May 24, 2018

US EPA Offers Record Funding for Clean Diesel Initiatives

AGC chapters compete for grant money to support contractors’ retrofit projects.

Over the next few weeks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will complete its process of awarding approximately $156 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding via its National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program (a competitive grant program) to “eligible entities” like MBI and other state Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) chapters to help construction companies and other diesel users reduce emissions from their fleets, as well as to promote economic recovery and preserve/create jobs.  EPA will hold another diesel retrofit grant competition later this year; however, the exact timeframe and dollar amount is still under internal Agency discussion.

MBI-PAC Fundraiser Honoring Six Legislative Leaders is a Huge Success

On June 10th, the MBI-PAC sponsored a fundraising at the Wakonda Club in Des Moines honoring six Iowa House members for the work they did for Iowa’s construction industry this past legislative session.   Our industry was challenged like no time before this past legislative session and through some very difficult times, these six individuals hung together to the benefit of Iowa’s construction industry.  Their individual efforts helped defeat state mandated wages and benefits on public projects; contractor prequalification / disqualification on public projects; employee choice of doctor for workers’ compensation claims; and a multitude of other bad for business bills that would have adversely impacted Iowa’s construction industry.

Iowa DAS General Conditions Documents

The MBI received many contacts recently regarding the proposed new general conditions documents issued by the Iowa Department of Administrative Services. Specifically the contacts expressed significant concern over the initial proposed general conditions documents for the Iowa Utilities Board project bid on Wednesday June, 10 2009. The concerns were well founded, as a review of the documents by John A. Templer revealed at the request of MBI. The Iowa Construction Industry Forum (ICIF) consisting of representatives of the Iowa Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the Iowa Chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies along with MBI reviewed the proposed documents as well at their meeting held Thursday, June, 4, 2009. The outcome of the ICIF review was a unanimous response to the DAS that the proposed documents represented a misallocation of risk as compared to industry standards and construction practice in Iowa.

Sign of the Times – OSHA Increases Enforcement Funding

The new administration is pushing more enforcement.  OSHA Chief, Jordan Barab, plans to hire between 130 and 160 new safety enforcement inspectors over the coming weeks.

Of those new inspectors, 35 will be exclusively assigned to review safety procedures on stimulus funded projects.  The agency will bring on an additional 20 people to help write new safety standards.

This clearly indicates a greater emphasis on more regulatory and enforcement efforts.  Mr. Barab did back down from earlier reports that the agency would walk away from its efforts to partner with employers.  He noted for example that while the agency has suspended its practice of setting quotas, early reports that the agency was planning to disband its VPP and Alliance programs were not true.

MBI Receives National Recognition for Diversity Program

In 2007, Master Builders of Iowa partnered with the Des Moines Construction Council, to offer multicultural workforce development services. The underlying concept of the training is to affect the work environment with cross cultural education that would sustain the inflow of craft workers into the building trades. Through an Iowa IDOT grant, and between 2003 and 2006, Iowa State researchers evaluated the effects of multicultural craft education on state and federal road projects. The IDOT results indicated that this inclusive method for training reduced turnover rates and increased productivity. Both factors were due to the increase in the level of communication of multicultural crews and enhanced teamwork.

2009 Legislative Session Review

The Master Builders of Iowa (MBI) holds true to a mission of promoting Iowa’s commercial construction industry and works continuously to create a favorable  business environment by focusing on expanded market development and sound regulatory policy.  The success experienced at the Iowa Capitol during the 2009 Legislative Session is indicative of the efforts and volunteer leadership that serves as a foundation of the Association.  MBI is proud of its accomplishments at the Iowa Capitol this year and is confident that each and every member will realize val

Legislature Funds Flood Prevention and Water Quality Efforts

A little less than one year after floods caused billions of dollars of damage to portions of eastern Iowa, the Legislature passed and the governor approved funding for various flood prevention and water quality efforts. 

One of the main focuses of this past legislative session was to identify funding for rebuilding efforts in eastern Iowa.  An additional part of that debate hinged on how to prevent future flood damage as well as the environmental consequences that come with flooding in area of water quality.


This section of the website will include a problem specification at least once a month to educate and pick examples of project specifications that are problematic and stray from industry standards and MBI policy. Once in a while, we will include a specification that does a masterful job of handling a difficult situation in a creative or innovative way with skill integrity and responsibility. Members are encouraged to submit examples of both instances to the MBI and we may publish the good bad and ugly for educational purposes. The names and project names will generally not be published.

