Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.orgJanuary 7, 2010
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On the Inside
HEALTH CARE
Health Care Negotiations Underway Behind Closed Doors Construction Industry Still Targeted
JOBS BILL
Senate Drafting Jobs Bill
ELECTIONS
Senate Retirement Announcements Shake Up Political Landscape for 2010 Elections
HEALTH CARE
Health Care Negotiations Underway Behind Closed Doors Construction Industry Still Targeted
 

Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate continue to work out the differences in their respective health care bills. The House began discussions with its members today and will receive a briefing from President Obama next week; while Senate leaders are meeting with the president today.

The major issues of contention include the financing mechanisms, costs and Medicaid expansion. The Senate provision on taxing high-cost "Cadillac" plans is becoming a flashpoint and could be replaced with an increase in the Medicare payroll tax. Other differences include the effective date for many of the provisions (2013 in the House and 2014 in the Senate), and the difference between a national exchange in the House bill rather than state-based ones in the Senate bill.

AGC is focusing on an amendment to the Senate bill that specifically targets the construction industry by blocking only the construction industry from the small business exemption. Recognizing the complexity and costs associated with the mandates in the bill, Congress originally exempted all businesses that employ less than 50 employees from the employer mandate.

Employers in the construction industry only were singled out by the late amendment that requires them to comply with the employer mandate once they have five employees and their payroll reaches $250,000.

In addition to grassroots alerts in December, AGC today issued a call to action to the membership to reach out to key Senators to remove this language from the final bill. AGC opposes the amendment because it was never open to debate, was pushed by a small employer group representing less than 3 percent of construction companies, it differs from other employee and payroll thresholds elsewhere in the bill, as well as other labor laws and regulations, and the unemployment rate in construction is the highest of any industry.

In Washington, AGC is meeting with key Congressional offices to voice the industry’s opposition to the amendment and to look toward health care reform that contains costs, rather than shifts them. AGC has sent letters to Congress, issued press releases, and was quoted in national publications on the impact of the legislation.

Please take a minute to call or write your elected officials today through the AGC Legislative Action Center.

For more information, contact Jeff Shoaf at shoafj@agc.org. Return to Top

JOBS BILL
Senate Drafting Jobs Bill
 

Senate Democrats hope to move a “jobs” package in the coming weeks. Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) has been working with House leaders and a group of senators to craft a bill that is expected to include funding for a variety of infrastructure programs.

The bill is also likely to be the vehicle for extending highway and transit program authorization through the end of 2010. The House passed a $150 billion “jobs” bill prior to the Christmas recess. It included $48.3 billion for infrastructure, $26.7 billion for state aid and $79 billion in emergency spending for unemployment benefits, Medicaid assistance and the like. The bill also extends the highway program through September 30, 2010. The Senate bill pays for the infrastructure and state aid with repaid TARP funds, the emergency spending is not paid for and the highway extension is paid for through an intergovernmental transfer.  The Senate has not decided if it will take up the House bill and or if it will  instead draft its own legislation. House Republicans and likely Senate Republicans oppose using TARP to pay for the infrastructure portion.

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

ELECTIONS
Senate Retirement Announcements Shake Up Political Landscape for 2010 Elections
 

In the last few days, two prominent Democratic senators have announced their retirement from the U.S. Senate.  Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) have announced that they will not run for re-election in November. 

Upon Dorgan’s very surprising retirement announcement, the race went from solid Democratic to “leans Republican.”  In other words, now that the incumbent Democrat has removed himself from the race in this red state, the chances of a Republican (possibly Governor John Hoeven, though he has not officially entered the race yet) taking the seat are very good.  It is very likely that if Hoeven does enter the race, it will shift to solid Republican, indicating the uphill battle any potential Democratic candidate would have against him. 

In Connecticut, now that Dodd has left the race, it has gone from leaning Republican to a toss-up, indicating that his place in the race was actually hurting his party.  In fact, it is widely speculated that he is retiring because of the reality that he could not win in November.  As soon as he dropped out of the race, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal officially announced his candidacy, and it is unlikely he will have a real primary.  Republican opposition includes former U.S. Representative Rob Simmons and WWE CEO Linda McMahon, who will battle each other in their party’s primary before one is chosen to face Blumenthal. 

The race to replace former Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) has gotten much closer than many expected.  The special election will be held on January 19, 2010, and polls now show Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley leading Republican state Sen. Scott Brown by single digits.  While Coakley has an advantage, it is still a race worth following.

For more information, please visit www.agc.org/vote or contact Julie Hodgson at hodgsonj@agc.org or (202)547-5013. Return to Top

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