By: DAVID G. GREINEDER, IOM, ABC PENNSYLVANIA DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS
A new session is well underway, and ABC is making a difference. Along with COVID-19 issues, the top priority of elected leaders in Harrisburg is preparing a 2021-22 state budget and passing legislation that gets Pennsylvanians back to work. Despite the ongoing pandemic, ABC of Pennsylvania’s government affairs program has been highly active. Though we are only six months into the new session, we have made progress on the following issues:
STATE LEGISLATIVE ISSUES
Reforming State Apprenticeship Ratio Rules (House Bill 536): ABC’s top priority is supporting legislation that would establish consistent journeyperson-to-apprentice ratios for joint and non-joint programs. In working with the bill sponsor, ABC is seeing more progress on this issue than ever before. In fact, we testified before a House subcommittee on how the legislation would end discrimination in the rules and safely create jobs.
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: The governor unilaterally initiated a regulatory process that would establish a carbon tax program. Many stakeholder groups, ABC included, expressed serious concerns about the impact such a program would have on Pennsylvania’s economy. State lawmakers have been trying to prevent enactment of the regulations through various legislative efforts. Senate Bill 119, introduced by Sen. Joe Pittman (R-Indiana), would require legislative approval before the administration could implement a carbon tax program. The bill passed the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee along a party-line vote and is pending future action on the Senate Floor.
Indemnity Clauses in Construction Contracts (House Bill 424): ABC is supportive of legislation that would limit indemnity clauses in construction contracts. At the time of this writing, the House Commerce Committee is planning to hold a voting meeting to advance the bill. ABC of Pennsylvania was proactive in providing input and secured changes to the legislative language suggested by ABC members.
COVID-19 Liability Protections (House Bill 605): ABC is supportive of legislation that would protect employers from frivolous COVID-19 lawsuits. Unfortunately, the governor vetoed a bill last session. The House passed a liability protection bill again this session, where it awaits action in the Senate.
Work Zone Safety Bill: Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver) will be introducing legislation that would improve construction worker safety in work zones. The bill would stiffen penalties for motorists who disregard flaggers and speed through work zones.
FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE ISSUES
PRO Act: Our top priority at the federal level is soundly defeating legislation that would re-write established labor laws. Over the last two sessions, the U.S. House passed, largely along party-lines, legislation that would make massive changes to laws pertaining to union organizing and employer rights. Our ABC National staff is working hard with partner organizations to voice our concerns. ABC of Pennsylvania sent a letter to our congressional delegation, and ABC members participated in calls with our U.S. Senators. Please keep up the noise and let your voice be heard!
Infrastructure Bills: President Biden has been promoting a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure package in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, less than half of the bill has to do with building roads and bridges and includes pro-union provisions like mandated project labor agreements. ABC of Pennsylvania and our regional chapters have signed
onto letters to the White House and U.S. Congress expressing our concerns.
LOCAL LEGISLATIVE ISSUES
Responsible Contractors Ordinances: ABC has been monitoring local ordinances that would require a contractor to participate in apprenticeship programs as a condition of bidding on public works. While ABC strongly supports apprenticeship programs, these conditions could disqualify experienced contractors from the bidding process – contractors that are seasoned businesses made up of skilled journeypersons that do not have apprentices but are just as safe and just as qualified as those that do. In fact, we are seeing RCO-like language appearing in federal bills. For example, a proposed federal clean energy bill would require all contractors and subcontractors receiving tax credits to have at least 15% of workers participate in government-registered apprenticeship programs. ABC will continue to weigh-in with our concerns on this legislative language when we see it.
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Posted June 21, 2021