Capitol Update – 11/19/2021
The long-awaited infrastructure bill is now law
President Joe Biden has signed the highly anticipated Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law, providing $550 billion in new spending and a five-year, $305 billion reauthorization of federal highway and transit programs. House Democrats passed the bill with the help of 13 Republicans, four of whom represent parts of New York. Full Story: USA Today The Wall Street Journal
Bipartisan infrastructure bill passes: Here’s what California will get
Billions of dollars will be poured into California’s roads, pipes and wires, among other infrastructure projects, after President Joe Biden signed the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Tuesday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris at his side. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., celebrated the passage of the bill for Californians in a tweet Tuesday, citing the historic lack of investment in the state’s infrastructure and the state’s subpar grades from the American Society of Civil Engineers. The bill’s signing comes after weeks of arduous debate and demands for cutbacks. The bill eventually received support from a critical mass of Republicans, including Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “I’m delighted that President Biden has signed this historic bipartisan infrastructure legislation into law,” Feinstein wrote on Twitter. “This is a huge win for everyone across the country.” San Francisco Mayor London Breed concurred, calling the bill “a hugely important piece of legislation” in a statement.
Here’s a list of the most significant bits of California infrastructure that will benefit from this legislation, listed by amount of estimated funding provided:
—$25.3 billion over five years for repairing roads in the state that are in poor condition
—$4.2 billion over five years for repairing bridges in the state that are in poor condition
—$3.5 billion for water infrastructure and eliminating lead pipes in the state
—$1.5 billion for airport infrastructure
—$384 million over five years to build a network of chargers for electric vehicles
—At least $100 million to install more broadband coverage
—$84 million over five years for wildfire protection
—$40 million over five years for cyber attack protection
—An unnamed sum from a $3.5 billion federal fund for “weatherization which will reduce energy costs for families”
OSHA backs away from enforcing vaccine mandate
Citing a federal appeals court decision, OSHA has suspended its work to enforce President Joe Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for larger employers. The mandate is widely opposed in dozens of business lawsuits amid arguments that workers may refuse to get the shots and reduce employment at a busy time of year amid an already tight labor market. Full Story: The Washington Times
Construction groups encourage vaccines as they decry OSHA mandate
Construction employer groups are battling OSHA’s new vaccine mandate as they double down on encouraging workers to get the shot. The Associated General Contractors of America, American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and the Signatory Wall and Ceiling Contractors Alliance (SWACCA) filed a petition for OSHA to review the vaccine mandate, indicating it will put large contractors at risk of losing employees rather than encourage them to get inoculated. “We all want to see more construction workers vaccinated and we are all doing our part to make that happen,” said Stephen Sandherr, CEO of AGC, in a statement. “Encouraging vaccine-hesitant workers to shift to smaller employers won’t improve health and safety. It will just put firms that employ 100 or more workers at grave risk of losing the workers they need to complete projects.”
Federal, state partnership aims to expedite port, infrastructure projects in California
Federal and state transportation agencies are partnering to speed up and find “potentially billions in financing” for projects for California’s ports and other infrastructure needs to help relieve congestion, according to a state news release. The Emerging Projects Agreement between the U.S. Department of Transportation and the California State Transportation Agency will help the state fast-track “a network of related projects,” rather than using a piecemeal approach, the release said. The program aims to support multiple projects that will help the state grow the economy, protect the environment and modernize its supply chain processes. “This federal-state partnership will ensure the creation of local infrastructure projects aimed at improving freight movement between the San Pedro Bay ports complex and distribution centers in the Inland Empire,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero in a statement.
ENR California & Northwest Name 2022’s Top Young Professionals
ENR California & Northwest are pleased to announced this year’s Top Young Professionals from Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington! This annual awards program honors individuals under 40 years of age in each of ENR’s 10 regions who have shown extraordinary leadership and service throughout their careers. In the California and Northwest regions, entrants were judged by three primary criteria: industry experience and education; career and industry leadership; and community service and involvement.
Labor Dept. seeks to repeal IRAPs
The Labor Department has proposed to eliminate the Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program, which allows businesses and trade groups to make and monitor apprenticeships. The department says similar programs render the Trump-era program redundant, while the Biden administration says IRAPs “lack the standardized training rigor that ensures employers know they are hiring a worker with high-quality training.” Full Story: Reuters
Construction’s career crisis: How did we get here? Experts weigh in on the factors that made construction a profession for “someone else’s kid,” and the long road ahead to fix it.
This is the first in a series of articles looking at the skilled labor crisis in construction, its causes and potential solutions. Click here for the entire series.
A four-decade veteran of the construction industry, Greg Sizemore says he doesn’t remember a time when there wasn’t a “Help Wanted” sign on most jobsites. When Sizemore — now the vice president of health, safety, environment and workforce development at Associated Builders and Contractors — started out as a laborer, he thought construction would just be a summer job. He recalls contractors looking for skilled and unskilled workers. Fast forward to today and the problem has only increased. The issue is widespread: 92% of contractors have reported difficulty finding construction workers and of those, 42% said they have turned down work because of it, according to the most recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index.
AECOM CEO: ‘We are positioned to benefit from nearly every line item’ in infrastructure bill
Dallas-based contractor AECOM reported revenue of $3.4 billion on its fourth quarter 2021 earnings call, a 6% decrease from fourth quarter 2020. However, fourth quarter 2020 included an extra week, so adjusting for that anomaly, the firm’s revenue increased by 1%. Revenue also increased 1% to $13.3 billion from fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2021 but rose 3% when accounting for the additional week in 2020. Driven by an 18% growth in contracted backlog, AECOM posted a total backlog of $38.6 billion, down 6.3% from the $41.2 posted in the fourth quarter of 2020. Construction management contracted backlog increased by 21%.
Housing starts down in Oct.
A 3.9% decline in the single-family category drove overall housing starts down 0.7% in October despite a 7.1% gain in the multifamily market, according to government data. However, applications to build were up for the month, suggesting strong demand and imminent improvement. Full Story: BNN Bloomberg (Canada)
Nonresidential construction starts down in Oct.
Nonresidential construction starts in October fell 25.6% from September and were down 9.2% year to year, according to ConstructConnect. However, the October total of $28.8 billion was substantially reduced by completion of two Intel semiconductor plants valued at $8 billion in September. Full Story: Daily Commercial News (Ontario)
US, Japan discuss tariffs on steel, aluminum
In negotiations with the US, Japan is taking aim at tariffs imposed during the Trump administration on Japanese steel and aluminum. The issue has taken on added urgency in recent years as China has come to dominate global production of the two metals. Full Story: The Associated Press
$1.3B U. of Calif. medical center construction kicks off
Officials have broken ground on a $1.3 billion, 800,000-square-foot medical center for the University of California at Irvine. A 350,000-square-foot hospital will be the biggest singular component of the center, which is expected to open in 2025. Full Story: Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model)
Calif. water district plans to raise reservoir dam
Responding to prolonged drought, California’s Contra Costa Water District is advancing funding plans to raise the height of the earthen dam forming the Los Vaqueros Reservoir by 56 feet. The $1 billion project, which could begin construction in 2023, would be the second-tallest dam in the Bay Area. Full Story: San Jose Mercury News (Calif.) (tiered subscription model)
California Builders Alliance
5370 Elvas Avenue ǀ Sacramento, CA 95819