What the 117th Congress Means for Construction

Following several contentious U.S. House election results and two key U.S. Senate runoff elections in Georgia, the federal congressional elections have been decided, and the 117th Congress has begun its legislative session.

As was the case for President Trump’s first two years in office, President-elect Biden’s party will have a majority in both chambers of Congress and, as the new administration tackles the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as many of its priority issues (some of which directly affect the industry), the 117th Congress will play a vital role in the administration’s ability to act on its campaign promises for the next two years.

Georgia Runoff Election Results

On Jan. 5, 2021, Georgia voters returned to the polls following indecision on Nov. 3, 2020, regarding whether Republican U.S. senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler would retain their seats or lose them to Democratic opponents Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock were declared winners of the two Georgia runoff elections on Jan. 6. Around 1 a.m. ET, Rev. Warnock was the projected victor in the Senate special runoff election over appointed U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R). At press time, Rev. Warnock’s lead was 64,488 votes out of a current turnout of 4,424,426 ballots with a projected 98% of the vote reporting, a margin of 1.4% (50.7% – 49.3%). Around 4 p.m. ET, documentary filmmaker and 2018 House candidate Ossoff was declared the winner against incumbent Sen. David Perdue (R), giving Democrats the 50 senators they need to gain control of the Senate. At press time, Ossoff led Sen. Perdue by 27,075 votes of 4,419,407 ballots counted, a margin of 0.62% (50.31% – 49.69%).

As the special election winner, Rev. Warnock will stand again for election to a full six-year term in 2022. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) was elected to this seat in 2016 but resigned due to health reasons at the end of 2019. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Loeffler to replace Sen. Isakson to serve until the outcome of the special election, which determines who would hold the office for the balance of Isakson’s initial term in 2022. Ossoff won the in-cycle seat, gaining a six-year term and will stand for reelection in 2026.

The election of Ossoff and Warnock marks the first African American senator to represent Georgia, the first time two Democratic senators to represent the state since 1992, and an even split in the Senate with 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats and 2 independent senators who caucus with Democrats.

These Democratic victories in the two runoff campaigns, made necessary under a Georgia election law that requires majority support to win office, will effectively clinch the narrowest possible majority for Democrats in the U.S. Senate, allowing for command of both chambers of the 117th Congress after retaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives after initially winning the lower chamber in 2018.

As President-Elect Joe Biden prepares for his first day in office on Jan. 20, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris will assume the role of president of the evenly divided Senate and would cast tie-breaking votes, giving Democrats functional authority of the upper chamber.

However, despite a 50-50 split, Democrats have an edge in passing their priority legislation and approving contentious nominations with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote.

Congress by the Numbers

For the fourth time in U.S. history, the Senate faces its narrowest possible majority, and Democrats will maintain control of the Senate for the 117th Congress. As a result, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will take over as majority leader from Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.), who has served as majority leader since 2015.

In the House, the Democrats’ slim, eight-seat majority does not bode well for their ability to pass sweeping legislation, as they did in the previous Congress.

Additionally, several Democratic members have maintained key leadership positions within the House, such as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) as Speaker of the House and Rep. Bobby Scott (D–Va.) as chair of the Committee on Education and Labor. However, due to in-fighting between the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic party, the administration may have to seek bipartisan support to accomplish many of its legislative goals.

Looking Ahead: Industry Priorities for Congress

Many of the major issues that were not resolved in the 116th Congress will likely continue into the 2021-2022 session—specifically, the Democrats’ attempts to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill and both parties’ hopes to pass additional COVID-19 relief.

Introduced by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-Va.), the PRO Act (H.R. 2474) aims to strip away workers’ free choice in union elections, codify an Obama-era joint-employer standard that threatened small and local businesses, limit independent contractors’ rights, eliminate right-to-work protections and roll back other aspects of the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda.

Since its introduction, various business organizations, hundreds of which are members of the ABC-led Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, have opposed the PRO Act for its violation of privacy rights and diminishment of freedoms for workers and small businesses across the country.

On Feb. 6, 2020, the House passed the PRO Act by a vote of 224 to 194, with five Republican votes for the bill and seven Democrat votes against it. Despite the large margin in support of the House bill, 41 cosponsors for the Senate companion bill and the Biden administration openly supporting passage of the PRO Act, Senate Democrats may face hurdles maintaining party support in order to pass this bill (or similar legislation) if introduced during this Congress.

