Tuesday February 13
NEWS
Industry groups favor infrastructure bill details, but question funding

UPDATE, Feb. 13, 2018: Industry groups, including the Associated General Contractors of America, Associated Builders and Contractors and Construction Employers of America, issued statements reacting to President Donald Trump's 55-page infrastructure outline. Although they generally applaud it as a step in the right direction, questions remain about the ability to fund the plan. Scroll down to read statements from each of the groups.
  • President Trump today unveiled details of his infrastructure bill, in which he requests that Congress stimulate at least $1.5 trillion in new infrastructure investment throughout the next decade, shorten the process for approving projects to two years or less, address unmet rural infrastructure needs, empower state and local authorities and train the American workforce. Only $200 billion of the total $1.5 trillion would come from the federal government; the rest is expected to financed by states, localities and public-private partnerships.
  • The Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America is divided into four parts: Funding and financing infrastructure improvements, additional provisions for infrastructure improvements, infrastructure permitting improvement and workforce development. Read More...
You can fix internal skills gaps — but you have to find them first

From customer complaints to repeated injuries, the difference between a well-trained employee and one who isn't can cost your business dearly. Bridging these training gaps is critical to employee and employer success, and identifying them correctly is the first step.
Are tools or equipment at fault? Are processes the problem? Are new products or platforms being used incorrectly? When learning professionals identifying whether and where knowledge is lacking, they can not only fill any gaps but also help employees understand how and why training works. And when training works, employees seek it out — good news for both upskilling and engagement.
Talent wants training
Top talent is looking for training to advance their careers. If you don’t provide it, your competition will. “Our latest research found 65% of all employees expect to receive career guidance from their managers and other leaders," says Stacey Force, vice president of ManpowerGroup Global Marketing.
For many companies, training and upskilling existing employees is a better option than trying to hire externally. Manpower’s  2016-2017 Talent Shortage Survey  found that 53% of businesses surveyed employ this practice. Current staff may not have the particular skills required for an opening, but they understand the company's culture and practices. There, the training path is easily identified. However, gaps aren't always that clear-cut. Read More...
Wheeling Park Commission Names Next CEO
WHEELING — After an extensive nationwide search, the Wheeling Park Commission today announced that David Lindelow has been chosen as its new president and CEO, effective April 1.
Lindelow will take over from Steve Hilliard, who is retiring March 31 to spend more time with his wife and family.
“In Mr. Lindelow we have found a president and CEO with an impressive track record of success in the tourism and hospitality industry,”  said Wilbur S.  “Bill”  Jones, chairman of the Wheeling Park Commission.  “We believe that Mr. Lindelow’s depth of experience and demonstrated leadership will benefit both Oglebay and Wheeling Park as we strive to enhance our park system for the future.”
Lindelow has served most recentlyas general manager of The Abbey Resort, a 90-acre destination resort on Lake Geneva in Fontana, Wis. There, he led multi-million-dollar renovation initiatives while significantly increasing occupancy and revenue. Read More...
EQT to begin construction on long-awaited pipeline

The long-awaited Mountain Valley Pipeline will begin construction next week — and will be joined next year by a pipeline in southwestern Pennsylvania that will connect the gas fields here to the Mountain Valley and the more profitable markets beyond.

Shovels will start to go into the ground in West Virginia next week for the 303-mile, $3.5 billion pipeline through West Virginia and Virginia. The project will employ about 6,000 full-time construction workers between now and the December 2018 operational date, said Jerry Ashcroft, senior vice president of EQT Corp. (NYSE: EQT) and president of the midstream business as well as chief operating officer of EQT Midstream Partners (NYSE: EQM).

That will be followed in 2019 by the Hammerhead Pipeline, a 57-mile gathering header pipeline that will take southwestern Pennsylvania gas and connect it to the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Originally announced in 2015 in a deal with Range Resources Corp. (NYSE: RRC), Ashcroft said the Hammerhead project has been expanded to include EQT gas production as well as the gas that EQT acquired in its November 2017 acquisition of Rice Energy (NYSE: RICE).

The Hammerhead pipeline will be able to accommodate all of that with a capacity of 1.2 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas when it's up and running and will cost about $460 million, according to materials presented by EQT.

A way to transport natural gas from southwestern Pennsylvania to other markets is vitally important to EQT and other natural gas producers.

"Our focus is how do we get the gas out to other markets," Ashcroft said. While that could theoretically be all directions, the most pressing are for the southern consumer gas markets and the Gulf Coast's growing petrochemical industry. That's what the Mountain Valley Pipeline is designed for, he said.

The pipeline, however, has faced regulatory and terrain challenges. What was originally considered to be a one- or two-year process for EQT and its partners has stretched to more than three years, although with key permits from West Virginia in hand, construction is now ready to start across what Ashcroft called some of the toughest terrain. But EQT Midstream has put a lot of thought into the process of construction for efficiency, he said.

"We look at it as building nine pipelines at one time," Ashcroft said.

And there could be more pipelines in EQT and EQT Midstream's future. He said that midstream strategy has to be built out over at least three years.

"You have to start talking about 2021, 2022, 2023 now ... to meet demand," Ashcroft said.

Also upcoming is a decision on EQT's midstream structure. Currently, there's EQT, EQT Midstream, the general partner EQT GP (NYSE: EQGP) and, with the Rice acquisition, Rice Midstream Partners (NYSE: RMP).

"We're looking at a simplification of those," Ashcroft said. There will be another dropdown of Rice's assets into EQT Midstream and a decision on that simplification in 2018.

He praised the Rice management and operations team, which he said had done a great job and were transitioning well into the combined company.

