Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org May 6, 2010
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On the Inside
CONGRESS
House Wants to Silence Critics Before Election Day
TRANSPORTATION
Possible Introduction of Senate Climate Bill Next Week
ENVIRONMENT
Senate to Vote on Resolution to Block EPA from Using Clean Air Act to Stop Construction Projects, AGC Action Requested
SAFETY
OSHA Official Says It's Dangerous When Penalties Become a Factor of Doing Business
FEDERAL
2010 AGC Federal Contractors Conference Breaks New Ground
AGC Member Testifies In Support of Water Resources Development Act Reauthorization
WATER
AGC Coalition Urge Colleagues to Support Private Funding for Water
House of Representatives Passes Resolution Recognizing Safe Digging Month

 

As you may have noticed, today's AGC Construction Legislative Week in Review is sponsored by Autodesk. Please visit their website to learn more about the resources they provide to construction contractors. For more information on newsletter sponsorship, contact Monica Cardenas at cardenasm@agc.org. Return to Top

CONGRESS
House Wants to Silence Critics Before Election Day
 

The House of Representatives is planning to rush through legislation in the next two weeks that will significantly restrict the ability of trade associations and companies to engage in political advocacy. The bill H.R. 5175 is being labeled a disclosure bill in response to the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, but it is really focused on keeping government contractors, TARP recipients and companies with more than 20 percent foreign ownership out of the political process. In addition, it seeks to silence trade associations and businesses that plan to publicly announce that they are critical of legislation supported by candidates for federal office.

The legislation makes changes to the definitions in the law of “coordinated communications,” “express advocacy” and “electioneering communications” in a way that will have a chilling effect on issue advocacy that is in any way critical of members of Congress. The Senate is gearing up to consider identical legislation.

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


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TRANSPORTATION
Possible Introduction of Senate Climate Bill Next Week
 

Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) are planning to continue their push to advance climate change legislation with or without the support of Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and may introduce a bill as early as next week. Questions remain as to Senator Graham’s level of participation in the discussions but Senator Kerry insists that all three Senators are working together behind the scenes on the proposal.

One of the main issues said to be holding up the introduction of the bill is the treatment of the revenue that would be generated from requiring oil companies to pay a fee or a penalty on the emissions from transportation fuels.  AGC and others transportation stakeholders contend that the money generated from this  or any other fee on transportation motor fuels  should be treated as a user fee and dedicated to the Highway Trust Fund to support a multi-year surface transportation bill.  AGC continues to deliver that message in meetings with Senate offices.  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

ENVIRONMENT
Senate to Vote on Resolution to Block EPA from Using Clean Air Act to Stop Construction Projects, AGC Action Requested
 

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote this month on a resolution this month that would block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.  AGC is concerned that Clean Air Act regulation of greenhouse gases would delay or stop construction projects nationwide.

S. J. Res. 26 was introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in response to EPA’s effort to regulate greenhouse gases from motor vehicles that then trigger requirements for emission controls from all other sources, including commercial buildings, industrial facilities, and more.   

EPA regulation under the Clean Air Act means more pre-construction permits, operating permits, and costly technology control installation requirements for building projects, and puts approval and federal funding for highway and bridge projects at risk.  It also means higher energy process for businesses and consumers that will affect demand for construction services nationwide, especially in a down economy. 

AGC urges all members to contact their Senators in support of Senator Murkowski’s resolution.  To send a message to your Senators, you can use AGC’s Legislative Action Center by clicking here.

For more information, contact Karen Lapsevic at (202) 547-4733 or lapsevick@agc.org. Return to Top

SAFETY
OSHA Official Says It's Dangerous When Penalties Become a Factor of Doing Business
 

Madison, Wisconsin OSHA area director Kim Stille warned Daily Reporter that her agency is unprepared to enforce the Protecting Americas Workers Act, and that it would undermine productive relationships the agency has built with construction firms that have helped cut the construction fatality rate nearly in half over the past decade.

Read the article here.

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

FEDERAL
2010 AGC Federal Contractors Conference Breaks New Ground
Annual Meeting with Major Construction Agencies Makes Major Advances
 

The 2010 AGC Federal Contractors Conference was another major success, highlighting the excellent relationships that AGC maintains with the federal agencies on behalf of its members. The meeting was held April 26-29, 2010, in Washington, D.C. Government representatives from over 20 federal construction agencies participated, including the Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Highway Administration, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration and Air Force.

