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Geoprofessional Business Association Logo Has Debuted!
Your votes made it happen: Geoprofessional Business Association is the new name of what began life — in 1969 — as Associated Soil and Foundation Engineers. We have updated our bylaws, navigated all the regulations governing organizational name change, and now we have our new logo. What we don't have is a magic wand to make all the other changes happen all at once! We're updating — or soon will be — our materials, communications, website (including a move from www.asfe.org to www.geoprofessional.org), app, e-mail addresses, etc. with the new name and new logo, but this is an enormous task that will take some time. In the meantime, GBA is carrying on exactly where ASFE left off; here with the programs, services and materials you and your clients need to confront risk and optimize performance on the road to corporate and project success. Do you have comments or suggestions to share? We'd be delighted to hear from you. E-mail us at email@example.com.
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Register Today to Join Us in San Francisco for the 2014 GBA Fall Conference
The business challenges created by rapid change are a good thing, says GBA 2014 Fall Conference keynoter Dr. Nate Booth. Winners use them as opportunities to learn, grow and contribute more. Learn what skills outstanding leaders use to create environments where challenges bring out the very best in their people. And be ready to learn a whole lot more, from an array of outstanding speakers and exhibitors all working to help you and your firm confront risk for your firm and your clients, and from your peers at GBA's annual Business Round Tables, Oct. 23-25, in San Francisco! And don't forget the outstanding food and drink that are hallmarks of GBA get-togethers, and all included in the registration fee. Early bird registration ends Friday, Aug. 22. Register now!
FROM THE BENCH: California Makes Residential Projects Taboo
The Supreme Court of California's decision in Beacon v. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (211 Cal.App.4th 1301 (2014)) creates astounding new law in the Golden State: Prime design professionals of non-rental residential projects — a condominium, in this case — owe a duty of care to future homeowners, even when the primes do not build the projects themselves or exercise control over those who do. The decision significantly expands liability for primes — and maybe subs, too — significantly expands the number of prospective plaintiffs and will prolong the amount of time and dollars required to dispose of cases.
R&D Tax-Credit Rules Simplified; How Much Are You Throwing away?
The Washington Post
The U.S. Treasury Department has introduced new, far less complex regulations that allow small and medium-sized businesses to apply the Research and Development Alternative Simplified Credit to amended returns for up to the last three years. Even for firms that don't believe they qualify, tens or even hundreds of thousands of tax-credit dollars may be available. You need to take four important steps to learn if you may be able to cash in:
1. Don't assume you don't qualify.
2. Determine if you do qualify.
3. Understand the nature of your expenditures.
4. Make your books and records shiny, spotless and manageable.
Many GBA-Member Firms were astonished by how big the R&D dollar benefit was even under the old, more-costly-to-apply rules.
Bring home the best of GBA conferences with content on demand — online and on DVD.
CorP3s of Engineers on the Way?
Federal News Radio
A 2013 review of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' capital needs indicated it had a $60-billion backlog of recapitalization projects that the past several years' budgets had funded at a rate of about $2 billion per year. It's no wonder, then, that the Corps says the civil-works infrastructure it manages is rapidly deteriorating. Corps' Commander Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick said the Corps is spending its limited dollars on its most urgent priorities, but even its current projects will require another $23 billion to finish. "We can only do so much through process efficiencies," Gen. Bostick said. "We're going to have to work together in public-private partnerships to find some alternative financing means that come from outside the federal government."
Clinton Raises $10 Billion for Construction Projects
Denver Business Journal
Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative in Denver, former President Bill Clinton announced that five union presidents and trustees of major pension funds have pledged to invest $10.2 billion in construction projects nationwide. The California State Teachers' Retirement System led the charge with $2.85 billion, followed by the California Public Employees' Retirement System with $2.8 billion. About 10 percent of the money has been allocated to projects creating more than 35,500 jobs, Clinton said. The money will also help train more than 900,000 people.
BUSINESS 101: Maximizing the Conference Experience
Small Business Trends
Conferences can be expensive: registration fees, transportation costs, hotel charges, meals and the investment of otherwise-billable time. Clearly, you'd be well advised to make the most of your time. Learning is always a good thing, as is establishing new relationships, reinforcing existing relationships, and just maybe doing some business. But good results don't just happen. You'll get them most often if you plan to get them. The general approach can be summed as prepare, be flexible, enjoy, and follow up. A more specific approach comprises ten individual steps.
