AGC Advocacy Report
Michael Gifford, AGC President & CEO
January 22, 2021
AGC Meets with Denver Mayor Hancock for Update on Economic Recovery Efforts
AGC CEO Michael Gifford met with Denver Mayor Hancock and other members of the Economic Relief & Recovery Council this week to continue plans for economic recovery in Denver. Gifford and others pressed for continued acceleration of bond funded projects by the city to fill in an expected gap in 2021 commercial construction starts.
AGC Meets with CDLE to Discuss Unemployment Insurance Claim Fraud
AGC CEO Michael Gifford met with Colorado Dept of Labor & Employment this week to discuss ongoing fraudulent unemployment insurance claims being received by Colorado employers and employees. The danger of this scam is both unauthorized use of claim funds and identity theft. CDLE informed AGC that the dept was going live with a new software system for employees this week that would reduce fraudulent claims going forward. The dept will also develop a new employer software system in 2021. Here is a reminder of the actions an employee should take if they or their employer discover a fraudulent claim. The employee can report the fraudulent claim by going to:
Click on "Report Fraud"
Click on "You received unemployment paperwork or a Debit Card without claim"
There is also information for the victim on that tab on next steps to take re: ID theft. Please pass this along to your colleagues.
AGC Legislative Committee Meets on Jan 19
The AGC Legislative Committee held it’s first meeting of 2021 on Tuesday Jan 19 virtually and reviewed the upcoming legislative session and pending ballot issues in Denver. To join the committee contact Polly Mize at firstname.lastname@example.org
Polluters Must Pay and Waste No More Ballot Measures Filed in Denver
Proponents have submitted 2 Initiated Ordinances to the City & County of Denver and will try to collect the 9,000 signatures to qualify each measure for the Nov. 2021 ballot. The first ordinance is a Carbon Tax on commercial and residential buildings on all energy use that comes from oil & gas (both gas and electric). The costs to a commercial building owner in Denver would be very high. The second ordinance would require recycling and composting at all commercial and apartment buildings and recycling at all construction sites. AGC is evaluating these 2 proposed measures. Stay tuned for more info…
CEF Visits Tiny Home Village in the Cole Neighborhood and CICC Constructed Tiny Homes
Construction Education Foundation Executive Director Bryan Cook and representatives of the Downtown Denver Partnership Business Coalition on Homelessness toured the Tiny Home Village in the Cole Neighborhood this week. The Tiny Home Village in the Cole Neighborhood consists of 14 tiny homes for women and transgender individuals experiencing homelessness. Students in CEF’s Careers in Construction program at the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus constructed 6 of the 14 tiny homes on the site.
Trump Administration Regulatory Reform Framework Is Undone
President Biden Revokes Several Trump E.O.s
On January 20, President Biden issued an executive order (EO) that rescinds many executive orders issued under the Trump Administration aimed at streamlining federal regulation. Among those rescinded are the EO that required federal agencies eliminate two old regulations for each new regulation issued and created a regulatory budget by establishing a regulatory cap on federal agencies (E.O. 13771); an EO that created a regulatory reform task force and regulatory reform officers to ensure the implementation of the Administration’s deregulatory agenda (E.O. 13777); and an EO that required agencies to include proposals for reducing mandatory spending whenever an agency proposed to undertake a discretionary administrative action that would increase mandatory spending (Executive Order 13893). That stated, this does not mean new federal regulations will be issued from agencies immediately. It generally takes many months and/or years to rollback regulations or issue new ones. AGC is prepared to fight regulatory actions that negatively impact the construction industry put forth by this administration, as it has done with every administration, regardless of political party.
President Biden Moves on COVID Safety Requirements in Federal Buildings and on Federal Lands
Impact on Federal Construction Projects Unclear
On January 20, President Biden issued an executive order (EO) requiring the wearing of masks, adherence to physical distancing, and other public health measures as provided in CDC guidelines for on-site federal contractors and other individuals in federal buildings and on federal lands. “Federal buildings” means buildings, or office space within buildings, owned, rented, or leased by the executive branch of which a substantial portion of occupants are federal employees or federal contractors. “Federal lands” means lands under executive branch control. Based on these definitions, it would be reasonable to surmise that these requirements would not apply to federal-aid transportation construction contractors, unless they are performing work on federal lands. That stated, the EO leaves much of the details to individual federal agencies’ determination as to exactly how it will be implemented and if it impacts federal construction projects. Construction firms around the country are already following CDC guidelines and other state and local COVID safety and health requirements.
Biden Administration Looks to Prioritize Immigration Reform
On January 20, President Biden released a legislative proposal to reform the nation’s immigration system. The proposal is separate from presidential actions halting construction of the southern border wall or preserving and fortifying Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The legislative reform proposal would create a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented individuals through a multi-year process if individuals pay taxes, pass background checks, and meet other requirements. Other individuals, such as those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, could receive permanent status immediately. Extending long-term legal certainty to DACA and TPS has long been a priority of AGC, as more than 100,000 individuals in those programs are estimated to be working in the construction industry today. Despite AGC and others advocating for comprehensive immigration reform over the past two decades, those efforts have been stymied under both Republican and Democratic administrations. AGC looks forward to working with Congress on immigration reform that strengthens national security, functions efficiently and fairly, and addresses future workforce needs.
