Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.orgAugust 13, 2009
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On the Inside
ENVIRONMENT
AGC Looks at Climate Bill H.R. 2454: Introduction
TRANSPORTATION
President Signs Highway Trust Fund Fix
STIMULUS
Registration Goes Live for Recovery Act Reporting Website
LABOR
AGC Prepares Regulatory Comments on Administration Plan to Implement Project Labor Agreements
IMMIGRATION
AGC Remains Involved in Immigration Reform Discussions
HEALTH CARE
Health Care Debate Follows Congress Home
 
ENVIRONMENT
AGC Looks at Climate Bill H.R. 2454: Introduction
 

When Congress reconvenes after Labor Day, the U.S. Senate will resume its work on a comprehensive energy and climate bill.  In part, those deliberations will focus on a companion bill, the America Clean Energy and Security Act, or H.R. 2454, which the U.S. House of Representatives passed on June 26, 2009, by a vote of 219 to 212. This article begins a series of articles that AGC will publish in AGC’s Environmental Observer to keep members informed of the ongoing climate change debate in Congress.  These articles will summarize H.R. 2454 in plain English and include AGC's preliminary reactions.

Majority leaders in the Senate are aiming to vote on their version of the climate change bill as early as October.  After the differences between the two bills are reconciled, the resulting language will need to secure passing votes in both houses of Congress before a final bill can go to President Obama. 

As Congress debates climate change, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also laying the foundation to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act though both industry groups and several government agencies (including EPA) have expressed concern that regulation under the existing statute is not the best course of action.

Read more here.

For more information, contact Karen Lapsevic at (202) 547-4733 or lapsevick@agc.org or Melinda Tomaino at (703) 837-5415 or tomainom@agc.org. Return to Top

TRANSPORTATION
President Signs Highway Trust Fund Fix
 

Following House and Senate passage of legislation transferring $7 billion of general fund revenue to the Highway Trust Fund, President Obama signed the bill into law (Public Law: 111-046) on August 7, 2009.  The $7 billion dollar transfer allows state transportation departments to receive full reimbursements for federal-aid highway projects through the end of fiscal year 2009 (September 30).

When Congress returns in September, they must take action to reauthorize federal highway and transit programs past the September 30 expiration date of SAFETEA-LU.  Congressman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), the Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, is committed to bringing a six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill to the House floor for a vote prior to the expiration of SAFETEA-LU, while the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee leaders – with the exception of Senator George Voinovich (R-Ohio) – support an 18-month extension of the current authorization.

For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at oneills@agc.org. Return to Top

STIMULUS
Registration Goes Live for Recovery Act Reporting Website
 

Section 1512 of the Recovery Act requires information about the project and the jobs it creates, and salary disclosure for certain federal contractors to be reported to the central federal Web site, www.federalreporting.gov.

At 12:01 A.M. on August 17, 2009, that website is scheduled to go live and recipients of Recovery funds will be able to register as the first step in the reporting process mandated by the Recovery Act. To register, recipients must already have a DUNS number and CCR number.

Registration will continue through September 30, 2009, with reporting officially beginning on October 1, 2009 through October 10, 2009. For more information on the reporting requirements contained in the Recovery Act, click here (for federal contractors), here (for federally-assisted work), and here (for more information about the reporting process). For OMB’s guidance and forms associated with reporting, see recipient reporting information.

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

LABOR
AGC Prepares Regulatory Comments on Administration Plan to Implement Project Labor Agreements
 

On July 14, 2009, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council issued a notice of proposed rulemaking implementing President Obama's Executive Order 13502, which creates new FAR contract clauses to be included in Federal contracts should an agency choose to require a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on a particular Federal construction project. Comments are due on August 13, 2009.

In short, the proposed rule (FAR Case 2009-005) would:

  • Provide a new FAR Subpart 22.5, Use of Project Labor Agreements for Federal Construction Projects;
  • Add a new provision at 52.222-XX, Notice of Requirement for Project Labor Agreement, to be included in solicitations where the agency has exercised its discretion to require a project labor agreement as prescribed at FAR 22.505(a);
  • Add a new clause 52.222-YY, Project Labor Agreement, to be included in contracts in accordance with FAR 22.505(b).

The proposed rule seems to implement the executive order carefully, without expansion, by encouraging (not requiring) agencies to consider (not necessarily adopt) a PLA requirement on large-scale construction projects (defined as projects with a total cost to the federal government of $25 million or more) on a project-by-project basis where certain criteria are met. It expressly leaves to the contracting agency discretion to decide whether or not to require a PLA.

AGC is encouraging agencies to exercise this discretion prudently, leaving the decision of whether to perform the work under a collective bargaining agreement up to the contractor-employers and their employees, as provided under federal labor law. AGC believes that it is inappropriate for public agencies to use their contracting authority to interfere with labor relations among private employers and employees, and explained that position to White House and other officials at a recent meeting about PLAs.

The proposed rule includes standards for all PLAs issued under the rule. These include that the PLA must "allow all contractors and subcontractors to compete for contracts and subcontracts without regard to whether they are otherwise parties to collective bargaining agreements." AGC intends to point out in its comments how this ostensibly fair principle is unrealistic, considering the very burdensome changes that a public PLA typically imposes on open shop contractors operations.

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



  Return to Top

IMMIGRATION
AGC Remains Involved in Immigration Reform Discussions
 

This week, President Obama visited Mexico and stated that he did not expect comprehensive immigration reform to be done this year and that he expected the issue to be taken up in 2010.    However, Members of Congress remain interested in the subject with some hoping to at least get legislation introduced in October so that negotiations can begin this year. 

In addition, some lawmakers are giving more thought to working on smaller immigration bills.  AGC remains active in conversations in both the House and the Senate with regard to items of concern for the construction industry, including employer enforcement, employment verification, changes to visa programs and the development of any future flow program.   

AGC supported comprehensive immigration reform during the 110th Congress.  Though the economic climate is a difficult one right now for Congress to discuss this issue, AGC will remain involved and track developments closely. 

For more information, contact Kelly Knott at (703) 837-4685 or knottk@agc.org. Return to Top

HEALTH CARE
Health Care Debate Follows Congress Home
 

Despite Congress leaving Washington, D.C., until September, the debate and furor over health care reform legislation has followed them home. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle continue to hear from constituentS in support and opposition to the current health care reform legislation.

While the vocal opposition at recent town hall meetings has centered around end-of-life care and the creation of a public option, AGC remains concerned with provisions in the current House proposal relating to financing and employer mandates. Although the three House committees of jurisdiction passed their respective portions of the bill, it could still change before the bill is debated on the House floor.

Senate Finance Committee members continue to actively look toward finding a bipartisan solution. The Committee is expected to release some legislation in September. Although it appears that President Obama's goal of signing a bill by October may pass, Democratic leaders remain committed to passing an overhaul bill this year with or without bipartisan support.

AGC continues to encourage members to use the Legislative Action Center to voice their opposition to the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act.

For more information, contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org. Return to Top

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