"There's been a nice chemistry between the teams," Ashcroft said. "It's really gone very well."
8 Big Tax Law Changes and What You Can Do About Them
We’ve barely begun the new year, but you may already have your 2018 tax return on the brain — and for good reason. Between new tax brackets and drastic changes to deductions, you might be wondering: What does all this really mean for my tax bill next year?
Because the tax law changes are so significant, it’s a good idea to think early about what adjustments you should make so that you won’t be taken by surprise come next April. Here are some of the biggest changes that could affect your individual tax return.
1.LOWER TAX BRACKETS
What’s Changed: While there are still seven tax brackets, they’ve all shifted downward slightly, which means nearly everyone will be in a lower tax bracket for 2018 than they were in 2017.
For the 2017 tax year, the tax brackets were 10 percent, 15 percent, 25 percent, 28 percent, 33 percent, 35 percent, and 39.6 percent.
For 2018, the new tax brackets, along with their corresponding income ranges, are : Read More.. . .

EVENTS
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
WEST VIRGINIA

The Legislature has passed the half way mark of its annual 60 day legislative session. As usual, the pace of legislative activity will quicken remarkably as lawmakers race to complete action on a budget, bills and resolutions before its March 10 conclusion date.
Here is a list of the most important policies and legislation still under consideration at the statehouse:

Taxes 

Although there have not been any strong push for any large tax increases this year, that could change if lawmakers decide to give teachers a salary increase that exceeds the House passed 2% level. Governor Justice is still advocating for a more favorable 1% increase for 5 consecutive years. The Governor has also pledged that he will cap PEIA premium increases at 2017 levels. Consequently, the much anticipated reduction in the business and inventory property tax (HJR 106) has been put on hold until a final teacher pay increase has been settled. The inventory tax was slated to be phased out over seven years at a cost of $20 million per year.

Business Issues

HB 4317 - Contractor Licensing Board make up, terms and duties. The biggest component of the legislation is the decision to remove the Board out from under the Division of Labor and place it under Professional Services.
SB 284 - Legislation creating a program for free tuition at accredited technical and community colleges. The bill has passed the Senate and is awaiting House Education Committee markup. The Associated Construction Trades organization (ACT) is working to include certified apprenticeship programs in the tuition waiver eligibility under the workforce training section in the bill.
SB 335 - Legislation that would require an annual voluntary registration for the withholding of agency shop fees that are used for political,purposes. This is the second step (Right to Work was the first) in weakening organized labor’s ability to invest in the political process. It has passed the Senate and is awaiting House action.
SB 458 - Legislation prohibiting any political subdivision from adopting or enforcing any ordinance, regulation, policy or resolution that would offer a wage that is higher than any state or federal law. The proposal would also prevent any city or county from paying any fringe benefits obligated by prevailing wage as well as preclude any local jurisdiction from requiring anything more than criminal records for employee applications. The bill is on first reading in the Senate. Once passed by the Senate, it will go to the House for review and consideration.

Tort Reform

HB 4013 - Legislation stating that a non resident cannot bring a cause of action in WV unless a substantial part of the acts or omissions have occurred in the state. 

SB 341 - A bill that would create an Intermediate Appellate Court in WV. The legislation would create two three judge panels that would work the northern and southern parts of the state. The judicial panels would be mobile in various courtrooms throughout the state. The Intermediate Court would act only on civil, family law and administrative law cases. 

Energy

The full House will soon vote on the controversial Cotenancy legislation, HB 4268. Cotenancy is a legal term that allows for the drilling for natural gas and minerals once 75% of drilling units have been secured by lease. Any unleased cotenant would be paid the highest royalty rate in the unit as a consideration for their forced participation in a more efficient manner of mineral development. Presently, WV mineral law requires that all mineral owners be leased before production can commence. This process ha been referred to as the tyranny of the minority because it allowed for one fractional owner to prevent others from enjoying their right to produce their owned minerals. The legislation will have to proceed to the Senate for further consideration.

OHIO

The Ohio General Assembly Leadership has announced that it has successfully concluded its work in resolving the state’s redistributing controversy. An amendment to the state’s constitution, Senate Joint Resolution 5, should be ready to go to voters in the May election. The plan calls for: legislative control over district boundaries; maps that reflect no political party favoritism; communities and local jurisdictions to be kept whole on district lines; and, bipartisan mechanisms for resolving disputes. 

Legislative leaders have just concluded a multi week PR blitz to state decision makers and newspapers advocating for passage of HB 352, the Unemployment Compensation Reform Bill. The bill has been mired in a legislative impasse since labor and business groups have failed to agree on any of the major changes to funding and eligibility. House leaders have indicated that it wants a vote on the controversial measure before the end of the session. This pledge is proving very difficult given the political stakes and the loom
SAFETY AND EDUCATION
Renewed OSHA alliance to focus on hazards ‘unique to female construction workers’

Washington — OSHA has  renewed its alliance  with the National Association of Women in Construction “to continue promoting safe and healthful working conditions for female construction workers.”
As part of the  OSHA Alliance Program , the five-year pact will target hazards specific to women in construction, including selection of personal protective equipment, sanitation, and workplace intimidation and violence, a Dec. 15 OSHA press release states. The alliance began in 2013.
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“Women represent a small, but growing, segment of the construction workforce,” Loren Sweatt, OSHA’s acting assistant secretary of labor, said in the release. “OSHA’s renewed alliance with NAWIC will continue to promote innovative solutions to safety and health hazards unique to female construction workers.” Read More...
PLAN ROOM NEWS
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Ohio Valley Construction Employers Council

Ginny Favede, Executive Director

Telephone 304-242-0520 Fax 304-242-7261 Website          www.ovcec.com
21 Armory Drive Wheeling West Virginia 26003