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April 27, 2015

House Introduces Infrastructure Bill

Legislative Focus
April 24, 2015
Volume XIV, Edition 15

The House has the first shot at putting together the infrastructure bill this year.  HF 650 is ready for House floor debate next week and there is always a bunch of amendments that are offered during the infrastructure debate, so we will take a wait and see attitude as to what the final product looks like. 

The bill that passed out of the House Appropriations Committee includes a number of infrastructure projects, but also a higher than normal amount of funding is directed to water quality initiatives.  In fact, there is a proposed $11.8 million increase in water quality funding over the next two years.  (This is above and beyond the annual appropriations of $42 million for Environment First Fund; $9.6 million for lake restoration; and $2 million for the low-head dam programs.) 

I have heard that the reasoning for this additional level of investment is a reaction to the lawsuit filed by the Des Moines Water Works against three rural Iowa counties in the Des Moines River / Raccoon River watershed.  This will certainly create some interesting politics when the bill moves to the Senate as the Senate Infrastructure chair is Sen. Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines). 

Next Generation: Future Trends in EPA Enforcement

The regulated community can expect settlement negotiations stemming from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement actions to become more complex and costly in the near future. The enforcement chief at EPA headquarters has directed agency staff to incorporate advanced monitoring, electronic reporting and independent third party auditing into agreements to resolve alleged environmental violations. AGC expects this to facilitate citizen oversight – and citizen enforcement – of environmental laws.

Specifically, EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance recently issued a memorandum (link is external) to EPA enforcement personnel directing them to use Next Generation Compliance (link is external)(NextGen) tools in administrative and civil judicial enforcement settlements whenever appropriate. The specific tools highlighted in the EPA memorandum, and which bear watching by the regulated community, include:

  • Advanced monitoring of pollutants on a real-time basis using emerging technology;
  • Independent third party verification of compliance with settlement obligations;
  • Electronic reporting of data in a searchable format; and
  • Public accountability through data transparency and accessibility.

AGC has previously written articles about EPA’s NextGen initiative and what it may mean for the construction industry. For example, advanced monitoring and electronic reporting, when combined with real-time disclosure to neighbors or citizen groups, will certainly facilitate citizen oversight and citizen enforcement of environmental laws. AGC has cautioned EPA in written comments and at face-to-face meetings that while “transparency” of data can be helpful in some instances, it can also be abused or misinterpreted, and thus create confusion as to a facility’s compliance status. AGC also has expressed concern that NextGen does little to reward good behavior; it overlooks positive feedback as a driver of improved compliance.

Ethics in Construction Seminar

Within Iowa’s construction industry, there are countless individuals and companies involved in bringing a project out of the ground and turning it into a functional workspace, be it a hospital, school, office building, prison or stadium.  Along with each project comes a measurement of trust, morals and ethics that can make or break the project for one contractor or the entire project team.  How much do you trust the contractors on the project…How far can they trust you and your team?  Ethics to the very core, is talking the talk, and walking the walk…every time!

To address the topic of ethics in construction, Master Builders of Iowa is offering Ethical Business is Good Business – An Exploration of Ethical Issues in Construction, where we explore and analyze many of the ethical issues that contractors, design professionals and others confront throughout a project from beginning to end. Issues such as bid shopping, proprietary and performance specifications, disclaimers, pay-if-paid and pay-when-paid clauses, lien waivers, onerous specifications and dispute resolution provisions will be reviewed from the different perspectives of the parties to a project to analyze the ethical issues associated with them. 

Offered in two locations:

IOWA CITY
May 14, 2015
1:00 – 4:00 pm

Sheraton Iowa City
210 South Dubuque St
Iowa City, IA
Register
Master Builder Designation Hours:  Ethics – 3 hours

WEST DES MOINES
May 15, 2015
9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Sheraton West Des Moines
1800 – 50th Street
West Des Moines, IA
Register
Master Builder Designation Hours:  Ethics – 3 hours

To view the complete program brochure, click here

For additional information, please contact Tom Fulcher at tfulcher@mbionline.com or 515.657.4395
 

Registration is Now Open for the MB EYE on the Future Reunion!

