Friday, August 30, 2013

Manufacturing Increases In July

U.S. manufacturing increased in July and the manufacturing sector expanded for the second consecutive month, according to a report from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). 
ISM's manufacturing index rose from 50.9 in June to 55.4 in July. A reading above 50 indicates growth, and a reading below 50 indicates a contraction. 

Thirteen of the 18 major manufacturing industries reported growth in July, including furniture and related products; textile mills; printing and related support activities; paper products; wood products; nonmetallic mineral products; electrical equipment, appliances and components; computer and electronic products; food, beverage and tobacco products; primary metals; transportation equipment; chemical products; and fabricated metal products. 

Additionally, the employment index increased from 48.7 in June to 54.4 in July, and production increased from 53.4 to 65. New orders increased from 51.9 to 58.3. 

"The purchasing managers' index (PMI™) registered 55.4 percent, an increase of 4.5 percentage points from June’s reading of 50.9 percent," says Bradley Holcomb, chair of ISM's manufacturing business survey committee. "July's PMI reading, the highest of the year, indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector for the second consecutive month. 

"The new orders index increased in July by 6.4 percentage points to 58.3 percent, and the production index increased by 11.6 percentage points to 65 percent," he continues. "The employment index registered 54.4 percent, an increase of 5.7 percentage points compared with June's reading of 48.7 percent. The prices index registered 49 percent, decreasing 3.5 percentage points from June, indicating that overall raw materials prices decreased from last month. Comments from the panel generally indicate stable demand and slowly improving business conditions." 

(from NRCA)


Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
1211 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Previous H-2B Wage Calculations Nixed in Light of Interim Rule, DHS to Issue I-9 Proposal

The Department of Labor (DOL) announced in its July 3 regulatory agenda that it will be indefinitely
suspending previous wage calculation methods for H-2B temporary worker visas – which have been blocked both in federal courts and on Capitol Hill – and moving forward with its “emergency” interim final rule issued in April in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The interim final rule became effective April 24, when it was issued.

The interim final rule uses the average wage from all four tiers of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey. It also permits employers to use wages calculated under the Davis-Bacon Act but does not require such wage rates unless the H-2B workers are working on a federal construction project. In addition, the rule requires union signatories to pay the wage rates stipulated in their respective collective bargaining agreements—a provision that remains unchanged from previous rules.

ABC opposed the interim final rule because it will be detrimental to the long-standing success of the H-2B program and its participants—particularly small businesses—and because of ABC’s longstanding position on the inaccuracy and flawed methodology of the Davis-Bacon wage determinations process for federal contractors.

In addition, DHS’ agenda lists a notice of proposed rulemaking to be published in October that is intended to define substantive versus procedural or technical violations of the requirements for completing the I-9 employment eligibility verification form. The proposed rule also would revise the current DHS regulations and clarify the circumstances in which an employer may be subject to penalties for substantive violations, or may not be subject to penalties for technical or procedural failures, due to the good faith compliance provision when completing the Form I-9.

(From ABC)

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
1211 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

EPA to Expand Lead Paint Rule to Commercial Buildings, Regulate Stormwater

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to move forward with a potential rulemaking that
would expand the existing Lead Paint Renovation and Repair and Painting rule to include public and commercial buildings. The proposed rulemaking, which likely would regulate renovation, repair and painting activities on and in public and commercial buildings to address possible lead-based paint hazards, is listed on EPA’s regulatory agenda for July 2015.

ABC, as part of the Commercial Properties Coalition, aired their concerns regarding the possible rule June 26 during an EPA public hearing. The coalition reiterated many of the points from their April 1 comments, stating that EPA should not rely on the information that was gathered for “target housing” to justify a public and commercial program. Instead, the agency could use the massive stock of federal buildings to collect the scientific, technical and work practices they are seeking.

Post-Construction Stormwater
Also on its agenda, EPA moved its post-construction stormwater rule to long-term action.  Under a 2010 settlement agreement, which resulted in EPA agreeing to propose a national stormwater rule for developed and redeveloped sites, EPA was supposed to have proposed a rule by June 10.  On June 18 the Chesapeake Bay Foundation found the EPA to be in violation of the 2010 settlement agreement and, under a dispute resolution, EPA was given 30 days from the written date of the notice to meet and attempt to resolve the dispute. If neither party can resolve the issue within 60 days of the meeting, then the Foundation is allowed to reinstate the lawsuit.

