Volume 4 -- Issues 34 -- September 13, 2007
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GRASSROOTS
AGC Needs Member Updates on Local Congressional Visits—Respond Now!
LABOR
House Education and Workforce Committee Expected to Vote on AGC-Opposed Legislation Changing the Definition of Supervisor
HIGHWAY
Senate Approves 08 Transportation Spending Bill, Adds $1 Billion in Bridge Funds
Senate Finance to Take Up Trust Fund Insolvency Fix
New Business Coalition Promotes Infrastructure Investment
MUNICIPAL & UTILITIES
AGC Celebrates the 35th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act and Encourages Increased Infrastructure Funding
FEDERAL BUILDING
Federal Government to Consider Reverse Auctions

  AGC Needs Member Updates on Local Congressional Visits—Respond Now!

Congress recently finished its summer recess and now faces a busy agenda as the proposed October adjournment approaches.  AGC is interested to know if you met with your Representative or Senators locally during this break to talk about 3 % withholding, the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, Immigration or other important issues facing the industry. AGC would like to hear about these meetings and requests your feedback.  The information you provide is used by government affairs staff to determine how best to implement AGC’s legislative agenda and maintain a coordinated message. 

Providing feedback is as easy as sending an e-mail to legislative@agc.org.  AGC reminds you that Congressional visits remain an integral component to grassroots advocacy as they help develop long-term relationships with your legislators and AGC can provide information or assist you in scheduling meetings.
 
Thank you for your input and please send updates to legislative@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  House Education and Workforce Committee Expected to Vote on AGC-Opposed Legislation Changing the Definition of Supervisor

On Wednesday, September 19, the House Education and Workforce Committee will vote on the Re-Empowerment of Skilled & Professional Employees & Construction Trades workers Act (RESPECT Act).  This legislation would make a major change in labor law by re-defining who is a “supervisor” for the purposes of union organizing, union discipline and fines as well as union work rules and strikes.  

The current statutory definition of “supervisor” has existed since 1947.  Supporters tout this as a minor change, but it would have a significant impact on every section of the National Labor Relations Act.  The bill would eliminate the core business-related duties and functions performed by a supervisor and add a new requirement to the definition on how much time a supervisor spends on directing employees.  AGC does not support the change in definition. 

For more information, contact Kelly Knott at (202) 547-4685 or knottk@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  Senate Approves 08 Transportation Spending Bill, Adds $1 Billion in Bridge Funds

By a vote of 88-7, the Senate, Wednesday, approved the FY 2008 Transportation Appropriations Bill. An amendment offered by transportation subcommittee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to add $1 billion in funding to address structurally deficient bridges was approved by a vote of 60-33. The bill fully funds the SAFETEA-LU guaranteed funding level of $40.2 billion for the highway program and, with the additional bridge funding, brings the grand total in highway program funds to $41.2 billion.

This is a $2.1 billion increase over the FY 2007 level. The additional bridge funds will be apportioned to states under the existing bridge allocation formula and will be limited in use to meeting specific bridge needs. The bill also provides $3.5 billion (same as FY 07) in airport improvement grants, and transit funding of $9.7 billion, a $700 million increase over FY 2007. The House passed its version of the bill previously which does not include the bridge funding. The two different versions of the legislation must now be reconciled in conference. The Administration objects to the overall funding level in the bill and other specific funding concerns and threatened a veto if these issues are not resolved.

In addition, the Senate addressed a few other interesting amendments:

Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) offered and amendment to suspend Davis-Bacon on bridges rated “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete.” It failed by a vote of 37 to 56.

Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) offered an amendment that would prohibit funds in the bill from being used for earmarks. It failed by a vote of 14 to 84. Senator Coburn also offered an amendment that would have redirected highway funds from any bike path projects to projects that would improve bridge or road safety. This amendment failed by a vote of 18 to 80.

Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) offered an amendment that would study the use of recycled materials in highway projects with the goal of encouraging their use. It was agreed to by voice vote.

