Volume 4 -- Issue 39 -- October 18, 2007
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FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC-Supported Small Business Contracting Priorities Passes House Committee
LABOR
House Committee Expected to Vote on AGC-Opposed Legislation
WATER
35th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act Places Focus on Federal Funding Shortfall
INSURANCE
Senate Panel Passes AGC-Supported Extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA)
CONGRESS
Congressional Retirements Continue to Mount Against GOP

  AGC-Supported Small Business Contracting Priorities Passes House Committee

The House Committee on Small Business approved legislation Thursday that includes AGC-recommended changes for this year’s reauthorization of the Small Business Act.

Among the issues addressed in the legislation include AGC recommendations for improving the HUBZone program and allowing contractors to protest HUBZone awards.

AGC continues to work 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. [ return to top ]

  House Committee Expected to Vote on AGC-Opposed Legislation

Next week, the House Education and Labor Committee is expected to vote on the Miner Health Enhancement Act (HR 2769).  This legislation would require the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to forward all Recommended Exposure Limits (RELs) for air contaminants to the Secretary of Labor.  The Secretary must then require the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to adopt the same exposure limits as enforceable health standards.

The bill raises numerous concerns for AGC and others in the business community.  Among those concerns is the unacceptable precedent this would create by circumventing the comment and rulemaking process and preventing the right of regulated industries to comment on proposed rulemakings that affect their businesses.  It ignores the Administrative Procedures Act as well as the Regulatory Flexibility Act, thus preventing the development of scientifically sound, economically feasible safety and health standards as well as purposely avoiding any studies to determine the affects on small business.  It would also thrust NIOSH into a regulatory and policy making role for which the organization was never intended. 

Despite opposition from AGC and other business groups, this legislation is likely to pass in committee next week. 

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

  35th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act Places Focus on Federal Funding Shortfall

This week marks the 35th anniversary of enactment of the Clean Water Act. The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee held a hearing Thursday morning to examine the future challenges that must be met to ensure that clean and safe water continues to be available in the face of dire needs for construction and rehabilitation of pipelines and treatment facilities.  

AGC and water industry leaders gathered in Washington, D.C., at the Clean Water America Gala Celebration, on September 18, to commemorate the anniversary and recognize those who have worked to improve water quality.

AGC and industry partners continue to keep the issue of clean and safe water at the forefront of the national agenda. The U.S. House has passed legislation this Congress to capitalize the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund at $14 billion over four years. The Senate has held one hearing and is expected introduce their own funding bill soon. AGC will continue to work towards the goal of increased funding and creation of a trust fund.

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

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

On Wednesday, by a vote of 20-1, the Senate Banking Committee passed legislation to reauthorize and expand the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) program. This act was originally put in place after the 9/11 attacks when terrorism insurance was either no longer available or offered but was 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 provides 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 bill that passed the Senate Banking Committee differs from the House bill that would extend the program in a few key areas.   For example, the Senate bill would reauthorize the program for seven years in comparison to the House bill which would extend the program for 15 years.  In addition, the Senate does not include language that would require carriers to make available coverage for a nuclear, biological, chemical or radiological attack. 

Since TRIA expires at the end of 2007, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) hopes to bring the bill to the Senate floor quickly, possibly next week.  Even with a quick vote and potential passage on the Senate floor, a conference committee would have to meet to work out the differences before legislation could move forward. 

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

  Congressional Retirements Continue to Mount Against GOP

As Republicans and Democrats plan to battle for control of the House and Senate in 2008, GOP retirements will be a big factor.  This week three Midwest Republicans were added to the retirement list: Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), Dave Hobson (R-Ohio) and Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).

This year, 19 House members have either died or announced their retirement (15 of the 19 are Republicans).  In the Senate, six members fall into those categories (All six are Republicans).  The uneven party breakdown will make GOP efforts to control of the House and Senate next year even more difficult. 

In the Senate there are three races rated toss ups, two of the three seats are held by retiring GOP members—Pete Domenici  (R-N.M.) and Wayne Allard (R-Co.).  In the House there are five seats rated as tossups and all five are seats held by retiring GOP members—Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.), Jerry Weller (R-Ill.), Jim Ramstad (R-Mont.), Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) and Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio).   There is also speculation that another three GOP House members may retire and as many as five GOP House members may face serious primary challenges in 2008. In the Senate there is speculation that there may be one or two more GOP Senators who announce retirement later this year.
 
AGC PAC continues to look for pro-construction candidates to support in Congress.  In the open seats, AGC seeks fresh faces familiar with AGC federal issues or those who have supported AGC chapters and members at the state and local levels.    

For more information, contact Elisa Brewer at brewere@agc.org or (202) 547-5013.
 
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