June 25, 2021
Word of the Week: Bipartisan
MN Legislature Passes Transportation Budget and a Broad Infrastructure Deal Struck in D.C. 

Governor Walz has the state’s transportation budget bill for FY 2022-23 on his desk, just hours after the Senate unanimously passed it Thursday afternoon. He has indicated he will sign the $7.27 billion dollar bill, which also received strong bipartisan support from the House when they debated the bill on Wednesday. With these assurances, state projects will not be directed to pause or stop. The bill includes $220.4 million in net General Fund spending over base budget with $6.49 billion for the Department of Transportation, $516.3 million for the Department of Public Safety and $235.7 million for the Metropolitan Council. It also contains over $400 million in trunk highway bonds.

MnDOT relayed that they will send out a rescission of their official notice to contractors regarding shutdown planning after the Governor has signed the bill into law.

As evidenced by the news stories over the last few weeks, as well as references by legislators during debate, AGC member voices were clearly heard regarding the negative impacts that are imposed on contractors when shutdown planning begins. Thank you to everyone who reached out to your legislators and leadership!

Below are some of the transportation provisions of high interest to AGC members:
  • $100 million increase in State Road Construction
  • $413 million in Trunk Highway Bonds
  • $113m will go to specific regional and community investment projects: o  Ramsey/Gateway/US Hwy 10 ($31m), US Hwy 10 in Wadena ($30m), I-94 Westbound in Albertville ($27m), and US Hwy 212 in Carver County ($25m)
o  $100m State Road Construction
o  Additional $200m in FY 24-25 for the Corridors of Commerce Program
  • Extension of the Construction Manager/General Contractor (CMGC) procurement program from 10 to 20 projects and reduction of the annual cap on projects from four to three/year
  • Study of work zone safety and speed management by MnDOT and the Dept. of Public Safety
  • Study by the University of MN on the impacts of the pandemic on public transportation 

What About Bonding?
There is a bill moving that would make corrections to the historic 2020 bonding bill, but there has not been agreement on a separate, smaller ($400-$500m) public works bill this year.

Other Special Session Negotiations
There are 13 budget areas for the State that require action. As of Friday morning, the Legislature has passed six budget bills. Five more are slated to be heard today and tomorrow, and another two areas have negotiated agreements publicly available. The sole area that has yet to wrap up negotiations is Judiciary/Public Safety. However, a wrinkle has been added to the State Government bill with a likely amendment in the Senate to end the Governor’s emergency powers on July 1. The Governor has stated he plans to end the peacetime state of emergency related to the pandemic on August 1.

Reminder: COVID-19 Business Requirements Expire Next Week
On May 6, Governor Tim Walz announced an off-ramp for pandemic-related limitations and issued Executive Order 21-21- Safely Sunsetting COVID-19 Public Health Restrictions. The order began a three-step process to end current restrictions related to the pandemic and the third and final step is approaching. Until June 30, 2021 (or until 70% of Minnesotans aged 16+ receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine), business and places of public accommodation are subject only to limited requirements in the COVID-19 Universal Guidance for All Businesses and Entities. Businesses can continue to impose their own limitations or restrictions, such as face coverings.

What’s Next?
Capitol news at both the state and federal level is rapidly changing. You can expect a more detailed post-session review of the transportation bill, taxes (includes PPP conformity), and other measures affecting the construction industry in the coming weeks. Please contact Laura Ziegler, Director of Highway/Heavy and Government Affairs, with any questions in the meantime.

“We Have a Deal.”
Bipartisan Infrastructure Package Details Revealed

What happened: A bipartisan group of senators and President Joe Biden reached an agreement June 24 to invest $973 billion in infrastructure over 5 years, including a new surface transportation reauthorization law. Legislative text has not been drafted, but available details indicate the deal would provide $579 billion in new spending for various infrastructure programs beyond current baseline funding levels, including:
  • Roads, bridges, and major projects: $109 billion 
  • Public transportation: $49 billion
  • Safety: $11 billion
The spending package would be offset by a range of measures that include: 
  • repurposing unused 2020 COVID-19 relief aid;
  • increasing IRS enforcement; 
  • financing options like public-private partnerships and bonding programs; and 
  • allowing states to purchase unused toll credits for infrastructure. 
Why it matters: The bipartisan agreement is an important step toward getting a surface transportation bill signed into law in advance of the current law’s Sept. 30 expiration. A new surface transportation bill must receive 60 votes in the Senate to advance, requiring bipartisan support in the evenly divided chamber. 