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) offered and amendment to spend up to $195 million in federal emergency funds (financed from the general fund) to rebuild the Interstate I-35 bridge in Minnesota. It was agreed to by voice vote.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) offered an amendment that would prohibit the imposition and collection of new tolls on highways built with federal funds in Texas unless the state first pays back the federal government for the cost of building the highway.

Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) offered an amendment that was adopted by voice vote. The amendment would require all contractors doing transportation work to certify compliance with federal tax laws. Because this amendment was added at the last minute, AGC is trying to determine exactly how it will be implemented.

For more information, contact Karen Bachman at (202) 547-4733 or bachmank@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  Senate Finance to Take Up Trust Fund Insolvency Fix

As early as next week, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) intend to address the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) insolvency problem with a package of revenue enhancers that will keep the trust fund from going into the red.

Both the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) are projecting that revenue into the HTF will fall short by $4.3 billion in FY 2009. Federal budget rules would require a cut of nearly $16 billion in highway funding in FY 2009 if this shortfall is not remedied. The Baucus/Grassley initiative would generate the needed revenue by:

  • Crediting the HTF for emergency expenditures paid out of the fund since 1998 about 13.2 billion;
  • Restructuring current fuel tax exemptions/refunds provided to state and local governments to be General Fund supported activities, instead of costs borne by the HTF about 2 billion;
  • Implementing additional mechanisms to further crack down on fuel tax evasion about 1 billion; and
  • Transferring revenues generated from the “gas guzzler tax” from the General Fund to the Highway Trust Fund about 300 million.  

Please contact your Senators and to them to support the Baucus-Grassley plan to preserve Federal highway investment commitments. A sample letter is available here on AGC’s Legislative Action Center.

For more information, contact Brian Deery at deeryb@agc.org or (703) 837-5319. [ return to top ]

  New Business Coalition Promotes Infrastructure Investment

AGC's CEO Stephen Sandherr participated in an organizational event sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) to announce the formation of the Alliance for Improving America's Infrastructure to address the urgent need to modernize the nation's roads, rails, ports and airports. 

Former Senator Jim Talent (R-Mo.) is an honorary chairman of the coalition.  AGC welcomes another business coalition in support of increased infrastructure investment.

For more information, contact Karen Bachman at (202) 547-4733 or bachmank@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  AGC Celebrates the 35th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act and Encourages Increased Infrastructure Funding

AGC members will be in Washington, D.C., September 18 and 19 to commemorate the 35th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act at a rally on Capitol Hill. They will also sponsor the Clean Water America Gala Celebration at the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center. 

This event will help raise funds to encourage federal investment in clean water and drinking water infrastructure.  The rally and gala will occur on September 18.  On September 19, AGC will be on hand as the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation Safety, Infrastructure, holds a Hearing on Clean Water Infrastructure Funding.   It is anticipated that bipartisan Clean Water Infrastructure legislation will be introduced after this hearing. 

The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed HR 720, the Water Quality Financing Act which calls for $14 billion over four years for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund (CW SRF).  AGC continues to promote high funding levels for the Clean Water and Drinking Water SRFs and the establishment of a federal Clean Water Trust Fund. 

For more information, contact Stu Megaw at (703) 837-5321 or megaws@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  Federal Government to Consider Reverse Auctions

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP), at the direction of the Congress, is working on a policy to determine the appropriateness of reverse auctions as an acquisition tool for the federal agencies. OFPP issued a Federal Register notice on August 21 requesting public comments to review the use of “online procurement services” (reverse auctions) and identify types of commercial item procurements that are suitable for the use of such services. Comments are due September 20.

To make this determination, OFPP has developed two surveys: one that will be issued to the government and industry and a second survey to reverse auction service providers. The findings from the surveys will be used to determine how the government can most effectively use reverse auctions as a tool and “to ensure that the U.S. taxpayer is best served.”
 
AGC has strongly advocated that reverse auctions should not be used in the acquisition of construction services and will file comments reiterating this position.
 
For more information, please contact Marco Giamberardino at giamberm@agc.org or (703) 837-5325. [ return to top ]