Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org June 24, 2010
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On the Inside
DISCLOSE Act
House Approves Controversial Campaign Finance Legislation
ENVIRONMENT
Senate, White House Discuss Path Forward on Energy and Climate Legislation
TAX
Senate Struggles with Tax “Extenders” Package, Approves Pension Relief
LABOR
AGC-inspired Good Samaritan for Construction, Architectural, and Engineering Volunteers Act Introduced in the House This Week
Senate Takes Action on National Labor Relations Board Nominees
PAC
Two Weeks of PAC Conference Calls a Success
DISCLOSE Act
House Approves Controversial Campaign Finance Legislation
 

Today the House approved the controversial DISCLOSE Act.  The bill passed by a vote of 219-206, with 36 Democrats voting against the bill. The bill will tighten requirements on issue advertising and political advertising by corporations and trade associations representing corporations, like AGC. The legislation does not place the same requirements on labor unions or some nonprofit groups representing individuals.

Fortunately the bill is not scheduled to be considered by the Senate in the near future. 

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

ENVIRONMENT
Senate, White House Discuss Path Forward on Energy and Climate Legislation
 

Following the President’s primetime Oval Office address last week on the Gulf oil spill, Senate Democratic leaders and the White House are trying to reach a consensus on a path forward for Senate consideration of a comprehensive energy and climate change bill.  While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) continues to meet with members of the Democratic caucus to craft a package that could garner 60 votes, a White House meeting with a bipartisan group of senators to discuss the issue today was cancelled and rescheduled for next week.  President Obama’s participation might provide momentum for the Senate to tackle the issue this year, although the president has not been specific about what he would like to see in the final product.

Senate Democrats are preparing to assemble a package slated for floor debate in July.  Senators have been meeting with Reid to pitch their own energy and climate change bills and to make their positions known on the best way to proceed.  The meetings have not yet resulted in a clear consensus as to whether to place a mandatory, economy-wide cap on greenhouse gas emissions and to price carbon.  Liberal members of the caucus are holding out for a bill that would price carbon in a number of key sectors, whereas more moderate members are pushing for a scaled-down bill that would only cap utility sector emissions or energy-only legislation, a path most Republican senators support.  There also appears to be consensus on addressing the oil spill crisis in the Gulf.

Some of the options on the table include the American Power Act, proposed by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), which would establish a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions and expand offshore drilling; Senator Jeff Bingaman’s (D-N.M.) energy bill that includes a renewable electricity standard, but no cap on greenhouse gas emissions; an alternative “cap-and-dividend” approach introduced by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) that would require energy producers to pay for “carbon shares” and distribute three-quarters of the revenue to consumers and the rest to clean energy research and development; and Senator Richard Lugar’s (R-Ind.) bill to promote energy efficiency without capping greenhouse gas emissions.

Time is not on the Democrats’ side even if they are able to reach a consensus on a package that could get 60 votes.  There are few remaining working weeks before the mid-term elections, and the Senate is already planning to set aside about two weeks in July to consider the nomination of Elena Kagen for the U.S. Supreme Court.  Senators may also face tough votes on amendments that range from stripping the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources, to broader economy-wide cap-and-trade schemes. 

AGC is advocating for energy and climate change policies that would not adversely affect the market for U.S. construction and is working with senators on both sides of aisle to protect the industry’s interests. AGC outlined its environmental priorities in its Building a Green Future report.

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

TAX
Senate Struggles with Tax “Extenders” Package, Approves Pension Relief
 

After failing to end a filibuster last week, Senate leaders continue to lack the votes needed to extend a number of expired tax provisions, aid to states, unemployment insurance, and health care benefits.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) Wednesday offered a new substitute amendment to the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act, which would cut the bill’s overall cost by $20 billion.  The amendment is the third offered in the last three weeks to reduce the amount of money that would be added to the deficit to secure the handful of votes needed to advance the legislation.  The latest substitute would reduce the bill’s impact on the deficit to $35 billion, roughly $100 billion less than previous iterations of the legislation.