In July 2020, House Democrats passed H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, an infrastructure plan that would have spent more than $1.5 trillion on surface transportation, airport, school, housing, health care, energy, water and broadband infrastructure. However, the bill excluded many critical priorities for the construction industry while implementing numerous anti-merit shop provisions, such as government-mandated project labor agreements and inflationary Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements.

Touted as one of one of the Biden administration’s priority issues, passing a comprehensive infrastructure package will need bipartisan support to advance through both chambers and onto the president’s desk; making sure to incorporate the bipartisan provisions included in Senate infrastructure bills during the 116th Congress could lead to passage.

Continuing from the previous Congress, the biggest issue at hand for both chambers will likely be providing additional COVID-19 relief. President Trump signed a relief package into law, narrowly avoiding a government shutdown, at the end of the 116th Congress. The legislation, which combines $900 billion in COVID-19 aid with government funding through September 2021, was passed by large majorities in both houses of Congress on Dec. 21.

Through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, the construction industry received roughly 12% of PPP loans, totaling more than $65 billion in relief, through 2020. Fortunately, the relief package most recently signed into law included an additional $284 billion for the PPP, critical tax deductibility of these forgivable loans, funding to allow the hardest-hit small businesses to receive a second forgivable PPP loan and expansion of loan eligibility to certain 501(c)(6) organizations.

As the new administration takes on various workplace safety issues related to COVID-19 and will likely reverse many of former President Trump’s deregulatory accomplishments, Congress will play just as important of a role in having a lasting impact on the industry.

With a razor thin majority in both chambers, Democrats will need Republican buy in on their legislative priorities. While the question lingers as to whether Senate Democrats will attempt to overrule the 60-vote threshold to end the filibuster and gain a two-year majority rule, the 2022 midterm elections are already on the horizon and Democrats will certainly face an emboldened Republican effort to take back the House majority lost in 2018 (as well as the newly lost Senate majority). And if past is prologue, Republicans will be favored to do just that, as the party occupying the White House typically loses seats in the midterms.

ABC Beltway Blueprint: What the 117th Congress Means for Construction, ABC Statement on Labor Nominee, PPP Relaunch, and COVID Safety Stand-down

Legislative, Executive, PAC and FEA Committees, Board Members, Chapter Presidents, and ABC Staff,

Please see below for an update on: legislation, elections, and federal, state, and local policies affecting our construction businesses and workforce; ABC’s work with Congress and the administration; upcoming webinars; and critical action alerts to capitalize on opportunities to influence our nation’s leaders.

The ABC Beltway Blueprint is also meant to be used as a tool for our state and local chapters to share with their members and provide updates on important ABC actions. As always, feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns.

What the 117th Congress Means for Construction:

Please see today’s attachments, which include a sneak draft preview of ABC’s CE article for February from ABC’s Brad Mannion and Shreya Kanal on “What the 117th Congress Means for Construction” and an overview of potential labor and employment policies from the Biden administration.

ABC Statement on Marty Walsh for Labor Secretary:

ABC released a statement this morning on President-elect Biden’s selection of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as his nominee for U.S. Labor Secretary. See full statement here.

PPP Relaunch Starts on Monday:

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Treasury Department, announced today that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will re-open the week of January 11 for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers. Lenders targeting underserved communities will have exclusive access to offer loans to new borrowers Monday and Tuesday. They will then be able to offer second loans to existing borrowers Wednesday, and then the PPP is expected to open widely a few days later, according to the SBA.

Earlier this week, SBA released additional PPP guidance in accordance with the recently signed into law COVID relief legislation. Below are links to the new guidance and interim final rules. Of note, the FAQs for 501(c)(6) organizations fails to provide clear and concise guidance on how lobbying restrictions will be implemented, an issue that ABC has sought clarity on since the enactment of the new law. In a call with SBA and Treasury this afternoon, a number of organizations brought up the need for clarity on lobbying activities ahead of the program relaunch. SBA also stated their intention to post new applications for the program over the next couple days. We will continue to pursue additional guidance from our federal agencies and will update you with any additional information.

Join the ABC Construction COVID-19 Safety Stand-down on Jan. 14

As COVID-19 cases continue to spread across the country and local governments impose new stay-at-home orders, it is more important than ever to remind key officials that the construction industry continues to work in a safe and essential manner during this pandemic. To show we are staying safe on jobsites and reducing the spread of the coronavirus, ABC, the National Association of Home Builders and other construction organizations are hosting a COVID-19 Safety Stand Down from Jan. 11-15, with ABC members targeting Thursday, Jan. 14 for member activities. Learn more here.

