Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org April 15, 2010
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On the Inside
CONGRESS
Congress Faces Crowded Schedule
HEALTH CARE
Webinar - What Impact Will the New Health Care Law Have on Construction Employers?
TAKE ACTION
AGC Continues Push to Prevent a Diversion of Funds from the Highway Trust Fund
REGULATORY
AGC Member Tells EPA: Diesel Emissions Rule Will Hurt Workers
Final Rule on Federal PLAs Gives Agencies Broad Discretion
CONGRESS
Congress Faces Crowded Schedule
 

Both Houses of Congress will be in session until the Memorial Day break and both chambers are expected to debate and possibly pass several major legislative initiatives in the next six weeks. Issues that could impact the construction industry may include a financial regulatory reform bill, a short-term extension of tax breaks and benefits programs, a “compromise” climate change and energy proposal, and immigration reform.  While Democratic leaders have indicated a desire to pass immigration and climate change, it will be very difficult and the votes on these measures may fall to later in the year or later.

AGC continues to push Congress to enact tax policies that would promote construction activity and business expansion.  Prior to Memorial Day, Congress is expected to finalize the annual tax extenders bill to continue roughly $30 billion in tax incentives through 2010.  The Senate may also take up a small business tax and infrastructure bill that would include an extension of the Build America Bonds program into 2013.  There is also a possibility that the Senate may consider a proposal to set a permanent rate to the estate tax.    

An outline for immigration reform from Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has been released despite an uphill climb to find enough votes to pass it this year. AGC is seeking to promote reasonable employer enforcement as well as a new visa program that would create a system to supply the U.S. economy with the workers it needs as the country begins to recover from the downturn. The outline as released has four pillars comprised of border security, interior enforcement, the creation of a process for admitting new provisional workers, and implementing a path to legalization for those already here.  Part of the interior enforcement aspect would include an employment verification system that would hold employers accountable for hiring practices. 

Despite the urging of the White House, and a House-passed bill last year, the Senate is still struggling to pass a comprehensive climate and energy bill.  Work continues on a Senate bill, and Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) are said to be close to unveiling their own proposal. AGC has been meeting with key members working on the bill and continues to share the industry’s concern that the legislation will restrict construction while failing to recognize the environmental benefits of many construction projects. Additionally, AGC is concerned that the absence of federal legislation has allowed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to push forward with its own regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from mobile and stationary sources under the Clean Air Act. AGC supports a bipartisan resolution sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) that would block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. 

The next six weeks will be critical to the prospects of getting a long-term multi-year transportation reauthorization bill enacted this year.  Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Cal) said this week that her committee’s hearings are now complete and staff will finalize a draft of the Senate bill.  Congress has passed legislation to keep the highway and transit programs operating through the end of the year and provided funds to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent through the first quarter of 2011, but AGC continues to highlight the benefits of enacting long-term, well-funded highway and transit reauthorization legislation.

Other issues that the Democratic leaders plan to address do not directly impact the construction industry, but will consume considerable debate time in Congress. These issues include food safety legislation, passing of administration nominees prior to the summer debate, confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice nominee, and campaign finance legislation.

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

HEALTH CARE
Webinar - What Impact Will the New Health Care Law Have on Construction Employers?
Save the Date: May 6, 2010 at 1:00 EDT
 

Free for AGC members and Chapters, this AGC webinar will detail the recently enacted health care bill and the sweeping changes to the delivery of health care in the United States. Focusing on the impact on employers in the construction industry as well as their responsibilities and requirements to offer health care benefits to their employees, AGC has partnered with a prestigious law firm experienced in this matter to analyze the impact of the bill on construction employers and suggest preparations that employers should begin implementing to comply with the new law.

Plus, AGC’s chief economist Ken Simonson will close out the event with a preview of the impact the legislation will have on the demand for future health care construction.

The webinar will cover the following:

  • new employer responsibility requirements
  • new insurance reforms
  • impact of tax changes
  • wellness programs
  • impact on collectively bargained employees
  • impact on future health care construction

Registration:

AGC Members:  FREE
Non-Member:  $79

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

TAKE ACTION
AGC Continues Push to Prevent a Diversion of Funds from the Highway Trust Fund
 

It is widely anticipated that Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) will introduce climate change legislation before the end of the month.  Although a draft of the bill has not been released, the Senators have announced plans to limit carbon emissions through the inclusion of a fee on motor fuels based on the price of carbon dioxide under a cap-and-trade system.  This fee would act similar to a gas tax but it is unclear how much /if any of the revenue generated from this fee would be treated as a user fee and dedicated to the Highway Trust Fund. 

AGC has been meeting with Senate offices working to ensure that any money from this linked fee be deposited into the Highway Trust Fund and used to finance a multi-year surface transportation bill.  Support this effort by sending a letter through AGC’s Legislative Action Center.

For more information, contact Sean O'Neill at (202) 547-8892 or oneills@agc.org. Return to Top

REGULATORY
AGC Member Tells EPA: Diesel Emissions Rule Will Hurt Workers
 

AGC member Jon Cloud testified before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to explain how California's plan to require construction contractors to install emissions reduction kits on their off-road diesel equipment will endanger workers and force job cuts.

Cloud (J. Cloud, Inc., El Cajon, Calif.) and Guy Prescott, a representative of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local Union Three, asked EPA to deny or delay a decision to allow the state to proceed with its off-road rule.

Read AGC's press release here.

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

Final Rule on Federal PLAs Gives Agencies Broad Discretion
 

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council has issued a final rule implementing Executive Order 13502 on the use of project labor agreements  (PLAs) on federal construction projects, giving contracting agencies broad discretion to determine whether to impose a PLA mandate on a project, when the PLA should be executed, and what terms the PLA will contain.

The rule implements the executive order's stated policy to "encourage" executive agencies to "consider" requiring the use of project labor agreements in connection with large-scale construction projects, which are defined as projects with a total cost to the federal government of $25 million or more.  Mimicking the Executive Order, the rule provides that an agency "may" require that every construction contractor and subcontractor on a particular project agree to negotiate or become a party to a PLA if the agency decides that use of a PLA will (1) advance the government's interest in achieving economy and efficiency in federal procurement, producing labor-management stability, and ensuring compliance with laws and regulations governing safety and health, equal employment opportunity, labor and employment standards, and other matters; and (2) be consistent with the law.  The rule adds several other factors that agencies may consider in their project-by-project evaluation of whether a PLA is appropriate, but it neither requires the agencies to consider those factors nor limits their consideration to those factors. 

Read more about the added factors here.

AGC issued a statement, noting that we will continue to strongly oppose any effort by government officials, who often have little or no experience in construction labor relations, to undermine existing relationships between contractors and construction workers by imposing project labor agreements.  AGC will continue to encourage agency officials to exercise the broad latitude provided by these rules to avoid imposing these agreements.

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

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