Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.orgMay 14, 2009
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On the Inside
ENVIRONMENT
House Energy and Commerce Committee Continue Negotiations on Climate Change, Prepare for Week-long Fight
AGC Chapters Ask EPA for $30 Million to Clean Up Diesel Engines Nationwide
House Approves Legislation to Modernize and Green America’s Schools
TRANSPORTATION
Senate Commerce Chairman Introduces Bill Aimed at Reducing Auto Travel
WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
Senate EPW Committee Approves $38.9 Billion Water Authorization
HEALTH CARE
Senate Finance and House Committees Continue to Discuss Health Care Reform Legislation; Introduction of Legislation Forthcoming
STIMULUS
AGC Makes Additional Updates to Stimulus Web Site
AGC Hosts Federal Contracting/Recovery Act Webinar Series
 
ENVIRONMENT
House Energy and Commerce Committee Continue Negotiations on Climate Change, Prepare for Week-long Fight
 

Democratic proponents of a bill that would create a cap and trade system to control greenhouse gas emissions are continuing negotiations within their own party in advance of a week-long markup of the legislation in the House Energy and Commerce Committee next week. 

Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) earlier this week conceded to many of his Democrat colleagues’ demands, including an agreement to give away credits to a variety of industries that would be most affected by a cap and trade scheme.  Waxman has committed to give away 35 percent of the emission allowance credits through 2025 for free to local electricity distribution companies and 15 percent of the credits for free to energy intensive industries, such as steel, aluminum, chemical and glass.  Under the original bill, these industries would have been required to purchase emission allowance credits, the cost of which could have been passed down to consumers in the form of higher prices.  President Obama has called for 100 percent auctioning of allowance credits. 

Waxman has also made concessions on the bill’s renewable energy standard, which requires utilities to provide escalating amounts of power from wind, solar and biomass by reducing the standard from 25 percent – an Obama campaign pledge – to 20 percent by 2025.  The new agreement would also lower the overall greenhouse gas emission reduction target from 20 percent to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, higher than the 14 percent cut the president has proposed. The bill would still require an 80 percent reduction below 2005 levels by 2050. 

Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Joe Barton (R-Texas) is promising a fight once the markup begins on Monday, and he will likely have the support of the 22 other Republican members of the Committee.  Barton said Republicans are preparing to offer hundreds of amendments and to use other tools to slow down the markup. Moreover, despite his concessions so far, Waxman still has to convince about a dozen or so of Democrat “fence-sitters” to go along with his plan. 

Waxman has made Committee passage of his bill before Memorial Day a priority.  The Senate has yet to introduce comprehensive climate change legislation. 

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

AGC Chapters Ask EPA for $30 Million to Clean Up Diesel Engines Nationwide
Industry Would Voluntarily Contribute Additional $20M to Support Retrofit Effort
 

In an unprecedented nationwide effort to reduce emissions from construction equipment, 15 AGC Chapters have asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for more than $31 million in grant funding to clean up approximately 1,000 diesel machines that are currently in use on AGC-members’ jobsites.  These AGC Chapters – representing 9 out of 10 EPA Regions – have leveraged an additional $20 million plus in matching funds and “in-kind” contributions by pulling together an impressive array of project partners.  The current grant competition is being funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.  If AGC’s collective effort is fully funded, it would create and/or preserve more than 1,000 jobs.

Latest reports indicate that this will be an extremely fierce competition and grant requests far exceed the funding that is currently available.  Specifically, EPA will award approximately $156 million in ARRA funding via its National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program (a competitive grant program) to “eligible entities” like AGC Chapters to help construction companies and other diesel users reduce emissions from their fleets, as well as to promote economic recovery and preserve/create jobs.  AGC recently signed on to a letter urging the President and U.S. Congress to fully fund the 2010 national diesel grant competition at $200 million.

Diesel grant applications were due to EPA on April 28.  EPA is currently reviewing project proposals and will announce “winners” over the next 30 days.  Private construction companies cannot apply (on their own) for an EPA diesel retrofit grant.  Interested AGC members are encouraged to contact their local AGC Chapters to discuss future opportunities to apply for federal funding. 

National AGC and its Chapters are grateful for the assistance that the equipment dealers and engine/equipment manufacturers like Caterpillar, John Deere and Cummins provided for this effort – and particularly the assistance that Caterpillar Emissions Solutions provided in making an outside consultant available to review AGC Chapter applications.

For more information, click here, or contact Leah Pilconis at pilconisl@agc.org or (703) 837-5332. Return to Top

House Approves Legislation to Modernize and Green America’s Schools
 

On May 14, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation to modernize, upgrade and green America’s schools by a vote of 275-155. The 21st Century Green High Performing Public School Facilities Act (H.R. 2187) invests billions of dollars in school repair and renovation projects that would create safer, healthier and more energy-efficient learning environments for students.  

