LATEST NEWS

Senate Unveils Another Disaster Aid Funding Bill

Billions for Construction Accounts to Aid Rebuilding Efforts

A bipartisan group of Senators have introduced a disaster aid package, S. 572, that would provide roughly $13.6 billion in emergency supplemental funding. The bill will provide aid for areas of the country affected by the natural disasters of 2018. AGC previously reported that House and Senate negotiators failed to include disaster aid in the compromised funding bill for FY 2019 on February 14. Click “read more” to see a breakdown of notable construction accounts that would receive funding if this new legislation were enacted.
Notable construction accounts that would receive funding under this legislation include:

 

    • $1.65 billion for the Federal Highway Administration’s emergency relief program to repair damaged roads and highways.

 

    • $740 million for Army Corps Civil Works construction projects to reduce flood and storm damages.

 

    • $225 million for the Mississippi River and Tributaries to rehabilitate and repair Army Corps projects.

 

    • $1.06 billion for the Housing and Urban Development Department’s Community Development Fund. Some of the funding will be used for long-term recovery and infrastructure restoration.

 

  • $857 million to rebuild damaged military facilities for the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Army National Guard.


As of Feb. 28, the bill has not been scheduled for a vote in the Senate. There is potential for this package to get included into similar legislation in the coming weeks.

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

 

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New FAA Drone Registration Display Rule

Rule Takes Effect Feb. 25

On Feb. 13, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an interim final rule—taking effect on Feb. 25, 2019—requiring drone owners to display the FAA registration number on the external surface of a drone upon completion of the registration process. Drone owners are no longer permitted to enclose the registration number in a compartment.

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

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AGC Supports USMCA Trade Deal

Calls on President to Lift Steel & Aluminum Tariffs

On Feb. 18, AGC notified the White House of its support for the new trade agreement among the United States of America, Mexico, and Canada (USMCA). That noted, the association also strongly urged the president to remove the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum as they apply to Canada and Mexico.  AGC looks forward to working with Congress to approve the USMCA, as this agreement will help ensure that trade impacting the construction industry supply chain remains free, fair, and certain.

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

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AGC Supports Bipartisan Tax-Repeal Legislation

ACA Taxes Continue to Plague Employee Benefits

On Feb. 19, AGC endorsed bipartisan legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal the 40 percent excise tax on employer-sponsored coverage, known as the Cadillac tax, and a Senate-introduced bipartisan bill to repeal the health insurance tax (HIT). While the Cadillac tax was initially intended to target “high cost” employer-sponsored health coverage, it is now estimated to impact the vast majority of employee benefits plans and force employers to cut or limit employee benefits. The HIT is a direct tax on fully-insured carriers which is passed along to the customer – small and mid-size businesses and the millions of hardworking Americans and their families that are enrolled in this type of employment-based coverage. Read the letters of support here and here.

For more information, contact Jim Young at youngj@agc.org or 202-547-0133 or Claiborne Guy at claiborne.guy@agc.org or 703-837-5382.

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AGC Analysis of FY 2019 Federal Construction Accounts

On Feb. 15, Congress approved funding for those federal agencies previously operating under a continuing resolution—including the Department of Transportation, General Services Administration and Environmental Protection Agency, among others. This legislation, coupled with previously passed fiscal year (FY) 2019 spending bills, provides annual funding to all agencies of the federal government through September 30, 2019. Overall, federal construction accounts saw about a two percent increase—or $4.5 billion—in funding in comparison to FY 2018 funding levels. A full AGC analysis of federal construction accounts for FY 2019 can be found here.

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

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Border Wall National Emergency Declaration

AGC Highlights Concerns with Redirecting Construction Funds

On Feb. 15, the president issued a national emergency declaration to redirect approximately $6.7 billion towards the construction of barriers along the southern border.  Redirected funds include: $2.5 billion from Department of Defense (DOD) counterdrug activities; nearly $600 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund; and $3.6 billion from military construction projects.  As of publication, neither the White House nor any federal agency has identified specific military construction projects—or any other specific federal construction projects for that matter—that would see funds redirected to construction along the southern border. AGC urged Acting Secretary of Defense Shanahan to avoid redirecting funds from long-anticipated or active construction contract solicitations and ensure fair and open competition rules remain in place for any contracts utilizing redirected funds.

To date, 16 states have filed suit against the President asking courts to invalidate the order. Democratic members in the House and Senate have declared their intent to introduce a resolution of disapproval that would invalidate the declaration.  If the resolution passes both chambers, the Administration has singled that the president would veto it. AGC will continue to monitor this emergency declaration as more developments occur and will further review.

