Contruction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.orgFebruary 26, 2009
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On the Inside
STIMULUS
Updated AGC Stimulus Web Site Provides Latest Information
LABOR
AGC-Supported H-2B Visa Legislation Introduced
Secretary of Labor Confirmed by the Senate
Continue Sending Letters Discouraging Support of “Card Check”
BUDGET
House Approves Remaining FY 2009 Spending Bills, Provides Increase in Construction Spending
Obama Administration Releases Details of FY 2010 Budget
FEDERAL
Grassley Reintroduces False Claims Legislation
Sign Up Today For AGC's Federal Contractors Conference in Washington D.C.
TRANSPORTATION
Second SAFETEA-LU Commission Calls for Fuel Tax Increase, Transition to Distance Based Fee
 
STIMULUS
Updated AGC Stimulus Web Site Provides Latest Information
 

AGC has updated its stimulus Web site to provide comprehensive information on what the final legislation signed by President Obama means for the construction industry. Included on the site is a breakdown of construction spending by program, with as much detail as is currently available about how the money will be allocated, by whom, and if possible, how much will go to each state. The site also includes analysis of the various tax provisions within the legislation that affect the construction industry and an overview of some of the policy implications of the legislation.

The intent of the site is to provide members, and more broadly the construction community, the widest possible range of current information about the stimulus. In addition, over the coming weeks we will be creating a new site, "Stimulus At Work," which will highlight the work our members are doing to help ensure the success of the stimulus package.  Visit www.agc.org/stimulusatwork to share your success stories related to the stimulus.

For more information, contact Jim Young at (202) 547-2133 or youngj@agc.org. Return to Top

LABOR
AGC-Supported H-2B Visa Legislation Introduced
 

This week, legislation was introduced in the House by Congressman Stupak (D-Mich.) that would permanently exempt returning H-2B visa holders from the existing annual numerical cap of 66,000.   H.R. 1136, is similar to a Senate bill (S. 388) introduced by Senator Mikulski (D-Md.) that would extend the exemption for three years. 

The H-2B visa program provides construction contractors the opportunity to get temporary workers into the country.  This is a very popular visa that is difficult for contractors to use partially because of the high demand and low number of visas.  For example, the cap for the 2nd half of fiscal year 2009 was reached on January 8, 2009.  AGC will closely watch for opportunities for these bills to move forward, although the current economic climate does not lend itself this.  However, the H-2B visa program is one immigration issue that has bipartisan support.

For more information, contact Kelly Knott at (202) 547-4685 or knottk@agc.org. Return to Top

Secretary of Labor Confirmed by the Senate
 

On Tuesday, February 24, the Senate confirmed Congresswoman Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) to be the new Secretary of Labor under the Obama Administration. Republicans remain concerned about her strong support for the “so-called” Employee Free Choice Act, otherwise known as Card Check (she was a sponsor of the legislation in the 110th Congress).

Now that a new Secretary has been confirmed, AGC expects to quickly see more nominations at the Department of Labor for positions such as Assistant Secretary for Occupational Health and Safety.

For more information, contact Kelly Knott at (202) 547-4685 or knottk@agc.org. Return to Top

Continue Sending Letters Discouraging Support of “Card Check”
 

Supporters of the (so-called) Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) remain short of their goal of original cosponsors thanks to AGC members voicing their concerns.   AGC opposes EFCA and urges AGC members to discourage cosponsorship.

EFCA would take away a worker’s right to a federally supervised private ballot election when deciding whether or not to select union representation. It also imposes unrealistically short deadlines for labor-management negotiations over a first contract before mandating third-party mediation and binding arbitration.

AGC supports the status quo, which allows both card-check recognition and secret-ballot elections to establish union representation and remains the most fair and reliable way to determine the desire of employees to be represented by a union.

Please reach out to your Members of Congress to urge them not to co-sponsor or support the bill.  Make your voice heard on this issue by using AGC’s Legislative Action Center.  Contact your congressional delegation today and urge them not to co-sponsor or support the (so-called) Employee Free Choice Act.

For more information, contact Kelly Knott at (202) 547-4685 or knottk@agc.org. Return to Top

BUDGET
House Approves Remaining FY 2009 Spending Bills, Provides Increase in Construction Spending
 

The U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday approved a $410 billion omnibus appropriations bill that includes the remaining nine of 12 annual spending bills not enacted prior to the end of fiscal year 2008 on September 30, 2008.  The bill passed by a vote of 245 to 178.  The majority of federal government programs are currently operating under a continuing resolution that expires on March 6.  The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

An AGC analysis of the omnibus appropriations bill shows that Congress would increase funding for federal construction programs by 5.5 percent above the FY 2008 level.  AGC found that Congress provided $115.6 billion for federal construction programs in FY 2008.  The omnibus would provide $121.9 billion for the same accounts.  AGC has prepared a chart that compares the amounts in the omnibus with the levels Congress enacted in FY 2008 and those President Bush recommended in his FY 2009 budget request to Congress.