Legislative Focus

April 27, 2009
Volume VIII, Edition 15

2009 Session Comes to a Close just Before Dawn on Sunday, April 26th

Just prior to 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning, the Iowa Senate put the final touches on the 2009 Legislative Session.  FINALLY!!  We may all exhale.

This legislative session challenged MBI like no other in recent history.  The construction industry found itself in the midst of a politically charged agenda pushed by the building trade unions, trial lawyers and environmentalists.  But thankfully in the end, MBI came away relatively unscathed.

Below is a quick rundown of what transpired in the last couple days of the session.  There were a number of substantial appropriation bills passed in the waning hours of the session and the final verdict will not be known until the governor has his turn to review with the line-item veto pen in hand.  He has 30 days to take action on bills passed at the end of a session.  A more comprehensive review of the session will be provided to all members once the governor completes his actions on the bills.

The Art of Interviewing

In this time when new employees find their way to your companies because of layoffs and reductions in force, it is a smart move to review your hiring process.  This is a time to find the cream and not someone else’s sour cream.  The first question for review is how educated are your interviewers? Too many times too little effort is invested in helping your own people do their best to interview effectively.  Often they are used as fillers for an interview time. Ask yourself:

Leadership & Partnering Produce Positive Results for the Industry

In 1996 MBI’s Strategic Plan called for the formation of a formal liaison between the Master Builders of Iowa and Design Professionals in the state of Iowa.  The strategic vision of this proposed industry liaison was to create a proactive relationship with the design community focused on a partnership approach to problem solving and to engage in public and industry education.  Another goal of the strategic plan was to seek industry consensus, when appropriate, on important issues and industry trends.

Legislative Focus

April 17, 2009
Volume VIII, Edition 14

Legislature Unfortunately Avoids Adjournment Again

This legislature is making the best prognosticators look really bad.  For the last couple of weeks, many in the lobby predicted that the legislature would have adjourned by now.  Well, that is not the case.  Hopefully, things will be wrapped up by next week, but I have been saying that for the last two weeks.  So, no more adjournment predictions! 

Master Builders of Iowa defends, represents, promotes, educates and nurtures our state’s construction industry leaders.

The Master Builders of Iowa forwards the Association’s annual report to members each winter.  The annual report focuses on accomplishments made throughout the year, measured against the Strategic Plan.  Below is a letter from the 2008 Chairman of the Board, Kent Pilcher, Estes Construction:

Dear MBI Member:

Our mission is to “be the essential resource for improving member performance and promoting a business environment favorable to the construction industry.” Through our Board of Directors, committee leaders, and staff, we strive to be good stewards by defending, representing, promoting, educating, and nurturing Iowa’s construction leaders and their businesses.

Are you expecting an increase in building trades organizational efforts in Iowa?

The proposed legislation known as the Employee Freedom of Choice Act (better known as card check) is on the Obama pay back list. Smart money says the Bill passes mostly intact as unions are notorious poor losers. If enacted by Congress, this law will provide organized labor a much less regulated environment to persuade workers to join the ranks of the building trades unions with a mere card check and without a secret election. This change alone will make it easier to organize a company that has not taken steps to protect its workers who choose to remain non-union. This legislation has numerous other features that change the law in an extremely pro-union fashion. But not surprisingly, the proposed law is attracting opposition from both sides of the political isle and from union and non-union companies alike. Very few so-called union contractors in Iowa have exclusive relationships with their union counterparts. The same can be said of the building trades unions who work for companies not withstanding their union, non-union status. Consequently, legislation along these lines is very divisive in general.

Legislative Focus

April 10, 2009
Volume VIII, Edition 13

Adjournment is in Sight – For Now
The word in the Rotunda is that the current legislative session should be – again, “should be” – done by the end of next week.  Except for the Infrastructure appropriations bill and the “standings” bill, all budget bills have been drafted and are in the debate pipeline.  If all goes as planned, the fall of the gavel could occur next Friday.  However, budget bills take time to debate and there will be a number of late nights this next week.  Also, if the Democratic leadership comes to any reasonable consensus on the elimination of federal deductibility, adjourning next week could become more difficult.  Republicans will make this issue painful for the Democrats and draw out the session with a House and Senate floor debate equivalent of a street fight.