Contruction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.orgApril 2, 2009
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On the Inside
LABOR & EMPLOYMENT
Denver Event Shows How Card Check Hurts Union and Non-Union Construction Workers
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
Sign Up Today For AGC's Federal Contractors Conference in Washington D.C.
TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE
Transportation Construction Coalition Needs Your Support
ENVIRONMENT
House Democrats Release Draft Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Bill
BUDGET
House, Senate Approve Budget Resolutions for FY 2010
ELECTIONS
Key Elections Still Undecided
STIMULUS
Interim Rules Governing Stimulus Issued
GSA Submits $5.5 Billion Economic Recovery Plan to Congress
House Transportation Committee Issues Report on Infrastructure Spending
 
LABOR & EMPLOYMENT
Denver Event Shows How Card Check Hurts Union and Non-Union Construction Workers
 

AGC hosted an event in Denver this week and detailed how the proposed "Card Check" legislation currently being debated in Washington poses real risks for the nation's union construction workers.

AGC CEO Steve Sandherr explained how provisions in the bill, known as the Employee Free Choice Act, required federal arbitrators to settle all but the briefest of contract negotiations. Having Washington-appointed officials set final contract terms for individual companies would make it harder to maintain collective bargaining, which is a central benefit of unionized construction, he said.

Sandherr spoke at a union construction site for a new hospital outside of Denver. Read coverage from The Denver Post and Denver Business Journal. View the white paper here.

For more information, contact Brian Turmail at (703) 837-5310 or turmailb@agc.org. Return to Top

FEDERAL CONTRACTING
Sign Up Today For AGC's Federal Contractors Conference in Washington D.C.
 

Don't miss the chance to learn more about federal contracting opportunities and how to get started in this market. The AGC Federal Contractors Conference is the only national event where AGC contractors and Federal agency personnel can meet in a neutral forum and review the latest procurement and contracting issues from around the United States. We are expecting our highest attendance level at this year’s event.

This unique opportunity is filling up fast! If you want to exchange ideas and discuss important issues with fellow federal construction contractors and key personnel from the federal agencies overseeing federal construction projects, go to www.agc.org/fedcon.

Participating Agencies:
• Army Corps of Engineers
• Naval Facilities Engineering Command
• Air Force
• General Services Administration
• Overseas Buildings Operations
• Natural Resources Conservation Service
• Forest Service
• Federal Bureau of Prisons
• National Aeronautics & Space Administration
• Small Business Administration
• Office of Federal Lands Highway
• Department of Veterans Affairs
• National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
• Department of Energy
• Agency for International Development
• Bureau of Reclamation

Sponsorships are also still available and function 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, contact Marco Giamberardino at (703) 837-5325 or giamberm@agc.org. Return to Top

TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE
Transportation Construction Coalition Needs Your Support
 

SAFETEA-LU expires on September 30, 2009, and there is insufficient revenue in the Highway Trust Fund to pay for the remainder of 2009.  If Congress fails to enact new authorization legislation on time, it will impact the ability of states to maintain their highway funding levels in 2010. 

Your Congressional delegation needs to hear from you to understand the impact loss of funding would have on the highway construction market and jobs in your state. Join your industry allies in Washington, D.C. on May 19-20 for the Transportation Construction Coalition’s 2009 Legislative Fly-in.

Never before has the transportation construction industry faced a more critical time. AGC has also scheduled a separate AGC Caucus luncheon to brief members on “Card Check” and other legislative priorities. Hotel space is limited; please make your reservation and register today.

Click here for more information. Return to Top

ENVIRONMENT
House Democrats Release Draft Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Bill
 

Representatives Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) Tuesday unveiled a 648-page draft global warming and energy bill that would establish a cap and trade program to curb U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and by 83 percent by 2050. 

The Waxman-Markey draft would establish a market-based program (i.e., cap and trade) for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from electric utilities, oil companies, large industrial sources and other entities that emit more than 25,000 tons per year of CO2 equivalent.  Under this program, covered entities would need tradable federal permits, called “allowances,” for each ton of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere.  However, the bill does not provide details on how the allowances would be distributed.  President Obama has called for 100 percent auctioning of allowances; however, the draft bill would set aside a number of allowances for certain industries, including iron and steel, aluminum, cement, glass, ceramics, chemicals and paper.

The draft bill would direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set emissions standards on sources that are not covered by the allowance system, including black carbon, which is emitted by construction equipment.  It also requires EPA to set greenhouse gas standards for a variety of vehicle types, including new heavy duty trucks, and allows EPA to set standards for other types of non-road vehicles and engines.  There is also a “low carbon fuel standard” for fuels used in on-road and off-highway vehicles. 