For more information, contact Karen Lapsevic at (202) 547-4733 or lapsevick@agc.org. Return to Top

Obama Administration Releases Details of FY 2010 Budget
 

Following President Obama’s address to Congress Tuesday, his administration today released a blueprint of his upcoming budget request to Congress for fiscal year 2010.  The outline provides a glimpse of the administration’s budgetary and fiscal priorities for the next four years.  Specific details and funding levels will not be available fully until the entire budget is submitted in April. 

Summaries released today show a significant increase in at least one AGC market area: water and wastewater construction.  The administration is recommending $3.9 billion for the Safe Drinking and Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund Programs, about a $2.4 billion increase over FY 2009 levels (excluding the economic stimulus).  However, the budget appears to recommend essentially level funding for the Corps of Engineers and Department of Transportation.

The budget also provides insight into the administration’s tax priorities for the next four years.  Specifically, it shows a proposed tax increase for married couples making $250,000 or more a year or singles making $200,000 or more a year by reinstating the 36 and 39.6 percent rates.  The budget also proposes imposing a 20 percent rate on capital gains and dividends for these taxpayers, as well as reinstating the personal exemption phase-out and limitation on itemized deductions.  These upper-income tax provisions would raise approximately $637 billion over the next 10 years for deficit reduction.  The budget also proposes maintaining the estate tax—set to drop to zero in 2010—at the 2009 level of 45 percent and a $3.5 million exemption. 

The budget outline also shows about $650 billion in proceeds from the auctioning of emission allowances that would be reserved for clean energy technology initiatives and to compensate families through the Making Work Pay tax cut.  Evidence of these revenues shows that the administration intends to seek climate change legislation on Capitol Hill that includes a market-based mechanism (e.g., cap and trade) to control greenhouse gas emissions. 

For more information, contact Karen Lapsevic at (202) 547-4733 or lapsevick@agc.org. Return to Top

FEDERAL
Grassley Reintroduces False Claims Legislation
 

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) reintroduced legislation (S.458) on February 24 to expand the scope of the Federal False Claims Act (FCA). The legislation is cosponsored by the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.).

Current law authorizes the Attorney General to recover treble damages and fines from anyone who submits or causes someone else to submit a false claim for payment to the Government. AGC is greatly concerned this legislation will virtually rewrite the intent and spirit of the Act. It will expand the universe of claims – many of which would not involve truly false claims nor involve any loss to the Federal Treasury – and will complicate management of government programs, allow opportunistic plaintiffs to recover funds that should go to the Treasury, and impose huge burdens on non-profits, state and local governments and small businesses.

AGC is working with its coalition partners in the business community to oppose passage of this legislation, which will raise companies’ cost of doing business, increase the government’s cost of contracts, discourage large and small businesses from doing business with the government and cause irreparable damage to the government contracting process.

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

Sign Up Today For AGC's Federal Contractors Conference in Washington D.C.
Register now for AGC’s 2009 Federal Contractors Conference at www.agc.org/fedcon
 

The Federal Contractors Conference is the only national event where AGC contractors and Federal agency personnel can meet and review procurement and contracting issues from around the United States. This year will include meetings with the Army Corps of Engineers, NAVFAC, USAF, GSA, OBO and the 16 Federal agency-member AGC Federal Owners Advisory Council, as well as a day of visits to Capitol Hill to discuss increased infrastructure investment and fair federal contracting opportunities, economic stimulus and other issues.
 
Sponsorships are also still available.  This function serves as a great way to increase your company’s brand awareness, create positive public relations and gain recognition as a key player in federal contracting and procurement.

For more information on meeting registration and sponsorships, contact Marco Giamberardino at (703) 837-5325 or giamberm@agc.org, and visit http://www.agc.org/fedcon. Return to Top

TRANSPORTATION
Second SAFETEA-LU Commission Calls for Fuel Tax Increase, Transition to Distance Based Fee
 

The bipartisan National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission released its final report today, unanimously recommending the ten-year phase-out of federal motor fuel taxes to be replaced by a distance fee based on “vehicle miles traveled” (VMT). The finance commission is the second of two commissions established in SAFETEA-LU to make recommendations about the future direction of the federal surface transportation programs and how they should be funded.

The finance commission evaluated a wide range of financing options and concluded that the fuel-based user fee system is no longer a viable way to pay for transportation improvements and recommended the gradual transition to a distance-based user fee system.  To fund transportation needs while this transition is underway, the finance commission also recommends increases of 10 cents per gallon in the federal gasoline tax and 15 cents per gallon in the diesel tax, combined with new public-private revenue streams, expanded tolling and congestion pricing. 

For more information, contact Brian Deery at (703) 837-5319 or deeryb@agc.org. Return to Top

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