The bill would authorize $6.4 billion for school renovation and modernization projects for fiscal year 2010, and would ensure that school districts quickly receive funds for projects that improve schools’ teaching and learning climates, health and safety and energy efficiency. The measure distributes funds by allocating the same percentage of funds to school districts that they receive under Part A of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, except that it guarantees each such district a minimum of $5,000.

Below are estimates of the amount of funding that each state and school district would receive to modernize, upgrade and repair school facilities under the Act, as calculated by the Congressional Research Service:
Click here to download state-level data (PDF, 10KB)
Click here to download school district-level data (PDF, 775KB)

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

TRANSPORTATION
Senate Commerce Chairman Introduces Bill Aimed at Reducing Auto Travel
 

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Surface Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) today introduced The Federal Surface Transportation Policy and Planning Act of 2009, legislation to establish a strategic, comprehensive national transportation policy. 

The major goals of the bill are to:

-Reduce national per capita motor vehicle miles traveled on an annual basis;
-Reduce national motor vehicle-related fatalities by 50 percent by 2030;
-Reduce national surface transportation-generated carbon dioxide levels by 40 percent by 2030;
-Reduce national surface transportation delays per capita on an annual basis;
-Increase the percentage of system-critical surface transportation assets that are in a state    of good repair by 20 percent by 2030;
-Increase the total usage of public transportation, intercity passenger rail services and non-motorized transportation on an annual basis;
-Increase the proportion of national freight transportation provided by non-highway or multi-modal services by 10 percent by 2020; and
-Reduce passenger and freight transportation delays and congestion at international points of entry on an annual basis.

A  SAFETEA-LU reauthorization bill has not yet been introduced in the Senate and is currently being drafted by Environment and Public Works Committee staff.  The Senate Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over the safety issues in the reauthorization bill and therefore will have some influence over the final legislation. 

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

WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
Senate EPW Committee Approves $38.9 Billion Water Authorization
 

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today passed S.1005, the Water Infrastructure Financing Act of 2009 with a strong bipartisan vote of 17-2. The bill authorizes $38.9 billion for EPA water infrastructure programs over the next five years, and includes $20 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program, $15 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Program and $1.85 billion for Sewer Overflow Grants.  AGC supports this substantial increase in funding for our nation’s water infrastructure.

Several amendments were adopted during the markup including adding Davis-Bacon prevailing wages, updating EPA affordability guidance, and authorizing a study on the presence of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in waters of the United States. Largely due to the diligence of AGC and the WIN Coalition colleagues, the bill does not include any Buy American Provisions.

AGC and the Water Infrastructure Network (WIN) Coalition will be working to raise awareness and garner support for passage by the full Senate and will be calling on AGC members to contact their Senators and urge support. This is companion legislation to H.R. 1262, the Water Quality Investment Act of 2009, which authorized $19.4 billion over five years in of appropriations for wastewater infrastructure projects, including $13.8 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF). 

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

HEALTH CARE
Senate Finance and House Committees Continue to Discuss Health Care Reform Legislation; Introduction of Legislation Forthcoming
 

Senate Finance committee members continue to discuss employer and individual mandates, as well as expansion of federal health programs in health care reform legislation.  Proposals for financing range from raising taxes and taxing employee benefits to finding efficiencies within the system, as the plan could exceed $1 trillion. Any option will be subject to intense scrutiny and opposition from various interest groups.  The committee is expected to release draft legislation possibly next week.

Despite the intense debate in the Senate, House leaders on both sides of the aisle have been trying to draft their own set of principles for reform.  It is expected that the controversial issues will have to be addressed in the Senate where leaders remain committed to the ambitious timeline of passing the legislation by the August recess.

AGC continues to prepare to work with congressional leaders to represent the unique nature of construction companies and the consequences of such reform.  AGC recently conducted a survey of its members, which it will use to prioritize the industry’s concerns with health care reform legislation and will deliver the message to Capitol Hill.

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

STIMULUS
AGC Makes Additional Updates to Stimulus Web Site
 

AGC continues to update its stimulus Web site to provide comprehensive information on the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and the impact on the construction industry. Included on the site is a breakdown of construction spending by program, with additional details on allocations. 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. 

AGC has posted information on the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council’s recently-releases reporting requirements for contractors and procurement officials disbursing stimulus funds. AGC encourages individuals to view the information and participate in the public comment period by June 1.

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. AGC also aims to highlight the stimulus funds at work and AGC members hiring employees based on stimulus awards. The section, "Stimulus At Work" highlights 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

AGC Hosts Federal Contracting/Recovery Act Webinar Series
 

Due to the changing landscape in federal contracting, it is more important than ever that contractors - those experienced in federal work or those looking to move into the this market - are aware of rule and regulation updates and the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on the federal contracting process.  This webinar series will provide an overview of the existing process and walk attendees through the evolution of federal contracting.

Webinars will take place on successive Thursdays on May 21, May 28, June 4 and June 11 from 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM (ET).  Please click the links below for more information.

May 21 - The New and Old of Federal Contracting
May 28 - The Contract Award Process
June 4 - How to Handle Claims and Disputes
June 11 - The Recovery Act

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

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