Representatives Waxman and Markey have set a timeframe for the House Energy and Commerce Committee to vote on the measure by Memorial Day, followed by a vote on the House floor in July.  The Senate, where support for a comprehensive climate change bill is weaker, has yet to propose similar legislation.  The Senate yesterday approved an amendment during its budget debate that would prevent the Senate from using special procedures that would allow a cap and trade bill to pass with a simple majority vote. 

Included in the draft legislation is a requirement for state and local transportation planners to link transportation and land-use decisions.  This provision would likely make it more difficult for transportation planners to meet mobility needs through projects that add highway capacity.

Under the draft bill, states would have three years to craft plans to curb transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions across states and for any metropolitan area with more than 200,000 people.  States would work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set emissions targets for 10- and 20-year periods and are encouraged to expand environmentally-friendly modes of transportation, such as bus and light rail systems, and re-evaluate their land-use planning to create cities that require less driving and achieve increased mobility. 

Grants would be available from the EPA and the Department of Transportation to help finance state and local projects aimed at meeting the emission-reduction goals.  Although funding is not set in the draft legislation, lawmakers, including Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), have called for 10 percent of any future cap and trade revenues to be devoted to low-carbon transportation projects. 

AGC is currently evaluating the potential impact of the Waxman-Markey draft on the construction industry.  Any cap and trade program is likely to increase the cost of construction as a result of higher energy, manufactured goods and materials prices, such as petroleum and cement.  Also, firms with facilities that emit more than 25,000 tons of CO2 per year would be covered under a cap and trade program and would have to purchase allowances.  Considering the possibility of new emission and fuel standards for construction equipment, AGC is working with Congress to find opportunities to mitigate the bill’s impacts with incentives funded by the revenue derived from allowance auctioning.  In addition, AGC is working to ensure that states and localities have the flexibility to meet their unique transportation needs, including through capacity enhancements.  AGC believes that enhancing capacity, especially at the worst congested bottlenecks, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save fuel through better flowing traffic. 

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

BUDGET
House, Senate Approve Budget Resolutions for FY 2010
 

The House and Senate today are expected to approve their budget resolutions for fiscal year 2010.  The budget resolution is a non-binding framework that guides tax and spending policy for the upcoming fiscal year.

Consideration of the FY 2010 budget resolution has been highly partisan, with both the House and Senate Budget Committees having approved their respective resolutions on a party-line vote.  In the House, the GOP offered a substitute amendment, and the Senate has debated a number of amendments during the course of the week. 

The GOP has argued that the resolution spends and taxes too much.  AGC sent a letter to the Hill expressing concern with provisions in the resolution that would increase taxes on individuals and couples earning over $200,000 and $250,000, respectively, which could impact nearly two-thirds of construction firms that are organized as subchapter S corporations (S Corps) and pay their taxes on their shareholders’ individual tax returns. 

AGC supported an amendment in the Senate that would have provided for additional permanent relief from the estate tax.  The budget resolutions in both the House and Senate propose to freeze the 2009 estate tax levels.  The amendment would raise the exemption to $5 million – up from $3.5 million – and reduce the tax rate to 35 percent from 45 percent. 

AGC also expressed concern with the Democratic leadership’s threat to include special instructions in the budget resolution that would have allowed the House and Senate to speed up passage of controversial legislation, such as health care reform and climate change.  While the House resolution includes these instructions for health care reform, neither resolution would do the same for climate change.  The Senate approved an amendment by a vote of 67 to 31 that would prevent Senate leaders from using this tactic on climate change. 

AGC also wrote in appreciation of both chambers’ rejection of the Obama Administration’s proposal to eliminate the use of “contract authority” for the federal transportation programs.  As a result of this action, the highway, transit and aviation programs will retain their unique budgetary treatment.  In addition, AGC expressed its support for the levels of funding assumed for the federal highway and public transportation programs and for the “reserve funds,” which allow these levels to be adjusted upward if additional federal revenues are generated to finance increased surface transportation investment. 

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

ELECTIONS
Key Elections Still Undecided
 

Updates on NY-20 and the Minnesota Senate race, plus AGC PAC's first quarter report.

NY-20: Tedisco Down 25, Awaiting Absentees
After post-election re-canvassing efforts, Republican state Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco is now down 25 votes to Democratic nominee Scott Murphy in New York's 20th District special election.  Tedisco, who received maximum support from AGC PAC, awaits a state court hearing next Monday that will determine how to proceed in the counting of at least 5,900 absentee ballots which were sealed by a court order.  Counting could take weeks and may result in court challenges.

