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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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
AGC Members: FREE
here to register. For more information, contact Jim Young at
(202) 547-0133 or email@example.com.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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 email@example.com.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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