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affordable housingOn March 23, President Trump signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, a $1.3 trillion spending package that includes a 12.5% increase in low-income housing tax credit allocations over the next four years, along with funding increases for several affordable housing programs. This is welcome news to affordable housing developers who have been facing funding gaps as a result of reductions in the corporate tax rate under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted in late 2017, which led to reduced pricing from equity investors.

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The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 includes, at pages 1768-1786 of the bill, the “Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development Act of 2018,” also known as the “BUILD Act.” This is a bi-partisan bill whose enactment has been spurred by the realization there may be as many as 450,000 Brownfields sites around the country that require some financial assistance to be cleaned up and restored to productive uses. In contrast, there are only 1300 sites on the Superfund National Priorities List.

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In general, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act bill allows pass-through owners making less than $157,500 ($315,000 for married couples) to take a flat 20 percent deduction on certain business income, before computing the ordinary income tax they would owe on the remainder. Under complex rules, the deduction phases out when taxpayers make over that amount but under $207,500 ($415,000 for married couples). Continue reading

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California is imposing greater responsibilities on prime contractors for nonpayment of wages and benefits by their subcontractors. On October 14, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 1701 (Thurmond), adding Section 218.7 to the California Labor Code. Labor Code § 218.7(a)(1) requires prime contractors, on all private construction contracts entered into beginning January 1, 2018, to assume and be liable for any unpaid wages or fringe benefits incurred by subcontractors of any tier. Although this liability extends to unpaid wages, benefit payments, and union contributions (including interest thereon), it does not extend to any penalties or liquidated damages resulting from a subcontractor’s failure to make such payments in the first instance. As a result, going forward in California, prime contractors on private projects will need to be as involved in monitoring their subcontractors’ payroll practices as their public works counterparts.

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On October 19, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released a draft Strategic Plan (the Plan) for public comment. The Plan establishes goals and long-term objectives for increasing investment and streamlining federal environmental review and approval of transportation infrastructure projects over the next five years (Fiscal Years 2018-2022). Comments on the draft Plan are due by November 13, 2017.  Continue reading