October 30, 2008
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INFRASTRUCTURE
AGC Member Testifies Before House Committee on Infrastructure Stimulus
IMMIGRATION
DHS Issues Supplemental Final Rule on No-Match Letters
ELECTION
Historic Election 5 Days Away
Voters Will Consider Infrastructure Investment
What Do the Election Results Mean for Construction? Conference Call

  AGC Member Testifies Before House Committee on Infrastructure Stimulus
AGC member Brian Burgett, President and CEO of Kokosing Construction Co., Inc., Fredericktown, Ohio, testified on behalf of AGC Wednesday before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to urge Congress to enact an economic recovery package which would include infrastructure investment to create jobs.  Mr. Burgett described for the Committee market conditions facing his company and the commercial construction company as a whole, including rising unemployment, credit availability issues, and volatile construction materials prices. 

The Committee asked Mr. Burgett to focus his remarks on the immediate needs of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The Corps estimates that a $5 billion investment would create 140,000 direct and indirect jobs and that contracts could be awarded in less than 9 months for large projects, and sooner for on-going and smaller projects. 
 
AGC member Brian Burgett, President and CEO of Kokosing Construction Co., Inc., Fredericktown, Ohio, testified on behalf of AGC Wednesday before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to urge Congress to enact an economic recovery package which would include infrastructure investment to create jobs. 

 

The Committee held the hearing at the request of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) who, along with the Democratic Congressional Leaders, is considering whether to put before Congress an additional economic recovery package that would include a substantial infrastructure investment component.  It is possible that Congress could consider such a package as early as the week of November 17 when Congress may reconvene for a “lame duck” session.  In September, the House passed H.R. 7110, a bill that would have provided $30 billion in supplemental appropriations for many federal construction programs; however, the Senate was unable to pass a similar measure.  Reports suggest that Congress may consider a larger dollar figure in the next bill. 
 
AGC continues to press Congress to enact an economic recovery package with infrastructure investment as soon as possible to prevent further job losses in the industry and to create additional job opportunities for contractors and their workers.

Click here to view AGC’s testimony.

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

  DHS Issues Supplemental Final Rule on No-Match Letters
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on October 23 released a supplemental final rule on “no-match letters,” which was published in the October 28 issue of the Federal Register.  The supplemental final rule reaffirms the content of a final rule issued in August 2007, provides additional supporting analysis for that final rule, and corrects a typographical error in the rule.  It makes no substantive changes.

The August 2007 rule was enjoined by a U.S. district court in litigation brought by the AFL-CIO and several business groups.  DHS issued the supplemental rule in response to concerns raised by the court and intends to ask the court to lift the injunction.  The plaintiffs are expected to fight that effort and seek a permanent injunction.  If the injunction is lifted, the rule could take effect immediately following the court's decision.

Immigration law prohibits employers from “knowingly” employing unauthorized aliens.  Regulations and case law issued prior to 2007 interpret the term “knowingly” as including “constructive knowledge” and provided examples of situations that may establish “constructive knowledge.”  The August 2007 rule adds additional examples, including an employer’s failure to “take reasonable steps” after receiving a no-match letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA) or DHS.  The rule sets forth a process that an employer may follow that will be deemed “reasonable steps” taken in response to receipt of a no-match letter and for the employer to receive a “safe harbor” from a finding of constructive knowledge based on receipt of a no-match letter. 

AGC raised concerns about certain shortcomings in the “safe harbor” process such as the failure to toll the time limits for exigent circumstances.  Those shortcomings remain in the rule.  AGC also raised concerns about the misleading content of a standard cover letter drafted by DHS for insertion in the no-match letters.  DHS indicates in the supplemental final rule that the cover letter will be revised.

Despite shortcomings in the “safe harbor” process, the rule provides employers with some guidance as to how to respond to receipt of a no-match letter.  It also offers employers with some – albeit limited – protection from liability for employing an unauthorized alien.   For more information on the “safe harbor” process and guidance on how to protect your company, click here.  Guidance is also provided in a recording of a September 2007 AGC audio conference that can be purchased here.

For more information, contact Denise Gold at (703) 837-5326 or goldd@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  Historic Election 5 Days Away
This year has been one of the most interesting and unpredictable in American Presidential politics. The campaign for the White House began nearly a year ago and will be over on Tuesday. While the Presidential election is gripping the headlines, an equally important contest for the construction industry is the battle for Congress.  Democrats are expected to expand their majorities in both Houses of Congress and may cross the 60 vote threshold (filibuster-proof margin) in the Senate.

An expanding Democratic majority has major implications for the business and construction industry. The Democratic leadership has already hinted at a tide of new labor, environmental and tax proposals that will be considered during the next Congress. AGC will continue to advocate on behalf of its members and will be busy amending and defeating detrimental legislation. Sen. Obama’s top labor policy is passage of “Card Check,” a bill that will deny employees the right to determine whether they want to be represented by a union in a secret ballot election, and require employers who become unionized to submit to binding arbitration to settle contract disputes. Defeat of this legislation will be top priority for AGC.
 
AGC will also urge Congress to consider increased investment in infrastructure. Several major funding bills will expire next Congress, including SAFETEA-LU, the multi-year surface transportation funding bill. In addition, AGC will urge Congress to include infrastructure investment in a second economic stimulus bill after the Election. The future of this stimulus hinges on the outcome of the election and it is possible Congress could consider the legislation during a “lame duck” session.
 
It is important that the construction industry votes on Election Day, as the outcome will directly affect the industry.  Due to expected record voter turnout and the time constraints of individuals working in the industry, AGC urges contractors to vote early. One-third of all voters will vote early, and because of this new trend AGC has created a Web site with polling locations, addresses, polling hours and other information.  Make sure your voice counts on Election Day.

For more information, contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  Voters Will Consider Infrastructure Investment
Twenty-one of the 153 ballot measures that will appear this November are construction industry related. Many states are exploring large infrastructure projects, and 16 of the 21 ballot measures (representing 12 states) ask for public approval of $12,172,252,000 worth of bonds and tax increases to finance these projects. While transportation and water projects dominate the infrastructure-related ballot measures this election cycle, many other types of infrastructure are also being considered, including libraries, hospitals and schools. Several states are considering anti-business initiatives and some states will consider changing business taxes.

AGC will monitor the results of the construction industry-specific ballot initiatives and will report the outcomes after the election.

For more information, contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  What Do the Election Results Mean for Construction? Conference Call
AGC’s Chief Executive Officer Steve Sandherr will conduct a conference call on November 6 to discuss the results, impact and transition plan for the 111th Congress.  The one hour call will assess the outcome of the election in the context of construction and report on AGC’s ongoing and new legislative priorities given a new political and legislative environment. 

Agenda:
•          Election results – AGC Allies – Electoral Surprises
•          Review of AGC Election Activities
•          Threats & Opportunities in New Environment
•          Member Involvement in a New Environment
•          Open Discussion / Q & A
 
For more information on the conference call or to request the call-in number please contact Jim Young at 202-547-0133 or youngj@agc.org. [ return to top ]