December 11, 2008
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INFRASTRUCTURE
AGC Continues to Push Infrastructure Investment in Stimulus Package
AGC Launches “We Are Ready” Campaign
AGC and CGA Make Presentation to PHMSA Joint Committee
LEADERSHIP
House Leaders Begin to Finalize Shape of Committees
LAC
AGC Legislative Action Committee Evaluates Top 2009-2010 Priorities
PENSION
House and Senate Pass Pension Relief Bill, President Expected to Sign
ENVIRONMENTAL
AGC’s Environmental Network Steering Committee Meets with EPA

  AGC Continues to Push Infrastructure Investment in Stimulus Package

AGC is continuing its efforts to inform Congress and the Obama transition team about the significant downturn in the non-residential construction market, the resulting unemployment and the industry’s  capacity to carry out the projects that would result from a boost in federal infrastructure funding. AGC also sent a letter to Members of Congress with specific details about the state of the economy and how infrastructure investment will provide an immediate and lasting impact on our economy. AGC has highlighted the needed investment for public buildings, roads, bridges, transit, schools, flood protection, ports and harbors, and waste water and drinking water infrastructure projects.

President-elect Obama on December 6 called for a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient, called for the largest investment in roads and bridges since President Dwight D. Eisenhower built the Interstate system in the late 1950s. He added that he will launch a sweeping effort to modernize and upgrade school buildings. He also called for investment in expanding broadband capacity to connect libraries, schools and hospitals to the internet.

AGC has been successful in coordinating information from various groups about projects that are ready to go.  These projects will spur economic development and help cultivate support among key Congressional decision-makers. Several public groups have released survey results over the past week indicating that there are many infrastructure projects that are ready to go out for construction immediately if necessary funding were provided. The American Association of State and Highway Officials (AASHTO) said last Friday that its survey of state transportation departments shows states could put more than 5,000 transportation projects worth $64 billion under contract within 180 days of receiving funding. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) reported earlier this year there are 559 transit projects totaling $8 billion ready to begin if funding is made available. In addition, the National Governors Association said states have identified $136 billion worth of road, bridge, water and other projects and the U.S. Conference of Mayors released a report saying it has identified 11,391 infrastructure projects in 427 cities, including school modernization, airports and energy conservation, requiring a $73 billion investment.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) has met with Speaker Pelosi to indicate his intention to push for $45 billion of infrastructure funding in the stimulus package as follows: $18.2 billion for highways and bridges; $6.5 billion for transit; $9 billion for environmental infrastructure such as water projects; $5 billion for Corps of Engineers; $2.5 billion for federal building efficiency; $2 billion for rail; $1 billion for aviation; $420 million for Coast Guard; and $275 million for brownfield cleanup.  AGC is working with Committee leaders to increase this funding and identified funding for GSA's building program.

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

  AGC Launches “We Are Ready” Campaign
On December 11, 2008, AGC launched a new national effort to ensure that Congress and the President-elect understand the vital need for investing in infrastructure as part of the pending stimulus package. The centerpiece of this effort is, frankly, you. As you will see from the advertisement below, AGC is encouraging people to sign up and indicate their support for badly needed new infrastructure investments. AGC will share this list with members of Congress when they return to work on January 6th, and also will provide it to the President-elect’s transition team.

We need your help in ensuring that the full breadth and depth of our support is reflected in this list. So I am asking each of you, please, to reach out to your employees, your suppliers, your subcontractors your local government and business community leaders. Encourage them to log on to www.agc.org/letsbuild and sign up. And encourage them to tell their colleagues and co-workers to do the same. With your help, we can make sure Congress and the new Administration understand the value and wisdom of new infrastructure investments.

With more than 770,000 construction workers out of work over the last two years, our sector has been one of the hardest hit by the country’s financial challenges. With your help we can make sure our members are put back to work now, building America’s future. After all, the infrastructure projects our members build will not only put people back to work, they will serve as a crucial foundation for future economic growth.

To join the campaign, visit www.agc.org/letsbuild.

For more information contact Brian Turmail at 703-837-5310 or turmail@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  AGC and CGA Make Presentation to PHMSA Joint Committee
Former national treasurer of AGC of America, and Common Ground Alliance (CGA) board member Vic Weston (Tri-State Road Boring Inc., Baton Rouge, La.) and Bob Kipp, director of CGA, gave a presentation today at the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) Joint Technical Pipeline Safety Standards Committee meeting to discuss the agency’s regulatory agenda for 2009.

In their presentation on federal civil enforcement authority for damage prevention, Kipp and Weston stressed the contributions of AGC and other CGA stakeholders to promote damage prevention efforts. Weston stressed that states with negligent or poor underground infrastructure damage prevention laws should be held responsible by the federal government to ensure the safety of the public, including construction and utility workers.

 Weston also highlighted AGC member contributions to damage prevention efforts and noted that if an economic stimulus package is achieved with significant infrastructure investment, there would be an increased need for damage prevention efforts in excavation and construction. Given this potential increase, he stressed that the need was greater than ever for contractors to use and promote the '811 - Call Before You Dig’ campaign to locate utilities before excavating and to prevent damages to underground utilities.

Weston emphasized the contributions and importance of construction as an engine of economic stimulus, and vowed that PHMSA, AGC and CGA would continue their work to raise awareness of the 811 program to reduce damages to underground infrastructure. 

