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From monthly archives: July 2020

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ABC Opposes House Minibus, Support for NLRB's Kaplan, Economy Struggles, Construction Backlog Indicator, and NLRB Military Leave Proposal

Tomorrow, the U.S House of Representatives is set to pass H.R. 7617, the second appropriations minibus FY 2021 bill before August recess. The package includes six FY 2021 spending bills: Defense, Commerce-Justice-Science, Energy and Water Development, Financial Service, and General Government, Labor-HHS-Education, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development.

 

Ahead of the vote – ABC sent a Key Vote letter urging members to oppose this bill citing the several anti-competitive provisions contained in H.R. 7617. The proposed legislation would not only include more than $245 billion in emergency spending across the bills, violating statutory budget caps, but it also contains numerous policy provisions that would fund big-labor priorities while imposing burdensome regulations on many U.S. workers in our nation’s small construction businesses, many of which are struggling to maintain operations due to COVID-19.

 

Among its many provisions, H.R. 7617 would: expand the application of federal Davis-Bacon Act requirements; exclude the overwhelming majority of America’s construction industry professionals who are not educated in federal registered apprenticeship programs; prevent the ABC-supported DOL and NLRB final rules updating and clarifying its interpretation of joint-employer status under the Fair Labor Standards Act from being implemented effectively; prevent the implementation or enforcement of the final rule on ‘‘Representation Case Procedures’’ which details the requirements for union elections; and provide federal funds to develop systems and procedures to conduct union representation elections electronically, severely impacting the ability to ensure free and fair union elections.

 

While the bill is unlikely to become law, the Democrats spending bill have been criticized by Republicans for busting budget caps and containing poising pill riders that would defund the pro- economic growth policy priorities achieved through the regulatory process.

 

ABC Supports Kaplan’s Re-nomination to the NLRB

 

On July 30, the U.S. Senate confirmed Marvin Kaplan’s re-nomination to the NLRB for a five year term second term. Kaplan has served as a member of the NLRB since he was confirmed by the Senate on Aug. 2, 2017. During his service on the board, ABC believes that Kaplan has interpreted the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in a manner that is fair to workers, unions, and created a climate for economic growth.

 

ABC was pleased with the Senate’s confirmation and looks forward to Marvin Kaplan’s continued service on the NLRB. To read ABC’s letter of support click here.

 

Economy Struggles as Relief Deal Eludes Congress:

 

The U.S. economy suffered its sharpest downturn since at least the 1940s in the second quarter, highlighting how the pandemic has ravaged businesses across the country and left millions of Americans out of work. Meanwhile, Congress has been unable to come to an agreement on an additional relief package that would further assist individuals and struggling businesses during this crisis.

 

Gross domestic product shrank 9.5% in the second quarter from the first, a drop that equals an annualized pace of 32.9%, the Commerce Department’s initial estimate showed on Thursday. That’s the steepest annualized decline in quarterly records dating back to 1947 and compares with analyst estimates for a 34.5% contraction. Personal spending, which makes up about two-thirds of GDP, slumped an annualized 34.6%, also the most on record.

ABC’s Construction Confidence Index indicates that a majority of contractors suffered some form of interruption to their activities during the second quarter, whether due to a lack of available inputs as global supply chains buckled, project postponements or cancellations, jobsite workforce issues or state and local government mandates.

A separate report Thursday showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased for a second straight week. Initial claims through regular state programs rose to 1.43 million in the week ended July 25, up 12,000 from the prior week, the Labor Department said. There were 17 million Americans filing for ongoing benefits through those programs in the period ended July 18, up 867,000 from the prior week.

 

U.S. stocks fell the most in a week after the data releases, and yields on 10-year Treasuries declined.

 

While the economic restart has helped put 7.5 million Americans back to work in May and June combined, payrolls are down more than 14.5 million from their pre-pandemic peak.

 

Construction Backlog Indicator:

 

During these tumultuous times for ABC member companies and workers, it’s never been more important for provide information on economic conditions so we can help our members understand the market and plan for the future. Please encourage members to complete the Construction Backlog Indicator survey, which was most recently sent on July 20.

 

Please share the sign-up form or this month’s link with any of your members who may have not received it.

 

NLRB Issues Proposal on Employee Privacy and Participation by Workers on Military Leave:

 

On July 29, the National Labor Relations Board issued a proposed rule titled Representation-Case Procedures: Voter List Contact Information; Absentee Ballots for Employees on Military Leave, which proposes two amendments to the representation election regulations under the National Labor Relations Act.

 

According to an NLRB news release, the first amendment would amend the agency’s rules and regulations to eliminate the requirement that employers provide available personal email addresses and home and personal cellular telephone numbers of all eligible voters to the Regional Director and other parties during an election campaign, and the second amendment would provide for absentee ballots for employees who are on military leave.

 

ABC plans to submit comments on the NLRB proposal before the Sept. 28, 2020, deadline and will provide updates on the rulemaking process through Newsline.

 

COVID-19 – U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:

 

COVID-19 - Register for the upcoming ABC National webinar on Aug. 4:

 

New COVID-19 Paid Leave Issues for Employers as the Country Reopens

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Republicans Squabble Over COVID Relief Package, ABC Submits PPP Comments & Letter to the President on Job Creation, & NLRB Noms Headed to Senate Floor

Republicans Enter COVID Relief Negotiations with Weak Hand:

On Tuesday, the Senate GOP finally released the HEALS Act, its $1 trillion coronavirus relief plan. The Senate Republican Policy Committee (RPC) released an overview of the package, which can be viewed here.

Following the release of the package, Senate Republican Leadership ran into issue with rank and file members, who were critical of the proposal. Senate Majority Leader McConnell did not appear to have anything near majority Republican support, let alone backing from Democrats who instantly attacked them, which will make the negotiation process even more difficult for the Leader. “I think it’s a statement of the obvious that I have members who are all over the lot on this,” Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, told reporters after the closed lunch session. “There are some members who think we've already done enough, other members who think we need to do more. This is a complicated problem.” Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), the author of the liability protections that Republicans insist should be in any final legislation said of the package, “If it is going to be passed with mainly Democratic votes, it is going to be mainly a Democratic bill.”