Coleman Faces Setback in Minnesota Senate Race
Republican Sen. Norm Coleman’s chances of regaining his Minnesota Senate seat remain slim following the Tuesday ruling by the three-judge panel.  While Franken still has a 225 vote lead, the judges ordered about 400 rejected absentee ballots to be opened and reviewed as part of a recount process. The low number of absentee ballots subject to review put the odds heavily against Coleman returning for a second term. However, following the count, the candidates will have 10 days to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

AGC PAC First Quarter Update
After a record-breaking election cycle, in which 85% of AGC PAC-supported candidates won election, AGC PAC starts the 2010 cycle with strong financial support from member contractors.  As of March 31, AGC PAC had raised nearly $240,000 and contributed just over $70,000 to strong construction industry allies.  Since the 111th Congress was sworn-in this January, the AGC Townhouse has played host to nearly three dozen events featuring members of the U.S. House and Senate.

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

STIMULUS
Interim Rules Governing Stimulus Issued
 

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council on March 31 issued several new reporting requirements for contractors and procurement officials disbursing stimulus funds.

The new rules require the following:
• Prime contractors who win work funded by the economic recovery package must file detailed public reports to the government on the nature of their work and job creation data;
• All construction, repair or maintenance projects use only iron, steel and manufactured goods produced in the United States. The rule provides a number of narrow exceptions and waivers, such as cases when goods are not available domestically, or if the local price is not reasonable;
• Prohibits nonfederal employers from firing, demoting or discriminating against whistleblowers who alert the government to questionable uses of stimulus funds. Contractors who refuse to abide by this rule will not be eligible for stimulus contracts;
• Acquisition officials must issue public notices on publicizing contract action worth more than $25,000; and,
• Provide the Government Accountability Office with the authority to audit both contracts and subcontracts related to the stimulus, and to interview contractor and subcontractor employees. The same rights, except the ability to interview subcontractor workers, are granted to inspectors general.

AGC is currently reviewing the rules in detail to ensure they are fair and reasonable for construction contractors performing work funded by the recovery plan. The FAR Council is accepting comments on these rules through June 1, 2009.

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

GSA Submits $5.5 Billion Economic Recovery Plan to Congress
 

GSA has unveiled a $5.5 billion project list that highlights the unprecedented role the agency will play in assisting in the nation’s economic recovery and putting American citizens back to work. Projects are funded across the country, providing benefit for local and state economies, and every state should see at least one GSA project related to the Recovery Act.

A breakdown of GSA’s Recovery Funding reveals:
• $4.5 billion: Federal building conversion to high-performance green spaces
• $750 million: Federal building and courthouse renovations
• $300 million: Fuel-efficient vehicles
• $300 million: Land ports of entry renovation and construction
GSA will also help other agencies best utilize their Recovery Act dollars, and manage Recovery.gov, which provides transparency and accountability to the American public.

AGC will continue working with GSA and our other agency partners as implementation of the Recovery act continues. For additional about GSA’s Recovery plans, visit: www.gsa.gov/recovery 

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

House Transportation Committee Issues Report on Infrastructure Spending
 

Today the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee issued a 22-page report detailing the distribution of stimulus bill funds under the committee’s jurisdiction.

In addition to the GSA construction programs listed above, the Committee identified progress under the Highway program:
Of the funds provided for the highway formula program, in the past four weeks, 35 states have submitted and received approval for nearly 1,000 projects totaling $3.4 billion, more than 10 percent of the Recovery Act highway funds.

In the Transit program:
Of the $6.8 billion apportioned for the Transit Capital Assistance program on March 5, 2009, $46.3 million has been awarded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), including three grants in rural areas of Kentucky, Missouri, and Maine:

New Discretionary Grant Program:
The Recovery Act provides $1.5 billion to the Secretary of Transportation to make competitive discretionary grants to surface transportation projects that will have a significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area, or a region.

Aviation Spending:
The Office of the Secretary of Transportation is finalizing guidance and criteria for the $1.5 billion discretionary grants program. As of March 26, 2009, the FAA had announced tentative allocations of funding for projects totaling $451 million. After tentative funding allocations are announced, airport sponsors are able to solicit bids for construction. Sponsors will then submit their grant applications to the FAA based on the bids received. After a grant application is approved, the funds will be obligated by the FAA.  On March 23, 2009, the FAA made its first Recovery Act grant award – a $4.2 million airport grant to Omaha, Nebraska, for runway rehabilitation.

For more information, contact Jeff Shoaf at (703) 837-3350 or shoafj@agc.org. Return to Top

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