The highly anticipated MB EYE on the Future reunion is scheduled for June 18-19th in Riverside, Iowa at the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort. In addition to many networking events, the two-day reunion will include an educational program presented by Tom Emison of Eide Bailly, who is also the facilitator for MBI’s The Leadership Experience. Registration materials have been distributed to the past graduates. This event will be a great opportunity for attendees to network with current and future leaders of our industry. For more information, please contact Tania Bowman at (515) 657-4390 or tbowman@mbionline.com.

Invitation to Get Involved

MBI committees and task forces are a derivative of the Association’s Strategic Plan and are responsible for generating the many services, new ideas and policies that reflect the needs of an ever-changing industry and our collective membership.

During the latter part of 2004, the Association undertook a strategic initiative to organize a “leadership pool” from which member volunteers could be identified and recruited for select task force and committee initiatives.  To date, 280 volunteers are identified and registered to participate in the Leadership Pool.  To view the list of volunteers, click on the link below.

The volunteer effort is critical to the success of our Association and the betterment of our industry.  Most committees and task forces meet three to four times per year, for approximately two hours per meeting.  Use the link below to view a listing of existing Committee and Task Force job descriptions, along with a sign-up form for you to join.  You may also choose to sign up to be placed in the Leadership Pool and wait to be called upon at a later time when the need arises.

If there are any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Laurie Delmott at (515) 657-4383 or ldelmott@mbionline.com.

View the Leadership Pool List
View the Committee / Task Force Descriptions
Download the Sign-Up Form
 

School Aid Funding Slows Session to a Crawl

Legislative Focus
April 17, 2015
Volume XIV, Edition 14

The fact that 8 senators were absent from debate yesterday (Thursday) is an indication of the mood currently at the Capitol.  The stalemate on allowable growth for schools is taking its toll on legislators as it looks more and more likely that this session will go well beyond its customary time frames.  The 110th day of the session – scheduled adjournment - is May 1, which is also the time in which per diem runs out and legislators have to start paying their own expenses.  This is usually a good incentive for legislators to get their work done.  However, this session is starting to look a lot like the 2011 session in which the legislature finally approved a budget on the last day of the fiscal year (June 30, 2011).  Not much has changed from that time, so the veteran rank and file members kind of know what to expect here in the coming weeks.

The Senate Democrats this week fired the first shot across the budget bow with their move to establish a budget target that is exactly the same as what was in the Governor’s FY 2016 budget recommendation.  Granted, the various allocations differ widely, but the overall spending is at the same level. 

However, the Governor’s budget was issued on the second day of the session back in January.  Since then, the Revenue Estimating Committee has come forth with its March revenue estimates which scaled back available revenues. 

As I mentioned last week, there is a disparity between the House Republicans and the Senate Democrats in how available / new revenues levels are set and conversely, how those funding targets will be established.

House and Senate Still at Odds on School Aid Funding

Legislative Focus
April 10, 2015
Volume XIV, Edition 13

House and Senate negotiations on school aid funding continue to be at an impasse.  Without any sort of agreement, it will be difficult to begin the budget process for this session. 

However, it is interesting to note that in past years in which an agreement could not be reached on school aid funding, school districts took it upon themselves and put their budgets together (certified budgets) based on the previous year’s budget.  Though there is still time this session to come to some sort of resolution, chances are school districts will go ahead and establish budgets based on last year’s funding. 

Indicative of the problems between the House Republicans and the Senate Democrats on allowable growth for schools, there is also a big disparity on the actual available funding for the next budget year.

Senate Democrats argue that there was a 6 percent growth in revenues from the same period last year.  This equates to roughly $408.1 million in new moneys.  (The FY 2015 revenue estimate of $6.767 billion as compared to the revenue estimate for FY2016 at $7.175 billion.) 

