Construction Bills: Recent Changes to Construction Laws

AuthorBy Brian R. Zimmerman and Rowan T. Mason
Published in
The Construction Lawyer
, Volume 41, Number 2, Season 2021. © 2021 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.
President Biden’s
Infrastructure Plan
Released and OSHA
Issues OSHA COVID-19
President Biden Signs COVID
Relief and Issues Infrastructure
Spending Plan
On March 11, 2021, President
Biden signed into law the Amer-
ican Rescue Plan Act of 2021
(ARPA), often referred to as the
“COVID Relief Bill,” authoriz-
ing $1.9 trillion of spending for
COVID-19 relief. Although the
most publicized components
of the ARPA are the individual
stimulus checks and additional
Payment Protection Program
(PPP) funding, the ARPA included signicant funding
supporting the residential and commercial real estate and
construction industries, including:
$40 billion of rental and mortgage assistance, with
$21.55 billion for emergency rental assistance;
$5 billion for emergency housing vouchers;
$750 million for tribal housing needs and $100 mil-
lion for rural housing; and
$350 billion in direct aid to state, local, and tribal
governments, designated for alleviating pandemic-
induced budget decits, with $10 billion set aside
for infrastructure programs to assist local govern-
ments with capital projects.2
Shortly after passage of ARPA, President Biden
released his “American Jobs Plan”3 containing his infra-
structure plan for new spending of $2.65 trillion over
eight years. The Plan promises that it will “create mil-
lions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure,
and position the United States to out-compete China.”4
Although no bill has been introduced to Congress
based on the American Jobs Plan and any bill will likely
include substantial changes through the legislative process,
this initial plan identies substantial investments in infra-
structure, manufacturing, and worker training, health,
and safety. As affecting the construction industry, the
infrastructure spending includes substantial funding for:
Transportation Infrastructure: $621 billion for trans-
portation infrastructure, including modernization of
20,000 miles of highways, roads, and main streets;
xing of 10 economically signicant bridges and
10,000 smaller bridges; replacement of thousands of
buses and rail cars; repairs to stations; and expansion
of transit and rail.
Clean Water: $111 billion for rebuilding clean drinking
water infrastructure, a renewed electric grid, and high-
speed broadband. The plan promises replacement of
100 percent of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines;
upgrading and modernization of America’s drinking
water, wastewater, and stormwater systems; and build-
ing of high-speed broadband infrastructure to reach
100 percent coverage.
Homes and Commercial Buildings: $213 billion for
rehabilitating and retrofitting housing, commer-
cial buildings, schools, and childcare facilities. This
includes building and rehabilitating more than 500,000
homes for low- and middle-income home buyers,
improving public housing infrastructure, providing
block grants for home upgrades, modernizing schools
and early learning facilities, and upgrading VA hospi-
tals and federal buildings.
Alongside the American Jobs Plan, President Biden
issued his “American Tax Plan,” which promises to pay for
the American Jobs Plan by making sure “corporations pay
their fair share in taxes and encourag[ing] job creation at
home.” The American Tax Plan proposes:
raising the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from the
current 21 percent;
discouraging offshoring with a global minimum tax
for U.S. multinational corporations;
preventing companies from claiming tax havens, deny-
ing companies expense deductions for offshoring jobs;
enacting a minimum tax on large corporations’ book
eliminating tax preferences for fossil fuels;
eliminating the loophole for intellectual property; and
increasing enforcement against corporations.
While both the American Jobs Plan and the American Tax
Plan are in the infancy of the legislative process, they offer a
glimpse at the widely anticipated and debated infrastructure
spending plan and potential tax increases that may accom-
pany a substantial investment in the nation’s infrastructure.
OSHA Issues New Guidance to Employers on
Workplace Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The day after his inauguration, on January 21, 2021,
President Biden issued an executive order5 directing the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Brian R. Zimmerman
Rowan T. Mason
By Brian R. Zimmerman and
Rowan T. Mason

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