issue 11-45

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White House Report Details Economic Benefits from Infrastructure Investment

On November 2, the White House released a new report that details numerous highway projects that create economic benefits through safety, congestion relief, and road/bridge rehabilitation.

Senate Approves Bill to Allow Heavy Trucks on Maine, Vermont Interstates

On November 1, the U.S. Senate approved the Fiscal Year 2012 Senate Transportation Appropriations bill, which includes a provision that would permanently allow the heaviest trucks to travel on federal interstates in Maine and Vermont instead of forcing them off the highway and onto secondary roads and downtown streets. The bill  would allow trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds to travel on the states’ federal interstates.   

“This has always been one of my top transportation priorities,” said Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), who sponsored the amendment.

Kentucky Does Not Plan to Require Display of KYU Number on Trucks

Contrary to rumors, Kentucky will not be requiring motor carriers 60,000 pounds or greater traveling in Kentucky to display on their trucks the KYU number, the tax license issued for the Kentucky weight-distance tax to display the KYU numbers on their trucks.  Although state and federal law allow Kentucky to require the KYU number, the state will administer its tax by means of carriers’ U.S. DOT numbers, according to a report in the November 7 issue of The State Laws Newsletter.  

OSHA Issues Interim Final Rules on Whistleblower Procedure

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published interim final rules in the November 3 Federal Register to revise the regulations governing whistleblower complaints filed under the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act of 2002. The act protects employees of publicly traded companies and their subsidiaries, and of certain other employers, from retaliation for reporting mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, securities fraud, violations of Securities and Exchange Commission rules or regulations, or violations of any provision of federal law relating to fraud against shareholders.

Office of Management and Budget Falls Behind Schedule on Reviews

Five of the 13 proposed rules submitted by the Department of Labor for review by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have been there for longer than 90 days, according to an article the October 20 issue of BNA’s Construction Labor Report. The longest ongoing review is of the Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica proposal from the the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s, at the office since February 14.

White-Collar Starting Salaries Should Average 3.4 Percent More in 2012

Starting salaries for white-collar workers are expected to rise by 3.4 percent on average in 2012, according to staffing firm Robert Half International. The company estimated that salaries for white collar workers rose 2.8 percent in 2011 and actually declined by 0.4 percent in 2010. In 2009, salaries also rose by 3.4 percent.

The company’s estimates for annual starting salary boosts are based on the thousands of job negotiations it handles each year, combined with other research.

Latin Trade Editor Offers Advice for Recharging Latin America

In the September-October issue of Latin Trade magazine, Executive Editor Joachim Bamrud offered 10 recommendations for recharging Latin America:

  • Improve Institutions by dealing with excessive bureaucracy and red tape, overregulation, corruption, dishonesty in dealing with public contracts, and lack of transparency and trustworthiness.
  • Reduce corruption by strengthening law enforcement and reforming judiciaries that enable corrupt officials to act with impunity.
  • Improve education to move up the value chain beyond simple production proc

U.S. Trade with Canada, Mexico Improves Dramatically

Trade using surface transportation between the United States and its North American neighbors, Canada and Mexico, was 18.3 percent higher in August 2011 than in August 2010, totaling $80.4 billion, according to a Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) report released on November 1. This was the second time on record that U.S.–North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) trade by land modes exceeded $80 billion in one month – the first time was in March 2011.

The value of U.S.

IRS Offers Health Care Tax Credit for Small Employers

Millions of small employers received postcards from the IRS beginning in April 2010 that alerted them to the new small business health care tax credit and encouraged them to check their eligibility. Both taxable (for profit) and tax-exempt firms may be eligible even if they did not receive a postcard.

Businesses Become Bullish on American Economy

“Third-quarter growth of 2.5 percent douses immediate worries about recession,” noted an article in the October 28 issue of The Kiplinger Letter. “The robust 17 percent jump in business investment in equipment bodes well for the months ahead, as does the surprising 13 percent gain in spending of buildings. Both indicate that businesses are betting that the economy isn’t going to tank.”

Consumers, however, are far less confident, and their pace of spending seems unlikely to pick up much through most of next year, according to the newsletter.