For more information, contact Perry L. Fowler at (703) 837-5321 or fowlerp@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  House Leaders Begin to Finalize Shape of Committees
House Democrats named Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the 111th Congress. The leadership position became vacant after Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) toppled Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) to take the top spot on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Due to their large gain in their majority over Republicans, House Democrats also expanded their margins on the chamber's most powerful committees by adding additional members to the Appropriations, Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means Committees.

On Energy and Commerce Committee, Democrats named eight new members on the panel:
Rep. Bruce Braley of Iowa;
Rep. Kathy Castor of Florida;
Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland;
Rep. Zack Space of Ohio;
Rep. Betty Sutton of Ohio;
Rep. Chris Murphy of Connecticut;
Rep. Jerry McNerney of California; and
Del. Donna Christensen of the Virgin Islands.

The new members of the Appropriations Committee are:
Rep. Lincoln Davis of Tennessee; and
Rep. John Salazar of Colorado.

New to the Ways and Means Committee are:
Rep. Danny Davis of Illinois;
 Rep. Bob Etheridge of North Carolina;
Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona;
Rep. Brian Higgins of New York; and
Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky.

House Republicans also meet the week of December 8 to finalize top ranking member posts in the 111th Congress, as follows:
Frank Lucas of Oklahoma on Agriculture;
Jerry Lewis of California on Appropriations;
McHugh on Armed Services;
Paul Ryan of Wisconsin on Budget;
Howard (Buck) McKeon on Education and Labor;
Joe Barton of Texas on Energy and Commence;
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida on Foreign Affairs;
Peter King of New York on Homeland Security;
Pete Hoekstra of Michigan on Intelligence;
Lamar Smith of Texas on Judiciary;
David Dreier of California on Rules;
Darrell Issa of California on Oversight and Government Reform;
Ralph Hall of Texas on Science;
Sam Graves of Missouri on Small Business;
John Mica of Florida on Transportation and Infrastructure;
Steve Buyer of Indiana on Veterans' Affairs; and
Dave Camp on Ways and Means.

You may review election results, voting information and other election information at www.agc.org/vote.

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

  AGC Legislative Action Committee Evaluates Top 2009-2010 Priorities
AGC’s Legislative Action Committee convened December 10 to evaluate the association’s legislative and regulatory priorities for the 111th Congress (2009-2010). The committee made recommendations based on priorities that impact the industry, are achievable, and will be considered in the next Congress. The committee also used information provided by a survey of thousands of contractors earlier this fall.

A majority of the discussion focused on the need for Congress to increase the Federal government’s investment in infrastructure to create and sustain jobs. While infrastructure investment will be a major priority, committee members also stressed the need for AGC to advocate for tax, regulatory and legislative policies that promote economic opportunity and not restrict business growth and development.

The next step is approval by AGC’s Executive Board at which time AGC will deliver the priorities to Congress and the new Obama Administration.

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

  House and Senate Pass Pension Relief Bill, President Expected to Sign
The U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday passed by unanimous consent H.R. 7327 and the Senate followed today, the Worker, Retiree, and Employer Recovery Act of 2008, to provide immediate, short-term relief for single- and multi-employer pension plans whose assets have lost value as a result of the recent market contraction.  The President is expect to sign the bill which would provide an optional one-year freeze on changes in zone status (i.e., “green,” “yellow,” “red”) and the addition of three years to the funding improvement and rehabilitation periods for plans in the “yellow” or “red” zone in 2008 and 2009.  Further, the bill addresses many technical corrections to the 2006 Pension Protection Act sought by multi-employer plan stakeholders.  Supporters of the bill in the Senate are working to clear the bill for Senate consideration today. 

AGC has been working with a broad coalition of single- and multi-pension plan stakeholders to enact emergency relief prior to the end of the year and its members and chapters have sent hundreds of letter to elected officials through AGC’s Legislative Action Center.

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

  AGC’s Environmental Network Steering Committee Meets with EPA
On December 9-10, ten members of AGC’s Environmental Network Steering Committee and national AGC environmental staff met with officials and staff from several U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program offices.  Those offices include Solid Waste and Emergency Response, Policy, Economics and Innovation, Water, Air and Radiation, and the EPA Green Building Workgroup.

The group discussed ways to quantify the amount of construction and demolition (C&D) debris that is generated and to encourage the reduction, reuse and recycling of such materials.  They also discussed progress in completing a joint AGC-EPA draft white paper and online toolkit on recycling and reuse of C&D materials. Other topics of discussion included AGC and EPA’s joint partnership work under the “Sector Strategies” Program to reduce the construction industry’s environmental burden and the new 2008 Sector Performance Report and EPA’s newly proposed Effluent Limitation Guidelines for the construction and development industries

AGC and EPA representatives also discussed EPA clean air rules and initiatives that impact construction, including an update on off-road retrofit technologies, federal funding for diesel engine retrofit, requirements being placed on contractors to retrofit/replace their existing in-use equipment and the status of California’s off-road retrofit/replacement rule and the implications for other states.

EPA’s newly released Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions was discussed.  EPA received over 200,000 comments in response to the ANPR, and  AGC, its Chapters and more than 300 members submitted comments stating that the Clean Air Act is not the right tool to regulate GHG. 

For more information or to join AGC’s Environmental Network, contact Melinda Tomaino at (703) 837-5415 or tomainom@agc.org. [ return to top ]