March 12, 2021
LEGISLATIVE NEWS
$1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Bill Contains State & Local Government, Transit, & Pension Funding
Congress passed on March 10 and the president signed the “American Rescue Plan” into law on March 11 the $1.9 trillion COVID-relief bill, which provides $350 billion for state and local governments, $168 billion for K-12 schools and higher education, $30.5 billion for public transit and $8 billion for airports. Minnesota will receive $2.5 billion to add to the state’s projected $1B surplus. For more information on how these funds are broken down and distributed, click here.
$86 Billion for Critical and Declining Multi-Employer Pension Plans

$86 billion is directed toward an estimated 100 or so critical and declining multi-employer pension plans (some of which are in the construction sector). The funding relief is channeled through a newly created Special Financial Assistance Program and provides a one-time lump sum payment to eligible plans to pay all benefits through 2051 (30 years) with no expectation of repayment. Starting in 2031 PBGC premiums would be increased to $52/year and indexed for inflation every year after for all plans and participants. Premiums are currently scheduled to be about $43 in 2031 because of indexing. The provisions do not include any allowance for creating or transition to hybrid plans or alternative design plans. Further information and details can be found here.
Next Up: Infrastructure Bill?
 
Infrastructure is expected to become a bigger focus after Congress finishes work on a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. The chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), is aiming for a transportation bill at the end of spring, and the Senate is looking to frame it up before Memorial Day.
House of Representatives Passes the PRO Act
On March 9, the House of Representatives passed the “Protecting the Right to Organize” (PRO) Act on a largely party line 225-206 vote. Legislative action now moves to the Senate, where 45 Democrats have pledged their support to pass the PRO Act. If calls to eliminate or “reform” the filibuster are heeded, Senate Democrats will look to pass the PRO Act, Vice President Harris could break a 50-50 tie.
State Capitol Building Remains Closed, But Plenty of Virtual Work Continues

March is always a busy time of year at the legislature with a flurry of activity ahead of key deadlines. The AGC Government Relations team continues to advocate for a robust transportation program at the state during this budget setting year, as well as supporting a public works bill and PPP tax conformity. The one-time funding from Congress through the American Rescue Plan certainly will be a difference maker for economic recovery, but it’s also important that the MN legislature continue to invest in our infrastructure.

One policy bill heard in the Senate and House committees this week is familiar to the construction industry- the duty to defend. The bill makes illegal the duty to defend another and replacing what has been the duty to defend with defense costs becoming an indemnifiable cost at the end of the litigation. This is a change in how insurance works and how owners, generals and subcontractors cooperate to defend claims. The bill also prohibits the use of project-specific insurance. AGC is actively working with proponents to find acceptable language that meets the needs and interests of all parties.
 
On Thursday, the MN Senate passed Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) tax conformity legislation. The bill ensures that PPP loans are not considered taxable income by the state, which brings the state in line with federal tax policy. The MN House has not voted on the bill. Please reach out to your representative if you haven’t already to tell them about the importance of this bill for your business.

The AGC Legislative Committee meets next Thursday, March 18th at 11:30 A.M. Please join us! Contact Laura Ziegler for the Zoom information.
LABOR & LEGAL NEWS
New AGC Form Contracts

The AGC Contracts Committee has been working to create a new Owner-Contractor form, which will be perfect for times when contractors need a Minnesota industry short form to work directly with owners. This form will also be available as part of a full suite of contracts: Owner-General-Subcontractor-Material Purchases-ITO.

The new contracts will be released in the next month. If you currently are using an AGC form contract, we are extending that license through March 2021.
GENERAL NEWS
New Industry Survey Results Released
AGC of America Survey Results

AGC of America released the results of their COVID-19 survey yesterday.
Minneapolis Fed Survey Results

The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis released the results of their "Construction Conditions in the Ninth District" survey last week.
2021-2022 AGC of Minnesota Foundation Scholarships Open

Students enrolled in an accredited post-secondary institution in a construction field are encouraged to apply for the AGC of Minnesota Foundation 2021-2022 scholarships. Application and instructions can be found here.
AGC Workforce Development Scholarships Open

The AGC Education and Research Foundation offers Workforce Development Scholarships to students enrolled in accredited technical schools or craft training programs in any discipline of commercial construction. Students in technical or approved craft training programs will have until June 1st to apply for $1,000 scholarships (renewal for up to two years) from the AGC Education and Research Foundation.

To review the complete list of criteria click here. Students can click here to apply.  The Education and Research Foundation is committed to taking steps to ensure students have the technical skills needed to immediately enter into the commercial construction workforce. For further questions, contact Courtney Bishop.
DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION NEWS
Sexism in the Workplace Toolkit

In honor of Women in Construction Week, AGC has released a new Culture of CARE resource. The Sexism in the Workplace Toolkit consists of three toolbox talks that walk through three key areas:

  1. Understanding Sexism
  2. Risk of Sexism in Construction
  3. Interrupting Sexism in the Construction Workplace

The toolkit also includes a discussion guide to help your company prepare for and successfully hold discussions with your employees about sexism in the workplace, and create actionable next steps following those conversations. Find the Sexism in the Workplace Toolkit and other Culture of CARE resources here.
Racial Equity in the Workplace: Learning Series

Join the Washington Business Journal for a 4-part virtual series that will help participants uncover the historic foundations of systemic racism, how that system is intertwined with the business community and what business leaders are doing to create a more equitable future. More info and registration here.
AGC of Minnesota welcomes the following new members:
EDUCATION & EVENTS
This Week is Women in Construction Week

According to the National Association of Women in Construction, women make up 9.9 percent of the construction industry in the United States.

Governor Walz has proclaimed this week, March 7-13, 2021 as Women in Construction Week in Minnesota. Click the image on the right for a flyer full of ways to participate in WIC Week 2021, and click here for event registration information.

A feature article in the March/April 2021 issue of Constructor magazine tells the story of the women team members at Flatiron, a member of multiple AGC chapters, who for the first time ever are wearing certified Class-3 safety vest designed specifically for female bodies.
National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction: May 3-7

OSHA announced that it has scheduled the eighth annual National Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction for May 3-7, 2021. OSHA encourages construction employers and other stakeholders to join the event to promote awareness and training to address one of the industry’s most serious dangers.

OSHA’s Fall Prevention Stand-Down webpage offers a wide range of compliance resources in many languages.
Materials Matter: New Educational Series

AIA Minnesota is launching a new continuing education series customized for the Minnesota industry. Get all the details here.
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