PLAYING IT SAFE: How Workers' Comp Works
Safety | NewsAlert
You be the judge on this one. It involves a roofer named Norman Gideon who was replacing a roof on an old house for Yost Properties in Kansas. When he noticed some ants crawling on him, he stood up to brush them off. The roof gave way where he was standing, and he dropped 10 feet to a concrete floor, fracturing a vertebra. The hospital tested Gideon's blood and urine, discovering that, one hour after the fall, the roofer's blood-alcohol level was .095, exceeding Kansas' legal limit for driving. Tests also revealed marijuana and cocaine in Gideon's system. Yost Properties wanted to deny benefits to Gideon and, at a hearing, a physician testified that the ants were probably part of an hallucination and that Gideon's sense of balance had to have been compromised. Guess what the Kansas Workers' Compensation Appeals Board ruled!
HR DEPT.: HRAs Out; Integrated HRAs In
Here's a neat trick: Rather than setting up its own group-insurance plan, Company A reimburses employees for premiums they pay to get their own coverage, now that the Affordable Care Act makes it so easy to get. But ooops: The Internal Revenue Service calls that a "stand-alone health-reimbursement arrangement" and HRAs violate the Affordable Care Act's ban on limits for essential health benefits. The penalty for establishing such a plan: $100 per employee per day; i.e., $36,500 per employee, per year. Note, however, that "integrated HRAs" — HRAs coupled with an employer's existing group-health plan — are allowed. Employers use them typically when their programs have high deductibles or copays.
Geothermal Coming to the Big Leagues
The New York Times
The sun and wind seem to be the darlings of the alternative-energy movement despite the fact that both are intermittent, while geothermal energy "operates" 24/7/365. Geothermal also comprises an alternative to hydroelectric power for countries that want to reduce their dependence on dams. So, whatever happened to geothermal? Money — especially in the form of high upfront costs, particularly those associated with hit-or-miss drilling (10 percent to 30 percent of the test wells are unsuccessful). That may be about to change, thanks to the growing use of fracking and emerging technology that can extract heat energy from lower temperatures.
YOU'VE JUST GOT TO BE KIDDING: The High Price of Potato Chips
Josefina Hernandez developed diabetes about five years after she started working as a Walgreens cashier. Walgreens knew about her condition and allowed her to keep candy in her pocket in case of low blood sugar, keep her insulin in the break room refrigerator, and take additional breaks to test her blood sugar or eat. 18 years after starting her job, in September 2008, Ms. Hernandez suffered a hypoglycemic attack during a restocking assignment and grabbed a $1.39 bag of potato chips to stabilize her condition. She said she went to pay for it at the cosmetics counter, per instructions, but no one was there. She put the remaining potato chips under the counter at her cash register and returned to restocking. Walgreens terminated her a month later. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit on her behalf and, six years later, a jury reached its conclusion.
DR. ENGLISH: Is this a website I see before me? Or a Website?
Should Internet be capitalized — because it's a proper noun — or not? "Yes" seems to be the answer that American-English "style" gurus prefer. Some say the capital "I" is needed, to differentiate the Internet from any old generic internetwork referred to as an internet. But attitudes are changing, witness that the Chicago Manual of Style has altered its stance on "the Web," now preferring web, website and web page to Web, Website and Web Page. Why should you care and what should you do about it?
For a complete list of upcoming events, click here.
2014-2015 GBA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Steven D. Thorne, P.E., D.GE
(Terracon / Somerset, NJ)
Gordon M. Matheson, Ph.D., P.E., P.G.
(Schnabel Engineering, Inc. / Glen Allen, VA)
Joel G. Carson
(Kleinfelder / Omaha, NE)
Charles L. Head, P.E., P.G.
(Sanborn, Head & Associates / Concord, NH)
Kimberly F. Morrison, P.E., R.G.
(Morrison Geotechnical Solutions, Inc. / Denver, CO)
Laura R. Reinbold, P.E.
(TTL, Inc. / Nashville, TN)
Alex Sy, Ph.D., P. Eng.
(Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd. / Vancouver, BC)
Woodward L. Vogt, P.E., D.GE
(Paradigm Consultants, Inc. / Houston, TX)
7701 Las Colinas Ridge, Ste. 800, Irving, TX 75063