FEDERAL UPDATE

Moving Forward Act
House's Infrastructure Bill

The House passed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill last Wednesday.
The legislation, which was crafted by Democrats with no Republican input is not destined to pass the Senate. The measure passed 233-188.

The Garamendi amendment to mandate insourcing of all construction inspection activities was left out of the package of amendments.

In the Senate lawmakers don't have a comparable bill. The Environment and Public Works Committee approved the highway portion of the Senate’s surface transportation bill, S. 2302 (116) , nearly a year ago, but three other committees with partial jurisdiction have yet to produce their parts of the measure, leaving large sections of the legislation unfinished. 

Stay tuned....

Click  here  for ACEC statement on passage of H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act.

Meanwhile, House appropriators advanced their fiscal 2021 Transportation-HUD spending bill through a subcommittee markup on Wednesday, lining up the measure for a full committee vote that's expected next week.
Both parties essentially agree on the core of the bill, although there are some policy riders that Republicans have flagged as unacceptable. The biggest sticking point is a massive $75 billion in emergency funding as a pandemic response, more than a third of which is specifically for infrastructure.  The legislation also includes $78.7 billion in “budgetary resources” for surface transportation programs, in line with the House’s recently passed infrastructure package, H.R. 2 (116) , per a committee summary.
On the Presidential Campaign Trail:

Trump: The president is hitting Atlanta on Wednesday to “tout his administration’s transportation agenda and announce a policy change designed to speed infrastructure projects,” per the Atlanta Journal Constitution . A proposed rule announced in January has now been finalized, and Trump will announce its implementation at his appearance.

Biden: The former vice president said at a campaign stop on Thursday that next week he’ll lay out "an updated blueprint of how we can build a modern, safe sustainable infrastructure and clean energy economy.” 
Source: Politico
Paycheck Protection Program Loan Info Released  - The Small Business Administration has released detailed data on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). In Louisiana, more than 73,800 loans have been approved totaling more than $7.3 billion. Last Saturday, President Trump signed an extension of the PPP, allowing applications to be submitted through August 8. 
ACECL presented Congressman Garret Graves with an ACEC PAC contribution at a Meet and Greet held July 7 at the ACECL offices. Congressman Graves from the 6th Congressional District is a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Natural Resource Committee. Thank you to everyone who contributes to the ACEC national PAC. It enables us to support our delegation and members of key congressional committees.
Today, Congressman Garret Graves introduced The Get America Back to Work Act of 2020, a bipartisan bill that would allow small businesses and their hard workers to reopen without the threat of frivolous lawsuits associated with COVID-19. Click here for more information.
Congressman Mike Johnson of the 4th District and his staff will participate in a ACECL virtual fly in on Tuesday, July 14, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. CST to discuss federal legislation including COVID-19 relief packages and transportation and water infrastructure recovery funding. We are also working on a Meet and Greet with the Congressman in Shreveport to present a PAC check.

Register for the ZOOM meeting by visiting the following link:

STATE NEWS
Below is a recap of activity during the 2020 Special Session as communicated by the state chamber, LABI. There were so many moving parts to the tort reform myriad of bills that I’m relying on their interpretation of the final outcome. ACECL supported HB 57 during the process:

HB 57 by Speaker Schexnayder , the comprehensive legal reform bill that ultimately cleared both chambers and is heading to the governor's desk. The bill will:
  • Lower the jury trial threshold to $10,000;
  • Reform direct action;
  • Repeal the seat belt gag rule;
  • Address collateral source, allowing judges the discretion to award no more than 40 percent of the difference between the amount billed and the amount paid after the verdict. 

The Legislature debated a number of other bills aimed at fixing Louisiana's broken legal system, including the jury trial threshold, direct action and the repeal of the seat belt gag order. HB 57 was a compromise bill, winning broad, bipartisan support in both chambers. Gov. Edwards told reporters at his post-session press conference that he will sign the bill into law.
Tax Relief Bills on the Governor's Desk that may be of interest to ACECL members:
HB 37 by Rep. Lance Harris (R-Alexandria) would require a waiver of penalties and interest for late payment of taxes when it is shown that a taxpayer or his/her tax preparer suffered health impacts due to COVID-19.
 
SB 6 by Sen. Bret Allain (R-Franklin) would suspend state franchise taxes for a one year period ending June 30, 2021 for small corporations with taxable capital of one million dollars or less.
 
SB 26 by Sen. Sharon Hewitt (R-Slidell) would permit a 30-day extension beyond the deadline for filing an application under the Quality Jobs incentive program.
 
The House Appropriations Committee refused to advance HB 25 by Rep. Wright, which would have allowed businesses to apply (carryback) 72 percent of their net operating losses (NOLs) against prior years’ income tax returns for a refund.
DOTD

TEPR Training Announced

The Traffic Engineering Process and Report Training Series is a 2-day class required for those who work on DOTD projects in Traffic Engineering, including DOTD and private industries.
The course provides an overview of the LADOTD Process & Report Guidelines for Traffic Engineering Studies. These classes are meant for an individual with some traffic engineering background.
Registration and Information:
 August 26th: 9am - 4pm, Modules 1 & 2
August 27th: 8am - 12pm, Module 3
(You must sign in to the LTRC system to register for the class)
New 24-102 update : the last advertisement under the old selection process and old 24-102 has a closing date of 7/15/20. To avoid confusion, DOTD will post the new 24-102 after this ad closes. The first advertisement under the “new” selection process and new 24-102 is scheduled to be posted on 7/16/20 and will be posted for 30 calendar days.
Capital Outlay: Governor's Office plans to hold back borrowing for construction projects. They also will ask for an additional $7.5 million that will give the Department of Transportation and Development a total of $30 million – half borrowed, half surplus cash – for the state’s match to a planned federal project to deepen the Mississippi River. Click here for story.
LOCAL NEWS
Mask Mandate with Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. On July 2 , the Baton Rouge Area Chamber hosted a webinar with Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and city-parish officials to address the business community's questions regarding the mask mandate instated

Click here to view webinar.
ACEC NEWS
Webinar Series

COVID-19 Litigation and Ways for Firms to Reduce Risk . I participated in this webinar and think you will find it interesting. Gives update on what courts are doing in terms of lawsuits filed to date and some tips on how to best protect yourself from liability. No silver bullet but good guidance to keep in mind.

You can click here to stream the recording. Click here for presentation slides.
Engineering, Inc. Profile

In the upcoming summer issue of ACEC’s award-winning magazine, Engineering Inc. they will highlight engineers throughout the ACEC family who have had productive engineering careers despite having to overcome a disability. 

They hope to recognize several engineers who have greatly contributed to their firms, their communities and the overall profession with their professional expertise, despite having to also overcome physical challenges. The outcome will be a wonderful story of inspiration for readers.

If you are aware of such an engineer in Louisiana, please contact me so that I can share the information with ACEC.
LAGNIAPPE
If you like stats, visit PAR COVID19 website for all the charts, graphs and statistics you could want to see about COVID19 cases.