Stormwater ELG
EPA issued a proposed rule April 1, in response to another settlement agreement agreeing to withdraw the numeric discharge limit from the existing 2009 Construction and Development Effluent Limitations Guidelines Rule. Under the regulatory agenda, EPA lists February 2014 for a final rule on the Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Construction and Development Point Source Category.

(From ABC)


Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
1211 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Recordkeeping and Crane Proposals New on OSHA Agenda

According to OSHA’s latest semiannual regulatory agenda, released July 3, the agency plans to issue two new proposals related to recordkeeping and cranes and derricks in construction. The regulatory agenda lists the priorities of the administration and the rulemakings they expect to release this year; however, OSHA is not required to adhere to the timeline.

Recordkeeping
New to OSHA’s agenda is a proposed rule with a target release date of November, which would amend its recordkeeping regulations. The proposal would, “clarify that the duty to make and maintain accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses is an ongoing obligation.”  According to the agency, if the employer fails to create a record when first required to do so, the duty does not expire.

OSHA’s timing of the new rulemaking is notable in light of a recent recordkeeping case involving an ABC member, in which the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that a company’s failure to record an injury or illness is a distinct event, not an ongoing one. The court also ruled the statute of limitations for OSHA to fine a company for such a violation is six months after the last violation occurred, not six months after the record-keeping period ends.


Cranes and Derricks
Also new to OSHA’s agenda is a proposed rule slated for September which would make corrections and amendments to the cranes and derricks in construction standard published in August 2010. According to the agency, the proposal clarifies the exclusion for work activities by articulating cranes and broadens the exclusion for forklifts carrying loads under the fork, along with other clarifications.


(From ABC)


Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
1211 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602

Monday, August 26, 2013

House Passes Bill to Avert EPA Regulation of Coal Ash

The U.S. House of Representatives July 25 passed in a bipartisan vote of 265-155 to pass the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act (H.R. 2218), which would establish a baseline for coal combustion residuals (CCR) disposal while maximizing flexibility for individual states.

In a letter sent to all members of the House, ABC expressed support for the bill because it would help Congress reclaim some of the regulatory authority that has been usurped in recent years by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In particular, ABC expressed concern that a proposed EPA regulation could lead to the labeling of CCRs as hazardous waste, which would virtually eliminate the construction industry’s ability to use them in many building materials.

The construction industry is the primary end user of CCRs. More than 40 percent of all CCR output is converted into high-quality building materials, such as concrete, asphalt, brick and wallboard. If CCRs are no longer available, manufacturers and builders would be forced to turn to more expensive and, incidentally, lower quality components, raising project costs.

“Ultimately, labeling CCRs as hazardous waste would translate into fewer projects, substantial decreases in revenue and, most importantly, massive job loss,” ABC wrote in the letter.

In addition to establishing a baseline for CCR disposal, H.R. 2218 would allow states with existing programs governing CCR disposal to continue to operate the programs while maintaining beneficial reuse programs. The bill also incorporates a fail-safe provision that allows EPA to assist states that are unable or unwilling to meet baseline standards.  


(From ABC)

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
1211 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602

Friday, August 23, 2013

Another Court Finds NLRB Recess Appointments Invalid

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit agreed with two other courts July 17 by ruling the president violated the Constitution when he bypassed the U.S. Senate to make recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

In the original case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled Jan. 25 that the president’s January 2012 recess appointments of three members to the NLRB were invalid, supporting the argument made by the ABC-led Coalition for a Democratic Workplace. On May 16, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued another ruling that agreed with the January decision and also declared the March 2010 recess appointment of Craig Becker unconstitutional.

Despite the initial court ruling, President Obama re-nominated two out of the three unconstitutional recess appointees in February. The nominations were withdrawn July 16 and new members were nominated as part of a deal to avert a plan to radically change long-standing rules of the Senate by lowering the number of votes needed to move forward on most legislation or nominations. The rule change would have allowed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to place these appointees on the board.

The Senate now is expected to vote on the confirmation the two new nominees—AFL-CIO Associate General Counsel Nancy Schiffer and Kent Hirozawa, chief counsel to the NLRB chairman—before its August recess. Once those members are confirmed, the NLRB will be fully staffed and likely will pursue issues that the board had not been able to complete in the past few years – many of which are designed to facilitate or expedite the union organization process, such as the “ambush” elections rule.