The House Republicans say that their own estimates are more accurate in that they see only 2.6 percent growth with $180.9 million in new funds.  The House R’s argue that growth in revenues should be measured against actual spending in the FY2015 budget ($6.995 billion) and the revenue estimate for FY 2016 ($7.175 billion).  The difference being $180.9 million in new moneys available for the upcoming budgeting year.

House Republicans are proposing an increase of 1.25 percent for school aid ($100 million increase from last year).  Whereas, Senate Democrats originally proposed 4 percent ($210 million), but since have scaled back to their latest offering of 2.625 percent allowable growth.

As you can see that when they can’t even agree on the available revenues, finding common ground on financial aid for schools will be difficult.

Registration is Now Open for the MB EYE on the Future Reunion

The highly anticipated MB EYE on the Future reunion is scheduled for June 18-19th in Riverside, Iowa at the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort. In addition to many networking events, the two-day reunion will include an educational program presented by Tom Emison of Eide Bailly, who is also the facilitator for MBI’s The Leadership Experience. Registration materials have been distributed to the past graduates. This event will be a great opportunity for attendees to network with current and future leaders of our industry. For more information, please contact Tania Bowman at (515) 657-4390 or

tbowman@mbionline.com

.

MBI Members Have Leading Construction Consultants at their Fingertips

Over the years, our members have consistently recognized the value provided by the association and our ranks have remained strong and viable.  MBI is the recognized leader of the construction industry in the State of Iowa. Founded in 1912, MBI is one of over 100 chapters of the Associated General Contractors of America, the most influential and widely respected construction association in the country. MBI's members perform the majority of the state's commercial, industrial and public works building projects. The association provides its members with a comprehensive array of educational, safety, environmental, labor, legal, and professional development and legislative services.  MBI’s staff of leading construction consultants are on call and ready to assist members when a need arises.  Are you a member of MBI?  If not, click here for more information and contact Tania Bowman for more information.

Sponsor the MB EYE on the Future Reunion!

The highly anticipated MB EYE on the Future reunion that is scheduled for June 18-19th in Riverside, Iowa is quickly approaching.  This event will be a great opportunity for companies to network with current and future leaders of our industry.  This is the first-ever reunion that has been held for this group and they have been requesting it for years.  The sponsorship package is listed below.  If this is something that you would be interested in, or if you have questions, please contact Tania Bowman at (515) 657-4390 or tbowman@mbionline.com.

Event Sponsor - $2,500 (Tax-deductible amount is $2,400)

  • Opportunity for two representatives to attend the evening reception and dinner
  • Opportunity for sponsoring companies to register to attend golf portion of reunion ($100/person)
  • Exclusive logo recognition in event brochure
  • Company material can be distributed in welcome bags
  • Signage recognition at event – MBI will provide
  • Logo recognition in event confirmations
  • Recognition in all of MBI’s news correspondence (InsideMBI, FastTrack, Website, Facebook and the Construction Update Newspaper)

 

 

Follow Us on Social Media!

We are pleased to inform you that MBI is also on Twitter!  MBI can be found on Twitter @MBIsince1912.  We encourage you to follow us in order to stay up-to-date with what is going on at the capitol during the current Legislative Session. 

MBI has been increasing our fanbase on Facebook this past year and are nearing 400 followers!  If you choose to "Like" us, you will know when we post special deals, announcements, legislative updates and photos of our events and classes. We also hold a monthly drawing from our Facebook fans for a $25 gift card!

“LIKE” us now on Facebook!  

Start following us on Twitter!
 

Blueprint Reading Essentials - May 5th

Master Builders of Iowa will be holding blueprint reading training on May 5, 2015 in West Des Moines, Iowa.  Blueprint Reading Essentials will help participants to gain the skills necessary to read and understand typical construction documents – blueprints and specifications. Being able to read and understand construction drawings is a fundamental skill for anyone involved in the construction industry.  Construction drawings can be difficult to understand and mistakes can be costly, so register today to attend Blueprint Reading Essentials, presented by Brad Perkins of Iowa State University, on May 5th!