The Conference broke new ground by expanding to three tracks of meeting sessions for contractors based on the type of work procured by the federal government: federal facilities, water infrastructure, and highway and transportation infrastructure. Agencies participating in those sessions included the Federal Highway Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Federal and Heavy Construction Division Chairman Dan Fordice welcomed such honored guests as Lieutenant General Robert Van Antwerp, Commander and Chief of Engineers for the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE); Rear Admiral Greg Shear, NAVFAC Commander and Chief of Civil Engineers; Major General Tim Byers, the Air Force Civil Engineer; and Small Business Assistant Administrator Joseph Jordan. Additional guests included Major General Bo Temple, Deputy Commanding General;  Robert Slockbower, Director of Military Programs, USACE; Joseph Gott, Chief Engineer, NAVFAC; and Assistant Commissioner of Capital Improvements William Guerin of the General Services Administration. Other agencies represented included the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Forest Service, Small Business Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Energy, Coast Guard, Agency for International Development, Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Commerce, Environmental Protection Agency, Rural Utilities Services, Federal Transit Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Office of Federal Lands Highway, and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The AGC Federal Owners Advisory Council held its annual meeting at the Conference as well. The Council’s membership includes key decision makers from 19 federal agencies, as well as AGC Federal and Heavy Division leadership and committee chairs. This year’s session featured robust discussions on implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Obama Administration’s final rulemaking on Project Labor Agreements, long-term goals for the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM), and achieving small business participation goals. Additional topics of discussion included developing a consistent process for administrating past performance ratings, and new federal workforce development initiatives.

Conference attendees also received a special address from Lieutenant General Robert Van Antwerp. His presentation was followed by the signing of a new AGC-USACE Partnering Agreement, the first signed since 2001.  AGC president Ted Aadland welcomed LTG Van Antwerp and signed the agreement as well (pictured above). In addition, AGC NAVFAC Committee Chairman Tex Barnhart presented RADM Shear with the Division’s Federal Construction Excellence Award, commemorating his distinguished career with NAVFAC and the agency’s successful partnering with the AGC.

Finally, Federal & Heavy Construction Division Members launched an all out offensive on the legislative front during the meeting. As part of a series of organized Capitol Hill visits, AGC members participated in providing information on a range of issues, including comprehensive immigration reform, reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act, legislation to repeal the imposition of the three percent withholding tax on government contractors, legislation authorizing the creation of a Clean Water Trust Fund, and passage of a new transportation authorization bill.

Presentations from the conference will be available online soon.

For additional information, contact Marco Giamberardino at (703) 837-5325 or giamberm@agc.org.


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AGC Member Testifies In Support of Water Resources Development Act Reauthorization
 

Movement on a top AGC priority occurred this week as Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) held a hearing a new Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) on May 6, 2011. AGC Past Federal and Heavy Construction Division Chairman Mitch White of Manson Construction Co. in Long Beach, California, called on Congress to pass a new WRDA bill on schedule to meet the nation's economic, safety and transportation needs.

WRDA reaffirms the government's pledge to authorize, modify, and improve projects, programs, and policies protecting the nation from floods and keeping our waterways open to navigation. Regular authorizations of water resources development projects fulfill these important missions. AGC's testimony stressed that waterways programs foster economic development, facilitate trade and commerce, aid international competitiveness, stimulate employment, provide water recreation opportunities, enhance agricultural and industrial productivity, and augment our national defense. In addition, a new WRDA bill would serve as a key component of turning around the severe unemployment in the construction industry, which is currently hovering at 25 percent.

AGC is continuing to work with water resources and infrastructure investment champions in Congress to support passage of the legislation in the 111th Congress.  House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) has also stated his commitment to passing this important water infrastructure authorization in a timely manner.

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

WATER
AGC Coalition Urge Colleagues to Support Private Funding for Water
 

The AGC co-chaired Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Coalition sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee members urging their support of and inclusion of S. 3262 in a $10 billion-plus package of small-business incentives, which the Committee may consider as early as next Wednesday. On May 5, Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mike Crapo (D-Idaho) sent a “Dear Colleague” to the rest of the Senate urging their support for this bi-partisan legislation.

S. 3262 is the Senate companion to H.R. 537, a bill authored by Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) that passed the House in March as part of the Small Business and Infrastructure Tax Act.  AGC, along with the National Association of Water Companies and American Water, led the coalition effort in seeking the introduction of the Senate bill. The legislation will remove state volume caps on private activity bonds for water and wastewater projects and lead to the investment of billions of dollars in private money flowing into our nation's water infrastructure. AGC and coalition partners have been working to garner additional support for the Senate bill and include it in broader tax legislation. Based on water and financial industry estimates, the bill would facilitate at least $2 billion worth of private water investment in 2010 and up to $5 billion or more annually as the market matures.

To learn more about this legislation, visit the AGC Legislative Action Center.

For additional information please contact Perry L. Fowler at fowlerp@agc.org or (703) 837-5321. Return to Top

House of Representatives Passes Resolution Recognizing Safe Digging Month
 

On May 5, 2010 Congress passed a resolution sponsored by Representative Bill Shuster recognizing National Safe Digging Month.  This event sponsored the Common Ground Alliance of which AGC of America is a sponsor and founding member. Safe Digging Month is intended to raise awareness of the national “811 Call Before You Dig Campaign.”

The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) is a member-driven association dedicated to ensuring public safety, environmental protection, and the integrity of services by promoting effective damage prevention practices.    In recent years, the association has established itself as the leading organization in an effort to reduce damages to all underground facilities in North America through shared responsibility among all stakeholders.

Click here to read the resolution passed by Congress.

For additional information please contact Perry L. Fowler at fowlerp@agc.org or (703) 837-5321. Return to Top

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