2020 Christmas on Broadway Celebration

Associated Builders & Contractors of Indiana/Kentucky is proud to once again be
a sponsor of the 16th Annual Christmas on Broadway celebration!

ABC kicked things off on Saturday, November 7 by erecting the tree stand that supports the event
centerpiece. The wood for the stand was donated last year by Home Lumber, and the stand was erected
by seven ABC Prep Academy students, instructor Dan Reuille and his son Nicholas,
and ABC council manager, Felisha Anderson.

Thanks to the generosity of Liberty Developing, Inc., new cables, clamps, and turnbuckles were purchased
to better support the 40’ blue spruce that was delivered and erected today, November 16! Dan, Felisha,
Angela Miller (Prep Academy student) and volunteers from Smith Construction and Mudrack
stabilized the tree which was covered live by ABC 21 and Sunny 103.9 FM. The tree will be decorated
with close to 40,000 lights throughout the upcoming week using a lift provided by MacAllister Rental.

The ceremony will be held this Friday, November 20 from 5:00-6:00 p.m. and it is recommended that
everyone watch virtually if you can. ABC 21 will be covering the event live from a flat bed trailer donated by
ABC member Lengacher Bros. Construction! Don’t miss the incredible tree lighting and fireworks as well
as watch as Santa & Mrs. Claus drive down Broadway in a 1976 Pierce Fire Truck.

We hope you will tune in for this amazing community Christmas celebration!
For those who may choose to attend the event in person, masks will be required, and the event will be open
to the number of attendees that safely allows for six feet to be maintained between different family groups.
Thank you to our generous In-Kind Sponsors who help make our contribution to this event a success!

ABC Fort Wayne Groundbreaking Ceremony 9/3/20

ABC is excited to be co-hosting a groundbreaking ceremony for our newly acquired facility this Thursday, September 3 at 1:00 p.m. with Felderman Design-Build. Felderman was awarded the remodeling project at the facility which is located at 4201 Parnell Avenue, Fort Wayne-the old HHGregg building.

We would like to invite you, our members and friends, to join us for this momentous occasion! This event will be held outside, but please be sure to bring a mask. We will have masks available should you need one.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Board Trustees for their efforts in securing this facility and for their due diligence in providing us with the visibility and space that were so greatly needed. 

Rob Griffith, Gaylor Electric, Inc. – Chair

Kris Griffith, Ferrer Mechanical Services, Inc.

John Fredericks, Fredericks Inc. Contractors

Brian Muncy, Somerset CPAs

Travis Ayers, Lehman’s Mechanical Contractors

Scott Starks, Royal Flush Plumbing

Dan Babcock, James Babcock, Inc.

Jacob Kerr, Brandt Construction, Inc.

Vic Szczechowski, ATS, All Trades Staffing, Inc.

Mike Webster, freije engineered solutions company

Mendel Smith, SCS Construction Services, Inc.

Dan Drewry, Drewry Simmons Vornehm

Please call or email me to let me know if you can attend, and I hope to see you Thursday!

Felisha Anderson

Council Manager – Northeast/Northwest

4615 Ellenwood Drive

Fort Wayne, IN  46806

260-441-9897, Ext. 160

260-441-9846 Fax

2020 STEP Applications Due July 31st

I know this year started out a little bumpy, and we haven’t had our safety meetings where we remind everyone to complete their STEP applications. So this email is being sent to remind everyone that the 2020 STEP applications are due Friday, July 31. This deadline gives ABC national time to review and verify the applications, print the certificates and get them in our hands prior to our Gala. This year, the Gala will be held at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in Indianapolis.

Congratulations to our 2020 STEP participants to-date! I know there are a number of companies that started the application but have yet to complete it. Don’t forget to finish them up!

As a reminder, there is no charge if you complete the online application. If you choose to print and mail the application, there is a $35 charge. If you want to learn more about ABC’s STEP Safety Management System, click HERE.

