Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.orgJune 18, 2009
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On the Inside
TRANSPORTATION
Details of Transportation Reauthorization Released
FEDERAL
OMB Holds Public Meeting on Government Contracting
LABOR
AGC to Sign Coalition Letter Opposing Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Legislation
ENVIRONMENT
Senate EPW Committee Approves Expansion of Clean Water Act Jurisdiction
HEALTH CARE
Senate Begins Health Care Debate, Progress Slow
MEETINGS & EVENTS
Free Webcast on ARRA ‘Buy American’ Provisions for SRF-Funded Projects
AGC's July Safety Meeting Comes to D.C., Includes Capitol Hill Visits
Finding the Green in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
 
TRANSPORTATION
Details of Transportation Reauthorization Released
 

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released details today of reauthorization legislation, the Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009. The legislation is a 6 year $500 billion bill that will replace the current authorization, SAFETEA-LU, which is due to expire on September 30. The Chairman of the Committee, James Oberstar (D-Minn.), will introduce the full authorization legislation as early as tomorrow and has billed it as a transformation in the way the federal government funds the nation’s transportation infrastructure.

The documents released today include a blueprint for investment and reform, a framework of principles for federal surface transportation and an executive summary, which are all available on the AGC Web site.  All of the documents and future updates can be found here.

The blueprint of the legislation indicates a reduced number of federal programs but keeps most of the eligibility for them.  It does not address any specifics on formula funding. The blueprint states that there would be project streamlining, but new environmental concerns exist, such as carbon reduction and livability. Finally, the plan would centralize national planning to include all transportation modes.

The Committee is planning a markup of the legislation next Wednesday, June, 24, and has indicated that the process will be bipartisan.

For more information, contact Jeff Shoaf at (202) 547-3350 or shoafj@agc.org. Return to Top

FEDERAL
OMB Holds Public Meeting on Government Contracting
 

On June 18, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) held a public meeting on four central issues concerning government contracting: (1) maximizing the use of competition; (2) improving practices for selecting contract types; (3) strengthening the acquisition workforce; and (4) clarifying when functions should be performed by federal employees and when contractors may appropriately be considered.

This hearing was in response to President Obama’s Presidential Memorandum on Government Contracting, issued on March 4, 2009, which establishes a framework for improving critical components of the federal acquisition system and management of the federal government’s work force of federal employees and private sector contractors. The Memorandum directs OMB, in consultation with federal agency leadership, to improve and strengthen federal contracting practices and to seek input from the public on the most effective ways to achieve this goal.

AGC will submit a statement to OMB for the record before the July 17, 2009 deadline.

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

LABOR
AGC to Sign Coalition Letter Opposing Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Legislation
 

As a member of the National Coalition to Protect Family Leave, AGC and other member organizations will send a joint letter to Congress next week to make Congress aware of concerns with the Healthy Families Act.  The legislation, which was recently introduced, would require employers with 15 or more employees to allow all employees to earn 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. 

The bill would allow workers to begin accruing leave time on their first day of employment and become eligible to use the time after 60 days. This approach would require a one-size-fits-all paid sick leave package of 56 hours and limit an employer’s flexibility in creating a benefits package that would meet the needs of the construction industry's unique workforce. In addition, this would have a significant bureaucratic impact on employers by requiring them to create a new system to track accruals of paid sick leave time.

The House Education and Labor Committee is expected to pass this bill sometime this summer. Senate action is unclear at this point.

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

ENVIRONMENT
Senate EPW Committee Approves Expansion of Clean Water Act Jurisdiction
 

On Thursday, June 18, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed S. 787 the Clean Water Restoration Act.  The legislation was offered as an amendment sponsored by Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Senator Max Baucus(D-Mont.) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). Republican committee members criticized the bill as a substantial expansion of federal jurisdiction over water by removing the term “navigable” waterways.  Ranking Member Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Senator John Barasso (R-Wyo.) offered multiple unsuccessful amendments to address “negative impacts” on rural and agricultural communities.

