Volume 4 -- Issues 35 -- September 20, 2007
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LABOR
House Education and Workforce Committee Passes Legislation on AGC-Opposed Legislation Changing the Definition of Supervisor
FINANCE
Houses Passes AGC-Supported Extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA)
MUNICIPAL & UTILITIES
AGC Works With Congress and Industry to Focus on Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Funding
TRANSPORTATION
House Passes Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Measure
Senate Committee Examines U.S. Bridge Conditions
FEDERAL & HEAVY
AGC Working with Senate Leadership to Pass WRDA Next Week
AGC Contractor Offers Recommendations to Improve Small Business Programs

  House Education and Workforce Committee Passes Legislation on AGC-Opposed Legislation Changing the Definition of Supervisor

On Wednesday, September 19, the House Education and Workforce Committee passed 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. 

This current statutory definition of “supervisor” has existed since 1947.  Supporters tout this as a minor change, but it would have a much larger 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 directing employees. 

AGC does not support the change in definition.  The full House is expected to take up the legislation in October.  The Senate has not yet acted on their version of the bill.

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

  Houses Passes AGC-Supported Extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA)

By a vote of 312-110, the House passed legislation to reauthorize and expand the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) program for 15 years.   This act was originally put in place after the 9/11 attacks when terrorism insurance was either no longer available or offered but prohibitively expensive. 

TRIA creates a government backstop, should another terrorist attack occur, that would cover the costs of such an attack once a certain monetary threshold was met.  This provided the ability for coverage to be offered at a reasonable amount.  TRIA is set to expire at the end of the year if it is not reauthorized by Congress.

The House-passed legislation creates some changes to the original law in that it requires insurance companies to make coverage available for nuclear, biological, chemical or radiological attack.  Because this bill did not contain offsets to the potential costs that may occur in the event of an attack, supporters also included a requirement that Congress would have to vote to release the funds in the aftermath of an attack.

The Senate has not yet acted on this issue, but is expected to in the near future so that the Act does not expire at the end of the year.   

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

  AGC Works With Congress and Industry to Focus on Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Funding

AGC joined Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Chair of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee on September 18 at a press conference promoting water and wastewater infrastructure funding and announcing the first hearing held on September 19 by the committee to begin the process of crafting a bill to address the funding shortfall.

AGC and Senator Boxer were joined by representatives from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), American Rivers, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the Water Environment Federation (WEF).

AGC hosted a Champions Sponsorship table at the Clean Water America Gala. The Gala raised several hundred thousand dollars to support efforts encouraging Congress to act to fund water and wastewater system construction and rehabilitation.

On September 19, the Subcommittee on Transportation Safety, Infrastructure Security, and Water Quality held a hearing to examine the operation of the Clean Water SRF and recommendations for its reauthorization.  AGC provided a statement in support of high funding levels for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Funds (SRFs) as well as establishment of a Clean Water Trust Fund. During the hearing, Senators from both sides of the aisle were critical of the U.S. EPA for promoting sustainability efforts and ignoring the need for new and dramatically higher funding.  The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee plans to introduce a proposal to increase funding this Congress. 

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

  House Passes Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Measure

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed H.R. 2881, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2007.  The bill would authorize $68 billion for FAA programs over the next four years. 

H.R. 2881 would authorize $15.9 billion over the next four years for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP)—the primary source of federal funding for airport capital improvements.  Under the bill, the AIP program is authorized to receive appropriations of $3.8 billion for FY 2008.  The House-passed version of the FY 2008 Transportation Appropriations bill would provide $3.6 billion. 

H.R. 2881 also allows for an increase to the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC)—local fees imposed by airport operators that can be used for a variety of airport capital projects—from $4.50 to $7.00 per passenger.  AGC worked with the Airports Council International/North America and other stakeholders to prevent floor consideration of an amendment that would have removed this provision from the bill.

The measure also includes a four-year extension of the current tax system that funds the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, as well as an increase on jet fuel and aviation gasoline taxes used by noncommercial aviation.  Specifically, the tax on general aviation jet fuel would be increased by 14.1 cents per gallon (cpg) from 21.8 cpg to 35.9 cpg for a 65 percent increase.  The tax on general aviation gasoline would be increased by 4.8 cpg from 19.3 cpg to 24.1 cpg for a 25 percent increase.  Revenues generated by these increases, however, can only be used towards air traffic control system modernization.

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved its version of the FAA reauthorization bill in May.  The Senate Finance Committee may consider this week the revenue portion of the legislation, including an amendment to address the projected Highway Trust Fund deficit in FY 2009.  Current FAA programs expire on September 30. The White House has issued a veto threat on H.R. 2881.

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

  Senate Committee Examines U.S. Bridge Conditions

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today conducted a hearing to examine the condition of U.S. bridges.  The Committee received testimony from U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters and Inspector General Calvin Scovel. 

AGC submitted a statement calling for increased federal investment to repair or reconstruct structurally deficient bridges in the United States, as well as for a comprehensive plan to address the nation’s surface transportation system’s funding needs in the long term.  AGC made recommendations to the Committee for elements of a bridge reconstruction program similar to the initiative announced by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.).  AGC recommended that any such plan include a “maintenance of effort” provision to recognize states’ efforts towards addressing their bridge needs and include a prohibition against earmarking. 

Finally, AGC expressed support for an increase in the federal excise tax on gasoline to pay for bridge reconstruction and other transportation needs and called for it to be indexed for inflation. 

Members of the Committee did not announce any specific legislative proposals to address U.S. bridge needs.  The Senate approved an amendment last week to the FY 2008 Transportation Appropriations bill that would provide an additional $1 billion to the existing bridge program.  The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee conducted a hearing on structurally deficient bridge needs on September 5.  Chairman Oberstar intends to introduce formal legislation to authorize his bridge reconstruction initiative in October.

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

  AGC Working with Senate Leadership to Pass WRDA Next Week

The Senate will reportedly take up consideration of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 (WRDA) next week.

Senate leaders have indicated that the bill, which only needs final Senate approval before being sent to the President, is expected to hit the floor as early as next Monday.  In addition, leadership from both sides of the aisle have said that although the President still intends to veto the measure, they will work vigorously to override a veto.

The House passed the WRDA conference report just before the August recess, voting 381-40 to authorize more than 900 Army Corps of Engineers flood control and environmental restoration projects despite a veto threat from the White House. The measure, which is scheduled to be considered every two years, has not been reauthorized since 2000.
 
For more information, contact Marco Giamberardino at giamberm@agc.org or (703) 837-5325.   [ return to top ]

  AGC Contractor Offers Recommendations to Improve Small Business Programs

AGC member P.J. Goel, President of Goel Services, Inc., testified Wednesday at a hearing on Capitol Hill before the House Committee on Small Business on recommended changes for this year’s reauthorization of the Small Business Act.

Goel discussed AGC recommendations for improving the program, HUBZone Small Business concerns, and offered recommended changes to how contracts should be awarded to Alaskan Native Corporations.

AGC is working with the committee on balancing the needs of the federal government’s procurement system and creating an environment in which construction contractors can continue to work to improve the quality of federal construction delivered to the owner, the federal government and ultimately the American taxpayer.

For more information, contact Marco Giamberardino at (703) 837-5325 or giamberm@agc.org.
 
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