ABC’s Top Performers

ABC’s Top Performers lists recognize ABC member contractors’ achievements in safety, quality, diversity and project excellence ranked by work hours, with special designations identified. Published as a supplement to Construction Executive magazine, the listings highlight contractors that have earned ABC’s Accredited Quality Contractor credential for their commitment to corporate responsibility in quali-ty, safety, talent management, education, community relations and diversity; those that won nation-al Excellence in Construction,® Safety Excellence and Diversity Excellence awards; and those that hold des-ignations awarded to diverse companies to help procure work from government and private entities.
The 2020 lists identify the Top 200 Performers, Top 120 General Contractors, Top 30 Electrical Contrac-tors, Top 20 Plumbing/HVAC Contractors and Top 30 Specialty Contractors, all of which have earned the elite Accredited Quality Contractor credential, as well as the Top 75 Performers With Special Designations.
To be eligible, Top Performers demonstrated world-class safety performance by achieving Gold status or higher in ABC’s STEP Safety Management System, which makes the top-performing contractors up to 827% safer than the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics industry average, according to the ABC 2020 Safety Performance Report. Visit www.abc.org for additional details.

CONGRATULATIONS to Associated Builders & Contractors of Indiana/Kentucky Chapter’s 2020 Top Performers for your hard work and dedication to the merit shop philosophy!
Top 200 Performers Ranked by Work Hours
20 – Gaylor Electric, Inc.
52 – Titan Contracting
81 – Scott, Murphy & Daniel, LLC
148 – Meyer Najem Construction
156 – Runnebohm Construction Co.
162 – Steinberger Construction, Inc.
184 – Wurster Construction Co., Inc.
199 – Summit Construction Co., Inc.
Top 75 Performers w/Special Designations
STEP Gold and above members ranked by work hours
41 – T.E.M. Group, Inc.

2019 EIC Award Winners

COVID-19 and The FFCRA: Employment Law Impacts for Contractors

ABC’s Chapter Attorney, Drewry Simmons & Vornehm, LLP, will be presenting a webinar tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. EST via Zoom on:

Covid-19 and the FFCRA: Employment Law Impacts for Contractors

One of the biggest challenges for employers during this pandemic is understanding how new legislation like the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFFCA”) and the Governor’s Executive Orders will affect the workplace. Employers are faced with difficult decisions in how to manage in this new environment while promoting the health and safety of their employees. How do the new rules and norms impact the prior standards?  This seminar will provide a breakdown and explanation of new legislation and the implications of recent Executive Orders, and provide recommendations and insight on best practices and how to navigate the various employment issues that stem from COVID-19.

Key Topics will include:

    • Overview of Legal Issues and Impacts on Businesses
    • Work From Home (WFH) Considerations
    • Ongoing In-Person Operations
    • Indiana EO 20-08  and EO 20-18 “Directive for Hoosiers to Stay at Home” and “Continued Directive”
    • Federal FFCRA- Emergency Paid Sick Leave
    • Federal FFCRA-Emergency extension of FMLA
    • Unemployment Claims/WARN
    • Pay Issues
    • Special Considerations under Discrimination Statutes

Presenters:     Melanie Dunajeski, Partner & Christopher Drewry, Partner, Drewry Simmons & Vornehm, LLP

Don’t miss out on this very informative presentation. Click HERE to register!

Thank you, and stay safe!

COVID-19 and OSHA Compliance

OSHA Issues New Guidance on the Recordability of COVID-19 Cases:

On April 10, OSHA clarified its position regarding the recordability of COVID-19 cases under its recordkeeping rules. According to the OSHA press release, “In areas where there is ongoing community transmission, employers other than those in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations (e.g., emergency medical, firefighting and law enforcement services), and correctional institutions may have difficulty making determinations about whether workers who contracted COVID-19 did so due to exposures at work. Accordingly, until further notice, OSHA will not enforce its recordkeeping requirements to require these employers to make work-relatedness determinations for COVID-19 cases, except where: (1) There is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related; and (2) The evidence was reasonably available to the employer. Employers of workers in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations and correctional institutions must continue to make work-relatedness determinations pursuant to 29 CFR Part 1904.” Read ABC’s statement on the new guidance as well as ABC general counsel, Littler Mendelson’s analysis.

COVID-19 and OSHA Compliance

Date: Tuesday, April 14, 2020
Time: 3 p.m. EDT
Length: 60 minutes
Speakers:    Brad Hammock, Littler Mendelson P.C.

WEBINAR DESCRIPTION

ABC Members Only

Join ABC OSHA counsel Brad Hammock for a webinar providing guidance to ABC members and chapter staff on OSHA compliance and enforcement during COVID-19, including recording and reporting workplace exposures to COVID-19, respiratory protection and more. Register HERE!