Further weakening Republicans’ hand at the negotiation table, President Trump also called the Republican proposal “semi-irrelevant,” noting that it would have to be reconciled with Democrats’ “needs and asks.” Mr. McConnell said it would be up to Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, to do the reconciling.

 

ABC Calls for Additional Guidance and Flexibility in PPP Rulemaking:

 

On July 27, ABC submitted comments to the U.S. Department of the Treasury and U.S. Small Business Administration on an interim final rule changing key provisions of the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program and its loan forgiveness and loan review procedures.

While ABC expressed support for several changes to the PPP, such as decreasing the portion of a PPP loan that must be spent on payroll costs from 75% to 60% and increasing the timeline to spend PPP funds from eight weeks to 24 weeks, ABC also urged the agencies to take the following actions in order to further assist small businesses:

  1. Provide further guidance on when businesses should apply for loan forgiveness and when they are notified of their forgiveness status
  2. Issue further guidance on the PPP audit process
  3. Increase flexibility for employee retention requirements and loan forgiveness
  4. Provide further clarification of nonpayroll costs
  5. Refocus efforts to deliver PPP funds to underserved communities and minority businesses

ABC has followed the implementation and additional revisions to the PPP and submitted comments on a previous rulemaking related to the program.

ABC will continue to provide updates on the PPP and other SBA resources through Newsline and at abc.org/coronavirus.

NLRB Nominees Headed to Floor This Week: 

On Thursday, July 23, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) filed for cloture on the nominations of Marvin Kaplan and Lauren McFerran to the NLRB. We are expecting a final vote on their confirmations this week or next. It is possible that they will be confirmed on a voice vote or via another agreement with Senate Democrats.

Kaplan is currently a Republican Board member and was nominated for a second term. ABC will be sending a letter of support for the Kaplan nomination. His current term expires on August 27. McFerran (D) has served on the Board under both Presidents Obama and Trump. Without confirmation of at least one of these candidates, the Board will no longer have a quorum when Kaplan’s term expires.  

ABC Asks President Trump to Review Policies that Impede Competition and Job Creation:

 

On July 28, ABC sent a letter to President Trump applauding him for issuing two executive orders, Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery and Accelerating the Nation’s Economic Recovery from the COVID-19 Emergency by Expediting Infrastructure Investments and Other Activities, which will help to remove burdensome barriers to job creation and help the economy continue to rebound from the COVID-19 crisis.

 

ABC Election Series—RNC National Update:

 

A reminder that Thursday, July 30th from 3 p.m.-3:30 p.m. EDT ABC will be hosting an election update with the Republican National Committee: CLICK HERE to register. This update is a part of the ABC Election Update Series, which is powered by the Free Enterprise Alliance. The series is reserved for ABC members and registration is free of charge thanks to our generous sponsors. You can find more information about future ABC Election Update Series webinars online here.

 

House Democrats Move Forward with Appropriations Bills:

 

While negotiations continue on the next round of COVID relief from Congress, the House this week is set to pass their second minibus of fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills. The House is expected to consider the legislation, H.R. 7617, beginning today. The package includes six FY 2021 spending bills: Defense, Commerce-Justice-Science, Energy and Water Development, Financial Service and General Government, Labor-HHS-Education, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development.

 

A division-by-division summary is available as a PDF here.

 

While the bill is unlikely to become law, the Democrats spending bill have been criticized by Republicans for busting budget caps and containing poising pill riders that would defund the President’s priorities.

 

COVID-19 & Face Coverings:

 

An updated list of jurisdictions where face coverings are recommended or required can be read here.

 

OSHA FAQs on cloth face coverings is available here.

 

CDC’s information on the use of cloth face coverings can be found here.

 

REMINDER—What’s in the GOP COVID Relief Proposal:

 

Of note, addressing ABC priorities, the package would:

  • Expand PPP eligibility to include certain 501(c)(6) organizations, with 300 or fewer employees, excluding professional sports, political campaigns, and lobbying expenses.
    • Eligibility requirement specify that the organization cannot receive more than 10 percent of receipts from lobbying, the lobbying activities do not comprise more than 10 percent of receipts, and the organization has 300 or fewer employees.
  • Expand the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) from 50 percent of qualified wages reimbursed through the credit to 65 percent.
    • Under the CARES Act, employers are eligible for the ERTC if their (1) operations were fully or partially suspended due to a COVID-19-related shut-down order, or (2) gross receipts declined by more than 50 percent when compared to the same quarter in the prior year. The HEALS Act lowers the amount of the reduction in gross receipts required to qualify as an eligible employer from a 50- percent decline to a 25-percent decline compared to the same calendar quarter in the previous year. The CARES Act limited the amount of qualified wages taken into account per employee to $10,000 for the year, and the HEALS Act increases the limitation on qualified wages taken into account per employee to $10,000 per quarter (limited to $30,000 for the calendar year).
    • The bill also enhances coordination between the credit and the Paycheck Protection Program by allowing employers to be eligible for both programs, but with limitations to prevent overlapping benefits
  • Provide liability protections for employers through temporarily limiting liability for personal injuries arising from alleged COVID-19 exposure at a school, college, nonprofit, church, or business. Text of the bill can be found here.
    • In order to qualify, entities must (1) have made reasonable efforts to comply with applicable public health guidelines, and (2) not engage in willful misconduct or grossly negligent behavior.
    • These protections would apply to personal injury lawsuits stemming from actual exposure to coronavirus as well as feared or potential exposure. Nuisance claims will also be covered.
    • Covers coronavirus-related exposure injuries that take place between December 1, 2019 and October 1, 2024.

 

Notably, the bill DOES NOT fix the Paycheck Protection Program tax deductibility issue. ABC has pushed for this issue repeatedly since the IRS’s guidance that excluded the ability of small businesses to deduct eligible expenses paid with a forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan from their taxes. Without this relief, millions of small businesses will face significant tax liabilities and earlier this month sent a letter to Congressional leadership along with more than 100 business organizations. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has consistently objected to a fix for this critical issue, defending the IRS guidance and stating tax deductibility of PPP loans would be “double dipping” into the program. The fix authored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) was excluded from the final package due to objections from the White House and Treasury.