What’s next: The House plans to consider during next week the INVEST in America Act, which contains a five-year, $584 billion surface transportation bill. It is expected to pass with mostly Democratic votes. Next, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is planning to move the bipartisan infrastructure package on a dual track with a broader budget reconciliation package containing additional Democratic priorities. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House will only take up the Senate’s measures once both have advanced. President Biden echoed this sentiment when he committed to only signing legislation after both measures pass Congress.
The timing of final enactment of an infrastructure package and associated surface transportation programs policy changes is unclear right now.

Update provided by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA). AGC of MN will continue to work closely with ARTBA and AGC of America as new developments advance.
Take Action to Stop Construction Materials Price Surges

As construction materials remain at record high prices and face continued availability challenges, President Biden and Congress are taking actions to make things worse. Meanwhile, construction firms around the country are absorbing these costs—which would better be invested in recruiting and retaining construction workers—without significant relief in sight.

Please click below to tell President Biden and Congress to take actions to improve the construction supply chain, not make it worse. 
Congratulations to Mike McShane!

Mike McShane of Northern Dewatering was the recipient of the Yeti cooler giveaway. Thank you to ALL our members who have signed up to receive AGC's legislative action alerts! These alerts allow you to take quick and timely action on issues that affect the construction industry.
Sign up today!
MONDAY: Joint Technical Committee Meeting

MNDOT-AGC-MAPA Bituminous Committee
Monday, June 28
2:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Via Zoom

Email Laura Ziegler at lziegler@agcmn.org for the log in information.
AGC Defeats SBA Loan Questionnaire

AGC of America sued the Small Business Association for requiring the burdensome, pedantic “Loan Necessity Questionnaire” to receive forgiveness of Paycheck Protection Program Loans of over $2M. A series of conversations later, SBA said that it is in the process of discontinuing and withdrawing the Questionnaire.

Although unfortunate that it took these actions to bring SBA to realize the difficulties the Questionnaire created for contractors and other businesses, kudos for owning the issue eventually and correcting course. This win should make receiving forgiveness decisions quicker and more consistent.
Nominations Open for Jeff Jensen Safety Award
The Jeff Jensen Memorial Construction Safety Excellence Award ​​was established by AGC of Minnesota in 2003 following the untimely and early death of Jeff Jensen, the third-generation owner of J.R. Jensen & Son, Inc. This annual award for superior efforts and results in jobsite safety honors Jeff's unfailing commitment to safety in the workplace.

Nominations are now open for awards to be given for 2020 work hours and safety records. Awards will be presented in 3 categories: Category I (0 – 149,999 hours), Category II (150,000 – 299,999 hours), and Category III (300,000+ hours).

Last Year's Award Recipients:
Category I
Category II
Category III
Take the Pledge: Become a Culture of CARE Impact Champion

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More than 550 companies have already taken the Culture of CARE pledge. Commit your company today at BuildCulture.org/Commit.
July Member Meeting in Duluth

Join the AGC Board of Directors and staff on July 22 at Pier B Resort in Duluth for first post-pandemic member event!

Like the United States, Minnesota’s economy is recovering robustly from the pandemic, but progress in construction has been far more uneven. Meanwhile, a host of congressional and regulatory initiatives forecast very mixed impacts on contractors and their workforce.
Ken Simonson, AGC of America's Chief Economist, will cover the current national and state outlook for construction project types, materials costs and availability, and labor.

AGC will also provide an update regarding recent legislative developments and other association business, and there will be plenty of time for open discussion with members.

Don't Miss Out on Golf!

Only TWO foursome spots remain in the AGC Golf Tournament on August 6 at Keller Golf Course in Maplewood!

All hole sponsorships have been sold, but there are still opportunities to sponsor breakfast, lunch or great raffle and contest hole prizes!

Sign up to play or sponsor here.

Thank you to our Title Sponsor,
Larkin Hoffman!
2021-22 Leadership Blueprint Cohort Accepting Nominations

AGC's professional development series for the emerging leaders in construction management kicks off in November with a new cohort! The upcoming schedule and nomination form can be found here.

Leadership Blueprint educator Ken Bradford will leave participants with the ability to:

  • Address groups comfortably and convincingly
  • Remember names
  • Organize thoughts
  • Increase listening skills
  • Apply leadership principles for working with others
  • Reduce conflicts and lower stress
  • Discover keys to building teamwork and morale
  • Lead better meetings
  • Improve customer service
  • Develop more confidence
2021 Sporting Clays Fundraiser

Join us on September 15 at Minnesota Horse & Hunt Club for our annual fundraiser! Funds raised are used for scholarships for students pursuing degrees in the construction industry.

Get all the details and register here.

Thank you to our Title Sponsor,
RDO Equipment Co.!
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