Hops & Highways S2 E4: Update from Washington, New Climate Resiliency "RoadMap" Released & The Importance of Training

Jess & Dormie as they share the latest news on the Infrastructure Bill, the 10 ways we can improve the resilience of our roadways, reasons to send your crew to training classes and salute one hard-working crew for Build America Friday!

This week on Hops & Highways, Jess & Dormie give an update on where our lawmakers stand on voting for the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, talk about the GAO's Resilient "RoadMap," discuss the importance of training and share one crew's hard work for Build America Friday. Thanks for watching!

J: It’s been a quiet week as we await news from Washington where Congress is increasingly resorting to a kick-the-can-down the road strategy on the big legislative issues.The House scrapped a plan to vote on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and instead voted to extend Highway Trust Fund (HTF) authorizations and Federal-Aid Highway Programs through October 31. This is the second extension of the FAST Act, and the HTF will not support any more clean extensions unless additional revenues are deposited into the HTF account. This gives the Democrats more time to put together a social-spending, tax increase reconciliation package that can pass the Senate.

D: Before the start of the fiscal year on October 1, President Biden signed a continuing resolution to extend government funding through December 3, averting a Federal government shutdown. Meanwhile, The Treasury Department is scheduled to run out of cash on October 18 and needs the Federal Government’s borrowing authority cap to be increased to avoid default. Senate leaders are working on a short-term solution to suspend the debt limit through November.

J: Once Congress deals with the debt limit, lawmakers will turn their attention to the multi-trillion-dollar reconciliation package, which is the key to unlocking the vote on the IIJA. Moderate and progressive Democrats are wrangling over the size and policy provisions that will be included in the final package. Congress must vote before October 31st when crucial funding for our highway programs expires once again and we will drink to that.

:::WE DRINK::: 

D: A new report was released this week from the Government Accountability Office and it lays out a 10-step plan for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to consider to improve the climate resiliency of federally funded roads. The report highlights efforts in Arizona, Delaware, Maryland and Washington that use FHWA residency resources but in general, states are struggling to implement resiliency practices into physical road projects. 

J: To improve resiliency on our roadways, the GAO made 10 detailed recommendations that will help states improve the climate resilience of federally funded roads, including:

  • Integrating climate resilience into FHWA policy and guidance;

  • Updating design standards and building codes; 

  • Providing authoritative, actionable, and forward-looking climate information; 

  • Adding climate resilience funding eligibility requirements and criteria to grant programs; 

  • Expanding the availability of discretionary funding for climate resilience improvements and much more. I’m going to take a drink after all that…

:::WE DRINK:::

D: President Biden has made it clear he wants to build a more resilient infrastructure network since early on in his presidency. Biden’s pledge to tackle climate change was embedded throughout his initial Build Back Better plan. Under that plan, roads, bridges and airports would be made more resilient to the effects of more extreme storms, floods and fires brought by a warming planet. He felt that spending on research and development for these types of projects could help spur breakthroughs in cutting-edge clean technology. 

J: The President has also added millions in climate change provisions within the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill he wants Democrats to pass without Republican support. The climate provisions in the $3.5 trillion package are designed to rapidly transform energy and transportation, the US’s two largest sources of greenhouse gases, from systems that now mostly burn gas, oil and coal to sectors that run increasingly on clean energy from the sun, wind and nuclear power. The impact would be broad and far reaching, from the kinds of cars that Americans drive, to the types of crops grown by farmers, to the way homes are heated and buildings are constructed.

D: In-party squabbling over the price tag and elements of this bill are what held up the vote on the Infrastructure Legislation & Jobs Act. Congress is still working to come to an agreement here before we can move forward and we will drink to moving forward!

:::WE DRINK::: 

J: This week, we released the 2022 industry training guide for the asphalt industry. We talk about training a lot and we won’t let up on it because it’s so important to the future success of our workforce and our industry. Those construction contractors who are most successful, view training as a necessary and beneficial investment in their business and point to numerous reasons why the investment is worthwhile and we have a few reasons why.

D: Training Improves safety. Business owners need to acknowledge that the safety of their workers is critical and that the right training can ensure that the equipment is operated correctly and that health and safety practices are being followed in the workplace.

J: Training also Improves productivity. This makes sense, and it’s also proven, that well-trained employees are more confident in their abilities to perform their work. The right training gives workers the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out their work to the best of their ability, thus increasing productivity and quality of the results.

D: Training opportunities also help you keep current with technology. The pace of technology changes daily and advancements in construction come fast and furious. Regular training means the business and employees don’t get left behind and they stay working at their best, both today and in the future. And I think we need to drink to that!

:::WE DRINK:::

J: Offering training and advancement attracts and retains key employees.  In today’s market, contractors cannot afford to hire or carry workers who are not competent or are firmly on a path to proficiency. Training and development programs not only attract workers, they can engage current employees and keep them committed to the company.

D: It’s also going to give your company and your workers an edge – Training employees can provide a genuine competitive advantage over competition. The only way to be better than competitors is by employees being better than the rest and training is a direct route to achieving this.

J: Last on our list, is retaining that equipment ROI. Not only will training engage your employees, it will also help ensure you're getting the most out of the equipment you're using and that it's being used, and maintained, to the optimal level it was designed to be used at. Manufacturer training can help with this.  Cheers to training!

:::WE DRINK:::

D: Finally today, we do want to share some good news for Build America Friday. We know you all worked hard this season and we want to share what you did on the show. This week we’re giving a shoutout to Marc & the crew at American Industries for their work paving mainline and ramps on Route 95 in Groton Connecticut.