March 19, 2021
The state’s financial situation has improved significantly in the last couple of weeks with the expected influx of federal funding through the latest COVID-19 relief bill, dubbed the American Rescue Plan. Minnesota will receive $4.72 billion in total, with $2.6B going directly to the state and $2.1B for local governments. This is in addition to the February economic forecast showing a $1.6 billion state surplus due to increase revenue collections. This is welcomed news from the initial November forecast of over a billion-dollar deficit and, hopefully, should help move budget negotiations along later this spring between the MN House, Senate, and the governor.

Breakdown of federal relief funding by state, county, and locality.
Minnesota Legislative Activity Ramps Up

At the state level, a flurry of bills were heard this week in the House and the Senate with key deadlines last Friday and today for bills to be heard in committee. Both the House and Senate Transportation Committees are hearing various proposals and learning about specific projects. Each legislative chamber will be putting together their transportation budgets and plans in the next three weeks to set up for broader budget negotiations in late April and early May.

The duty to defend bill was not heard in its next committee stop in the House and did not make a key deadline this week. 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. The bill was heard in the necessary Senate committees in early March. AGC is actively working with proponents to find acceptable language that meets the needs and interests of all parties.

The MN House has not passed Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) tax conformity legislation. The bill passed in the Senate last week ensures that PPP loans are not considered taxable income by the state, which brings the state in line with federal tax policy. Please reach out to your representative if you haven’t already to tell them about the importance of this bill for your business. 
Governor to Scale Back Work from Home Requirements
Governor Walz announced a significant dialing back of COVID-19 restrictions late last week. Starting April 15th, employers are encouraged to have employees work from home, but it is no longer a requirement, if employees can perform their duties outside the office. The State of MN is not bringing people back to the office yet. AGC will keep members apprised of any changes in the specific construction industry requirements because of the governor’s announcement.

Please contact Laura Ziegler, Director of Highway/Heavy and Government Affairs, with any questions about legislative issues.

GSOC has determined it is important to make necessary one call locate changes. These change are targeted to begin April 21, 2021. Please review the information here so you have the necessary tools to start your next project.

The changes include:
  • Dynamic High-Volume Ticket Alert Notice
  • Meet Ticket Recommendations for Projects with Long Duration of Work
  • Update Ticket Process Change
  • White Lining Responses
  • Mark Entire Lot Instructions
MnDOT Issues Constructability Review Request

Due to a high calculated daily road user cost and lengthy detours required, MnDOT is seeking input on the staging and constructability of the grading operations for the
SP 0119-30 (TH 210/US 169) – Unbonded Concrete Overlay project. MnDOT is hopeful that this input will aid in the timely construction of a quality roadway and minimize the amount of negative impacts to the traveling public during construction. Click here for all the information.
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.
Free Half-Day Seminar: "Positioning Women Owned Businesses for Success in Government Contracting"

In celebration of Women's History Month, the Department of Administration’s Office of Equity in Procurement (OEP) and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) are offering a free half-day webinar targeted for Women-owned businesses.
The online event will take place on Tuesday, March 23, 2021 (9:00 am -1:00 pm).

Invited speakers include Commissioner Alice Roberts-Davis of the Minnesota Department of Administration and Commissioner Steve Grove from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, (DEED.)

For more information and registration, click here.
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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