LATEST NEWS

Senate Committee Approves FHWA Administrator Nominee

Nicole Nason, President Trump's nominee to serve as the next Federal Highway Administrator, was approved this week by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The nomination now moves to the full Senate for consideration. While Nason's nomination was enthusiastically supported in the committee and is not expected to attract opposition on the Senate floor, a backlog of nominations is pending Senate approval and it could be some time before Nason is approved. AGC has strongly endorsed Nason and called on the Senate to act quickly. Nason has a strong transportation background having served as the Administrator of the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) and as the Assistant Transportation Secretary for Government Affairs in the George W. Bush Administration.  AGC has also worked with her in her current position at the State Department on embassy construction issues.

For more information contact Brian Deery at deeryb@agc.org or (703) 837-5319.

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Buy-American Executive Order for Infrastructure Projects

Federal Agencies to Make Program-by-Program Implementation Determinations

On Jan. 31., President Trump issued the “Strengthening Buy American Preferences for Infrastructure Projects” Executive Order (EO). The Order calls on federal agencies to encourage—not mandate—recipients of new federal financial assistance awards to use—to the greatest extent practicable—iron and aluminum as well as steel, cement, and other manufactured products produced in the U.S. in every contract, subcontract, purchase order, or sub-award. According to sources at a wide array of federal agencies, it remains unclear how—or if—this EO will impact various federal-aid construction programs, including but not limited to the Federal-Aid Highway and Transit, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works, and Drinking Water and Wastewater State Revolving Fund Programs. Ultimately, agency lawyers will make the determination on a program-by-program basis and—under the EO—must provide guidance by on or about May 1, 2019.

Markedly, the EO covers a broad range of products aside from just steel and iron. It also covers “manufactured products” – e.g., “materials composed in whole or in part of non-ferrous metals such as aluminum; plastics and polymer-based products such as polyvinyl chloride pipe; aggregates such as concrete; glass, including optical fiber; and lumber.” The EO also broadly defines an “infrastructure project” and specifically notes those included are (1) roadways, bridges, railroads, and transit; (2) fossil-fuel, renewable, nuclear, and hydroelectric energy production, generation, and storage gas; oil, natural gas, and propane distribution systems; (3) drinking water, stormwater, and sewer infrastructure; and (4) cybersecurity and broadband internet.

AGC remains committed to ensuring that domestic preference programs are executed in a manner that does not increase project costs and delays and reasonably implements compliance requirements. AGC will continue contact with federal agencies and will seek feedback from AGC members on how this EO could impact construction projects.

For more information contact Jimmy Christianson at christiansonj@agc.org or (703) 837-5325.

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House Committee Kicks Off Infrastructure Talks

AGC-Led Coalition Letter Introduced at Hearing

On Feb. 7, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee held its first hearing of the new Congress entitled, “The Cost of Doing Nothing: Why Investing in Our Nation's Infrastructure Cannot Wait.”  Witnesses included: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood; and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz.  The hearing focused on drawing attention to the needs of our nation’s infrastructure and solutions on how to address those needs – including fixing the Highway Trust Fund, increasing the Passenger Facility Charge, and providing more resources for clean and drinking water.  At the beginning of the hearing, new committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) submitted for the record an AGC and National Association Manufacturers-led letter to congressional leaders asking them to act on a bipartisan infrastructure bill. Chairman Defazio highlighted the fact that the letter was signed by 150 groups including traditional and non-traditional infrastructure stakeholders. AGC will continue to work with Congress in moving a robust and broad infrastructure package.

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

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OSHA Crane Operator Evaluation Requirement Take Effect

AGC Provides Educational Resources to Help Members Comply

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 has 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. 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 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 cannonk@agc.org.

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Schedule a Meeting with your Member of Congress

On February 18, the next Congressional district work week begins. During this time, AGC encourages you to meet with your Representatives and Senators to build stronger relationships and inform them about issues facing the construction industry. Meetings can include meetings in the member’s office, inviting them to a board meeting or having them tour a construction site to give them a hands-on learning experience.

During these meetings, AGC encourages you to urge your member of Congress to support an infrastructure bill that creates long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, encourages greater direct federal infrastructure investment and strengthens existing infrastructure tools like the Private Activity bonds. Additionally, we hope you urge your member of Congress to promote a strong workforce that ensures adequate federal funding for skills-based education programs, reforms higher education to better prepare a workforce and enact comprehensive immigration reform. For a full list of AGC’s priorities click here.

If you have any questions or need assistance setting up your meeting, please contact Jenni Traver at Jennifer.traver@agc.org or (703) 837-5435.

