Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.orgOctober 8, 2009
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On the Inside
HEALTH CARE
Senate Health Care Bill Prepares to Move Forward
CHAPTER LEADERSHIP
AGC Chapter Leaders Meet in Washington, Visit Capitol Hill
TRANSPORTATION
Senate Looks to Solve Highway Rescission Problem
LABOR
E-Verify Program Expected To Be Extended
The Davis-Bacon and Related Acts: The Ins and Outs of Federal Prevailing Wage Law Webinar
 
HEALTH CARE
Senate Health Care Bill Prepares to Move Forward
 

With amendment debate completed and an official Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score in hand, the Senate Finance Committee is poised to vote on and pass their modified bill out of committee on Tuesday October 13. 

The bill will then head to the Senate floor once it is merged with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee bill by Majority Leader Reid’s staff.  Senate Democrats plan to have the health package on the Senate floor by the week after next.

Following the more than week long mark-up, CBO determined the Finance bill would cost $829 billion over 10 years, $55 billion more than Chairman Baucus’ original mark. CBO predicted the Finance Committee bill will reduce the federal deficit by $81 billion and provide up to 94 percent of all Americans with health care coverage.

During debate several contentious issues were not resolved. In the end, the public option was not added, employer mandates remain, and Cadillac plans will still being taxed.

In the House, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Charlie Rangel expects to get his bill completed this week and sent to CBO to be scored.  Democratic leaders in the House are looking at options to help pay for healthcare reform, including instituting a windfall profits tax on insurance companies.  Timing of a bill moving in the House remains fluid as Democratic leaders try to address the concerns of their liberal and conservative members.

AGC remains concerned over employer mandates, the penalties for companies that cannot afford to provide health care, the uncertainties in coverage requirements, the affect on temporary and seasonal employees, the limitations on FSAs, HSAs and HRAs, and expanded COBRA mandates. Even with the CBO score of the Senate Finance bill, AGC remains concerned that the exorbitant costs of the proposed plans will result in increased taxes on individuals and companies.  AGC supports reform that increases coverage, choice and competition in the marketplace. The inclusion of a public plan in the legislation will likely drive private insurers out of the market and the projected savings from the proposed legislation may never materialize, resulting in further tax increases to make up the shortfall.

For more information, contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org.
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CHAPTER LEADERSHIP
AGC Chapter Leaders Meet in Washington, Visit Capitol Hill
 

AGC Chapter leaders, including executives and presidents, met in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss best practices and meet with Congress to address AGC's top legislative issues.

The annual National and Chapter Leadership Conference included speakers from Capitol Hill and breakout sessions to discuss the industry's most pressing issues, including federal contracting requirements and new labor, employment and safety initiatives.

Approximately 160 Congressional offices were visited by AGC leaders.   The top issue discussed during these meetings was AGC’s newly-released blueprint on how to stimulate demand for construction.  The document, “Build Now for the Future: A Blueprint for Economic Growth,” outlines a series of commonsense incentives, tax credits and policy changes designed to stimulate new private and public-sector demand for construction.   Click here to view this plan. 

Several prominent speakers participated in the meeting, including George Will, award-winning political columnist, who told attendees that the United States has always believed in infrastructure investment and criticized Congress for failing to pass a robust six-year surface transportation bill, saying it “shouldn’t be difficult.”

In addition, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) were on hand to discuss some of AGC's top legislative issues with AGC Chapter leaders.

Blumenauer called for greater transportation investments and will work to attract over $1 trillion in new investments in water infrastructure. Burr focused on health care and explained that getting reform right is crucial to the business community.

For more information, contact Elisa Brewer Pratt at (703) 837-5343 or brewere@agc.org. Return to Top

TRANSPORTATION
Senate Looks to Solve Highway Rescission Problem
 

Since Congress failed to act prior to the September 30, 2009 deadline, a rescission of $8.7 billion in highway program budget authority required in SAFETEA-LU was implemented. As a result of the rescission, 30 states will lose about $335 million in actual highway funding dollars in FY 2010 and all states will have limits on their ability to use federal highway dollars to fund state priority projects.

Since the highway and transit programs are currently operating on a thirty-day authorization extension, Congress must pass further extensions to keep the programs operating. Key Senate transportation leaders are looking for budget offsets to allow the reversal of the rescission so that all states will have their lost budget authority restored.  They also are looking to the next authorization extension as the vehicle for solving this problem. AGC has met with key decision-makers and written to the entire House and Senate urging that this rescission be reversed to avoid further deterioration of the highway construction market.

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

LABOR
E-Verify Program Expected To Be Extended
 

This week, House and Senate conferees working on the appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security agreed to an extension of the E-Verify electronic verification system for three years.   

Conferees negotiated a simple three-year extension after considering differences on both sides.  For example, the Senate version of the bill would have made the program permanent and allowed for employers to verify existing employees. 

The extension would keep the program voluntary and authorize the continuation of the program in its current form.  However, the bill still needs to see final action on the floor of both the House and the Senate.   AGC expects the legislation to reach the floor before the end of October, and will monitor the issue closely.

For more information, contact Kelly Knott at (202) 547-4685 or knottk@agc.org. Return to Top
The Davis-Bacon and Related Acts: The Ins and Outs of Federal Prevailing Wage Law Webinar
December 3, 8 & 10, 2:00pm 3:30pm ET
 

With the downturn in the availability of commercial work, many construction contractors are bidding on federal and federally-assisted work, and facing the mandates of federal prevailing wage laws, for the first time. The application of the Davis-Bacon Act to all projects funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is also responsible for leaving many contractors uncertain about the requirements of federal prevailing wage laws and the consequences of non-compliance. Perhaps you are a new staff person responsible for federal contract compliance or you’ve been in your role for a while and need a refresher course. This three-part webinar series will provide you with the information you need to understand the specific requirements of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts in a contractor-friendly manner.

            December 3: Introduction to the Davis Bacon Act and Wage Determinations

            December 8: Compliance Principles

            December 10: Reporting Requirements & Enforcement

Register at www.agc.org/DBWebinar. Return to Top

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