New Administration, New State Legislative Session Requires Double the Vigilance

Written by  KAL KINCAID

WE ARE TAUGHT FROM AN EARLY age that the United States has three branches of government. But as highway contractors working in a heavily regulated environment, we could easily argue that government agencies have enough regulatory power to be considered the fourth.

Each presidential administration handles its transition differently, but one thing is certain—American presidents like to set the tone for their administrations early and with decisiveness.

From the first days of the Biden Administration, we see workforce development and labor relations materialize as top priorities.

Fortunately for Texas contractors, we’ve had an active and energetic Workforce Development Committee working on these issues for years. While the Trump Administration actively discouraged regulatory changes, this committee used the relative quiet to focus on meaningful collaboration with junior colleges, TxDOT and community-based organizations to create industryapproved workforce development solutions.

We all know that workforce development is slow work, so it’s extremely beneficial that Chairman Schulgen and his committee members had the sense and the fortitude to work on these issues well in advance.

The Tarrant County College Heavy Equipment Operator Course is the first industry-approved course of its kind. It has participation from the Regional Black Contractors Association, TxDOT, the community college and AGC. It has received approval and commendation from numerous legislators.

I want to personally recognize ASCO equipment for stepping up to provide equipment support to Tarrant County College and for the members who stand ready to create job opportunities for its graduates. I want to thank the members of the Workforce Development Committee for their engagement on this issue. Their advance work on this issue will be critically important as we navigate—and help shape—the regulatory road ahead.

Similarly, I want to thank Harry Levy for taking charge of the Wage Rate Task Force. With an executive order directing Wage and Hour to do a full review and update of DOL’s prevailing wage regulations, we must work with TxDOT to get our prevailing wage determination in order. This too will be critically important work in the coming months.

With Texas’ 87th Regular Legislative Session called to order, member advocacy will also be considerably important at the state level. Our major priorities for this session are the following:

1. Ensure TxDOT funding at current levels and oppose any effort to divert, delay, repurpose or otherwise reduce constitutionally dedicated funding for TxDOT;

2. Support the approval of meaningful reforms to combat against the prevalence of frivolous commercial vehicle accident lawsuits and egregious jury awards; and

3. Oppose efforts to impose unnecessary regulations and additional restrictions against aggregate production operations.

Under the leadership of Chairman Tracy Schieffer, our Legislative Drafting and Review Committee has spent the last few months preparing for session, reading filed bills, and determining a position and priority for each bill. While access to the Capitol is still limited, they have worked statewide to ensure an effective communication pipeline to all our elected officials.

If I can stress one thing for my first article as president, it is this: Participate in all AGC calls to action. They are extremely important. They are never distributed without a clear and present need for member input. They take less than a minute to perform, and the benefit is real and measurable.

AGC of America recently sent out some statistics on their 2020 legislative action alerts. Member advocacy messages in the hundreds of thousands ensured our industry remained essential. It ensured a positive resolution to several issues related to PPP loans and promoted construction as a leading economic stimulator in 2021.

We know it works because we’ve seen it. Both AGC of America and AGC of Texas expect to continue these alerts as their main method of member advocacy. We are still living in “interesting” times, as President Adamson noted last year, and it is incumbent on us as members of our trade association to ensure the best possible path forward.

February Meeting

February Board Meeting attendees.

Kincaid Opens

President Kincaid opens the Board of Directors Meeting on February 3, 2021. The meeting was held at the Hyatt Hotel, providing ample distancing between board members. AGC leaders representing committees, task forces, and areas also attending by phone.

 



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