 

Continuing the Paycheck Protection Program, the proposal provides $190 billion of committed and appropriated funds to support PPP and PPP Second Draw Loans, and defines eligibility for PPP Second Draw loans as small businesses that meet the applicable SBA revenue size standard, have no more than 300 employees, and demonstrate at least a 50 percent reduction in gross revenues. Critics have said the restriction would leave too many struggling yet viable employers on the sidelines while putting too much emphasis on businesses on the brink of failure. You can view a section by section summary of the provisions here.

 

The proposal also includes a second $1,200 direct payment for Americans. Under the plan, people earning up to $75,000 can receive the full amount. Dependents regardless of age also qualify for $500, expanding the range of people that qualify for cash compared to the initial wave of stimulus checks that left out many adult dependents and college students. The payments phase out for single-filers earning above $99,000, and joint-filers with no children earning more than $198,000. The plan also calls for the reduction in increased federal unemployment benefits from $600 to $200 per week for a 60-day period, or until states are able to provide a 70 percent wage replacement. More information on these provisions and other critical tax provisions in the bill can be found here.

 

The GOP package also provides additional flexibility for the $150 billion in state funds provided under the CARES Act and extends the time frame under which that money can be used. The bill includes $16 billion in new money for expanding state testing capacity — on top of $9 billion that hasn't been spent yet — $26 billion for the development and distribution of vaccines, $105 billion to help schools reopen, $20 billion to assist farmers and ranchers and close to $30 billion to "bolster the U.S. defense industrial base." You can view more information on the emergency funding here.

Read the rest of entry »

Senate Releases HEALS Act for Next Round of COVID Relief

Senate Republicans Release HEALS Act for Next Round of COVID Relief:

 

Yesterday, the Senate GOP finally released the HEALS Act, its $1 trillion coronavirus relief plan. This package is seen as a starting point for Republicans, teeing up what could be weeks of tough bipartisan negotiations with Democrats to provide much-needed relief in response to the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. ABC will continue to provide updates on these negotiations as they move forward.

 

Of note, addressing ABC priorities, the package would:

  • Expand PPP eligibility to include certain 501(c)(6) organizations, with 300 or fewer employees, excluding professional sports, political campaigns, and lobbying expenses.
    • Eligibility requirement specify that the organization cannot receive more than 10 percent of receipts from lobbying, the lobbying activities do not comprise more than 10 percent of receipts, and the organization has 300 or fewer employees.
  • Expand the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) from 50 percent of qualified wages reimbursed through the credit to 65 percent.
    • Under the CARES Act, employers are eligible for the ERTC if their (1) operations were fully or partially suspended due to a COVID-19-related shut-down order, or (2) gross receipts declined by more than 50 percent when compared to the same quarter in the prior year. The HEALS Act lowers the amount of the reduction in gross receipts required to qualify as an eligible employer from a 50- percent decline to a 25-percent decline compared to the same calendar quarter in the previous year. The CARES Act limited the amount of qualified wages taken into account per employee to $10,000 for the year, and the HEALS Act increases the limitation on qualified wages taken into account per employee to $10,000 per quarter (limited to $30,000 for the calendar year).
    • The bill also enhances coordination between the credit and the Paycheck Protection Program by allowing employers to be eligible for both programs, but with limitations to prevent overlapping benefits
  • Provide liability protections for employers through temporarily limiting liability for personal injuries arising from alleged COVID-19 exposure at a school, college, nonprofit, church, or business. Text of the bill can be found here.
    • In order to qualify, entities must (1) have made reasonable efforts to comply with applicable public health guidelines, and (2) not engage in willful misconduct or grossly negligent behavior.
    • These protections would apply to personal injury lawsuits stemming from actual exposure to coronavirus as well as feared or potential exposure. Nuisance claims will also be covered.
    • Covers coronavirus-related exposure injuries that take place between December 1, 2019 and October 1, 2024.

 

Notably, the bill DOES NOT fix the Paycheck Protection Program tax deductibility issue. ABC has pushed for this issue repeatedly since the IRS’s guidance that excluded the ability of small businesses to deduct eligible expenses paid with a forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan from their taxes. Without this relief, millions of small businesses will face significant tax liabilities and earlier this month sent a letter to Congressional leadership along with more than 100 business organizations. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has consistently objected to a fix for this critical issue, defending the IRS guidance and stating tax deductibility of PPP loans would be “double dipping” into the program. The fix authored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) was excluded from the final package due to objections from the White House and Treasury.

 

Continuing the Paycheck Protection Program, the proposal provides $190 billion of committed and appropriated funds to support PPP and PPP Second Draw Loans, and defines eligibility for PPP Second Draw loans as small businesses that meet the applicable SBA revenue size standard, have no more than 300 employees, and demonstrate at least a 50 percent reduction in gross revenues. Critics have said the restriction would leave too many struggling yet viable employers on the sidelines while putting too much emphasis on businesses on the brink of failure. You can view a section by section summary of the provisions here.

 

The proposal also includes a second $1,200 direct payment for Americans. Under the plan, people earning up to $75,000 can receive the full amount. Dependents regardless of age also qualify for $500, expanding the range of people that qualify for cash compared to the initial wave of stimulus checks that left out many adult dependents and college students. The payments phase out for single-filers earning above $99,000, and joint-filers with no children earning more than $198,000. The plan also calls for the reduction in increased federal unemployment benefits from $600 to $200 per week for a 60-day period, or until states are able to provide a 70 percent wage replacement. More information on these provisions and other critical tax provisions in the bill can be found here.

 

The GOP package also provides additional flexibility for the $150 billion in state funds provided under the CARES Act and extends the time frame under which that money can be used. The bill includes $16 billion in new money for expanding state testing capacity — on top of $9 billion that hasn't been spent yet — $26 billion for the development and distribution of vaccines, $105 billion to help schools reopen, $20 billion to assist farmers and ranchers and close to $30 billion to "bolster the U.S. defense industrial base." You can view more information on the emergency funding here.

Read the rest of entry »

ABC Election Briefing & GOP Set to Release COVID Relief Package

The ABC Election Briefing Series:

 

This week, ABC members are invited to an exclusive update from the Republican National Committee on Thursday, July 30, at 3 p.m. EDT, where we will be joined by Chris Carr, the political director for Trump Victory, and Elliott Echols, the national field director at the RNC. RSVP Today: CLICK HERE.


The ABC Election Briefing Series is free of charge and reserved for ABC members only. Webinars will not be recorded. Sponsorship opportunities are available. Please contact Melanie Pfeiffenberger for more information at [email protected] or (202) 595-1813.

