organization called for an immediate increase in federal motor fuels taxes to fill the projected $18 billion gap soon to face the High Trust Fund.

For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at oneills@agc.org or (202) 547-8892.

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AGC-Backed $20 Billion Water Infrastructure Bill Introduced in House

On Mar. 5, the AGC supported bipartisan Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2019 introduced by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) along with Reps. Napolitano (D-Calif.), Don Young (R-Alaska), and John Katko (R-N.Y.). The legislation would provide over $20 billion in federal assistance for the construction, repair and replacement of wastewater, stormwater conveyance and treatment facilities. In addition to increased funding, the bill also has the potential to create 500,000 quality construction, engineering and manufacturing jobs. AGC is working to include this bill in a potentially large infrastructure package.

This bill was introduced ahead of the Mar. 7 House Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment hearing entitled, The Clean Water State Revolving Fund: How Federal Infrastructure Investment Can Help Communities Modernize Water Infrastructure and Address Affordability Challenges The hearing examined the current state of our clean water systems, the backlog of clean water infrastructure needs and the infrastructure affordability challenges facing communities and American households.

For more information, contact Allen Gray at (703) 837-5321 or allen.gray@agc.org.

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AGC-Backed $20 Billion Water Infrastructure Bill Introduced in House

On Mar. 5, the AGC supported bipartisan Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2019 introduced by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) along with Reps. Napolitano (D-Calif.), Don Young (R-Alaska), and John Katko (R-N.Y.). The legislation would provide over $20 billion in federal assistance for the construction, repair and replacement of wastewater, stormwater conveyance and treatment facilities. In addition to increased funding, the bill also has the potential to create 500,000 quality construction, engineering and manufacturing jobs. AGC is working to include this bill in a potentially large infrastructure package.

This bill was introduced ahead of the Mar. 7 House Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment hearing entitled, “The Clean Water State Revolving Fund: How Federal Infrastructure Investment Can Help Communities Modernize Water Infrastructure and Address Affordability Challenges” The hearing examined the current state of our clean water systems, the backlog of clean water infrastructure needs and the infrastructure affordability challenges facing communities and American households.

For more information, contact Allen Gray at (703) 837-5321 or allen.gray@agc.org.

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FAA Proposes Drone Rule Changes

Three Separate Rules Addressed

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently published three separate rules on drone use that could impact use of these devices in construction operations. AGC has a task force that has been addressing drone use, which will be formulating AGC’s response to these initiatives.

The first proposed rule addresses the operation of small unmanned aircraft over people. The proposal would allow for commercial operations of drones over people and at night. It also would address common scenarios where operators seek waivers. The proposed rule is notable in that it suggests FAA interest in regulating manufacturers as opposed to operators. Comments on the proposal are due April 15, 2019.
FAA also issued an interim final rule on External Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft. This rule would revise the FAA’s current small UAS marking standards by requiring the UAS registration number to be marked on the exterior of the aircraft. The rule seeks to address law enforcement and FAA interagency security partner concerns that allowing marking inside of the aircraft—which may contain explosives or other threats to safety—endangers first responders. Comments on the rule must be received by March 15, 2019.

Finally, the FAA released an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking requesting responses to discussion questions on safety and national security concerns related to increased UAS integration. These questions address various topics, such as:

 

    • standards for stand-off distances (the amount of space between a small UAS and the closest person or object);

 

    • payload restrictions (including a prohibition on carrying hazardous materials);

 

  • unmanned traffic management systems (e.g., costs of developing and operating one, and restrictions on possible information sharing for national security and public safety purposes); and altitude and other performance limitations.


Comments on the discussion questions must be received by April 15, 2019.
For more information, contact Brian Deery at deeryb@agc.org or (703) 837-5319.

 

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Trade Negotiations with China Progress

Tariff Rate Increase Delayed

On Feb. 24, the president announced an indefinite delay to a scheduled increase—from 10 percent to 25 percent—in tariffs on $200 million worth of Chinese imports. On Feb. 27, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the president’s top trade negotiator, signaled that—though progress is being made—there is still a great deal of work to be done before an agreement is reached with China. The U.S. is seeking concessions on intellectual property protection and other unfair trade practices of the Chinese government before any reduction or elimination of tariffs on imported goods is granted. For a full rundown of Trump administration trade actions and their impact on the construction industry, click here.

AGC welcomes the administration’s delay of an increase in the tariff rate on imported 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. AGC will continue to monitor this and other international trade negotiations.

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

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Senate Confirms Wheeler as EPA Administrator

On Feb. 28, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Trump’s nomination of Andrew Wheeler as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—a move which AGC supported in a letter to the Senate Environment and Public Works committee earlier this month. The 52-47 vote fell mostly along party lines.   

For more information, contact Melinda Tomaino at tomainom@agc.org or (703) 837-5415.

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White House Guidance Issued on Streamlining Environmental Process

State NEPA Reviews Targeted

On Feb. 26, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) provided guidance clarifying elements of President Trump's Aug. 15, 2017, executive order (EO), aimed at reducing the permitting time for large infrastructure projects to two years. The guidance clarifies that the EO applies to state agencies that have been assigned National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) responsibilities making them responsible for keeping the permitting timetable to two years. Under the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program established in 2005, U.S. DOT can grant states the authority to complete requirements for NEPA review for highway infrastructure projects. Thus far, six states—Alaska, California, Florida, Ohio, Texas, and Utah—have been granted the NEPA review authority. Several other states have also applied.

For more information, contact Melinda Tomaino at tomainom@agc.org or (703) 837-5415.

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