In addition, the NLRB has appealed the January 2013 decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the recess appointments within the next year. The decision could potentially invalidate all decisions made by the NLRB that required a quorum during the terms of the recess appointees.


(From ABC)

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
1211 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602

Thursday, August 22, 2013

White House Plan Would Mean Billion Dollar Tax Hike for Contractors, Small Businesses

The White House corporate tax reform proposal unveiled July 30 by President Barack Obama in Chattanooga, Tenn., is no ‘grand bargain,’ said ABC. Obama’s plan consists of the same corporate tax cuts proposed last year paired with new stimulus spending for infrastructure and manufacturing paid for with one-time tax revenue.

“Corporate-only rate reduction does not amount to business tax reform,” said ABC Vice President of Federal Affairs Geoff Burr stated. “The president’s plan not only widens the existing gap between Main Street and the Fortune 500, but would actually mean billions of dollars in increased taxes for construction contractors.”

In fact, 80 percent of the construction industry is comprised of pass-through entities and the majority of the private-sector workforce also is employed under these tax structures. The president’s plan did not contain any meaningful reform for those businesses or their employees.

“A tax cut for large corporations financed on the backs of small business can hardly be called grand, and is certainly no bargain for the sixty million Americans working for pass-through entities,” said ABC Vice President of Federal Affairs Geoff Burr.

Instead, ABC expressed support for the broader rewrite favored by Senator Max Baucus (D-Mon.) and Representative Dave Camp (R-Mich.), leaders of the respective congressional tax-writing committees. The chairmen have embarked on a joint “road show,” engaging business owners and employees, and soliciting feedback from the public on tax reform.

“Despite the president’s insistence on dividing the business community, ABC is encouraged by the bipartisan, comprehensive approach by Chairmen Baucus and Camp, and we look forward to working with them to make the tax code fairer, simpler, and more equitable for businesses irrespective of size or industry,” Burr said.


(From ABC)

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
1211 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Nonresidential Fixed Investment in Structures Expands 4.6 Percent

Nonresidential fixed investment in structures expanded 4.6 percent on an annualized basis during the second quarter of 2013, according to the July 31 gross domestic product (GDP) report by the U.S. Commerce Department. This increase followed a 4.6 percent decline in the first quarter of the year.

Fixed investment in equipment rose 4.1 percent in the second quarter and overall investment in structures expanded 6.8 percent. Residential fixed investment increased 13.4 percent following 12.5 percent expansion in the first quarter. Fixed investment in the nation’s residential sector has been growing at a double-digit clip since the third quarter of 2012.

Personal consumption expenditures expanded 1.8 percent in the second quarter, with spending on goods rising 3.4 percent. Expenditures on services, on the other hand, advanced only slightly at 0.9 percent. Expansion in real private inventories contributed 0.4 percentage points to real GDP growth for the second quarter after adding 0.9 percent during the first quarter.

Federal government expenditures declined 1.5 percent during the second quarter primarily due to a 3.2 percent drop in non-defense spending. Meanwhile, national defense spending dropped 0.5 percent. State and local government spending rebounded mildly, growing only 0.3 percent during the second quarter following three consecutive quarters of declines.

In total, real GDP expanded 1.7 percent during the second quarter following a revised 1.1 increase in the first quarter of the year.


(From ABC)

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
1211 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

PPI For Construction Materials and Components Decreased in June

The seasonally adjusted producer price index (PPI) for materials and components used in construction fell 0.1 percent in June from May, according to www.abc.org. The PPI program measures the average change over time in the selling prices received by domestic producers for their output. 

The index was up 1.5 percent on a yearly basis. Nonresidential construction materials prices were unchanged in June, rose 0.1 percent for the quarter and increased 1.2 percent during the past 12 months. 

"With the global economy beginning to tread water, the good news is materials prices are unlikely to rise significantly during the next several months," says Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. "However, even as global economic growth slows, equity and certain other asset prices have been on the rise due in large measure to accommodative monetary policy. 

"It is always possible that investors will begin to shift greater focus toward commodities going forward," Basu continues, "which could drive materials prices higher even in the absence of accelerating global economic growth or significant rebound in America's nonresidential construction industry." 


