Construction Bills: Recent Changes to Construction Laws

AuthorBy Brian R. Zimmerman and Rowan T. Mason
Published in The Construction Lawyer, Volume 40, Number 4, Fall 2020. © 2020 American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion
thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.
CoNstruCtioN Bills: reCeNt ChaNges
to CoNstruCtioN laws
By Brian R. Zimmerman and Rowan T. Mason
Brian R. Zimmerman is a shareholder at Hurtado
Zimmerman S.C. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Rowan T.
Mason is a San Francisco–based partner with Jones Day.
Infrastructure Investment: The Moving Forward Act Is
Unlikely to Continue Moving Forward
On July 1, 2020, the House of Representatives passed
a $1.5 trillion infrastructure spending bill, the Moving
Forward Act (H.R. 2).1 The Act passed the House along
a mostly party line vote and represents Democrat spend-
ing authorizations to replace the current spending law set
to expire in September 2020.
The Act’s spending authorizations go beyond tradi-
tional road, bridge, and transit system investments, and
include schools, housing, broadband access, and signi-
cant clean energy investment. The House Committee on
Transportation and Infrastructure issued a statement pro-
claiming that the Act is “about investing in infrastructure
that is smarter, safer, and made to last.”
With little bipartisan support in the House, the Act
faces staunch opposition from Senate Republicans. Sen-
ator John Barrasso (R-WY), chair of the Senate EPW
Committee, stated his opposition that “There’s nothing
bipartisan about it. It’s completely partisan.”
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on the
Senate oor that he would not take up the Act, character-
izing it as a “1,000-page cousin of the Green New Deal,
masquerading as a highway bill.”3
The White House threatened to veto the Act if passed
by the Senate, while expressing general support for invest-
ment in the nation’s infrastructure: “The Nation needs a
back-to-basics, bipartisan plan to move its infrastructure
into the 21st century, one that focuses on streamlining
project delivery; providing exibility for States, localities
and the private sector; providing long-term funding cer-
tainty; accelerating innovation; and right-sizing the
Federal role.”4
The White House cited staunch opposition to the Act:
“It is heavily biased against rural America. It also appears
to be entirely debt-nanced. And it fails to tackle the
issue of unnecessary permitting delays, which are one
of the most signicant impediments to improving our
infrastructure. Further, instead of taking a balanced
approach that would benet more Americans, H.R. 2 is
full of wasteful ‘Green New Deal’ initiatives that would
impede economic growth and impose unnecessary man-
dates, hindering innovation and driving up costs for the
American people.”5
A summary
of the Moving Forward Act’s spending
authorizations is below.
$484 Billion to Highways, Bridges, Transit, Rail, Airports,
Over $300 billion of investment in existing
Over $100 billion in transit including initiatives to
put zero-emission buses on the road, add new routes,
and provide more reliable service.
$1.4 billion toward alternative fuel charging
$29 billion to Amtrak (triple the prior funding),
allowing for upgrades and expansion of the passen-
ger rail network, and to improve rail crossing safety.
Funding for dredging and upkeep of harbors, ports,
and channels.
$130 Billion to Schools and Child Care
Invests in schools with the Reopen and Rebuild
America’s Schools Act, which invests $130 billion
targeted at high-poverty schools.
Five-year, $10 billion federal investment in address-
ing structural challenges and upgrading child care
facilities to generate additional state and private
Local Financing & Community Development
Provides nancing support for state and local
government investments and spurring private
investment through the tax code by permanently
reinstating Build America Bonds and Advance
Refunding Bonds, and increasing and expanding
the issuance of Private Activity Bonds.
Brian R. Zimmerman Rowan T. Mason

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