AGC Advocacy Report
Michael Gifford, AGC President & CEO
July 30, 2021
URGENT ACTION ALERT
It’s time for politicians to stop talking about rebuilding America’s transportation, water, utility, and building infrastructure and start doing something about it. However, construction firms need to make it clear that new infrastructure funding should not be paid for with crippling new tax increases, or include expansive new labor mandates in the form of the so-called “PRO Act.”
That’s why AGC needs you to tell President Biden and Congress to enact the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which DOES NOT include such tax hikes or the PRO Act.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill would invest more than $1.2 trillion to build the nation’s roads, bridges, transit systems, airports, ports and waterways, drinking water and wastewater systems, energy infrastructure and more. This historic investment will create a significant number of new construction career opportunities that pay well above jobs in other industries.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill DOES NOT include a host of tax increases on construction firms of all sizes and types; though they may be included in a $3.5 trillion human infrastructure bill later. Such tax increases that may include, among other things:
- An increase in the top marginal individual rate from 37% to 39.6%;
- An increase in the long-term capital gains rate from 20% to a top marginal rate of 43.4%
- An increase in the corporate rate from 21% to 28%; and
- A new “double death tax” on family-owned business’s accumulated capital gains.
In addition, the bipartisan infrastructure bill DOES NOT include the PRO Act, which may be included in a $3.5 trillion human infrastructure bill later. The PRO Act would, among other things:
- Allow workers to strike at any time, any place and for any reason;
- Effectively repeal 27 states’ right-to-work laws; and
- Expand joint employer liability so contractors could be punished for another firms' unfair labor practices.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill represents the best chance to significantly invest in building and maintaining a broad range of physical infrastructure without unnecessarily burdening the construction industry with new taxes and workforce mandates.
Click on "Take Action" above to simply submit the pre-written message as is or customize it with personal information on how this issue impacts you and your employer.
AGC Files for Seat on Building Performance Task Force to Represent Construction Industry
AGC CEO Michael Gifford has applied for appointment by the Colorado Energy Office to the Building Performance Task Force that will recommend performance standards for buildings as called for in HB21-1286. AGC was a lead group, along with BOMA, NAIOP, MCA and others in lobbying against unachievable performance standards for greenhouse gas emission reductions in current and future buildings as part of the bill. We were able to inset a task force process to replace the statutory standards, and the task force will develop those standards over the next year. AGC will stay involved in the process along with AIA, ACEC, BOMA, NAIOP, MCA and others to try to craft performance standards that are achievable and help reduce GHG emissions as required in HB19-1261. HB19-1261 requires the state to reduce GHG emissions by at least 26% by 2026, at least 50% by 2030, and at least 90% by 2050.
AGC Represents Construction Industry at July 22 Denver Meeting on Potential Civil Wage Theft Ordinance
On July 22 AGC CEO Michael Gifford attended a stakeholder meeting held by several city council members to address a potential civil wage theft ordinance. Their current proposal goes beyond the just approved criminal wage theft ordinance in Denver and is aimed at creating a way for employees and independent contractors to collect owed wages. The broader civil ordinance would use a wage bond system to address wage theft on construction projects in Denver and provide a way to pay the earned or disputed wages to employees and independent contractors. AGC is participating in the stakeholder process and is advocating several positions, including any ordinance should not single out construction but apply to all industries equally, liability should rest with the offending contractor or company and not travel upstream, and definitions of employees and independent contractors should match with existing state and federal definitions.
AGC Presents Culture of Care Panel and Resources on July 28
AGC hosted a Culture of Care Panel presentation this week to help companies that are seeking to improve their programs for Diversity & Inclusion, as well as Mental Health and Substance Abuse. AGC also held a resource fair on July 28 for members to come to the AGC office and pick up Culture of Care starter kits. To access these resources visit the AGC website at www.agccolorado.org/culture-of-care or contact Culture of Care Manager Erika Anderson at email@example.com.
