Volume 4 -- Issue 42 -- November 8, 2007
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WRDA
AGC Leads the Way for Congress’ Approval of Water Resources Legislation
LABOR
House Expected to Vote on MSHA Legislation Next Week—Bill to set Harmful Precedent that Could Prevent Industries from Commenting on Rulemakings
IMMIGRATION
AGC to Review Immigration Border and Enforcement Bill Introduced in the House
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
Senate Committee Takes Up Small Business Reauthorization—AGC Expresses Numerous Concerns
Senate Passes Federal Contracting Bill—AGC to Work with Committee to Address Subcontracting Issues

  AGC Leads the Way for Congress’ Approval of Water Resources Legislation

AGC was successful in working with Congress, which today voted to override President Bush's veto of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 (WRDA), legislation that will authorize a $23 billion investment in civil works projects administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. AGC believes this legislation will provide the nation with the opportunity for new investments in improved flood control, increasing navigation capacity and ecosystem restoration.

AGC played a central leadership role in the passage and veto override of the largest civil works bill in the nation's history and recognizes the Congress for its willingness to stand up and address the need for investment in the nation's water resources. In order to maintain economic competitiveness and national security, AGC members told Congress that they must be willing to make the necessary investments in critical infrastructure. The seven-year gap in reauthorizing WRDA and the increasing need to invest in the nation’s water resources accounts for the $23.2 billion in project authorizations. This figure represents a small down payment toward covering the staggering waterways investment gap.
 
WRDA contains several AGC-backed provisions to improve how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prioritizes projects and how they will be developed in the future. 

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

  House Expected to Vote on MSHA Legislation Next Week—Bill to set Harmful Precedent that Could Prevent Industries from Commenting on Rulemakings

Next week, the House is expected to bring to the floor the Supplemental Mine Improvement Act. 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 set by circumventing the comment and rulemaking process and preventing the right of regulated industries to comment on proposed rulemakings which affect their businesses. It ignores both the Administrative Procedures Act and 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. Finally, 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, it is likely that this bill will pass the House.  

For more information, contact Kelly Knott at knottk@agc.org or (202) 547-4685. 
 
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  AGC to Review Immigration Border and Enforcement Bill Introduced in the House

Late Tuesday night, Representative Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) introduced legislation to strengthen the border, increase enforcement, and mandate an electronic employee verification system.  Already, the legislation has almost 90 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle. 

AGC is reviewing the bill to determine its affect on employers as well as the workability of the verification system included in the bill.  The bill mandates the use of the E-Verify (formally called Basic Pilot) for all employers to use on both current employees and new hires.  Large employers and federal contractors would be required to use the program immediately upon enactment of the legislation, while medium and smaller employers would phase-in over four years.  The bill also requires the Social Security Administration (SSA) to issue “no-match” letters to any employer with one or more employees with a “no-match” and give only 10 days for the employer and/or employee to fix the problem.  Finally, the bill allows for information sharing between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and SSA. 
 
AGC will meet with Congressman Shuler’s office and other sponsors of the bill to talk about the impact of the bill on the construction industry.  AGC will address mandating the use of a program with a high error rate without including provisions that would set thresholds for SSA and DHS to improve their databases.  Improvements would also need to be made to the liability protections for employers who are required to use the system and take action based on the results given under E-Verify.
 
For more information, contact Kelly Knott at knottk@agc.org or (202) 547-4685. [ return to top ]

  Senate Committee Takes Up Small Business Reauthorization—AGC Expresses Numerous Concerns

The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee unanimously voted for S. 2300, the Small Business Contracting Revitalization Act of 2007, on November 7. The legislation attempts to overhaul the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) contracting programs and oversight over federal contracts.

AGC does not support passage of S. 2300 in its current form. This legislation contains several key provisions that will negatively impact the construction industry and related businesses.  AGC’s chief concerns are related to the inability to fully address the unbundling of federal contracts, unfair and unrealistic regulation of subcontracting and federal procurement goals, unnecessary expansion of the scope of the HUBZone program, and the creation of new protest authority at SBA.

AGC expressed its concerns with Committee and received assurances that AGC will have the opportunity to work with committee members and staff to address concerns before the bill receives consideration by the full Senate.
 
For additional information contact Perry L. Fowler at fowlerp@agc.org or (202) 547-1983. [ return to top ]

  Senate Passes Federal Contracting Bill—AGC to Work with Committee to Address Subcontracting Issues

The Accountability in Government Contracting Act of 2007, S.680, passed the Senate under a unanimous consent agreement on November 7.  This legislation addresses acquisition workforce issues; amends the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 and defense contracting provisions regarding multiple award, sole source contracts and bid protests; and sets new requirements for self-performance and subcontracting. 

This legislation will likely be sent to a conference committee to work out the differences with the House-passed H.R. 1362.  AGC is concerned about several aspects of this legislation particularly with regard to changes in subcontracting policy and is committed to work with Senate and House committees to reach a reasonable compromise in conference negotiations.

For additional information contact Perry L. Fowler at fowlerp@agc.org or (202) 547-1983. [ return to top ]