In a June 17, 2009, letter to EPW Committee members, AGC opposed this legislation because it gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jurisdiction over all wet areas—however remote or intermittent—and over all activities (e.g., construction) affecting those waters. Consequently, the bill would require construction contractors and project owners to obtain and be regulated by federal Clean Water Act permits far more frequently than is currently required.

AGC will continue to fight this legislation as it is considered by the full Senate, which is uncertain. Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) have placed "holds" on the legislation, making it unlikely that it will see floor timein the near future. Similar legislation in the House of Representatives has yet to be introduced, however T&I Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) has indicated his support for similar legislation in the House of Representatives.

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

HEALTH CARE
Senate Begins Health Care Debate, Progress Slow
 

This week the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee began the process of working through the 600 page draft health care reform bill.  The process began slowly and many Republican Senators are hung up on the preliminary cost estimate of the bill, which the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates will increase the federal budget deficit over the next ten years by $1 trillion. The agency added that the bill would leave 37 million Americans uninsured over that time.  The Committee had attempted to begin the multi-week review of the legislation with the less controversial components, however the costs of the program continues to dominate the debate. The committee has yet to address or offer draft legislation of a public plan or an employer mandate, which are expected to be the most contentious issues.

The Senate Finance Committee intended to begin debating their own version of health care reform legislation, however, leaders have delayed the debate until after the July 4th break. Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) will focus time on reining in the cost of the bill from a projected $1.6 trillion to under $1 trillion prior to working on the legislation.  It is expected that the Senate Finance Committee may produce the most bipartisan proposal of the ones Congress is contemplating.

In the House, the three committees of jurisdiction, Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce and Education and Labor Committees, are planning to release their own draft legislation as early as late this week followed by hearings next week.  It is expected that the three committee proposal will require Americans to have health care coverage and a public option.

This week AGC sent a letter to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee outlining some issues to consider during the health care debate. Click here to view the letter.

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

MEETINGS & EVENTS
Free Webcast on ARRA ‘Buy American’ Provisions for SRF-Funded Projects
 

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provides significant funding for states to finance high priority infrastructure projects needed to ensure clean water and safe drinking water. The Act also includes “Buy American” provisions that require Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) projects to use domestic iron, steel, and manufactured goods. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will sponsor a webcast from 2:00-4:00 (EST) on Monday, June 22 to discuss how the ARRA Buy American provisions will affect the implementation of CWSRF and DWSRF projects. This event is free of charge and is provided for the benefit of SRF assistance recipients and contractors, consultants, and manufacturers involved in SRF projects. The webcast will also include opportunities for participants to submit questions on Buy American issues.  

To register for this webcast, copy and paste the link below into your Internet Explorer web browser: https://www.eventbuilder.com/event_desc.asp?p_event=4o12b5j3

Note: If you have any technical difficulties questions about the registration process, please contact EventBuilder's customer care line at 1-800-290-5900.

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

AGC's July Safety Meeting Comes to D.C., Includes Capitol Hill Visits
 

Attend AGC's Safety & Health meeting July 22-24 in Washington, D.C., and get the latest updates on congressional activity that directly effects construction safety and health. Join more than 150 industry professionals to discuss the latest concerns facing the construction industry and network with seasoned safety experts.  

Participants will assist in the development of regulatory and legislative activity on a national and local level as well as new safety training programs and products.  Attendees will hear the latest initiatives from OSHA and other industry experts while also making visits to Capitol Hill.

The hotel deadline is June 22.  Register at www.agc.org/safetymeeting.

For more information, contact Kevin Cannon at (703) 837-5410 or cannonk@agc.org. Return to Top

Finding the Green in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
An AGC Environmental Network and Navigant Consulting, Inc Webinar
 

Gain insight into the Green Incentives and Sustainability policies contained in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 during this webinar, hosted by AGC's Environmental Network and Navigant Consulting, Inc., June 25, 1:30-3:00 pm ET.

Learn the details of the sustainable and green provisions outlined in the ARRA as well as the potential impact on construction project financing and lending standards. Information will be provided on the current credit and lending issues as well as the impact on financing contained in portions of the ARRA, specifically green incentives. Register here.

For more information, contact Melinda Tomaino at (703) 837-5415 or tomainom@agc.org. Return to Top

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