 

GOP Set to Release COVID Relief Package Today:

 

Republican leadership in the Senate is planning to release their legislative package on additional COVID relief later today. Initital reports indicate that Senate Republicans will propose cutting weekly federal emergency unemployment benefits from $600 to $200, and the package is expected to include a new round of $1,200 checks to individual Americans, billions of dollars for schools with some of the money aimed at helping classrooms reopen, and a five-year liability shield for businesses, health-care providers and others.

 

The legislation also is set to include at least $100 billion more for the small-business Paycheck Protection Program and is expected to extend a limited moratorium on evictions. It does not contain any new money for state and local governments — a key Democratic demand — but instead gives state and local leaders additional flexibility in spending the $150 billion approved in the CARES Act in March.

 

This proposal will just be the starting point for Republicans who will be negotiating with Democrats and their $3 trillion plan passed by the House  back in May.

 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) acknowledged Friday that a deal with Democrats could take several weeks, while Pelosi said Congress can’t leave for August recess without passing a bill. Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said over the weekend: “Half the Republicans are going to vote no to any Phase 4 package,” making bipartisan negotiations more difficult for Republican leadership.

 

Reminder—ABC Action Alert on COVID Relief Priorities:

 

Last week, ABC sent out an action alert to members highlighting critical priorities to include in the next COVID-19 relief package that is currently being negotiated in Congress. 511 ABC members have sent a total of 1,540 messages to their elected officials, reaching 90 U.S. Senators and 213 representatives.

 

ABC has previously sent letters to Congressional leadership and rank and file members of Congress on these important issues for the construction industry. Please click the link here and send the alert to your Representative and Senators. This is likely the last large package to address the pandemic ahead of the November elections, and ABC continues to advocate for critical policies that will support our members and the construction industry including aid for 501(c)(6) organizations, tax deductibility for Paycheck Protection Program loans, limited liability protections for construction businesses operating during the pandemic, and the continuation, extension, and expansion of critical tax relief for businesses.

 

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GOP Reaches CARES 2 Agreement in Principle, House Passes Appropriations Minibus

GOP Reaches Agreement in Principle on CARES 2, Details to Come Next Week:

 

Last night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate majority had assembled a framework for CARES 2, that the White House has requested additional time to review. McConnell also announced that the Senate would be releasing this proposal early next week, stating “We have an agreement in principle on the shape of this package. It is the framework that will enable Congress to make law and deliver more relief to the American people that is tailored precisely to this phase of the crisis.” View full statement here.

 

According to reports, the hang up on releasing the package this week centered around the extension of federal unemployment assistance for workers that have lost their jobs as the United States economy shut down in response to the coronavirus pandemic. There is currently some conflicting info coming out on this issue and it is unclear at this time where the final language will land:

 

  • Congress settled on the $600 sum in the first relief package that passed in March because, when added to the average state unemployment payout in 2019 ($378) it equates approximately, though a little more than, the average American worker per week salary of $933, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

 

  • Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told CNBC Thursday that the GOP plan would extend the benefits “based on approximately 70% wage replacement,” though it’s not clear what he meant. A 70% wage replacement based on average worker wages in the U.S. would translate to federal payouts of around $200-$300 per week, a significant cut from the $600 per week in jobless benefits being paid out by the federal government.

 

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also told the Wall Street Journal that Republican lawmakers were looking at lowering the payouts to 70% of the $600 per-week figure, which would equate to $420 a week.

 

House Passes Appropriations Minibus Today:

 

The House passed today its four-bill spending package that would fund both EPA and the Interior Department for fiscal 2021, H.R. 7608, after adding more than 100 amendments to the package on Thursday. House Democrats adopted partisan provisions to their first fiscal 2021 minibus on Thursday, including an amendment to bar drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, provide more funding to replace lead drinking water lines and block a host of Trump administration regulatory efforts, including the ABC supported NEPA reforms. The bill also exceeds, by billions of dollars, current budget agreement spending caps that had been agreed upon with bipartisan support. The bill passed by a vote of 224-189 with no Republicans voting for and 7 Democrats voting against.

 

The bill is more than likely dead on arrival in the Senate, which is unlikely to take up the House’s appropriations efforts this year.

 

There will be also no payroll tax cut sought by Trump in the new plan.

 

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Policy Update:

 

SBA has recently released additional guidance SBA Procedural Notice: Procedures for Lender Submission of Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Decisions to SBA and SBA Forgiveness Loan Reviews (Released July 23, 2020)

  • The PPP Forgiveness Platform will go live and begin accepting Lender submissions on August 10, 2020, subject to extension if any new legislative amendments to the forgiveness process necessitate changes to the system.

 

Please note the following document was released earlier this week:

SBA Information Notice on Guidance Regarding Identification and Reporting of Suspicious Activity in the COVID-19 EIDL Loan Program  (Released July 22, 2020)

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ABC Action Alert & GOP Delays Release of COVID Proposal

REMINDER – ABC Action Alert on COVID Relief Priorities:

 

Yesterday, ABC sent out an action alert to members highlighting critical priorities to include in the next COVID-19 relief package that is currently being negotiated in Congress. ABC has previously sent letters to Congressional leadership and rank and file members of Congress on these important issues for the construction industry. Please click the link here and send the alert to your Representative and Senators.

 

This is likely the last large package to address the pandemic ahead of the November elections, and ABC continues to advocate for critical policies that will support our members and the construction industry including aid for 501(c)(6) organizations, tax deductibility for Paycheck Protection Program loans, limited liability protections for construction businesses operating during the pandemic, and the continuation, extension, and expansion of critical tax relief for businesses.

 

House Approves ABC-supported Great American Outdoors Act

 

Yesterday, the House passed the Great American Outdoor Act (S. 3422/H.R. 1957), which was introduced by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), by a vote of 310-107. The bill is expected to be signed into law by President Trump. Ahead of the vote, ABC sent a letter to the House in support of the legislation, urging the swift consideration and approval of the Senate-passed version of the bill.