(From NRCA Newsletter)


Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
1211 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602

Monday, August 19, 2013

June Contracts Decrease 1 Percent

McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Cos., New York, has reported construction starts decreased 1 percent in June. Total construction starts in June were down 2 percent compared with June 2012. 
"The first half of 2013 revealed a mixed performance by project type, producing a hesitant pattern for total construction starts," says Robert A. Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction. "On the plus side, the housing market continues to strengthen, and it should be able to register further gains this year even with the recent hike in mortgage rates. Commercial building continues to slowly advance, and public works construction to this point has not seen much dampening as the result of the sequester. 

"However, on the negative side, the retreat for institutional building has turned out to be steeper than expected; manufacturing plant construction has weakened; and new electric utility starts have plunged from last year's record pace," he continues. "Assuming the downward pull from the negative sectors in this year's first half becomes less severe in the second half, then total construction starts for all of 2013 should still be able to register growth but at just a single-digit pace in similarity to 2012." 

Nonresidential building construction fell 2 percent in June. In the commercial category, office construction jumped 44 percent; store construction decreased 6 percent; warehouse construction slipped 7 percent; manufacturing plant construction fell 19 percent; and hotel construction dropped 29 percent. In the institutional category, churches climbed 29 percent; transportation terminal construction grew 24 percent; educational building construction rose 11 percent; amusement-related construction increased 2 percent; health care facility construction dropped 13 percent; and public buildings fell 33 percent. 

Residential building construction fell 4 percent in June. Single-family housing increased 1 percent, and multifamily construction fell 20 percent. 

Nonbuilding construction rose 4 percent in June. 

During the first six months of 2013, nonresidential building decreased 9 percent compared with the same time period in 2012. Residential building was up 28 percent, and nonbuilding construction decreased 24 percent. By geographic region, the South Central grew 8 percent; Northeast increased 7 percent; West grew 4 percent; Midwest decreased 5 percent; and South Atlantic fell 18 percent. 


(From NRCA Newsletter)


Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
1211 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602

Friday, August 16, 2013

NRCA University Offers Free Webinar for Members

NRCA University will offer NRCA University Webinar: Obamacare: Understanding the Myths and Mandates Aug. 15 at noon CST. 
Various effective dates are approaching for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The one-hour webinar will address the confusing requirements, allowing you to fully understand how health care reform will affect you and your business. 

The webinar will be presented by Dewitt Smith, vice president of sales at National General Insurance (formerly GMAC), the A-rated insurance carrier and parent company of The Association Benefits Solution, NRCA's partner for the NRCA National Health Care Program. 

The webinar is free for members and $55 for nonmembers. For more information or to register, 
click here


(From NRCA Newsletter)


Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
1211 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Public Workshop will be held on August 22nd

A public workshop will be held on August 22, 2013, beginning at 8:30 at the Hilton Ft Lauderdale Beach Resort.  Regarding rule 61G20-1.001, adopting annual “glitch” amendments to the 2010 Florida Building code will be considered by the Florida Building Commission during this public workshop.  Proposed changes to rules 61G20- 3.001, 3.002, and 3.007 will also be a subject at this workshop.  The proposed changes are to have the new product category ‘impact protective systems’ to include applications for product approval using product evaluation reports from evaluation entities, other than from licensed engineers or architects.


(From RPPTL Subcommittee, Florida Building Commission section)


Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
1211 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

IRS Issues Guidance on Delay of Employer Mandate Tax Penalties, ABC Advocates for Repeal

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) July 11 released guidance on the one-year delay of the employer shared responsibility provisions (or employer mandate) and information reporting requirements in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The delay was originally announced July 2 by the Treasury Department in a blog post.

The IRS guidance includes Q&As discussing the transition relief for 2014. Both the information reporting and the employer mandate will be fully effective for 2015.  Please note the transition relief for the information reporting and employer mandate has no effect on the effective date or application of other PPACA provisions.

On July 9, ABC sent a letter advocating for full repeal of the employer mandate in response to a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee hearing titled, “Delay of the Employer Mandate.”

“It is important to note the employer mandate tax penalties are only delayed—the employer mandate provision is not repealed,” ABC wrote. “The increased costs related to this onerous mandate are still of significant concern to ABC members.”