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AGC-Backed Tax Bills Introduced

Bills would Repeal Estate Tax and Make Pass-Thru Deduction Permanent

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)—passed at the end of 2017—doubled the estate tax exemption from $5 million to $10 million. However, that provision expires in 2025 without further Congressional action.  Senator Thune’s legislation (which follows legislation also introduced by Rep. Jason Smith in the House) would take a step further and fully repeal the estate tax.  The TCJA also created a new 20 percent deduction for pass-through business income, but that too will expire in 2025 without further Congressional action.  The Main Street Tax Certainty Act would make this provision permanent.

The outlook for both bills is uncertain in this Congress. Incoming Ways and Means Committee Chairman Neal (D-MA) has said that he would like to do additional oversight the Section 199A deduction specifically, and days after Senator Thune introduced his bill to repeal the estate tax, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced legislation to increase the estate tax rate to 77 percent on estates worth over $1 Billion.  Action on either bill in the near term is unlikely.

For more information, contact Matt Turkstra at (202) 547-4734, or matt.turkstra@agc.org.

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Senate Hearing on FHWA Administrator Nominee

AGC Urges Speedy Confirmation

The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing this week to question Nicole Nason, President Trump’s nominee to be the next Federal Highway Administrator. EPW Chairman John Barasso (R-WY) opened the hearing by reading from AGC’s letter of endorsement, which called Nason a great choice to lead initiatives in improving mobility on our nation's highways and urged the Senate to quickly confirm her.

Following an introduction by former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, the majority of the questioning centered on her and the administration’s priorities for the next transportation reauthorization legislation. The FAST Act expires in 2020 and is expected to be debated this Congress. The committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Tom Carper (DE), pointed out the need for identifying a revenue source to fix the Highway Trust Fund, while Chairman Barasso stressed the importance of supporting the formula-based approach to distributing funds to state DOTs. Nason responded that every available tool that would result in long-term funding for infrastructure projects should be considered.

Committee members all pointed out Ms. Nason’s strong transportation background and voiced support for her nomination. While a committee vote on the nomination could be soon, full Senate confirmation is expected to take some time due to a backlog of other nominations awaiting final approval. AGC has already developed a working relationship with Nason in her current position as an Assistant Secretary at the State Department, which is in charge of its embassy construction program.

For more information, contact Brian Deery at deeryb@agc.org or (703) 837-5319

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AGC Calls for Compromise on FY 2019 Government Funding

On Jan. 30, AGC urged members of the government funding bipartisan conference committee to reach a broad compromise and avert another government shutdown on Feb. 15. AGC recommended that a final deal should include funding and policies addressing the nation’s border security, immigration system and infrastructure needs. Specifically, components of such a deal should include an earned legal pathway toward legal status or citizenship for the 120,000 construction workers with Temporary Protected Status or in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, while also addressing border security. In addition, such a compromise should include 2018 disaster-aid infrastructure funding to help communities recover and rebuild as well as an additional $10 billion over FY 2017 levels for federal infrastructure programs as Congress promised in 2018.

For more information, contact Jimmy Christianson at christiansonj@agc.org or (703) 837-5325. 

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AGC Files Comments Supporting NLRB’s Joint-Employer Rulemaking

AGC of America submitted comments supporting the National Labor Relations Board’s proposed rule on joint-employer status with certain clarifications January 28. The rule would reinstate a standard establishing joint-employer status under the National Labor Relations Act only when a company actually exercises substantial direct and immediate control over essential terms and conditions of employment of another company’s employees and does so in a manner that is not limited and routine. It would reverse the AGC-opposed Browning-Ferris Industries decision that was issued by the Obama Board in 2015 and recently upheld by a federal circuit court.

AGC’s comment letter supplements group comments signed onto by AGC that were filed by the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace. The group comments urge the Board to adopt the proposed rule with additional guidance to clarify the meaning of “substantial control” and relevant “essential terms and conditions of employment.”  AGC’s independent comments provide further insight into the impact of the proposed rule in the construction industry.  The letter explains how the reservation and exercise of some control by one company over another is inherent in the nature of construction projects and in well-established industry practices. “A contractor should be able to use and direct subcontractors without taking on joint-employer status as long as the contractor does not directly and excessively control essential terms and conditions of employment of the subcontractors’ employees,” AGC asserts in the letter.

The Board received a high volume of comments on the proposed rule during the public comment period, which is now closed. The timing of the Board’s issuance of a final rule is uncertain.

For more information, contact Denise Gold at goldd@agc.org or (703) 837-5326

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President Issues Buy-American Executive Order for Infrastructure Projects

On Jan. 31., President Trump issued the “Strengthening Buy American Preferences for Infrastructure Projects” Executive Order. The order calls on federal agencies to encourage recipients of new Federal financial assistance awards to use—to the greatest extent practicable—iron and aluminum as well as steel, cement, and other manufactured products produced in the U.S. in every contract, subcontract, purchase order, or sub-award. AGC will provide more details on this executive order after further review.

For more information, contact Jimmy Christianson at christiansonj@agc.org or (703) 837-5325

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