Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.orgJuly 2, 2009
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On the Inside
CLIMATE CHANGE
House Narrowly Passes Climate Change Measure, Sends Bill to Senate
WATER
GAO Releases Report on Clean Water Trust Fund
HIGHWAY
Transportation Construction Coalition Releases Road Safety Report
POLITICS
Minnesota Senate Race Decided, Franken Wins
HEALTH CARE
President and Congress Continue to Address Health Care Reform
 
CLIMATE CHANGE
House Narrowly Passes Climate Change Measure, Sends Bill to Senate
 

Last week, the U.S. House passed H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, by a vote of 219 to 212 (8 Republicans supported the bill, and 44 Democrats voted against it).  While elements of the legislation could create jobs by inducing demand for energy efficiency improvements to buildings and alternative energy generation, no one is certain of the true impact on the economy.  AGC believes that the bill goes too far too fast and that Congress has not adequately mitigated the impacts. 

Policymakers have acknowledged that the “cap and trade” program in the bill would increase electricity costs with varying regional effects.  A climate change cap and trade bill would significantly increase the cost of energy used in producing construction materials and powering construction equipment.  The bill also includes provisions giving free reign to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate small stationary emitters and to implement standards for a variety of mobile sources used in construction—including new heavy duty trucks and off-road equipment.  The increased costs and new regulations would ultimately decrease demand for construction at a time when the U.S. economy can least afford it, especially when one in every five unemployed workers is a construction worker. 

AGC appreciates the response by individuals in the construction industry that answered the call to action and sent over 2,000 messages to Congress in opposition to the bill.  The legislative debate will move to the Senate where a vote could occur as early as September. 

The Senate will likely refer to, or use, the House bill in drafting their legislation.  Meanwhile, the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources approved the American Clean Energy Leadership Act (ACELA) on June 17, 2009.  Some of the ACELA provisions are similar to the House bill, but it does not yet address cap and trade of greenhouse gases, which the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee may consider as early as this month.  The resulting legislation from the Senate will need to secure passing votes in both houses of Congress before a final bill is sent to President Obama to sign.

AGC urges all members and Chapters to weigh in with their Senators and urge them to oppose the House bill as written.  For more information and to send a letter to your Senators, please use AGC’s Legislative Action Center

 

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



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WATER
GAO Releases Report on Clean Water Trust Fund
 

On June 29, 2009, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its report, “Clean Water Infrastructure: A Variety of Issues Need to Be Considered when Designing a Clean Water Trust Fund.”  The long awaited report from the GAO acknowledges that our Nation faces tremendous challenges in replacing and rehabilitating our water infrastructure, with estimated needs between $400 and $600 billion over the next 20 years for safe drinking water and wastewater treatment infrastructure.

The GAO report does not make any specific recommendations on how a trust fund would be administered, or which revenue sources are most viable.  However,  it does outline issues that need to be addressed in establishing a Clean Water Trust Fund and identifies potential funding options including excise taxes on water pollutants and water-intensive industries that could generate approximately $10 billion annually. The taxes would apply to beverages, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, flushable products and water appliance industries. In researching its report, the GAO reached out to 28 industry associations including AGC of America, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

AGC and the Water Information Network (WIN) Coalition have endorsed the concept of a Clean Water Trust Fund to create a long-term, sustainable, off-budget source of funding for water infrastructure to finance construction and maintenance of this critical infrastructure.

On July 15, 2009, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment is scheduled to conduct a hearing titled “Opportunities and Challenges in the Creation of a Clean Water Trust Fund.”  AGC anticipates introduction of “trust fund” legislation by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) in the near future.

For additional information, contact Perry Fowler at (703)837-5321 or fowlerp@agc.org.



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HIGHWAY
Transportation Construction Coalition Releases Road Safety Report
 

This morning, the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) held a news conference at a D.C.-area construction site managed by AGC member company Jacobs. The TCC is co-chaired by AGC and the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).  During the conference, the TCC released a national report that found more than half of highway fatalities are related to deficient roadway conditions.  This press release was issued nationwide during the news conference. 

The study, conducted by the Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation (PIRE), found that deficient roadways cost $217 billion, due to medical costs, productivity costs, property damage and quality of life costs.  Indeed, the cost of deficient roadway conditions is far greater than other safety factors, such as the $130 billion cost for driving while intoxicated, $97 billion for speeding or $60 billion for failing to wear a safety belt.

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

POLITICS
Minnesota Senate Race Decided, Franken Wins
 

This week, the Minnesota Supreme Court declared Al Franken (D) the winner over Senator Norm Coleman (R) in the Minnesota Senate race.  This decision clears the way for Franken to be sworn in as early as next week.   With this victory, the Democratic Party gets the key 60th vote in the Senate that will assist in efforts to overcome filibusters if all Senators vote along party lines.  There is no guarantee that they can reach the magic number, especially with prominent Democrats Senator Ted Kennedy (Mass.) and Robert Byrd (W.Va.) battling medical illnesses.   In addition, some conservative Democrats often break with their leadership on various issues including card check and climate change.

It is possible Franken could sit on the powerful Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.  AGC is interested in Franken’s role on the HELP Committee, which has jurisdiction over many issues that concerns AGC members.  For example, this Committee is home to the debate on OSHA reforms, the current health care debate, and the “so-called” Employee Free Choice Act that AGC opposes and Franken has already publicly supported.  Continue to send letters in opposition to Card Check to your elected officials via the Legislative Action Center.

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



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HEALTH CARE
President and Congress Continue to Address Health Care Reform
 

Despite the week-long congressional recess, congress continues to actively address health care reform. President Obama today held a nationwide town hall meeting where he renewed his desire to sign comprehensive legislation this fall but did not release any new details on a plan.  The debate in congress has centered around Republican opposition to a public plan and even some Democrats objecting to the price tag that health care reform could bring.

The three committees of jurisdiction in the House have released draft legislation and plan to formally mark up the legislation the week of July 14.  They hope to hold a vote on the floor prior to the August recess.  Issues of concern to AGC remain: definition of full-time employee, part-time and seasonal employee; new payroll taxes; and the coverage benefits an employer would be required to purchase.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee began their mark up last month and will reconvene on July 7.  During the congressional break, staff has been working on the controversial components of the legislation on which the committee was unable to find common ground.  The sticky points are language regarding public options and shared responsibility.  The Senate Finance Committee continues to work on draft legislation and hopes to release formal details next week.  The two committee drafts will have to be meshed together prior to addressing the issue on the Senate floor.

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



 

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