ABC also offered its support for the American Job Protection Act (H.R. 903), which would repeal the employer mandate provision in PPACA and protect existing jobs by removing some of the uncertainty facing employers and helping America’s job creators get back to work.

In response to the employer mandate delay, Washington Council Ernst and Young updated their summary of employer requirements in the health care law. 


(From ABC)


Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
1211 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

LEED v4 is Approved and Will be Launched in November

In response to concerns that the changes in LEED v4 were too abrupt, USGBC announced last year that it would ease into it, with project teams allowed to register for either LEED v4 or LEED 2009 until June 1, 2015. In addition, projects registered under LEED 2009 will be allowed to complete the certification process under that system as long as they do so before it “sunsets,” which could happen as late as 2021. 

USGBC is trying to attract new projects to the system by offering free certification for the first Platinum LEED v4 projects.  In addition, USGBC is planning to have LEED online forms, updated LEED credentialing exams, reference guides and educational offerings ready by the conference. 

To help members understand LEED v4, ABC is hosting a webinar Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. (ET), that will provide an update of the development process, a general overview of the technical changes proposed and information of specific interest to the chapter. It will also include an early look at supporting tools and resources for the LEED v4 program. The presentation has been approved by the Green Building Certification Institute for 1.5 CEs for General, LEED BD&C-,ID&C-, and EBOM- specific hours, and 1.5 AIA LUs.


(From ABC)

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
1211 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602

Monday, August 12, 2013

Florida Workman's Compensation Statutes

Last month Florida’s First District Court of Appeals held that certain portions of the Florida Workman’s Compensation Statutes are unconstitutional.  Florida Statute 440.105(3)(c) and 440.34 no longer prohibit a claimant from paying an attorney for legal services performed in defense against an employer or carriers motion to tax costs.  However, this holding is limited to this specific application, the defense of a motion to tax costs.  Additionally, Judges of Compensation Claims’ are not prohibited from approving a fee agreement for the defense of a motion to tax costs under Fla. Stat. 440.34.  In other words, if an employer moves to tax costs against a workman’s compensation claimant, that claimant may hire legal counsel with or without approval from the JCC.  The case is Jacobson v. Southeast Personnel Leasing Inc./ Packard Claim Administration, Inc., 38 Fla. L. Weekly D1242a.

(FL Law Weekly)

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
1211 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602

Friday, August 9, 2013

OSHA to Focus on Crystalline Silica, Confined Spaces and I2P2

The Department of Labor (DOL) on July 3 released its spring regulatory agenda outlining the activities of its sub-agencies for the remainder of 2013, including OSHA. The regulatory agenda lists the priorities of the administration and the rulemakings they expect to release this year; however, OSHA is not required to adhere to the timeline.

Crystalline Silica Exposure:  OSHA continues to move forward with a proposed rule which would alter the permissible exposure limits for crystalline silica dust. The proposed rule not only would lower the exposure limits, but also set new requirements on engineering controls and regulated areas. The agenda lists the proposed rule for July; it has been under review at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) since Feb. 11, 2011.
ABC and the construction industry continue to express concerns about the economic and technological feasibility of compliance with such changes and the possibility of inconsistency or conflict with other federal regulatory requirements.

Confined Spaces:  A final rule on confined spaces in construction is expected to be released in December, which is a change from the previous agenda which listed a release date of July. In the early 1990s, OSHA issued a rule to protect employees who enter confined spaces for general industry, but did not extend it to construction because of the unique characteristics of the industry’s worksites. A 2007 settlement then caused OSHA to issue a separate proposed rule for construction workers in confined spaces.
In 2008, ABC testified at an informal hearing, asking OSHA to incorporate existing standards instead of choosing to adopt an entirely new standard.

Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2):  According to OSHA’s agenda, a proposed rule on I2P2 will be issued by January 2014. The proposed rule would require employers to implement internal safety programs that “find and fix” workplace hazards on a rolling basis under penalty of enforcement. The I2P2 proposal could result in significant costs and compliance burdens and could lead to “double-dip” citations (once under existing rules and once under the new requirements).
Before a proposed rule can be issued, OSHA must first conduct a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act Small Business Advocacy Review Panel of I2P2. On the previous agenda a panel was listed to convene in January, however, no steps have been taken to conduct the panel and no alternate date was issued in the spring agenda. The review process, which is intended to gather information from small businesses about the impact of the rule, takes 90 days to complete.

