Skilled Construction Trades and Respected Contractors
Building Wisconsin Together ®
Welcome to Construction Business Group's Industry Updates.  This monthly e-newsletter will help us communicate the important initiatives that we have underway and relevant updates on issues that impact Wisconsin's construction industry.  
Message from Executive Director  Robb Kahl

Almost immediately after the 2017-2019 Biennial Budget was signed by the Governor, the issues of sustainable transportation funding and the poor condition of many of our State's roads have fallen off the radar of the media and lawmakers. Those of us who work in the industry know that is a mistake. The most recent budget not only didn't solve the transportation crisis, it exacerbated the crisis.
As I reported in June , an overwhelming majority of voters oppose borrowing and construction delays and believe that raising revenue is appropriate.  Despite the public consensus, the 2017-2019 Biennial Budget contained $252 million in borrowing, caused multiple delays, including the cancellation of the I-94 east-west project, and failed to raise revenue. (Despite how some people tried to spin it, the fee on hybrid and electric cars did not meaningfully raise revenue.) Furthermore, the overall transportation budget was $245 million less than the previous biennium, meaning our $1 billion transportation funding gap will continue to grow.
A modern, efficient transportation system is critical to economic growth. This is not a debatable item. It is a well-recognized fact. Companies looking to expand or relocate carefully investigate infrastructure as part of the decision-making process. What will their investigation reveal about Wisconsin?
Federal and local governments, professional associations and special interest groups all agree that Wisconsin's transportation system is in critically poor condition . Most recently, U.S. News' "Best States" survey was released. In the transportation category, Wisconsin's road quality was ranked 49th. Because of other transportation factors such as commute time, Wisconsin's overall transportation ranking crawled up a couple of notches to 41st, which is still an embarrassment.
What will it take for our lawmakers to fix our failing transportation system? Do we have to experience a catastrophic accident like the I-35 bridge collapse in Minnesota before they are motivated to act?
While lawmakers and the media appear happy to ignore the issue until the next budget bill, CBG is keeping a spotlight on the transportation crisis. During Badger football and basketball games, CBG is airing a radio ad that features our shockingly low road quality ranking by U.S. News. At our upcoming Winter Conference on February 22-23, Wisconsin's transportation funding needs will be a topic addressed by multiple presenters. We talk with any group who wants to be educated on the issue and work with any organization who shares our goal of finding a sustainable transportation funding solution.

  February 22-23, 2018
Kalahari Resort
Wisconsin Dells, WI
State & Political Updates,  Legal Updates,  Compliance Hot Topics  and More

Hotel rooms may be booked by calling 877-253-5466.  Tell them you are booking with the Construction Business Group 2018 Winter Conference room block.

Click here for more info

Building Wisconsin Together ®
Supporting the Pathways that Create Jobs

For many years, the K-12 system has been focused on college for all. Yet, Harvard University predicts that 57 percent of the jobs in the future will require skilled training or certification, not a college degree. The industry needs college-educated individuals but a large percentage of construction careers require advanced training through apprenticeship, technical training and certification programs.
Studies like the Pathways for Prosperity by the Harvard Graduate School for Education emphasize the need for more post-secondary education or training to equip young people with the skills and credentials to make successful transitions into the labor market. Career exploration and preparation is now taking center stage in education, and at just the right time for our industry, as 47 percent of Generation Z would consider entering the workforce straight from high school and 60 percent welcome employers offering education in their field in lieu of a college degree.
The Federal House Education & Workforce Committee is currently preparing legislation reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA), and the committee could act on it before the end of the year. The HEA is the law that provides funding for federal student financial aid - about $130 billion a year in loans and Pell Grants - and in the past, the overwhelming lion's share of that money has gone to students in traditional academic programs rather than workforce or career education.

No one expects to level that playing field any time soon. The GOP-led committee is determined to make the law somewhat more workforce-friendly and is talking with industry coalitions about new ways to support pathways such as apprenticeship. As politicians are traveling the state to hear your concerns and gain support, please share our industry concerns about commitment at the state and federal level to support technical careers, like construction, that translate into well-paying jobs.
Industry News and Updates
From the News Stand
Construction falls lead OSHA's top safety violations for 2017
Kim Slowey 
Sep 27, 2017
Dive Brief:
  • Fall protection in the construction industry, specifically, led the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's annual list of the most commonly cited workplace safety violations, according to a preliminary ranking reported by the National Safety Council.
  • Four violations on this year's list are specific to OSHA's Part 1926 - Safety and Health Regulations for Construction, including inadequate fall protection, lack of guardrails for scaffolding, improper use of ladders and lack of fall-protection training, according to Business and Legal Resources.
  • The list is preliminary and the final version is due out in December, though it is not expected to change in the meantime. The category of Fall Protection - Training Requirements is new to OSHA's top 10 this year.
Dive Insight:  
Fall protection has been of particular concern to OSHA as falls remain the leading cause of accidental death on construction sites. Of the 937 job site deaths reported in 2015, 350 were fall-related.