Brad Perkins graduated from the ISU Construction Engineering program in 1997. He has worked at Black & Veatch in Overland Park, Kansas, ACI Mechanical in Ames, Iowa, and KJWW Engineering in Des Moines, Iowa. In 2001, he passed the Iowa PE exam, and is a licensed professional mechanical engineer. Some of the larger projects that Brad has worked on include the Lungmen Nuclear power plant (Taiwan), Valley High School remodel (Des Moines), State of Iowa Laboratory (Ankeny), and Allied Insurance Building (Des Moines).

This course will earn Master Builder Designation enrollees with 6 hours of project management credit.

Blueprint Reading Essentials
May 5, 2015
8:00 am – 3:00 pm

Sheraton West Des Moines
1800 50th Street
West Des Moines, Iowa

To register online and to access the complete program brochure, go to /events/blueprint-reading-essentials.
 

Looking for a Tool to Help Communicate Environmental Requirements to Your Subcontractors? Check Out AGC’s EMS Toolkit

Imagine having all your environmental compliance and sustainability information in one place, easily accessible and customizable for the unique needs of each project.  Now consider how such a tool would make it easier for you to share relevant information with the subcontractors working on your project.  Environmental programs and management systems are the super-tools that can help make this possible.  AGC’s free guides will get you started. Environmental professionals within many different industries use these types of programs and management systems to organize and manage legal requirements as well as sustainability goals.  AGC walks you through the steps with online resources for developing a construction-specific environmental program or an environmental management system (EMS) --- supporting environmental compliance and the achievement of environmental or sustainability goals. Get started developing your company’s program by using the free AGC guides, links to government and other resources and case studies available on AGC’s EMS Toolkit.  AGC members helped develop these guides, so that they better address the attributes of a construction firm versus, for example, a manufacturing facility.  The first guide is a short, reader-friendly overview of developing an environmental program with tips demonstrating three levels of complexity depending on what would best suit an individual company: the Environmental Program Guide.  The second guide is an in-depth resource that gives instruction on developing a comprehensive environmental management system (EMS): the AGC EMS Guide. AGC hopes you will find the EMS Toolkit a helpful resource; and AGC will continue to develop the resources provided. If you have any questions, please contact AGC’s Melinda Tomaino at tomainom@agc.org or (703) 837-5415.

Upcoming Ethics in Construction Training Opportunity

Within Iowa’s construction industry, there are countless individuals and companies involved in bringing a project out of the ground and turning it into a functional workspace, be it a hospital, school, office building, prison or stadium.  Along with each project comes a measurement of trust, morals and ethics that can make or break the project for one contractor or the entire project team.  How much do you trust the contractors on the project…How far can they trust you and your team?  Ethics to the very core, is talking the talk, and walking the walk…every time!

To address the topic of ethics in construction, Master Builders of Iowa is offering Ethical Business is Good Business – An Exploration of Ethical Issues in Construction, where we explore and analyze many of the ethical issues that contractors, design professionals and others confront throughout a project from beginning to end. Issues such as bid shopping, proprietary and performance specifications, disclaimers, pay-if-paid and pay-when-paid clauses, lien waivers, onerous specifications and dispute resolution provisions will be reviewed from the different perspectives of the parties to a project to analyze the ethical issues associated with them. 

Offered in two locations:

IOWA CITY
May 14, 2015
1:00 – 4:00 pm

Sheraton Iowa City
210 South Dubuque St
Iowa City, IA
Register
Master Builder Designation Hours:  Ethics – 3 hours

WEST DES MOINES
May 15, 2015
9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Sheraton West Des Moines
1800 – 50th Street
West Des Moines, IA
Register
Master Builder Designation Hours:  Ethics – 3 hours

To view the complete program brochure, click here

For additional information, please contact Tom Fulcher at tfulcher@mbionline.com or 515.657.4395
 

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