(From ABC)


Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
1211 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. v. Sebilius

The 10th United States Circuit Court of Appeals has recently made a decision pertaining to one of the branches of litigation sprung from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.  The Court found that for-profit corporations may be exempt from providing contraception coverage to employees, as is required by Obamacare.  This is because of the first amendment’s freedom of religion clause.  The Court rationed that if corporations are protected and capable of donating as much money to political campaigns as they wish under the free speech clause, then they must also be protected under the freedom of religion clause.  Previously, this protection was only extended to not-for-profit corporations.  The case is Hobby Lobby Stores Inc v. Sebelius, 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 12-6294.

(Reuters Legal)


Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
1211 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

OSHA Announces Program to Protect Workers from Isocyanate Exposure

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced a new national emphasis program (NEP) to protect workers from serious health effects caused by occupational exposure to isocyanates. 

OSHA develops NEPs to focus outreach efforts and inspections on specific hazards in an industry for a three-year period. Through this NEP, OSHA will make efforts to reduce occupational illnesses and deaths by focusing on workplaces in general, construction and maritime industries that use isocyanate compounds. 

Isocyanates are chemicals used in materials such as paints, varnishes, auto body repair and building insulation and can cause occupational asthma; irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat; and cancer. Deaths have occurred because of asthma and hypersensitivity pneumonitis from isocyanate exposure. Respiratory illnesses also can be caused by isocyanate exposure to the skin. Jobs that involve exposure to isocyanates include spray-on polyurethane manufacturing of products such as mattresses and car seats, as well as protective coatings for truck beds, boats and decks. 

"Workers exposed to isocyanates can suffer debilitating health problems for months or even years after exposure," says David Michaels, OSHA's assistant secretary of labor. "Through this program, OSHA will strengthen protections for workers exposed to isocyanates." 

OSHA's Web page regarding isocyanates provides additional information about recognizing potential hazards, as well as OSHA standards that address isocyanates in the general, construction and maritime industries. For more information, 
click here


(From NRCA Newsletter)


Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
1211 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

NRCA Issues Action Alert

The Senate has approved immigration reform legislation (S. 744) that, though positive in many ways, effectively excludes construction employers from participating in a new temporary worker program created by the bill. The Senate bill restricts the number of visas allocated to the construction industry to a maximum of 15,000 annually nationwide; employers in other industries face no similar restriction. 
House members will attempt to draft an alternative immigration reform bill in July, and NRCA asks all members to contact their representatives and urge support for immigration legislation that meets the needs of the roofing industry. NRCA supports a temporary worker program that is governed by market forces, protects U.S. workers and enables employers to legally obtain the workers needed to meet business demands. 

NRCA has posted an Action Alert urging members to communicate the roofing industry's views and concerns to House members regarding immigration reform legislation. To view the Action Alert, 
click here


(From NRCA Newsletter)

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
1211 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602

Monday, August 5, 2013

OSHA Teams with National Weather Service to Protect Outdoor Workers from Heat-Related Illnesses

OSHA and the NOAA National Weather Service are teaming up again to prevent heat-related deaths and illnesses. Record-breaking heat the past two years has exacerbated heat-related injuries and fatalities in outdoor workers. With the peak of summer heat beginning, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels and NOAA's National Weather Service Director Dr. Louis Uccellini are reminding employers that heat-related illnesses can be prevented.

"Each year, thousands of workers across the country suffer from serious heat-related illnesses," said Michaels. "This can easily be prevented with water, rest, and shade. If outdoor workers take these precautions, it can mean the difference between life and death."
In 2011, 4,420 workers experienced heat illnesses and 61 workers died according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data. 

To help prevent heat related deaths and illness among workers, NOAA will continue to include the following language in its excessive heat warnings that are sent across the country: To reduce risk during outdoor work, OSHA recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air-conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. 
Heat stroke is an emergency – Call 911.

For more information and to download OSHA's Heat Safety Tool smartphone app, visit OSHA's Heat Illness Prevention page. To order quantities of OSHA's heat illness educational materials in English or Spanish, call OSHA's Office of Communications at (202) 693-1999.


(From OSHA)


Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
1211 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602