Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.orgJune 4, 2009
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On the Inside
STIMULUS
AGC Only Construction Organization to Raise Concern Over Onerous Reporting Requirements to FAR Council
AGC Hosts Third Session of Federal Contracting/Recovery Act Webinar Series; Final Session June 11
AGC Participates in Vice President's Stimulus Roundtable
HEALTH CARE
Congress Continues to Draft Health Care Bill, Obama Releases Priorities
HIGHWAY
Highway Trust Fund Could Be Out of Money by August
LABOR
“So-Called” Employee Free Choice Act Still Alive
House Considering Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act
Federal Contractor E-Verify Rule Suspended Yet Again
Comprehensive Immigration Reform on the Radar Screen
 
STIMULUS
AGC Only Construction Organization to Raise Concern Over Onerous Reporting Requirements to FAR Council
 

On June 1, AGC submitted to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Councils written comments on a series of interim rules amending the FAR in order to implement several key provisions set forth in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The interim rules were issued March 31 without any opportunity for prior public comment.  AGC was the only construction organization to raise concern over the onerous reporting requirements in the interim rules.

To read AGC's comments and view copies of the Interim Rules, please visit the following:

In order to allow AGC members and Chapters to communicate with the government, AGC set up a special portal located at the AGC Legislative Action Center in order to highlight key issues that needed to be addressed.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) also issued its own guidance on April 23 establishing government-wide guidance and standard award terms for agencies to include in financial assistance awards (namely, grants, cooperative agreements and loans) as part of their implementation of the Recovery Act. Public comments are due by June 22:

AGC is now preparing to submit comments to OMB on behalf of the entire association by the June 22 deadline.

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

AGC Hosts Third Session of Federal Contracting/Recovery Act Webinar Series; Final Session June 11
 

On June 4, AGC held its third session in its new Federal Contracting: Stimulus at Work webinar series, entitled “How to Handle Claims and Disputes.” The federal market has changed dramatically over the last six months and this program provided participants with the ins and outs of federal contracts and what makes them unique. The webinar also included information on the AGC’s Ethics and Compliance Program Toolkit and AGC’s Construction Contractors Guide to Department of Defense Past Performance Evaluation.

The final webinar in this series will provide an overview of the existing process and walk attendees through the evolution of federal contracting. “The Recovery Act” webinar on June 11 will provide information and clarification on some of the most challenging issues surrounding the Recovery package, including new rules governing the following:

  • New Buy American Rules;
  • Reporting Requirements, including Salary Disclosure for Contractors;
  • Inspectors General and GAO Access to Contractors Employees; and
  • Establishing Ethics and Compliance Programs.

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

AGC Participates in Vice President's Stimulus Roundtable
 

Christian Zimmermann from AGC member company Pike Industries represented the association during a roundtable hosted by Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday in New York.  The vice president invited business leaders from across the country to highlight the benefits of the stimulus, which has allowed Pike Construction to hire more than 100 new employees.

Read the White House press release here.

Zimmermann was featured on Fox Business, and included in articles in TIME and the New York Times.

Above: Vice President Joe Biden, left, participates in the roundtable on the Recovery Act with Christian Zimmermann, right, Tuesday, June 2, 2009.

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

HEALTH CARE
Congress Continues to Draft Health Care Bill, Obama Releases Priorities
 

President Obama released some details he would like to be included in health care reform legislation this week and requested legislation on his desk to sign by October. The details were more specific and may signal that he plans to play a greater role in crafting the legislation.

The list of priorities include a government-run insurance program that could compete alongside private insurers, a government commission to contain costs in health entitlements and an insurance mandate that would provide subsidies for those unable to afford the mandate. The public insurance plan will likely be the most contentious issue in reform and may be the deal-breaker for gaining Republican support.