 

GOP Struggles to Reach Agreement on COVID Relief Proposal:

 

While Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and WH Chief of Staff Mark Meadows announced an agreement in principle alongside senators last night, disagreement among GOP Senators and the White House on legislative language of the deal has delayed the release of the Republicans’ opening bid in negotiations for the next COVID relief package. Senate Republicans expected this week to release the legislative language for its counter-proposal to the House Democrats $3 trillion HEROES Act, passed in May, and while talks could come together sooner, it looks increasingly like the release of the GOP package will be delayed until next week.

 

Many in Congress are calling for urgent action on the next relief package as there are now fewer than three weeks to go until the August recess, the virus is spiking in states and local communities throughout the country, and the $600 federal enhancement to unemployment insurance is set to expire at the end of the month.

 

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser Issues Face Mask Order

 

Effective as of yesterday, Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser issued an executive order mandating the use of facial coverings in alignment with existing guidance, with limited exceptions. The order requires the use of masks inside all businesses, office buildings, and other public facilities or common areas, as well as while using any public transportation or ride-share service. The order also requires the use of masks in outdoor situations where social distancing of at least six feet is not possible, and personal contact is more than “fleeting.” Exceptions for situations such as while in private residences, while eating or drinking, or the presence of a prohibitive medical condition are included, in addition to other accomodations. Businesses or employers are required to expel from their establishment or office any individual not in compliance. Also of note, all Washington DC employers are required to provide masks for their employees if needed. The order is currently in place through October 9, 2020, unless extended.

 

With this order, the District joins 30 states that have implemented similar mandates over the recent weeks. There is no federal mandate around mask usage, but a reminder that OSHA does have this existing guidance for the construction industry, including around facial covering, and all OSHA requirements regarding respiratory protection and other PPE that was in place prior to COVID-19 remains.

 

ABC Opposes Amendment to Block Critical NEPA Reforms:

 

Today, ABC joined a coalition of organizations to oppose amendment #72 to Division C of H.R. 7608, the first package of appropriations legislation that would block implementation of recently completed reforms to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations.

 

ABC recently stated its support for the recent NEPA final rule that will help streamline construction projects and eliminate unnecessary and costly federal red tape.

 

ABC National Webinar – COVID-19 in the Workplace: Complying with DOL’s New Federal Paid Leave Law:

ABC members and chapter staff are encouraged to register for the webinar on COVID-19 in the Workplace: Complying with DOL’s New Federal Paid Leave Law on August 4 at 3 p.m. EDT.

WEBINAR DESCRIPTION
ABC Members Only

With the approach of the school year and controversy in many states about whether schools will reopen fully, partially or not at all, many construction industry employers are wondering how the different reopening plans will affect their obligations to workers, including paid and unpaid leave. Since April 1, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act has required COVID-related paid leave for private-sector employers with fewer than 500 employees, but a number of school reopening issues remain unclear. ABC General Counsel Maury Baskin will discuss the latest legal developments and practical choices confronting ABC members and chapter staff. Other topics will include remote working generally and the continuing controversies over shutdown/reopening orders in the construction industry.

Read the rest of entry »

ABC Action Alert on COVID Relief Priorities & Preview of Senate GOP Proposal

ABC Action Alert on COVID Relief Priorities:

 

Today, ABC sent out an action alert to members highlighting critical priorities to include in the next COVID-19 relief package that is currently being negotiated in Congress. ABC has previously sent letters to Congressional leadership and rank and file members of Congress on these important issues for the construction industry. Please click the link here and send the alert to your Representative and Senators.

 

Note this morning’s initial email contained an improper link to one of the bills ABC is supporting, Jumpstarting Our Businesses’ Success Credit (JOBS Credit) Act (H.R. 6776). ABC was part of 129 organizations that signed a coalition letter in June in support of the bill. The link was to another bill (H.R. 6766) that ABC DOES NOT SUPPORT, and the correct link has been added to the Action Center Website.

 

This is likely the last large package to address the pandemic ahead of the November elections, and ABC continues to advocate for critical policies that will support our members and the construction industry including aid for 501(c)(6) organizations, tax deductibility for Paycheck Protection Program loans, limited liability protections for construction businesses operating during the pandemic, and the continuation, extension, and expansion of critical tax relief for businesses.

 

We expect the Senate GOP to release the legislative text of their proposal before the end of this week. 

 

GOP COVID Relief Preview:

 

While Senate Republicans iron out their priorities, Leader McConnell’s proposal is likely to include the following elements:

 

  • Liability Protection: Establish temporary liability protections for employers, workers, and institutions that make a reasonable, good faith effort to follow public health guidelines. Applicable to businesses, schools, colleges, charities, associations, government agencies, and other entities. Limits liability for frontline healthcare workers. Protects employers from federal labor and employment laws. Effective through 2024.
    • McConnell Red Line: While Democrats have expressed strong opposition, liability protection is a red line for Leader McConnell, who stated in unequivocal terms: “We don’t need an epidemic of lawsuits.”

 

  • School Funding: Provide schools $105 billion to assist re-opening efforts, with $70 billion set aside for elementary and secondary schools.

 

  • Enhanced Unemployment Insurance: The GOP proposal will likely not extend the full $600 per week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) supplement created by the CARES Act, and will instead propose a significantly reduced federal supplement. Together with basic state unemployment benefits, the FPUC amounts to an average weekly wage ($978) greater than what half of American workers were earning pre-pandemic ($957). The GOP proposal is likely to come in lower, perhaps at $200.

 

  • Direct Payments: Another round of checks to Americans, looking to be the same $1200 per adult ($500 per dependent) economic impact payments provided in the CARES Act. Direct individual payments are a top priority for the White House, and President Trump whose signature appeared on the last checks.

 

  • COVID-19 Response: Increased funding for COVID-19 testing, vaccine research and development (R&D), and potentially a vaccine R&D tax credit.

 

  • PPP 2.0: Reboot and extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), with an eye toward providing further relief to smaller and more distressed businesses. The bill will likely add funds to the remaining $130 billion, although the amount is unclear.
    • The McConnell proposal is likely to include the core elements of the Rubio-Collins plan, which would be oriented around sectors and areas that have been hardest hit, while adding COVID-related safety costs as forgivable expenses.
    • Second round of funds available for businesses with fewer than 300 employees that have experienced a significant reduction in revenue for a given quarter (likely 50 percent, but subject to change) compared to the previous year. Terms resemble standard PPP loans, but capped at lower amount (e.g. $2 million).
    • Larger recovery loans for seasonal employers, those in low-income areas, and certain specified industries with fewer than 300 employees that have experienced a decline in revenue. Businesses would be eligible to borrow up to 2x annual revenue with a maximum of $10 million. Only 2.5 months payroll would be forgivable, with the balance carried as a longer term loan
    • Banks are pushing for automatic forgiveness for smaller loans as a way to turn the page on round one, and inclusion of such provisions could coax them to fully embrace the next iteration of small business relief.

