Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.orgFebruary 4, 2010
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On the Inside
CONGRESS
Brown Sworn In As 41st Republican
BUDGET
Key Construction Programs See Funding Cut
JOBS BILL
Senators Prepare Tax Cuts Bill to Help Job Creation
Senate Jobs Bill Extends Highway Program - Provides No New Infrastructure Funding
LABOR
Senate Expected To Consider AGC Opposed Nominee to the National Labor Relations Board Next Week
SAFETY
New Rule Proposed to Add Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) to the OSHA Recordkeeping Logs
CONGRESS
Brown Sworn In As 41st Republican
 

Today, Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) was officially sworn in 3 weeks after he won the special election in Massachusetts giving the Republicans 41 votes in the Senate. The event took place one week earlier then scheduled due to several controversial votes that the Democrat Leadership were planning to hold allowing them to capitalize on their super majority and overcome Republican attempts to filibuster.

Brown’s win has already slowed several pieces of the Democrats and the Obama Administration’s priorities, chiefly health care reform.  Without the super majority Democrats continue to plot the next course of action for health care and it appears they will move on  to a jobs bill before addressing health care reform.  Brown’s win and his expected opposition to the controversial nomination of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board delivers another blow to democrats.  AGC has also opposed Mr. Becker’s nomination to this post out of concern he might try to impose some of the more controversial measures in the Card Check legislation via Board rulings.

In Illinois, the first primary of the 2010 congressional election cycle was held on Tuesday. Current Congressman and AGC PAC supported Mark Kirk (R) easily won the Republican primary where he will face the Democratic nominee, Alexi Giannoulias, Illinois' treasurer.  The two will now campaign to replace Senator Roland Burris who was appointed by then-Governor Rod Blagojevich to fill President Barack Obama’s seat.

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

BUDGET
Key Construction Programs See Funding Cut
 

On Monday President Obama unveiled his $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal year 2011. The budget projects a deficit of $1.27 trillion while placing a total freeze on non-security domestic spending.  That freeze has resulted in cutbacks in most of the key federal construction accounts.  According to AGC’s analysis,  the Administration’s proposed total of $112.4 billion for construction projects represents a nearly $9 billion, or 7.5 percent, decrease from the $121.5 billion appropriated for construction projects in FY 2010 (this does not include ARRA funds).

While the budget recommends a mix of increases and reductions in programs across market areas, it does recommend boosting a few construction programs (albeit very modestly) including 1 percent increases for both the highway and transit programs.  In addition, the Administration is calling for the creation of a $4 billion National Infrastructure Bank for transportation projects of regional or national significance. 

In contrast, the proposed budget cuts the construction budget for the Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil-Works Program from $2 billion in 2010 to $1.7 billion, a 17% decrease.  The Environmental Protection Agency budget would cut the Clean-Water State Revolving Funds by 5% to $2 billion and the Drinking Water State Revolving Funds by 7% to $1.2 billion.

The President’s budget is simply a request of the Administration’s priorities for the next fiscal year and the first step in the federal budget process.  AGC will continue to advocate for the increased federal investment in the nation's infrastructure and public facilities through the nearly 100 construction programs at the federal level.

A cover-page story from Engineering News Record about President Obama’s 2011 budget request, quotes AGC’s CEO, Steve Sandherr, talking about how the budget has a mixed outlook for construction, the positives being the President continues to see investing in infrastructure as a good way to boost the economy.  The negatives include significant cuts to the Army Corps of Engineers budget. 

For a chart compiled by AGC that compares the Administration’s FY 2011 budget request, click here.

