AM MONTHLY LAW ALERT
DOL NEW OVERTIME RULE BLOCKED
By Tony Stergio
A Texas Federal Judge recently enjoined the implementation of the DOL’s new overtime rules. The regulations, which raised the salary requirements for white-collar employee exemptions to $47,476/year, were slated to go into effect on December 1, 2016. The judge, in blocking the rules’ implementation, held that the 21 states that brought the suit met their initial burden for the injunction through arguments that the DOL lacked statutory authority to raise the salary level for the exemptions. The judge will later determine if the salary hike can ever go into effect without an act of congress. Whatever the ruling, appeals are expected. But for now, the new exempt employee salary hike regulations are on hold.
OSHA CLARIFIES STANCE ON DRUG TESTING
By Tony Stergio
OSHA recently issued interpretive guidelines clarifying regulations it issued in May of this year that suggested post-accident drug testing, in certain circumstances, could result in retaliation citations for employers. The earlier regulation's verbiage suggested that employers could impermissibly use post-accident drug testing to dissuade employees from reporting accidents.
OSHA’s most recent guidance, however, seems to indicate that the practice of post-accident drug testing is unlikely to draw a citation from OSHA in most circumstances. First, OSHA sets out that its ultimate burden is to prove that the employer administered the drug test as retaliation for an employee reporting a work-related injury or illness, and not for a legitimate business reason. Read more...
LATEST TEXAS SCHOOL BONDS WORTH $2.7 BILLION
By Katy Baird
On November 8th of this year, Texans voted in favor of school bonds throughout the State, affording contractors multiple opportunities to bid on new projects in the coming months.
In total, Texans approved $2,719,875,577 worth of education bonds. The following are some of the larger bonds that were passed: El Paso ISD approved a $668.7 million bond in order to close nine schools and consolidate the schools into rebuilt campuses. Read more...
CITY OF HOUSTON'S "DEVELOPER BOND" REQUIREMENTS
By Ben Westcott & Kenton Andrews
Texas has allowed cities with populations of 5,000 or more to enter into developer participation agreements (“DPAs”) without complying with the competitive sealed bidding procedures. These unique agreements between land owners/developers and local governments provide each parties with substantial benefits. For example, a land owner now has municipal funds available to assist with funding its project by receiving reimbursements for public infrastructure work. In comparison, municipalities can receive a potentially larger tax base and improved infrastructure without having to oversee and manage construction efforts.
Municipalities have had authority to enter these type of project agreements for approximately 30 years. They are now becoming more and more common throughout Texas. The City of Houston is following the statewide trend of increasing its use of DPAs. As such, it is extremely important for any contractor performing work with a developer in a DPA to understand the additional exposure created by the City of Houston’s bond requirements in its DPA. Read more...
AUSTIN APPROVES NEW RULES FOR LATE NIGHT CONCRETE POURS
By Clayton Utkov
In November 2014, the Austin City Council enacted an interim ordinance, Ordinance No. 20141120-056, which required contractors to obtain a permit to perform late night concrete pours in the Central Business District and the Public zoning districts in Austin. In the following two years since the approval of the 2014 interim rule, the City Council has extended the temporary ordinance seven times in order for the stake holders to meet and attempt to reach a general consensus on the final ordinance.
On November 11th
of this year, the Austin City Council finally approved new rules for late night concrete pours at properties located in the Central Business District and the Public district zoning, when the properties are located in the Downtown Density Bonus Program. Properties eligible for density bonuses are located within in the area bounded by Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard on the north, Lady Bird Lake on the South, Interstate 35 on the East, and Lamar Boulevard on the west. These new rules allow the director to issue one of three permits for properties located within these boundaries. Read more...