Contruction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.orgApril 16, 2009
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On the Inside
E-VERIFY
Federal Contractor E-Verify Rule Suspended Yet Again
STIMULUS
EPA Distributes More Than $2 Billion to States for Water
Interim Rules Governing Stimulus Issued
AGC Member Company Wins Stimulus Project, Saves and Adds Construction Jobs
TAXES
AGC Seeks Support on Capitol Hill for Three Percent Withholding Law
ENVIRONMENT
AGC Highlights Constructionís Importance in a Green Economy
House Energy and Commerce Committee Begin Hearings on Draft Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Bill
TRANSPORTATION
Obama Unveils High-Speed Rail Strategic Plan
Register Now to Receive TCC Fly-In Hotel Discount
Transportation Policy Team Grows
 
E-VERIFY
Federal Contractor E-Verify Rule Suspended Yet Again
 

The federal government has agreed to even further delay implementation of the E-Verify rule for federal contractors.  Contracts and solicitations issued prior to June 30, 2009, will not contain the mandate.  An official announcement is expected to be published in this Friday’s Federal Register.

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council issued the final rule on November 14, 2008, requiring contracting officers to mandate contractor use of E-Verify in solicitations issued and contracts awarded after January 15, 2009.  In response to a legal challenge to the rule, the government agreed to suspend the rule until February 20 and again until May 21.  The plaintiffs in the lawsuit requested the extension after President Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel issued a memorandum directing federal agencies to consider extending by 60 days the effective dates of all regulations already issued but not yet in effect, in order to allow the new Administration a chance to review any "questions of law and policy raised."

Click here for a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) for Federal Contractors & E-Verify. Visit the AGC Web site for critical components of the final rule.

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

STIMULUS
EPA Distributes More Than $2 Billion to States for Water
 

In a move that stands to create and sustain thousands of jobs while improving aging water infrastructure, protecting the environment and promoting public health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded the first round of its $6 billion in for water infrastructure as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009.

To date, more than $2 billion has been released to the several states’ State Revolving Funds and Tribal Governments to finance clean water and drinking water infrastructure projects. Click here to see individual state funding.

For more information, contact Perry Fowler at (703) 837-5321 or fowlerp@agc.org. Return to Top

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. In addition, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) published Implementing Guidance for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 on April 3. 

The new FAR Interim rules, which apply to all direct-Federal contracts, 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 must 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 publicizing contract actions 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.


This updated OMB guidance applies to Recovery projects that are federally-assisted (grants, SRF loans, etc.) rather than directly funded by the federal government. It seeks to clarify many key positions including the applicability of Buy America provisions, and reporting requirements. Updates to the guidance are based on ongoing input received from the public, Congress, state and local government officials, grant and contract recipients and federal personnel.


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 and OMB are both 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

AGC Member Company Wins Stimulus Project, Saves and Adds Construction Jobs
 

AGC member company Pike Industries Inc., will begin work on Route 101 in New Hampshire next month, reported the local WMUR.  Company president Christian Zimmermann was prevented from laying off workers thanks to the project, which will be the first state highway project funded by the stimulus.  Read the article.

Pike Industries Inc., will host U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood tomorrow, where they will announce 15 newly hired individuals as a result of the stimulus projects the company has been awarded.  Pike is also in the process of hiring another 30 people.

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

TAXES
AGC Seeks Support on Capitol Hill for Three Percent Withholding Law
 

AGC is working with coalition partners to ask members of Congress to co-sponsor legislation that would permanently repeal the 3 percent withholding law enacted in 2006.  Effective January 1, 2012, federal, state and local governments with annual expenditures of $100 million or more are required to withhold 3 percent from payments for goods and services, including payments made under government contracts with construction companies. The law was intended to reduce the so-called "tax gap" and tax evasion. AGC has strongly opposed this legislation since it was introduced.