The Senate will vote to end debate on the bill Friday, but proponents may still be down two or three votes.  Senators on both sides of the aisle have been concerned not only about the bill’s impact on the deficit, but also about two revenue provisions in the bill: carried interest and a new payroll tax increase on S corporations.  While Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has modified both provisions to address concerns, Senators have remained opposed.  Last week, Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) filed an amendment that would strip the proposed new payroll tax on certain service sector S corporations.

AGC opposes both of these tax increases and has written the Senate to express these concerns with the bill.

On Friday, the Senate passed a stand-alone measure to prevent a scheduled cut in Medicare reimbursements to physicians.  The so-called “Doc Fix” was originally part of the extenders bill, and the stand-alone bill removes about $6 billion in spending from the broader legislation.  The fully-offset bill also provides for single- and multiemployer pension funding relief, which would raise about $2.1 billion over 10 years.  However, the bill does not contain the preferred multiemployer pension relief approved by the House and included in the Senate’s extenders bill.  The new substitute amendment on which the Senate will vote tomorrow appears to include the preferred pension relief. 

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

LABOR
AGC-inspired Good Samaritan for Construction, Architectural, and Engineering Volunteers Act Introduced in the House This Week
 

On June 23, Congressman Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), Congressman Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and Congressman Gary Miller (R-Calif.) introduced H.R. 5576, the Good Samaritan for Construction, Architectural, and Engineering Volunteers Act.  

AGC believes that fear of law suits should not make construction contractors hesitate or decide not to assist in times of need. The bill provides construction contractors and other entities limited immunity from liability for negligence when providing services or equipment on a volunteer basis in response to a declared emergency or disaster.  It would not cover gross negligence or willful misconduct. Those protected under the bill would provide assistance at the direction of a public official acting in an official capacity.  This legislation would provide limited protection for those responding in the immediate aftermath of a tragic event. 

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

Senate Takes Action on National Labor Relations Board Nominees
 

This week the Senate confirmed the nominations of Senate Republican counsel Brian Hayes and Democrat Mark Pearce to full terms on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a government agency that is charged with conducting elections for union representation and investigating and determining unfair labor practices. Their nominations had been held up due to the lack of Senate support for controversial lawyer Craig Becker to a full term on the Board.   Both Pearce and Becker had been given recess appointments to the Board earlier this year. 

This week’s action by the Senate provides a Board make up of 3 Democrats and 2 Republicans until the end of August 2010.  At that point Republican member Schaumber’s term expires.   Currently, there is a vacancy in the General Counsel’s position and this leaves open the possibility of a package deal to secure confirmation for the General Counsel’s spot and the soon-to-be-vacant Republican spot in late 2010. 

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

PAC
Two Weeks of PAC Conference Calls a Success
 

 

Over the last two weeks, AGC PAC held Conference calls with Regional Coordinators, State PAC Chairs and PAC Chapter Representatives to discuss the current state of the committee, fundraising goals, future plans and requests for disbursements, and to discuss the 2010 Election. 

During the calls, the PAC allocated $357,000 to 168 candidates in 42 states, and raised its $1 million goal to $1.2 million for the cycle. In an attempt to reach this ambitious goal, AGC PAC has kicked off a new fundraising campaign “$210 in 2010.”  As part of this campaign, AGC PAC is encouraging contributors to give $210 more dollars in this extremely important election year.  Chapter, state, and regional PAC Network contacts will receive further information on the campaign in a few weeks.  

In addition to raising the dollar goal, PAC leaders hope to raise the number of contributors this cycle by 20 percent, and promote the two higher PAC giving levels: AGC PAC Capitol Caucus for people contributing $2,500 annually, and the President’s Congressional Council for people contributing $5,000 annually. 

In July, AGC PAC will send out a toolkit to committee members, including more information on candidates the PAC supports, contributors to AGC PAC, and all the “tools” necessary for successful fundraising – contribution forms, current and past contributor lists, information on payroll deduction and higher donor levels, as well as information on the hottest legislative issues of the summer and the voting records of members of the House and Senate in the recipient’s area. 

For more information, contact Blair Hood at (202) 547-5013 or hoodb@agc.org.


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