Skilled Construction Trades and Respected Contractors
Building Wisconsin Together ®
Welcome to Construction Business Group's Industry Updates. This monthly e-newsletter will help us communicate the important initiatives that we have underway and relevant updates on issues that impact Wisconsin's construction industry.  
Message from Executive Director Robb Kahl
Make a Difference: Submit a Comment to Support the Enbridge Line 5 Project!
Enbridge is a vitally important North American energy delivery company that moves 30% of all crude oil produced in North America and 20% of the natural gas consumed in the United States. Enbridge’s Line 5 moves up to 540,000 barrels a day of light crude oil, light synthetic crude oil and natural gas liquids in Northern Wisconsin. At the request of the Tribe, Enbridge is proposing to relocate the portion of Line 5 that is currently located on the Bad River Band’s reservation to a 41-mile route around the reservation.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has published a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) on the Line 5 reroute project and is currently accepting comments from the public. While America is moving to cleaner energy sources, the transition will take decades, and we need the products transported through pipelines to keep our families warm and our economy healthy. Polls show that more than 70% of Americans understand that pipelines are still vitally important to reasonably priced energy.
Unfortunately, the people who submit comments on a proposed project are often those who oppose the project. I believe that a majority of Wisconsinites support the Enbridge Line 5 replacement project, but the DNR needs to hear from you.

You can submit a comment in a number of ways. The Wisconsin Jobs and Energy Coalition, a group that CBG works with, has an online comment tool (click here) that makes submitting comments from your phone, tablet or computer quick and easy. You can also send your comments directly to the DNR by email DNROEEACOMMENTS@WI.GOV or mail to "Line 5 EIS Comments, DNR (EA/7)," 101 South Webster Street, Madison, WI 53707.  All electronic and hardcopy comments must be submitted or postmarked no later than Friday, March 4, 2022.

Some things to consider when submitting comments:

  • Without Line 5, an estimated 2100 trucks would need to leave Superior and travel east on US-2 every day (or 90 trucks per hour) to transport products currently carried by Line 5.

  • Wisconsin based business Michels has been selected as the mainline construction contractor for the $450 million re-route project.

  • The project will bring an estimated 700 family-sustaining construction jobs hired largely from the region’s union halls.

  • Wisconsin will receive approximately $6.4 million in additional tax revenue from the project.

  • More than 10% of the project budget ($46 million dollars) will be spent specifically with Native owned businesses and workers.

  • The project has been designed to minimize impacts on wetlands and waterbodies, and nearly all wetland impacts are temporary.
From the News Stand
Changes to Manufacturing Activities Credit Could Have Major Impacts on Contractors
We are hearing from members that the state Department of Revenue (DOR) is considering a new interpretation of the manufacturing activities tax credit (MAC) that would disqualify the credit for mobile asphalt plants, concrete plants and aggregate crushing and washing plants unless a company owns or leases the property on which those plants are operating. This new interpretation would obviously have significant cost impacts on state road projects.
WTBA believes that this new interpretation of the law would be inconsistent with the legislative intent and we have been in discussions with DOR to share our concerns and advocate that the credit remain in place. We are optimistic that we will reach an acceptable solution on this issue with DOR, however, in the meantime we encourage contractors to explore possible remedies in terms of short-term lease or contracting agreements that might protect companies from adverse impacts should the new MAC interpretation on mobile equipment be adopted. A generic lease agreement is linked here as an example of the type of contingency planning you may want to explore.
SCOTUS Blocks Vaccine/Testing Rules
The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday in a 6-3 opinion blocked President Biden's rules requiring employers of 100 or more to mandate COVID vaccines or weekly testing, saying the administration likely didn't have unilateral power to impose the rules on an estimated 84 million workers. The rules were set to go into effect on Jan. 4, but the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration later pushed back implementation to Feb. 9 because of litigation filed by business groups. Yesterday's opinion does not end the OSHA emergency rule, but maintains a stay in its implementation while litigation continues in the lower courts.
In a separate case, the court upheld 5-4 a rule requiring vaccinations for most health care workers at facilities that receive Medicaid and Medicare funding.
Polk of MATC Named Director of DWD's Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards
The Department of Workforce Development has named David Polk to serve as director of the agency’s Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards.

A former apprentices and plumbing instructor, Polk most recently served as director of apprenticeship and trade at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Polk’s 20 years of experience overseeing apprenticeship programs includes time in the public and private sectors and in academia. In previous roles, Polk has been responsible for developing apprenticeship programs that reach low-to-moderate income residents and Black and Indigenous workers and people of color.

As the director of apprenticeship and trade at MATC, Polk managed more than 30 different Milwaukee-area apprenticeships and adopted six new sector apprenticeships, including the first apprenticeship program for arborists in the U.S.