For more information contact Sean O’Neill at neills@agc.org or 202-547-8892. Return to Top

JOBS BILL
Senators Prepare Tax Cuts Bill to Help Job Creation
 

Senate Democratic leaders today unveiled legislation aimed at cutting taxes for businesses to create jobs as part of a multi-bill jobs agenda.  A key component of the legislation is a tax credit for businesses that hire new workers.  One proposal, co-written by Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), would offer a refund of the 6.2 percent employer share of the Social Security payroll tax to companies of any size that hire workers this year.  Employers could also receive an additional $1,000 tax credit next year for each new worker they keep on the payroll for at least a year if the worker’s pay in the second half of the year is at least 80 percent of the employee’s pay in the first 26 weeks.   The Senate may consider additional hiring tax credit proposals, as well.

The Senate tax package may also include extensions of current tax law, including provisions of the Recovery Act that provided bonus depreciation and enhanced expensing, and the House-passed extenders package (H.R. 4213), which includes a one-year extension of the 15-year shortened cost recovery period for leasehold, retail, and restaurant improvements.  The Senate may also consider an extension of the highly-successful Build America Bonds program, which offers states and local governments a lower-cost option to finance public infrastructure projects and to date has provided over $64 billion in financing, and an extension of the federal surface transportation program.  The bill will also likely include extensions of unemployment insurance and COBRA benefits. 

Senate Republicans have called for commitments from the other side of the aisle call up estate tax legislation and to keep a tax package separate from spending provisions that may move later before assenting to move to the bill. 

For more information contact Karen Lapsevic at labsevick@agc.org or 202-547-4733. Return to Top

Senate Jobs Bill Extends Highway Program - Provides No New Infrastructure Funding
 

The Senate “jobs” legislation is expected to include an extension of highway and transit program authorization through the end of the 2010 and transfers almost $20 billion from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund to provide sufficient revenue to fund the program through the end of the year. This would maintain highway and transit program funding at current levels. No other additional infrastructure funding is provided, unlike the House passed bill which increases highway, transit, water and wastewater funding significantly. A second “jobs” bill is being discussed in the Senate to provide additional infrastructure investment but such legislation is only at the discussion point.  Return to Top

LABOR
Senate Expected To Consider AGC Opposed Nominee to the National Labor Relations Board Next Week
 

This morning, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved Mr. Craig Becker’s nomination to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) 13-10 in a party line vote.  Mr. Becker is the Associate General Counsel of the SEIU and the AFL-CIO and has been a prolific writer on the National Labor Relations Act, the law he will be responsible for interpreting and enforcing.   These writings have indicated his extreme views on labor law such as wanting to eliminate the role of employers in union elections and vastly limiting the role of employers in communicating with their employees.  In addition, he is a strong advocate of the so-called Employee Free Choice Act (commonly known as Card Check) and is certain to push the NRLB to effect changes undermining employee and employer rights like those attempted by the bill. 

The full Senate still needs to vote on this nomination.  Senate Democrats need 60 votes to move this nomination, a challenge made more difficult with the election of Scott Brown to the Massachusetts Senate seat. 

AGC opposes the nomination of Mr. Becker to the NLRB because of his controversial positions on labor law and our concern that his rulings  could allow many of the controversial provisions of the stalled Card Check bill to go into effect without Congressional action.

A story in the Washington Examiner that quotes AGC’s Associate General Counsel, Denise Gold about AGC’s concerns with the Obama Administration’s National Labor Relations Board nominee, Craig Becker and how he is a strong advocate of  the Card Check legislation.

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

SAFETY
New Rule Proposed to Add Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) to the OSHA Recordkeeping Logs
 

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing to require employees to better identify and report work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). The rule does not change existing requirements for when and under what circumstances employers must record musculoskeletal disorders on their injury and illness logs. 

The proposed requirements are identical to those contained in the OSHA recordkeeping regulation that was issued in 2001. Prior to 2001, OSHA's injury and illness logs contained a column for repetitive trauma disorders that included noise and MSDs. In 2001, OSHA separated noise and MSDs into two separate columns, but the MSD column was deleted in 2003 before the provision became effective. OSHA is now proposing to restore the MSD column to the OSHA Form 300 log.

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

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