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As the Trump administration and the 115th Congress begin their second year, their accomplishments in 2017 set a course to create a lasting pro-growth business environment in the years ahead.

Within 10 days of assuming office, President Trump signed Executive Order 13771, Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs, which cuts the amount of regulations created and implements a so-called “one in, two out” policy. Soon after, Trump signed Executive Order 13777, the Presidential Executive Order on Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda, to create a regulatory reform task force for major agencies, and Executive Order 13781 on a Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch to eliminate unnecessary agencies and programs within the federal government.

Continuing the push for reform, the Trump administration worked with Congress to eliminate several rules through the Congressional Review Act (CRA). These CRAs removed regulations issued under the Obama administration that would have created unnecessary burdens on the construction industry, including the Volks rule (also known as Clarification of an Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness) and “blacklisting” final rule (also known as the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces).

Under the Trump administration, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) also has taken steps to remove or revise burdensome regulations, such as the persuader and overtime final rules, both of which have been blocked through federal court decisions.

Additionally, the DOL rescinded administrative interpretations of joint employer and independent contractor classifications under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  OSHA also rescinded the “union walk-around rule” after withdrawing a letter of interpretation that allowed employees without collective bargaining agreements to designate an individual affiliated with a union or community organization as their representative during workplace inspections and other enforcement-related matters. 

Under the Trump administration, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm nominees for three key positions with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). With the confirmation of Marvin Kaplan and William Emanuel to the NLRB, the board will have all five seats filled for the first time since August 2015. NLRB Chairman Philip Miscimarra later vacated his seat on Dec. 16, reverting the board to a 2-2 split. However, his seat is expected to be filled in early 2018. Additionally, the Senate confirmed Peter Robb to serve as general counsel for the NLRB on Nov. 8, making him the first Republican general counsel since June 2010.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is rolling back the Obama administration’s 2015 rule defining “waters of the United States.” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced the plan to reconsider the rule following Trump’s Executive Order 13778 on Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the “Waters of the United States” Rule.

The Trump administration also is taking valuable steps forward to address the skills gap and fill 500,000 existing jobs in the construction industry. DOL Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta established the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion, created by President Trump’s June 15 Executive Order 13801. Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) President and CEO Mike Bellaman, who was appointed to the task force by Secretary Acosta, will join members of the business community, labor groups and education leaders in a series of meetings to discuss the importance and growth of apprenticeships and industry-recognized training programs.

Congress and the Trump administration ended the year by passing and signing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the first major piece of tax reform legislation to become law since 1986. The bill introduces a 21 percent corporate tax rate, allows a 20 percent deduction on income for pass-through businesses, lowers the individual tax rate across the board, and nearly doubles the standard deduction for individual and married couples filing jointly—giving businesses and individuals a fair and effective path to economic growth.

With Republicans controlling the executive branch and both chambers of the legislative branch, coupled with their efforts to strengthen the economy in 2017, the year ahead looks certain to build and sustain the nation’s economic growth for ABC member contractors and the construction industry at large.

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