Washington Report: Breaking News

By Craig Piercy, ACPA Washington Advocate

ACPA Wins Relief from DOT Driver Hours of Service Regulations

As you will have read elsewhere in this edition, we recently won our effort to change DOT Hours of Service regulations to provide relief for the concrete pumping industry. This result is a direct outcome of a comprehensive review of HOS regulations initiated by ACPA in 2015. I am extremely pleased with DOT’s decision and see it as a first step in a longer- term push for regulatory relief for the concrete pumping industry.

The provision is valid for two years, and DOT may extend it for a third year by request. However, Congress must enact legislation to make the exemption permanent. ACPA has identified other areas where changes to DOT regulations could provide significant regulatory relief for the industry.

Washington Update

As the Trump administration reaches the end of its first 100 days in office, most of Washington is still trying to figure out how to live in the “new normal.” The president’s ability to rewrite the rules of modern politics leaves many Washington insiders shaking their heads in disbelief.

I count myself among them. As someone who has spent his entire career either in public service or representing business and organizations in front of government, I continue to be surprised at how President Trump is able to flaunt political convention and get away with it.

However, I’m starting to make sense of it all, helped by a simple piece of advice from a friend who served on the Trump transition team. “Ignore the circus,” he told me. “Don’t pay attention to what the left hand is doing,” he said, raising his arm above his head. “Watch the right hand,” which he held low to his side.

Viewed this way, much of what Trump does makes more sense. Washington has been largely paralyzed for the last six years because of the rigid ideological beliefs of both parties. In order to accomplish anything meaningful, Trump must create some chaos in which he can operate more freely to make deals with Congress. It remains to be seen whether this strategy will deliver results, but it certainly has helped me frame his actions in a more understandable context. So my advice: Ignore the early morning tweet storm, and focus on who he meets and what he actually does.

Concrete Pump Tax Bill to B e Introduced in the U.S. House

By the time you read this, the Concrete Pump Tax Fairness Act should be introduced as new legislation in the U.S. House. This year, our lead sponsor is Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO), who is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee—the Committee which has primary jurisdiction over tax policy.

The provisions of the bill will be identical to the previous version introduced by Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX) in the last Congress. If enacted, concrete boom pumps will be eligible for a refund of all federal excise taxes paid on the fuel they consume. Instead, owners will pay a mileage charge of five cents per mile for three-axle pumps and seven cents per mile for four-axle and above. The change would result in significant tax savings for ACPA members.

Remember, legislating today is not like the old Schoolhouse Rock cartoon. Very few individual bills ever get to the president’s desk to be signed into law. The best path forward for our language is to hitch a ride on a must-pass bill, which this year is the tax reform package, or an infrastructure bill.

The Fight Against “Big Wood” Continues

ACPA isn’t the only construction trade association working on legislation. The Timber Innovation Act has also been reintroduced in both the House and Senate. In DC, playing defense is a lot easier than getting legislation passed, but we are not taking any chances. The ACPA, in cooperation with other concrete trade organizations under the unified banner of the North American Concrete Alliance, has been engaging Congress on the dangers of tall wood construction. Also, I would note that in a recent meeting I was attending, when a Trump transition team member was asked how he defines infrastructure, he replied simply, “Concrete.”