Levelling the Playing Field: Prohibiting Unfair Contract Terms in Australia

This is a reminder that a significant change is on the horizon for companies using standard form contracts in Australia. These matters were raised in the November 2022 edition of Construction Matters.

New unfair contract terms (UCT) reform is set to take effect from 9 November 2023, ushering in a pivotal shift in the contracting landscape. The reform aims to bolster consumer and small business protection by curbing UTC, ensuring a fairer playing field for all parties. Companies should carefully review and potentially amend their standard contracts to ensure compliance with the upcoming changes and avoid the risk of hefty penalties under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

Read more here.

New Technical Assistance Resources:  If You Are Not Shovel Ready, Here’s How to Start the Process

In September, the White House released a “Fact Sheet” addressing technical resources to assist communities to unlock resources needed to take advantage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and other infrastructure funding opportunities.  

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Best P3 Practices for the US Webinar Series

We are pleased to announce a four-part webinar series based on developing best practices for US public-private partnerships (P3s). P3s are coming into their own across the US with high expectations as to how federal and state infrastructure funds can be leveraged when partnered with the private sector. Partnerships are complex on a good day and parties often must readjust expectations based on market risk, interest rates, contractor and supply shortages and recognition that risk has to be allocated on a reasonable basis, acceptable to both the private and public sector.

Our series is designed to help smooth the rough edges for parties working on P3 projects in the US by taking into consideration what the UK, UAE and Australia do well and the issues unique to implementation of any P3 project in the US. We hope you will join us for each webinar and that you will feel free to submit questions ahead of time or ask during the webinar.

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Federal and State Restrictions on Foreign Investment in US Real Estate

Unlike many countries, the United States has generally remained open for investment in US real estate by foreign owned entities, albeit with some government oversight. The primary regulatory hurdle has long been the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), a federal interagency committee with a relatively narrow scope of review related to national security interests.

Additionally, the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act of 1978 (AFIDA)[i] requires increased transparency for transactions related to agricultural land in particular. As discussed below, growing anti-China sentiment is largely driving the policy discussion around foreign investment in US real estate, particularly Chinese-ownership, transactions involving farmland, and overall national security interests.

To read more on this topic, please access our article from AFIRE’s Summit Journal here.

[i] Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act of 1978 [Public Law 95-460] [as amended through P.L. 110–246, effective May 22, 2008] [7 U.S.C. §§ 3501-3508]

A Summer of Reform for the National Environmental Policy Act

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) plays a critical role in infrastructure and energy project development. The statute requires federal agencies to consider the environmental impacts of proposed major federal actions as part of the agencies’ decision-making process. Most proposed projects that require a federal approval, such as a permit, or that receive federal financing must comply with NEPA’s requirements. The significance of the expected environmental impact dictates the precise NEPA process that must be followed, as well as the final NEPA approval document that must be prepared. Federal agencies also use the NEPA process as an “umbrella,” under which to ensure the project proponent’s compliance with other federal environmental programs.

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Fall Forecast: What to Expect From Washington Through the End of the Year

With Labor Day behind us, Congress returns to Washington with a packed agenda. One month now stands between lawmakers and the end of the government’s fiscal year. And Congress has only four months to tackle various end-of-year deadlines. From domestic policy discussions to international relations, we look back at the first eight months of 2023 and provide our assessment of what Congress will – and will not – be able to accomplish this year.

Read full insight here.

2023 SMART Funding Open until October 10, 2023:  Check it out.

Established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Program awards grants to various public sector agencies – state, local, and tribal governments, public transit agencies, metropolitan planning organizations – to execute projects that use advanced technologies to improve transportation efficiency and safety. The Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 SMART Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is now open until October 10, 2023.

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Cybersecurity Resiliency Funding for U.S. States and Territories

The Department of Homeland Security has announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity (“NOFO”) for the fiscal year (“FY”) 2023 State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program (“SLCGP”).  This program makes approximately $374.9 million available in funding available to help state, local and territorial governments manage and reduce systemic cyber risks through focused investments.

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White House Finalizes Long-awaited Build America, Buy America, (BABA) Guidance

The White House has announced long-awaited final guidance to federal agencies to implement domestic content and manufacturing requirements in federally funded infrastructure projects.

The Biden Administration guidance applies broadly to the use of iron, steel, and other common construction materials and products and, as a result, is expected to have broad implications for awardees of federal funding, prospective applicants, contractors, and suppliers.

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P3 State Legislation Update and Opportunities for the Private Sector

P3 state legislation continues to expand and move forward with governors signing legislation into law and sending some bills back to legislatures for review and revision. The states have in common efforts to define the breadth and depth of projects suitable for public private partnerships and many are working to establish specific offices to manage their infrastructure projects. Suffice it to say that the infrastructure to build infrastructure is being built out through state legislation. You can find our current P3 State Legislation Tracker here.

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