 

  • ERTC Reform: Reform and expand the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) created by the CARES Act. The House-passed HEROES Act incorporated the JOBS Credit Act, (H.R. 6776) which would boost the existing credit from 50 percent of wages to 80 percent, increase the per employee limitation from $10,000 for all quarters to $15,000 per quarter, raise the threshold for large employer treatment from 100 to 1,500, and phase in the value of the credit for businesses with less than 50 percent revenue reduction. The bill would also allow for PPP recipients to claim ERTC for wages not forgiven under the program.
    • Republicans are likely to support a less generous expansion of the ERTC, though it is unclear what form it will take in the GOP proposal.

 

  • COVID-Related Business Credits: Provide a business tax credit to alleviate the cost of dealing with COVID19 disruptions. Republicans have not agreed upon an approach, but the most popular idea involves tax incentives for businesses to make purchases that prevent virus transmission, ranging from personal protective equipment (PPE) to safety modifications pursuant to public health guidelines.

 

House Passes NDAA Reauthorization with Beneficial Ownership Provision:

 

Yesterday, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act reauthorization with the Rep. Maloney Corporate Transparency Act amendment included in the bill as part of the En-Bloc number 1 package to NDAA. Considering that this amendment is in no way germane to NDAA and there was all of one minute of debate on this amendment the outcome is frustrating, especially because this amendment saddles small businesses with an additional $5.7 billion in regulatory paperwork during the worst Main Street crisis in decades.

 

In the Senate, so far we have better news.  As far as we are aware Crapo/Brown will not be making it in Senate NDAA barring a last-second change of heart by Inhofe/Reed. The Senate has yet to pass its final version of the NDAA, but the bill will eventually go to Conference Committee, and hopefully with no Senate counterpart, making the House provision easier to strip out in the final product. ABC joined a coalition of more than 70 organizations in opposing the sumilar Senate amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 4049).

 

While President Trump has threatened to veto the annual defense policy bill over language to rename military bases honoring Confederate leaders, the House passed the measure with a veto-proof 295-125 vote with deep support from both Democrats and Republicans.

 

Tri-State Area Says Travelers From 31 Hot Spot States Must Quarantine:

 

People traveling to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut from 31 other states are now required to self-quarantine for 14 days, after 10 states with significant community spread of the coronavirus — including Virginia, Maryland, Indiana and Alaska — were added to a travel advisory Tuesday.

 

While this is sure to snarl summer vacation plans, there are some unresolved questions about how this impacts the construction industry despite some specific exceptions. There are exemptions in New Jersey for business travel and critical infrastructure, as well as people passing through for a limited time. New York has exemptions for people passing through for a short amount of time, as well as for essential workers and first responders. Out-of-state travelers from the impacted states are asked to complete New York's State Department of Health traveler form, while the survey in New Jersey is voluntary. Workers in critical infrastructure are exempted from the quarantine in Connecticut.

 

According to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, there could also be potential fines, including $2,000 for a first violation and a fine of up to $10,000 if the person causes harm. Each state is responsible for enforcing their own policies.

 

Republican Governors Ask Congress For Liability Protections:

 

Yesterday, 21 Republican Governors sent a joint letter to Congressional leadership calling for liability protections for businesses, healthcare workers, and schools to be included in any potential phase four COVID-19 relief bill.

The letter was led by Governor Eric Holcomb (IN) and joined by Governors Greg Abbott (TX), Doug Ducey (AZ), Kay Ivey (AL), Mike Dunleavy (AK), Asa Hutchinson (AR), Brad Little (ID), Kim Reynolds (IA), Larry Hogan (MD), Tate Reeves (MS), Mike Parson (MO), Pete Ricketts (NE), Chris Sununu (NH), Doug Burgum (ND), Mike DeWine (OH), Kevin Stitt (OK), Henry McMaster (SC), Bill Lee (TN), Gary Herbert (UT), Jim Justice (WV), and Mark Gordon (WY). 

 

Reminder—Next CLRF Meeting in September:

 

The next CLRF meeting will take place on Tuesday, September 15. Please let Jack Buttarazzi [email protected] know if an application will be forthcoming and note the deadline for submitting these applications will be Monday August 31. If you would like to learn more about the CLRF application process, please contact me or Karen Livingston at [email protected] and ABC gov affairs will set up a call with you.

 

Applicants are encouraged to discuss their case informally with CLRF General Counsel, Maury Baskin, at (202) 772-2526 or [email protected]. Applicants are also encouraged to discuss their interest in an Issue Advocacy Campaign informally with ABC’s Vice President of Regulatory, Labor and State Affairs, Ben Brubeck, before completing the application. Ben can be reached at (202) 595-1825 or [email protected].

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McConnell Outlines GOP COVID Relief Priorities

McConnell Outlines COVID Relief Priorities:

 

Today, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered remarks on the Senate floor regarding coronavirus legislation, highlighting key priorities for Senate Republicans and their proposal. In his remarks, McConnell expressed that the Republican package would include: $105 billion to reopen schools, a revamping of the Paycheck Protection Program for “hard-hit businesses”, incentives for businesses to hire and retain employees, federal reimbursement to businesses for Personal Protective Equipment, COVID testing, and office cleaning, another round of direct payments to individuals, and targeted liability protections for business, schools, and nonprofits to prevent frivolous lawsuits during this pandemic. You may view his full remarks here.

 

This is likely the last large package to address the pandemic ahead of the November elections, and ABC continues to advocate for critical policies that will support our members and the construction industry including aid for 501(c)(6) organizations, tax deductibility for Paycheck Protection Program loans, limited liability protections for construction businesses operating during the pandemic, and the continuation, extension, and expansion of critical tax relief for businesses.

 

PPP 2.0 Raises Concerns from Banks:

 

While Senate Small Business Chair Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and a bipartisan group of lawmakers are nearing agreement on a new wave of small business rescue loans, U.S. banks are raising concerns about the proposal to revamp the Paycheck Protection Program.