State of Alaska Holds Employer Accountable for Fatal Wall Collapse

Anchorage, AK ( - Contractor Mark Welty, d/b/a North Country Services, has withdrawn his contest of $280,000 in fines assessed by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The department cited him for hazards leading to the workplace death of his employee, Nicholson Tinker. Mr. Welty unlawfully claimed that Mr. Tinker as an "independent contractor" rather than an employee, and willfully exposed Mr. Tinker to unsafe working conditions. The citations and fines will stand as originally imposed by Alaska Occupational Safety and Health (AKOSH).
"Nothing can bring back Nicholson Tinker. I hope this fine sends a clear message. When employers like Mark Welty endanger their workers and unlawfully classify them as independent contractors, our department will seek the strongest penalties possible," said Alaska Labor Commissioner Heidi Drygas.

WEDC Board Signs Off on Foxconn Contract
In late September, state lawmakers approved legislation to implement an agreement between the Governor and the Foxconn Company. The agreement called for the State of Wisconsin to provide up to $3 billion in an economic incentive package in exchange for Foxconn making a capital investment of up $10 billion and creating up to 13,000 full-time jobs with an average annual salary of $53,875.
Since then, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and Foxconn have been in negotiations on a binding contract that would set forth the specific terms and conditions under which the State of Wisconsin would provide the economic incentives to Foxconn. Those negotiations concluded recently. WEDC provided this summary of the contract approved by the WEDC Board.
Governor Walker and Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou are expected to ratify the contract tomorrow thereby clearing the way for the company to begin construction of its manufacturing facilities in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin.

State Senator Sheila Harsdorf Appointed DATCP Secretary
Recently, Governor Walker appointed State Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) to serve as the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). She replaces outgoing Secretary Ben Brancel who retired in August.
By way of background, DATCP has regulatory authority over a variety of commercial activities in Wisconsin including:
  • Enforcement of the state's consumer protection laws, including those relating to deceptive advertising, unfair business practices, and product safety;
  • Licensing and inspection of food-related businesses; and
  • Administration of financial security programs to protect agricultural producers.
Sheila graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor's Degree in Animal Science after which she returned to River Falls to become a loan officer for the Production Credit Association while farming part-time on the family dairy farm. Shortly thereafter, Sheila and her brother, Jim, became partners in the family farm.
She represented the 30th Assembly District in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1989 to 1998. In 2000, Sheila was elected to the Wisconsin State Senate to represent the residents of the 10th Senate District - Burnett, Dunn, Pierce, Polk and St. Croix counties. During her service in the Wisconsin State Legislature, she served on the legislature's budget-writing committee as well as committees with jurisdiction over agriculture-related laws, regulations and programs.  
Legislative Alerts
State Senate Unanimously Approves UI Reform Legislation

Every two years, the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council (UIAC) is required to submit its recommended changes to Wisconsin's Unemployment Insurance (UI) law to the State Legislature for review and consideration.
Recently, the State Senate unanimously approved the UIAC recommendations for the 2017-2018 legislative session. While the majority of the proposed changes are technical modifications, there are three significant provisions. They are:
1. Ineligibility for Concealment of Holiday, Vacation, Termination, or Sick Pay
UI claimants who conceal wages on a UI claim are ineligible for UI benefits for that week. The UIAC proposal specifies that UI claimants who conceal holiday, vacation, termination, or sick pay would also be ineligible for UI benefits in the week they conceal such pay.
2. Ineligibility for Failure to Provide Information
The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) may require any UI claimant to answer questions relating to the claimant's eligibility for UI benefits. A UI claimant is ineligible to receive UI benefits for any week in which the UI claimant fails to comply with a request by DWD to provide the information until the UI claimant complies with the request. If a UI claimant later complies with such a request, the UI claimant is eligible to receive UI benefits as of the week in which the failure to provide information occurred.
The UIAC proposal specifies that UI claimants who fail to answer DWD eligibility questions are ineligible for UI benefits beginning with the week involving the eligibility issue, not the week in which the claimant fails to answer the Department's questions.
3. Revisions to Pre-Employment Drug Testing
Wisconsin employers may voluntarily report the name of anyone who either fails or refuses to take a pre-employment drug test that is a condition of the offer of employment. Failing or refusing to take a pre-employment drug test is presumed to be a refusal of suitable work. If a UI claimant fails a pre-employment drug test (without a valid prescription) and has not established that they had good cause, the UI claimant will be offered the option to attend treatment and complete a skills assessment before UI benefits are denied.
Under the UIAC proposal, employers who submit information to DWD about individuals who fail or refuse to take drug tests would be provided with civil immunity for acts or omissions with respect to such submissions. Furthermore, the UIAC proposal clarifies that all information related to drug testing and prescription medication is confidential.
While we support the UIAC recommendations, we are disappointed that the Council failed to reach consensus on reasonable changes to the work search requirements for seasonal employees. The existing requirements make it difficult for seasonal employers to retain their workers.

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