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

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Tell the EPA You Support Clear & Limited Federal Water Permitting Guidelines

Over the decades, determining where federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction lies has added regulatory uncertainty, delay, and cost to construction projects throughout the nation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recently proposed “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule will help construction projects move forward in a timelier manner, clearly limit federal jurisdiction over water and wetlands, and continue to protect our nation’s clean water. Please contact the EPA today to let them know that you support clear federal clean water permitting guidelines.

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

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Congress Nears Compromise on FY 2019 Government Funding

Break Down of What’s in the Compromise Bill

The House and Senate are scheduled to vote on Feb. 14 on a more than 1,000 page bill that would fund many federal agencies for the remainder of FY 2019. The bill includes some increases for federal construction accounts, including $3 billion over FY2018 funding levels for the Federal-Aid Highway Program. However, the bill fails to include relief for current holders of temporary immigrant work authorizations—impacting 120,000 construction workers with Temporary Protected Status or in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program. In addition, the bill does not provide emergency construction project funding for areas impacted by 2018 disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
The bill provides the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with $1.375 billion for 55 miles of border fencing, though there are several restrictions on how border fencing funding can be used. These restrictions include a ban on the use of concrete, limiting fencing designs to those used in 2017, and prohibition on construction in sensitive environmental areas. The funding bill also gives DHS the authority—in consultation with DOL—to increase the H-2 cap (temporary/seasonal work visas) for FY 2019 to 135,320. The increase of visas will be subject to the administrations approval because the bill does not mandate the full allotment.

Other notable funding provisions in the bill include:

    • Federal-Aid Highway funding at $48.6 billion — 3.7% above FY 2018;
    • Build Grants at $900 Million — 40% decrease from FY 2018;
    • Airport Improvement Program Grants at $3.85 Billion — 11.5% decrease from FY 2018;
    • Transit Formula Grants at $10.6 Billion — a slight increase from FY 2018;
    • Capital Improvement grants at $2.6 Billion — slight decrease from FY 2018;
    • Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund at $1.2 billion — Equal to the FY 2018;
    • Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Grants at $68 million (Title II: $10 million, Title IV: $58 million) — $5 million increase the FY 2018;
    • Rural Development at $3.64 billion for Rural Development.  This includes $625 million in funding dedicated for infrastructure investments in Rural America;
    • Water and Electric Infrastructure for rural water and waste program loans at $1.45 billion — $200 million increase the FY 2018;
    • Water and Waste Grants at $475 million for — $425 million decrease the FY 2018; and
  • Clean Water State Revolving Fund at $1.7 billion (Title II: $1.4 billion, Title IV: $300 million) — Equal to FY 2018.


You can read the text of the Conference Report by clicking here. You can read the text of the Joint Explanatory Statement by clicking here.

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

 

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Proposal to Replace 2015 WOTUS Rule Published

60-Day Comment Period Begins

On Feb. 14, the public comment period officially opened on the administration’s newly proposed replacement of the controversial 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. Legal challenges have placed the 2015 WOTUS rule on hold in 28 states. AGC has been advocating for a clear rule as construction projects in or near federal waters require extensive permitting that comes at a hefty price -- in addition to any state or local water permits a project will need. Over the decades, determining where federal jurisdiction lies and overly broad interpretations have added regulatory uncertainty, delay, and cost to projects.
The proposal is a step in the right direction to correct the regulatory overreach of the old rule and provide clarity to industry, while continuing to protect federal waters. It includes waters that in many cases are readily identifiable as federal waters, such as traditional navigable waters, interstate waters, tributaries and other waters with a surface connection or that regularly flow into those waters. But it excludes ephemeral features, most ditches, stormwater control features in uplands, and earthen depressions caused by construction equipment or activity in uplands that may fill with water, among other things.
Comments on the proposal are due April 15, 2019.

For more information, see AGC's WOTUS one-pager and an overview of the proposed replacement rule.  Or contact Melinda Tomaino at tomainom@agc.org

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OSHA Issues Temporary Enforcement Guidance for Crane Operator Evaluation Requirements

On Feb. 7, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a temporary enforcement policy for the crane operator evaluation requirements in the cranes and derricks in construction standard.  The effective date for the standard’s evaluation and documentation requirements was Feb. 7, 2019.  OSHA intends to offer compliance assistance, in lieu of enforcement, during the first 60 days of enforcement for employers who have evaluated operators in accordance with the final rule and are making good faith efforts to comply with the documentation requirement. Beginning April 15, 2019, OSHA will fully enforce all applicable requirements of the final rule. To help AGC members understand and comply with these new requirements, please click here for educational resources.

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

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