 

One of the major proposals being discussed is the creation of a long-term "recovery" loan aimed at hard-hit businesses. The portion of the loan that exceeds payroll costs wouldn't have to be paid back for 20 years and would carry a 2 percent interest rate, according to a draft. It would be available to certain businesses with 300 or fewer employees that have taken revenue losses this year. The aid would be targeted at seasonal employers, businesses that make at least half of their profit in a low-income community and at manufacturers and hotels.

 

However, banks are warning that the new loan terms that senators are floating don't make business sense for them and could create new issues with regulators tasked with ensuring that banks aren't overloaded with problematic loans. They also say banks are weary after delivering more than half a trillion dollars in aid to nearly 5 million borrowers in less than three months and are unlikely to participate in the next phase of the program to the same degree they did at the outset. Banks have also stated their preference for a government shift to a full-scale grant model rather than treating long-term financial support like a loan that would add new layers of complexity to the program.

 

House Plans Appropriations Votes for Next Week:

 

While the next COVID-19 relief package will likely be the last big spending bill to make it through Congress ahead of the November elections, yesterday, in advance of Floor consideration, Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee released a division-by-division summary of the second minibus of fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills. The House is expected to consider the legislation, H.R. 7617, beginning next week. The package includes seven FY 2021 spending bills: Defense, Commerce-Justice-Science, Energy and Water Development, Financial Service and General Government, Homeland Security, Labor-HHS-Education, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development.

 

A division-by-division summary is available here.

 

Nikema Williams to Replace Rep. John Lewis on November Ballot:

 

Georgia state Senator Nikema Williams (D) was selected on Monday by the Georgia Democratic Party to replace the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.-5) on the ballot this November to represent the state's 5th Congressional District. Williams, who is also chair of the state's Democratic Party, easily secured enough votes Monday to replace Lewis, who passed away from pancreatic cancer complications on Friday.

 

Construction Backlog Indicator:

 

During these tumultuous times for ABC member companies and workers, it’s never been more important for provide information on economic conditions so we can help our members understand the market and plan for the future. Please encourage members to complete the Construction Backlog Indicator survey, which was most recently sent on July 20.

 

Please share the sign-up form or this month’s link with any of your members who may have not received it.

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Congress Returns for Showdown on Additional COVID Relief Efforts

Congress Returns for Showdown on Additional Relief Efforts:

 

As Congress returns this week, while COVID-19 relief is the main item on the agenda, Congress is also focused on passing the annual National Defense Authorization Act, and the House is moving forward with the appropriations process ahead of the August recess.

 

President Donald Trump has also reissued veto threats to both the NDAA and the coronavirus relief bill if the former includes a provision to rename military bases that honor Confederate generals and if the latter fails to include a payroll tax cut that has little support on Capitol Hill among either party. Negotiations on additional COVID relief are also off to a rocky start with Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) is urging his colleagues to unify against a coronavirus relief proposal that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is drafting with the Trump administration.

 

In particular, Schumer is balking at a five-year proposed litigation shield that McConnell wants to include in the next relief package, and has consistently called a red line for any additional relief, that would limit the liability of businesses, schools and churches related to coronavirus infections. The Democratic leader also criticized the emerging GOP coronavirus relief package for failing to extend unemployment benefits, fund rental assistance, or provide hazard pay for essential workers. Schumer is also pushing for additional assistance in “communities of color being ravaged by the virus,” and has proposed $350 billion in aid for these underserved communities.

 

Negotiations will largely rely on the ability of Speaker Pelosi, McConnell, Schumer and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to produce a bill that both sides can agree on and that the president will sign. The White House again will be represented by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who is accompanied by former House member and current WH chief of staff Mark Meadows.

 

This is likely the last large package to address the pandemic ahead of the November elections, and ABC continues to advocate for critical policies that will support our members and the construction industry including aid for 501(c)(6) organizations, tax deductibility for Paycheck Protection Program loans, limited liability protections for construction businesses operating during the pandemic, and the continuation, extension, and expansion of critical tax relief for businesses.

 

The Great American Outdoors Act to get Vote in the House:

 

On Tuesday, the House is expected to pass the Senate-approved version of H.R. 1957, the Great American Outdoors Act. This bipartisan legislation would help address the $20 billion deferred maintenance backlog in the Department of the Interior, $12 billion of which is accumulated by the National Park Service, creating thousands of construction jobs in the process. Ahead of the vote, ABC sent a letter to the House urging the swift consideration and approval of the legislation.

 

The bill will create the National Parks and Public Lands Legacy Fund, which would direct up to $9.5 billion in nontaxpayer funds over the next five years to improve infrastructure within the NPS and other agencies with significant deferred maintenance backlog, much of which is related to transportation assets. A 2019 Pew Research Center-commissioned report by the Cadmus Group found that addressing the NPS’ nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog would create or support an estimated 108,364 construction jobs.

 

The Great American Outdoors Act would also ensure full, dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which would permanently secure the financial integrity of one of the most important public land conservation programs while bolstering the $778 billion outdoor recreation economy.

 

House to take up National Defense Authorization Act this Week:

 

This morning the House will begin consideration of NDAA under a joint rule along with 3 other bills. The Maloney Corporate Transparency Act (HR 2513), which ABC has opposed, was ruled in order as an amendment to the NDAA during the House Rules Committee consideration of the bill. Currently, we are expecting the amendment it to be rolled into an en bloc amendment and pass the House, although there is an outside chance that it will be considered as a stand-alone amendment. There is also an outside chance a similar amendment is included in the Senate version of the NDAA, which would make the provision tough to remove in the eventual conference committee between the House and Senate to develop a compromise bill.

 

ABC joined a coalition of more than 70 organizations in opposing a similar Senate amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 4049) that would overhaul anti-money laundering regulations, including a requirement that corporations report ownership information to the Treasury Department.

 

Under the current Customer Due Diligence (CDD) rule, financial institutions are required to collect and verify the identities of the beneficial owners of companies that have accounts with their banks. The so-called Corporate Transparency Act would shift this responsibility away from these large banks that are best equipped to handle the reporting requirements and instead burden millions of small businesses, who often have limited capacity to file unfamiliar government paperwork.