Both the U.S. House and Senate are gearing up to debate the legislation. The Senate Finance Committee is expected to release legislation in the coming days. Their version is likely to include an individual mandate and they may consider taxing employer-provided health care benefits. The Senate HELP committee is expected to finally release their legislative language next week and it is likely to include an individual mandate, expanding Medicaid and reforming the insurance industry. These two committees will have to resolve differences before the legislation can be brought to the Senate floor for debate, which is expected in July. Three U.S. House committees are also drafting legislation and aiming for a bill by the August recess.

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

HIGHWAY
Highway Trust Fund Could Be Out of Money by August
 

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has been briefing members of the relevant House and Senate Committees about the revenue shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund that could cause a slowdown in payments to states as early as mid-July. The Obama Administration has indicated that an infusion of $5 billion to $7 billion will be necessary soon in order to fully fund existing commitments through September 30, 2009, or the end of fiscal year 2009.

At a hearing this week on the nomination of Victor Mendez for Highway Administrator, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) reported that in addition to the funds needed for FY 2009, an additional $8 billion to $10 billion will be necessary to get through FY 2010. The President’s budget indicated a need for as much as $36 billion in FY 2010 to prevent a shortfall in funding.

At a hearing today before the Senate transportation subcommittee, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood indicated that the Administration will be working with Congress to ensure that this cash flow problem does not result in a slowdown in reimbursements to states for ongoing highway construction.

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

LABOR
“So-Called” Employee Free Choice Act Still Alive
 

Supporters of the “so-called” Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) continue efforts to seek some sort of compromise in the Senate to move this legislation closer to the goal line.  However, news reports this week indicate that another key Senator in this debate has moved back from efforts to push the bill forward. Senator Feinstein (D-Calif.) told a business delegation from California that it was not the right time for this bill due to the current economic times.

Supporters of the bill would need all Democratic members to support the bill to pass it. Presumptive Democratic Senator from Minnesota Al Franken has not been seated due to legal challenges, Senator Kennedy has not voted in a few months and Senators Feinstein and Lincoln (D-Ark.) have made public statements about not supporting the bill. 

AGC remains active in our opposition to the bill and to efforts to find a compromise based on EFCA. Please continue to let your views be known to your Members of Congress by using the AGC Legislative Action Center.

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

House Considering Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act
 

Tonight, the House is expected to consider and pass H.R. 626, the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act.  This legislation would provide federal employees with four weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child in addition to their existing leave.  In addition, federal employees may opt for twelve weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

AGC is concerned that the passage of this bill may set a precedent for Congress to expand the FMLA to mandate paid sick leave on private employees, significantly hindering business owners from crafting their own policies to best fit their workforce.  Recently, Senator Kennedy (D-Mass.) introduced a bill, the Healthy Families Act, that would mandate employers with 15 or more employees to offer seven days of paid sick leave per employee, including part-time workers. The House Education and Labor Committee is expected to hold a hearing on the bill next week.

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

Federal Contractor E-Verify Rule Suspended Yet Again
 

The federal government has agreed to further delay implementation of the E-Verify rule for federal contractors until September 8. Contracts and solicitations issued prior to September 8, 2009, will not contain the mandate.

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, then extended the decision to May 21, and again until June 30.  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 Kelly Knott at (202) 547-4685 or knottk@agc.org. Return to Top

Comprehensive Immigration Reform on the Radar Screen
 

Efforts to bring comprehensive immigration reform back before Congress recently got a push from some immigrant rights groups in Washington.  The National Immigration Forum released a statement of principles that they hope Congress will use as a guide in this effort.  This comes in advance of a planned White House meeting next week between the president and lawmakers on Capitol Hill. 

While AGC and other business groups agree with some of the principles laid out by the Forum, there is a great deal of concern about the push by some on the left to create a commission to regulate the future flow of both high and low-skilled foreign workers.  This proposed nine member appointed (not elected) commission would possess the sole authority to set the conditions and the annual limits for visas and green cards as well as entire visa categories. 

AGC remains a steering committee member of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC) and continues to talk with Congress about the need for workable immigration reform that would include a new future flow visa program to be determined by the needs of the market instead of a random number chosen by an unelected commission. 

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

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