“We are excited for Polk to join our DWD team,” DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek said in a statement. “With Polk as our apprenticeship leader, we’re looking forward to building more apprenticeship pathways that lead job seekers to family-sustaining careers and offer employers a skilled workforce. His vision and communication skills will also allow us to further bridge both Youth Apprenticeship and Certified Pre-apprenticeship programs with Registered Apprenticeship opportunities.”

Polk has first-hand knowledge of the opportunities that come from working as an apprentice. In 2001, Polk completed a five-year plumbing apprenticeship with Plumbers’ Local 75 and worked for several years as a licensed plumber. He later worked as a meter technician and plumbing inspector before concentrating on training.

“I am excited to transition to the Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards,” Polk said in a statement. “In my previous role, I had the opportunity to develop creative employment options for Milwaukee’s populations via apprenticeships. I have a history of apprenticeship in my family and in my own career. That being said, I look forward to helping provide statewide economic mobility opportunities through apprenticeships in my new role.”
DOL Adjusts Civil Penalty Amounts of Inflation
Washington — OSHA, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, and other Department of Labor agencies have increased civil penalty amounts for violations to adjust for inflation, effective Jan. 15.
The increase is approximately 6.2%.

For OSHA, the maximum penalty for a “willful” or “repeated” violation is $145,027 – up from $136,532. The minimum fine for a willful violation is $10,360. The maximum fine for serious, other-than-serious, failure-to-correct and posting-requirement violations increases to $14,502 from $13,653. Failure-to-correct penalties are charged per day.

MSHA’s maximum penalty for a “flagrant” violation increases to $291,234 from $274,175. Under the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, DOL is required to adjust civil penalty levels for inflation by Jan. 15 each year. DOL determines yearly adjustment rates via the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers.
OSHA Pulls Vaccine Mandate, But Will Propose as a Rule
While contractors and other businesses were quick to hail the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration for its announcement it is withdrawing the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccination or testing emergency mandate for employers with 100 or more employees issued last November, the agency said it would still propose the requirement as a rule, which would have a more lengthy federal rule making approval process.

Publication of the change in the Federal Register is set for Jan. 26, the agency said.
Under federal workplace health and safety law, OSHA's Emergency Temporary Standard is also a proposed rule, which received robust participation from more than 100,000 commenters that will be available for public review, OSHA said. The agency "has affirmed that the ETS withdrawal does not affect [its] continuing status as a proposed rule," a U.S. Labor Dept. spokesperson said in a statement. "OSHA is evaluating the record and the evolving course of the pandemic" but "has made no determinations at this time about when or if it will finalize a vaccination and testing rule."

A key requirement of OSHA's rule making process is internal and external stakeholder input, more lengthy and involved than for the emergency temporary standard. A U.S. Supreme Court majority found the vaccination/testing ETS was likely to be successfully challenged in court, halting the standard earlier this month in an 6-3 vote.
Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Guidebook Released
The White House released a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law guidebook to provide information so you know what to apply for, who to contact, and how to get ready to rebuild. This guidebook is a roadmap to the funding available under the law, as well as an explanatory document that shows direct federal spending at the program level.
Year 1 of IIJA: Spin vs. Reality
Concerns are growing in the transportation construction industry that states -- particularly those like Wisconsin that have shorter construction seasons -- will fail to capitalize on the initial benefits of the much-hyped federal infrastructure bill because of the deep divisions in Congress.
More than two months after President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA), state departments of transportation still don't know how much federal highway funding they will receive for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. That's because Congress has been unable to pass the appropriations bills that set spending levels for federal programs. Absent that, programs are operating under a Continuing Resolution until Feb. 18 that allows spending at last year's level. As shown in the graphic above, that means Wisconsin doesn't have access to the increased infrastructure funding that is trumpeted almost every day by the media and elected officials' press releases.
States like Wisconsin need to be making decisions now (if not months ago) about their 2022 construction programs. That's very difficult with the current federal funding uncertainty. States must also obligate (commit to projects) all of this year's federal funding by the Sept. 30 close of the fiscal year. The later in 2022 it gets for Congress to agree on its most basic task of approving annual spending bills, the harder it will be for states like Wisconsin to get projects in the construction pipeline.
ARTBA, AASHTO and a host of national stakeholder groups sent a letter this week to Congressional leadership urging action on the FY 2022 appropriations bills -- pointing out the grand promises of the IIJA vs. the reality of current funding.
"A delay of almost six months since the beginning of FY 2022 in providing the much-touted funding increases from the IIJA is wholly unacceptable and will cause significant project disruptions, reduced construction and manufacturing employment, and delays in delivering critical transportation infrastructure improvements—just when Americans were promised the most ambitious infrastructure package of our time," it reads.
DBE Workshop March 3-4 in Pewaukee
The 2022 DBE Workshop and Networking Summit will be held March 3-4 at The Ingleside Hotel in Pewaukee. The event includes presentations by FHWA and WisDOT, workshops and networking sessions and the annual Golden Shovel Awards.
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