When the private sector does not address a major issue, the public sector will often step into the vacuum and do it. The construction industry has been slow to embrace the principles of social responsibility and sustainable value, focusing instead on whatever it takes to be lowest bidder. As a consequence of this, government is adopting policies that reshape the rules for the industry.

The president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, resigned today after being re-elected in the midst of an unprecedented scandal over the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

Scandal is not new to the global scene, nor is the seedy underbelly of the construction industry in the countries where major facilities are needed to host the games. In this case, there are five stadiums being built for Qatar 2022, but recently, amid the scandal, the underbelly of global construction has once again been exposed in an investigative report by Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

In a recent article by ABC, the kafala system of forced labor, “kin to slave labor” even though the world’s richest per capita country, “is spending $260 billion building the stadiums, public transport systems, freeways, hotels and apartments to stage the tournament.”    Read more » about Scandal and Slum Conditions in Qatar for 2022 Games

House and Senate negotiators in Austin are now trying to hammer out a final deal on the financing of $3 billion worth of construction projects at colleges and universities all over Texas.

There is broad agreement that funding new classroom space is the right thing to do. On a vote of 26 to 5, the Texas Senate passed a bill authorizing the spending aimed at relieving overcrowded campuses. The Texas House also overwhelmingly passed the legislation. But, just as in past legislative sessions, the devil’s in the details when it comes to this issue.

As of right now, about $73 million separates the two plans. That’s why a conference committee has been appointed to craft a deal that will then be presented to both the House and Senate before it can be sent to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature.    Read more » about $3 Billion in College Construction is Approved by the Texas Senate

There’s a renewed push at the Texas Capitol to prevent people from skirting their responsibility to make child support payments through misclassification. Worker misclassification, also known as "payroll fraud," causes all kinds of problems throughout the construction industry and our society.

Misclassification happens when employers pretend their workers are "subcontractors” even though, by law, they meet the definition of an employee. You can read every story we’ve written about it by clicking here.

When unethical companies do this the intent is to avoid payroll taxes and benefits, which gives those employers an unfair and illegal competitive advantage over companies that are following the letter of the law.    Read more » about Bill Gains Momentum in Push to Crack Down on Those Who Avoid Child Support Payments by Becoming “Subcontractors”

As Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, rolled out his top priorities for lawmakers in Austin earlier this year, one of the things he sought to highlight is the importance of a skilled workforce and the fact that a four-year degree is not a necessity for every single student. Abbott is a big believer in higher education, make no mistake. In fact, one of his emergency items includes recruitment of more Nobel Laureates and their equivalents to Texas.

But his message on the issue is nuanced. Some students need a four-year degree or more and others can get exactly what they need in a two-year program equipping them with the skills employers demand.

In his State of the State Address in February, Gov. Abbott said the path to success is not the same for all students.    Read more » about Texas Governor Receives Honorary Welding Certificate, a Document of “Economic Freedom”

The following article was authored by Alex Nowrasteh and originally published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Alex Nowrasteh is an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.

State Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, and Reps. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, and Gilbert Peña, R-Pasadena, have all proposed bills to create a guest worker program for Texas.

A Texas-based visa would allow the state to regulate migrant workers according to its own needs and cut out the feds. Regulators in D.C. don’t know what’s best for Texas.    Read more » about Sensible Immigration Reform for Texas

In an explosive investigation that drew the attention of many average Texans over the weekend, WFAA Television in Dallas/Fort Worth put a bright spotlight on the problem of worker misclassification. It’s a problem the Construction Citizen team has exposed for years and we greatly appreciate any time other media outlets take up the cause as well.

This most recent outrage came to light after three men working as independent subcontractors underneath Thanksgiving Tower in Dallas died in a horrific accident. But, the companies involved have denied damages to their families. How can that be? From the story:

Although they were little more than laborers, the State of Texas allows them to be called "independent contractors." That means they can get no workers compensation, and have no federal income tax or Social Security tax deducted from their paychecks.

Three independent contractors' deaths at Thanksgiving Tower are the subject of legal action, but the families of the three men will receive no compensation for their deaths. Byron Harris has more on the "invisible workers."   Read more » about DFW Television Report Puts Spotlight on Worker Misclassification

A former drywall contractor in Walla Walla, Washington has been found liable for unpaid workers’ comp premiums, interest, and late fees totaling over one million dollars.  A Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) investigation determined that Shawn A. Campbell's company, E & E Acoustics, LLC, underreported the hours that its employees worked by failing to accurately report the size of the company's drywall jobs from April 2007 through June 2009.

Campbell owes L&I more than $615,000 in premiums, $102,000 in late penalties, and $296,000 in interest, totaling over $1,013,00.00.  The judgment is believed to be one of L&I's largest-ever holding an employer personally liable for his company's workers' comp premiums, interest and penalties.   Read more » about Washington State Drywall Contractor Ordered to Pay Over $1 Million in Workers’ Comp Premiums and Penalties

After sailing to approval in the Texas House, a package of bonds worth about $3.1 billion in college campus construction might have a more uncertain future in the Texas Senate. The bill approved earlier this month in the House drew only a few “no” votes, mainly from lawmakers aligned with some groups that claim to be fiscally conservative. They argue it’s not the right time for the state to take on debt for this purpose 

But, leaders in higher education and business groups have made the case that there is an urgent need in Texas to fund more classroom space at colleges and universities as part of the state’s overall effort to maintain an educated and balanced workforce. As noted in the Austin Business Journal, “The construction requests of the state’s major university systems this legislative session correlate with the growth of high-demand jobs in the science, engineering and technology fields in Texas.”   Read more » about More Than $3 Billion in College Campus Construction Closer to Reality in Texas

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