 

This proposal would also expose small businesses to serious criminal penalties for paperwork violations and raises privacy concerns as it provides law enforcement officials broad access to personal information without a subpoena or warrant. This would set a dangerous precedent that could be detrimental to our employers. 

 

State Level Business Liability Legislation Update:

 

As legislatures continue to meet in regular and special legislative sessions, ABC continues to follow the status of business liability legislation both introduced and passed in state legislatures across the country. The BGR group has put together the attached spreadsheet that details the status of COVID-19 liability protection legislation, the types of businesses covered by each bill, and other related information. Contractors performing work in multiple states should be aware of the status of these efforts and the type of activities and work covered by each law.

 

DOL Issues Additional Compliance Assistance Guidance for Reopening Workplaces:

 

On July 20, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division announced additional guidance to address the requirements and protections under several of the laws enforced by the agency as workplaces reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

According to a DOL news release, the guidance, which provides information to workers and employers on the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, provides plain-language questions and answers addressing critical issues under all three laws.

 

In addition to this new guidance, WHD’s compliance assistance materials include a Fact Sheet for Employees, a Fact Sheet for Employers and a Questions and Answers resource about paid sick and expanded family and medical leave under the FFCRA. More information resources can be found on the DOL website.

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Senate Returns This Week to Work Towards Additional COVID Relief Package

COVID Relief Push to Begin This Week:

 

Negotiations over the next COVID relief package are expected to begin in earnest this week when the Senate returns to Washington. Recently, President Trump has signaled to congressional Republicans that he will not sign a relief package that does not include a payroll tax cut, which could represent another red line for the bill’s passage into law. However, Trump might have to back down, as both parties in both chambers have resoundingly rejected the idea in recent months — though Vice President Mike Pence told House Republicans this week that they should be pushing for it.

 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) are also finalizing their liability protection plan — which has been a red line for McConnell since talks started. Reports indicate that the liability provision would provide temporary protection for entities like schools, churches and various businesses from lawsuits due to coronavirus exposure. They would only be held liable “if they failed to make reasonable efforts to follow applicable public-health guidelines” or committed “an act of gross negligence”. Frontline medical workers would also get extra protection.

 

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats led by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are seeking to propose $350 billion in aid to minority communities ahead of coronavirus talks. The proposal would provide $135 billion for child care, community health care and job training, along with $215 billion for infrastructure, expanding Medicaid and providing a tax credit for homeowners and renters. House and Senate Democrats continue to push for an extension of the federal increase in unemployment benefits for millions of Americans that have lost their jobs since the start of the pandemic.

 

Banks Prepare for Loan Defaults:

 

This week, the largest U.S. banks signaled that the worst of the coronavirus recession is yet to come, opting to stow away tens of billions of dollars to prepare for an expected wave of loan losses. JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., and Wells Fargo & Co. said Tuesday they took large hits to their second-quarter profits to collectively stockpile $28 billion to cover losses as consumers and businesses start to default on their loans. The provisions amount to a sharp increase above what they put away in the first three months of the year, reflecting a shift in their assumptions about the length and severity of the pandemic’s economic toll. JPMorgan, the largest U.S. bank by assets, said it put aside extra to prepare for an unemployment rate that remains at double digits well into next year and a slower recovery in gross domestic product than the bank’s economists assumed three months ago.

 

In the latest sign that the nation’s economic recovery could be in danger, California, the U.S.’s largest state, all but shut down on Monday as officials sought to head off a resurgence of the coronavirus. Gov. Gavin Newsom shuttered indoor activities across the state amid a spike in cases as counties began reopening in recent weeks. Other states such as Texas, Florida and Arizona, which had started to reopen, have also emerged as new epicenters of the virus.

 

Virginia Approves Workplace Safety Standard on COVID-19:

 

On July 15, the VA Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) adopted its proposed Emergency Temporary Standard(ETS), Infectious Disease Prevention: SARS-CoV-2 Virus That Causes COVID-19, making Virginia the first state with a mandatory COVID-19 workplace safety standard. DOLI is now finalizing the text of the standard, which is expected to be released the week of July 27. It will take effect once it is published, but employers will be given 60 days “to develop and train employees on their infectious disease preparedness and response plan.”

 

The ETS requires employers to implement numerous policies to prevent and respond to a COVID-19 infection among their workforce. Under the ETS, employers must classify their employees by risk level of exposure, establish and implement a system for self-assessment and screening of employees for COVID-19 symptoms, implement procedures designed to prevent sick individuals from infecting healthy employees, and require social distancing or respiratory protection if social distancing isn’t possible. Employers would be required to notify workers of possible exposure to infected co-workers within 24 hours and provide flexible sick leave policies, telework, and staggered shifts whenever feasible. The ETS also prohibits retaliation against workers who raise concerns about the workplace’s infection control policies. Additional information can be found here

 

A previous draft of the ETS included a safe harbor for employers that follow guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, according to press reports, after strong opposition to the provision by labor groups, DOLI adopted compromise language that allows employers to use CDC guidance instead only if the guidance provides “equivalent or greater protection” than the state’s ETS.

 

Virginia officials have stated that the state’s inspectors will enforce the new regulations and could issue penalties up to $124,000 or even force closures in severe cases.

 

Additional documents related to the ETS, including the full text of the proposed standard and public comments, can be found here

 

OSHA COVID-19 FAQs – New Topic Added:

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration published a list of frequently asked questions related to COVID-19.

Recently, OSHA added a new topic on reporting of work-related, confirmed cases of COVID-19.

President’s Sinking Poll Numbers Hurt Down Ballot Republicans:

 

While 109 days away from the November elections, President Trump continues to see sinking poll numbers as criticism continues around his response to the spread of COVID-19 and major U.S. cities and states see a resurgence in the virus, threatening additional economic shutdowns.

 

Polls are also indicating that down ballot Republicans in the House are facing tough elections resulting in some prediction changes from election watchers, including the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which recently changed 20 House ratings, all towards Democrats, with an updated seat count of 221 Solid/Likely/Lean Democrat, 189 Solid/Likely/Lean Republican, and 25 toss up seats for November. Most notably, three Republican incumbents Don Bacon (NE-2), Steve Chabot (OH-1), and Chip Roy (TX-21) have all shifted from Lean Republican to Toss up races, along with the open seat to replace the retiring Susan Brooks (IN-5).

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