November 15, 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.

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

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.

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! 

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. 

Legislative Focus

April 3, 2009
Volume VIII, Edition 12

Federal Deductibility Debate Delayed Until Next Week
A very contentious public response coupled with fiscal impact reports from the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau have temporarily delayed movement on a proposal to eliminate federal tax deductibility for individual income tax filers.  The bill, HF 807 was positioned to move out of the House on Thursday and debated today in the Senate, but plans changed when fiscal numbers showed that individuals in lower income tax brackets who did not itemize would face higher taxes.  The proposal was originally sold as a tax break for filers making less than $125,000. 

Legislative Focus

March 27, 2009
Volume VIII, Edition 11

Good Samaritan Legislation Passed by Both the House and Senate

SF 280 ensures that any person or firm that lends help in the time of a disaster can not be held liable for any civil damages.  This bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously and awaits the governor’s signature.

This concept was high on the list for MBI members from areas impacted by last summer’s severe weather.  As a result, MBI made passage of SF 280 a policy priority for 2009.  MBI appreciates the input provided by all members in helping this bill through the legislative process. 

Revenue Numbers Disrupt Schedule at the Capitol
Legislators are still reeling from last week’s revenue numbers.  If you recall additional revenue shortfalls for the current fiscal year are estimated to be $130 million forcing the governor and the legislature to find new cuts above and beyond the previous 1.5 percent across-the-board cuts (approximately $100 million) proposed earlier in the session.  Also, the legislature must reduce its budget targets for FY 2010 – which kicks in on July 1 – by an additional $270 million, which is in addition to the $133 million reduction previously considered. 

Legislative Focus

March 20, 2009
Volume VIII, Edition 10

Bonding Bills Become Clearer – Sort of?
In what is shaping up to be a political showdown between the House and Senate Democrats and the governor, the legislature has offered its own multi-million dollar bonding proposal for vertical infrastructure, flood relief and prevention, and alternative energy.  In total, the proposal equals $700 million, payable by whatever means necessary as determined by the Legislature on an annual basis.  This differs from the governor’s $750 million proposal that used strictly gaming revenues (i.e. Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund - if you recall, the RIIF is the sole mechanism the state uses to fund vertical infrastructure projects).  Also, the legislative version runs counter to the governor’s proposal in that it excludes any funding for roads and bridges; something that MBI has been adamant about.

Legislative Focus...

March 6, 2009
Volume VIII, Edition 8

Bonding Bill Covers $174 million in State-Funded Projects

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would provide over $174 million in infrastructure projects.  The debt service for the bonds will be approximately $13.9 million for 20 years and be paid through payments from the tobacco settlement funds owed to the state of Iowa.  If you recall, these projects were listed in last year’s Restrict Capitals Fund and were to be covered by securitizing the final 22 percent of the tobacco settlement funds due to the State of Iowa.  After the bond market crashed, the proceeds would have come up very short and available funds would not have covered the vertical infrastructure needs outlined in last year’s infrastructure appropriations bill.