AGC Renews CHASE Partnership with OSHA
On July 29 AGC Colorado renewed it’s CHASE (Construction Health and Safety Excellence) Partnership with OSHA for the next 5 years. To participate in the program or get more information contact AGC Safety & Environmental Director Brad Gassman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senate Moves Forward on $1.2T Bipartisan Infrastructure Package
Still Awaiting Actual Bill to Confirm Details of Package
On July 28, the Senate agreed, 67-32, to begin debate on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package. Ahead of the vote, the bipartisan group of senators announced it had resolved all major issues on the package. As a result of this initial vote, the Senate will consider the package over the coming days and, perhaps, weeks. However, an actual legislative bill detailing what is in the package has yet-to-be released or formally introduced as of July 29. When a bill is introduced in the Senate and, if passed, the bill will head to the House of Representatives for consideration. A 57-page summary of the bipartisan infrastructure package notes how it includes funding for a host of traditional, physical infrastructure. AGC appreciates and has fought for the significant levels of investment in the package and awaits actual legislative text before considering a formal association endorsement. For more information, click here.
Small Business Administration Formally Abandons “Loan Necessity Questionnaire”
Comes After Persistent AGC Legal Actions Challenging the Questionnaire
On July 29, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that it is “discontinuing” the “Loan Necessity Questionnaire” for all applications for the forgiveness of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $2 million or more (see FAQ #69). AGC sued SBA last December for developing the form entirely in secret, and without public input, and for using the form to change the de facto requirements for the forgiveness of PPP loans over $2M. Since April, AGC and SBA have been negotiating a settlement of that lawsuit, and in the course of those negotiations, AGC learned that SBA had begun the process of discontinuing the form. At the same time, AGC began to receive reports that SBA was finally beginning to grant applications that AGC members had filed months earlier. The formal announcement that SBA is “discontinuing” the form closes the loop and renders it likely that AGC of America will quickly bring its successful lawsuit to a quiet conclusion.
Federal Agencies Implement Mask Requirements in High Transmission Locations
Federal Facilities and Contractors Required to Mask
On July 27, the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Defense announced the implementation of mask mandates for all federal workers, contractors and visitors to federal in areas that have substantial or high community transmission of COVID-19 cases. The order is effective beginning July 28, and federal contractors can expect to see notices and enforcement in these federal facilities. As of the publication of this article, there has been no requirement for mandatory vaccination for federal employees. President Biden is expected to announce a decision as soon as July 29. It is uncertain whether a vaccine mandate will also be expanded to include federal contractors that work in federal facilities or on federal property. To see high community transmission areas, click here.
New Buy American Rule Released for Public Comment
Increases Domestic Content Preferences on Federal Construction Projects
On July 29, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council issued a proposed rule to add and expand Buy American Act requirements on direct federal construction projects (not federal-aid transportation projects). The proposed rule increases the domestic content required to 60% with increases in two years to 70% and then 75% in five years. It permits acceptance of products and construction materials up to six years after publication of the rule which are unavailable at an acceptable cost. It also states that a higher price preference may be identified for critical end products and construction materials. The rule was initiated as a result of President Biden’s Executive Order on Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers. For more information, click here.
AGC Helps Ward Off New Immigration Restrictions on Construction
Due in part to AGC’s advocacy and others, a House fiscal year 2022 funding bill for the U.S. Department of Labor will not include a provision banning the construction industry from utilizing the H-2B seasonal guest worker visa program. The program provides temporary and seasonal workers when domestic workers are unavailable via a lottery process to a wide range of industries, including construction. Given the widespread worker shortages impacting the construction industry, AGC was very concerned of attempts to target and limit the industry’s ability to access the program. AGC will continue to advocate for immigration reforms that helps address construction workforce shortages.
DOL Officially Rescinds Joint Employer Under FLSA Rulemaking
The U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule to rescind a Trump administration rule, “Joint Employer Status under the Fair Labor Standards Act” that took effect in March 2020. The rescinded rule included a description of joint employment the Biden administration believes is contrary to statutory language and Congressional intent. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York vacated most of the rule in 2020. For more information, click here.