Biden Revokes AGC-Opposed D&I Training Restrictions
On January 20, President Biden revoked the Trump Administration’s controversial executive order on diversity and inclusion training. The order, Executive Order 13950, places restrictions on the content that federal contractors, grantees, and agencies, as well as the military, could cover in employee training. AGC and other stakeholders in the business community called on President Trump to withdraw the confusing order last October. In December, a federal court issued a nationwide preliminary injunction temporarily halting implementation of the restrictions on federal contractors and grantees. For further information, please click here.
President Biden Signs Executive Orders Affecting Environmental Policy
On January 20, President Biden signed several executive orders to start work on his campaign promises to take steps on climate change and environmental justice as well as heighten enforcement. The transition team circulated a list of regulations to review including many that AGC has advocated on in recent years, such as waters of the United States (WOTUS), species concerns, and streamlining of federal reviews and approvals. This review process will take time and in some cases years to occur; and AGC will continue to stay engaged. As is commonly done, the Biden Administration initiated an immediate freeze on all federal rulemakings that are underway and called for a delay of final rules that have not yet gone into effect. For further information, please click here.
President Biden Orders Halt to Border Wall Construction
Directs Agencies to Formulate Plan to Redirect Funding
On January 20, President Biden issued a proclamation to “pause” construction of the southern border wall within seven days. The proclamation also directs the federal agencies to formulate a plan within 60 days to redirect funding for the border wall, and tasks the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security to resume, modify, or terminate such projects. President Biden’s proclamation rescinds the national emergency declaration issued under the Trump Administration to divert roughly $10 billion towards construction along the southern border. The pause applies to both border wall projects funded by redirected funds and border wall projects funded by direct appropriations from Congress. However, it also allows the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security to make exceptions to the pause. AGC will help inform federal agencies about the best pathways ahead for contractors and taxpayers.
Buttigieg Confirmation Hearing Held in Senate
Final Vote on Nomination Expected in Coming Weeks
On January 21, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a hearing to evaluate the nomination of Pete Buttigieg to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. During the hearing, Buttigieg affirmed his commitment to the Biden Administration’s plans to prioritize rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, stating, “We have a lot of work to do to improve infrastructure in this country… now is the time and I believe we have a chance to deliver for the American people.” Buttigieg went on to state that “all options are on the table” in terms of financing a large infrastructure investment. Ahead of the hearing, AGC stated its support for Buttigieg’s confirmation and called on the committee to expeditiously advance his nomination. Pending an expected positive approval by the committee, Buttigieg’s nomination will advance to the full Senate for a final vote in the coming weeks. Once confirmed, AGC looks forward to working with Mr. Buttigieg to address the vital needs of our nation’s infrastructure.
#AGCRisk2021: Join the Best and Brightest in Construction Risk Management
Featuring a January virtual-only event and a June in-person conference, AGC’s Construction Risk Management Two-Part Program offers contractors and their risk partners two opportunities in 2021 to network, share ideas and shape the business environment. The virtual event will provide you with a first-half outlook at the U.S. economy, the surety and insurance marketplace, and the construction risk environment. You can view the agenda and speaker details for the virtual First-Half Outlook for the coming year (Part 1 on January 26-28) here. And learn more here about AGC’s annual in-person risk management conference (Part 2 in Bonita Springs, Florida, on June 2-4, 2021). Surety bonds, insurance policies, construction contracts, and construction operations are all open for discussion. #AGCRisk2021 will benefit anyone interested in controlling the cost of managing the risks inherent in the changing construction industry. Register today (registration options are selected during checkout).
DOL Publishes Guidance on FFCRA Paid Leave Expiration
Tax Credits for Voluntarily Providing Leave Temporarily Extended
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) posted announced additional guidance to provide information about protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA’s paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave requirements expired on Dec. 31, 2020. Click here to learn more.
DOL Issues Guidance on Electronic Posting of Required Notices
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has issued new guidance in its ongoing efforts to support the American workforce through the pandemic recovery. As employers continue to meet the challenges presented to their businesses by the coronavirus, and as telework arrangements and virtual communication increasingly provide solutions, the agency provides additional guidance to maximize the benefits of these arrangements for employers and workers alike. Click here to learn more.
DOL Finalizes Independent Contractor Classification Rule
The U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule(link is external) clarifying the standard for employee versus independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The rule takes effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, on March 8, 2021. However, AGC expects the incoming Biden administration to reexamine the rule prior to it becoming effective. Click here to learn more.
EEOC Revises Compliance Manual Section on Religious Discrimination
On January 15, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) voted to approve revisions to EEOC’s Compliance Manual Section on Religious Discrimination. The Commission had not updated the Compliance Manual since 2008. Click here to learn more.