In February, Congress enacted a one-year delay in the effective date of the law (i.e., from 2011 to 2012) as part of H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

On January 7, Representative Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) introduced H.R. 275, a bill to repeal the 3 percent withholding law. On January 21, Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) introduced a Senate version, S. 292. AGC has made enactment of this legislation a top priority and encourages members to contact their Representative and Senators using AGC’s Legislative Action Center.

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

ENVIRONMENT
AGC Highlights Constructionís Importance in a Green Economy
 

In a letter sent to Rep. Lynn Woolsey, Chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, and Rep. Tom Price, the Subcommittee’ Ranking Member, AGC CEO Steve Sandherr made the point that construction jobs meet all the criteria of the loosely defined “green job.”

This criteria includes:
• Improving the environment;
• Offering good-paying jobs;
• Offering opportunities for advancement;
• Are jobs that cannot be outsourced; and
• Encouraging participation by a diverse population.

The letter was sent to the subcommittee in response to a March 31 hearing it held to “examine green jobs and their role in our nation’s economic recovery.”

AGC’s letter emphasized how large a role the construction industry plays in a green economy, how important it is to capture all of the green work that the industry does – including recycling at the highest levels of any industry – and the need to provide training for traditional crafts that may “benefit by, but do not need, training in green practices in order to work successfully on a green project.”

Further, AGC stressed the need for the federal government to avoid over-defining “green jobs” so that it excludes large segments of the industry and highlighted the many ways that AGC, its members and Chapters promote training and construction in environmentally sound and “green” practices.

The full text of the AGC letter is posted here.

For more information, contact Liz Elvin at (703) 837-5389 or elvinl@agc.org. Return to Top

House Energy and Commerce Committee Begin Hearings on Draft Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Bill
 

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will conduct four days of hearings beginning Tuesday to receive testimony on a 648-page draft global warming and energy bill introduced last month by Representatives Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.).  The draft bill 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. During consideration of its budget resolution for FY 2010, the Senate approved an amendment that would prevent the Senate from using special procedures to 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.

AGC also 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

TRANSPORTATION
Obama Unveils High-Speed Rail Strategic Plan
 

President Obama today unveiled a strategic plan for launching a high-speed passenger rail network in 100-600 mile corridors, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.  The plan includes rebuilding existing rail infrastructure while developing a comprehensive high-speed intercity passenger rail network through a long-term commitment at the federal and state levels.

The economic stimulus included $8 billion for rail, and the president’s budget includes $1 billion per year for five years, and both will be used to begin to implement the plan.  Ten high-speed rail corridors were identified as part of the president’s plan, including California, Pacific Northwest, South Central, Gulf Coast, Chicago Hub Network, Florida, Southeast, Keystone, Empire and Northern New England.  The existing Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston may also compete for funds to improve its high-speed service.

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

Register Now to Receive TCC Fly-In Hotel Discount
TCC Fly-In May 19-20, Washington, D.C.
 

Monday April 20 is the last day to receive the Transportation Construction Coalition negotiated rate of $295 for Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, the headquarters hotel for the 2009 TCC Legislative Fly-In. To reserve your room please call 1-800-233-1234 or 202-737-1234.
 
 An AGC caucus and lunch will feature presentations on local and state outreach initiatives in support of Transportation reauthorization. Other legislative priorities will also be discussed, including: card check legislation, immigration reform and climate change.
 
To register for the Fly-In please go to http://www.BlueSkyz.com/tcc2009.  For planning purposes, please inform Brian Deery of your intent to attend the AGC caucus at by emailing deeryb@agc.org.

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

Transportation Policy Team Grows
 

President Obama continued identifying his transportation policy team with several more nominations this week. The president nominated John Porcari, current Maryland Secretary of Transportation, to serve as Deputy Secretary of U.S. DOT. For Federal Transit Administrator, the president nominated Peter Rogoff, who has served for the past fourteen years as the chief Democratic staffer on the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee. Roy Keinitz was nominated for Under Secretary for Policy, who served previously as chief of staff to Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell (D) and one time CEO of the environmental group Surface Transportation Policy Project.  For Federal Highway Administrator, the President nominated Victor Mendez, former director of the Arizona DOT.

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

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