Steel and iron producers in Texas are hoping that before the legislative session ends this month, lawmakers will approve a bill prohibiting the use of cheaper foreign steel in taxpayer-funded construction unless a certain cost threshold is met. Under Senate Bill 1289 by Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, domestic steel would be required for use in government construction such as office buildings, highways, and water infrastructure unless doing so would cause the entire cost of the project to rise more than 20 percent.
May 18, 2017
After previous assurances from Governor Greg Abbott that he wanted lawmakers to pass a narrowly-focused crackdown on local sheriffs who refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials, the bill he signed this week “banning sanctuary cities” is much more far-reaching. Among other things, it will allow police to inquire about immigration status before a person is arrested. Critics argue the provision amounts to a “show me your papers” law similar to the one passed in Arizona back in 2010.
May 09, 2017
As part of a nationwide push, Republicans in Missouri have now voted to bar local governments from “tipping the scales” when it comes to so-called “project labor agreements” on construction sites across the state. The governor is expected to sign the measure, which he asked lawmakers to put on his desk as soon as possible.
May 02, 2017
After conducting a detailed analysis of three years’ worth of construction fatality information, the Associated General Contractors of America unveiled a series of recommendations aimed at improving safety for workers on jobsites in Texas and across the nation. Speaking in Austin this month, AGC of America CEO Stephen Sandherr said contractors throughout Texas "have been particularly successful in improving workplace safety." In fact, Texas had the 17th largest decline in its construction fatality rate of any state between 2008 and 2015, Sandherr said, adding that in 2015 Texas had the second lowest construction injury rate of any state.
April 27, 2017
Republican lawmakers in both the Texas House and Senate are advancing legislation that would take aim at certain collective bargaining agreements on taxpayer-funded jobsites around the state.
April 12, 2017
An anti-union measure that some worry is unconstitutional has now been sent to the Texas House of Representatives by the Senate, moving much more quickly through the process than a similar proposal did during the last regular session of the Legislature in Austin two years ago.
April 06, 2017
The campaign promises of President Donald J. Trump to construct a physical barrier along the international boundary with Mexico – yes, a border wall – are now turning into actual requests for proposals by the federal government from businesses interested in making the project a reality.But there are still many questions about how this will actually happen, including whether Mexico will pay a single penny to help with construction. Mexico maintains that it will not and President Trump is already proposing that US taxpayers at least pay for it initially while holding out some hope that there will be reimbursement from Mexico down the line.
March 28, 2017
Now that it’s been given the green light by the the Austin City Council, a new program will launch in the coming weeks to expedite permitting for construction projects including "living wages" for large commercial projects.The Austin Business Journal described the program this way:After paying the additional fees, residential, mixed-use and small commercial projects can join the expedited permitting program with no extra hurdles. However major commercial projects — at least 75,000 square feet or $7.5 million in value, with no residential uses — must submit to oversight by a third party, such as the Workers Defense Project through its Better Builder Program.
March 22, 2017
Following a recent report that some immigrants have avoided construction jobsites out of fear that they’ll be deported, the AGC in Austin decided to conduct a survey aimed at determining whether recent immigration enforcement actions by the Trump Administration have had a real impact on the workforce.Here are some major takeaways from the survey:76% of local commercial construction industry having hard time finding hourly craft workers, according to the survey. This is almost identical to the statewide results of 74% reported in an AGC of America survey last year.40% responded that they’ve been having trouble for years finding workers, regardless of the recent government policy changes regarding illegal immigration. Only 19% responded that the recent changes are having SOME or a MAJOR impact on their work. 17% say it’s too early to tell. 28% say that the often-cited statistic that “50% of construction workers in Texas are undocumented” is either too low or about right. 22% say it depends on type of work and trades involved. 21% said they don’t know.
March 15, 2017
The potential use of eminent domain authority is at the heart of a controversy over a proposed bullet train that would connect Dallas and Houston.During this legislative session in Austin, which is held for the first five months of the year, Texas Central Railway is hoping lawmakers do not do anything to prevent its $12 billion project from moving forward. The project would use Japanese technology allowing riders to make their way from Houston to Dallas in just about 90 minutes - a trip that typically takes 4 hours or more by car or truck.Rural Republican lawmakers are asserting themselves, arguing the project could end up being costly to taxpayers and the company might use eminent domain to condemn land for construction.
March 09, 2017