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Drug testing rules, pension reform among issues AGCWA leaders discuss with Congress

AGC of Washington leadership traveled to Washington, DC last week to encourage Congress to overturn onerous new regulations and to pass important education and jobs bills.

AGC of Washington leadership traveled to Washington, DC last week to encourage Congress to overturn onerous new regulations and to pass important education and jobs bills.

Among the issues discussed:

Post-accident drug testing  OSHA recently issued a rule requiring employers to publicly and electronically report workplace injuries. However, the rule also suggests that the risk of employer retaliation against workers for reporting injuries is so great that there must be a limitation of post-accident drug testing, which could have a chilling effect on deterring employee use of drugs on the jobsite. AGC of Washington representatives urged members of the State’s congressional delegation to pursue a reconsideration of this unjustified position on post-accident drug testing.

Workforce development  The House previously passed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (aka the “Perkins Act”) which included increased CTE funding and greater flexibility to align with local economic needs. AGC of Washington representatives encouraged the State’s U.S. Senators to follow suit and pass the bill.

Water infrastructure  The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) authorizes projects and policies for navigation, flood control, hydropower, recreation, water supply and emergency management for the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works program. The legislation also addresses bureaucratic delays in the processing and payment of change orders. The bill previously passed the Senate, and was passed by the House the day the AGC of Washington representatives visited the Congress. A conference committee will now iron out differences between the House and Senate versions.

Blacklisting executive order  Executive Order 13673, commonly called the Blacklisting Executive Order, allows agency contracting officers to debar a contractor on a contract-by-contract basis with little cause. The order requires federal prime contractors to report violations of 14 federal labor laws and “equivalent” state laws during the previous three years, and again every six months, on federal contracts over $500,000. Prime contractors will also be responsible for evaluating the labor law violations of its subcontractors at all tiers, forcing subcontractors to disclose sensitive information to a contractor that may be a future competitor on another contract, which could lead to bid protests. AGC of Washington representatives urged Congress to pass legislation to limit application of the order.

Pension reform  The Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 was modeled after the proposal Solutions not Bailouts, which was negotiated between employers and labor. The 2014 reforms included many but not all of the Solutions not Bailouts proposed reforms. One reform not included was the creation of a plan option that is a hybrid between a defined contribution and a defined benefit plan. AGC of Washington representatives urged Congress to enact this “composite plan.”

Representing AGC of Washington were Chapter President Nancy Munro (MidMountain Contractors), First Vice President Jake Jacobson (Osborne Construction), Second Vice President Frank Imhof (IMCO Construction), Secretary/Treasurer Dawn Stephens (Charter Construction), Executive Vice President David D’Hondt and Government Affairs Staff Jerry VanderWood and Michele Willms.

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