Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org July 29, 2010
Spacer
AGC Home Page
Email our Editor
Search Back Issues
Forward to a Friend
Subscribe
Printer Friendly
AGC Political Toolkit
Take Action!
On the Inside
SAFETY
Department of Labor Publishes Final Rule Regulating Cranes and Derricks in Construction
AGC Efforts May Delay OSHA Bill
TRANSPORTATION
House Transportation Appropriations Bill Poised for Passage, Including AGC-supported Amendment Cutting "Livability" Program
TAX
Small Business Jobs Bill Stalls Again in Senate
FEDERAL
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Considers New Water Resources Development Act
AGC Launches New Resource on “Buy American”
WATER
Capitol Hill Briefing on the Clean Water Trust Fund Attracts More than 100 People
SAFETY
Department of Labor Publishes Final Rule Regulating Cranes and Derricks in Construction
New rule will take effect Nov. 8, 2010
 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued on July 28, 2010, a new rule addressing the use of cranes and derricks in construction.  Approximately 267,000 construction, crane rental and crane certification establishments employing about 4.8 million workers will be affected by the final rule. Read the changes to the final rule from the proposed rule here.

Since OSHA announced its decision to establish a Crane and Derrick Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee (C-DAC) under the Negotiated Rulemaking Act (NRA), the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) and the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) in 2003, AGC participated on the C-DAC Committee and commented extensively on the proposed rule. AGC’s comments centered on crane operator qualification and certification, as well as the scope, definitions, fall protection, inspections, and assembly/disassembly requirements of the rule. AGC also held a series of conference calls with members and Chapters to review and solicit comments on the proposal.

The previous rule, which dated back to 1971, was based on 40-year-old standards. The new rule is designed to prevent the leading causes of fatalities, including electrocution, crushed-by/struck-by hazards during assembly/disassembly, collapse and overturn.  It also sets requirements for ground conditions and crane operator assessment.  In addition, the rule addresses tower crane hazards, addresses the use of synthetic slings for assembly/disassembly work, and clarifies the scope of the regulation by providing both a functional description and a list of examples for the equipment that is covered.

The new rule will take effect on Nov. 8, 2010. To view AGC’s comments on the proposed regulations, click here, and the changes in the final rule here. The complete rule is available here. The regulation text is available here

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

AGC Efforts May Delay OSHA Bill
 

This week it was expected that the AGC-opposed Miner Safety and Health Act would be on the House floor for a vote.   Thanks to AGC’s efforts Washington, D.C., and from grassroots contacts nationwide, as of Thursday this bill has not been considered and it is now unlikely that it will be considered before September.  More than 1,200 AGC letters were sent to Capitol Hill explaining the dedication of AGC members to safety and outlining the concerns posed by this bill.

The Miner Safety and Health Act would make significant changes to both MSHA and OSHA. AGC is a strong advocate of worker safety but is concerned about the direction of the bill. The legislation turns the clock back on well over 10 years of progress in improved workplace safety, which has lead to a nearly 50 percent reduction in the construction fatality rate, by creating a more adversarial relationship between employers and OSHA.

The bill does not help facilitate worker safety on a site or help businesses, especially small businesses, improve their worksite safety. Instead, the House proposal focuses on punitive measures, such as vague new standards for criminal liability, and imposes complicated and costly procedures for adjudicating whistleblower cases. This approach fails to take into account the construction industry's successful accident prevention strategies that have resulted in reducing workplace injury, illness and fatality rates through the successful efforts of business and government working together. AGC is worried that this legislation will hamper continued construction industry safety improvements through increased litigation and discouragement of cooperative relationships.

With the House leaving on Friday for their district work period, consideration of this bill is pushed back until at least September. The Senate has not yet focused on this bill and is likely to take a more deliberative (much slower) approach. 

Thank you to everyone who took the time to send letters. Please take advantage of your Members of Congress being home during August to let them know your thoughts on this legislation.  In addition, click here to send a letter to your Representative and Senators about your concerns with this legislation.

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

TRANSPORTATION
House Transportation Appropriations Bill Poised for Passage, Including AGC-supported Amendment Cutting "Livability" Program
 

The House of Representatives is currently debating the Fiscal Year 2011 funding bill for the Department of Transportation.  The bill is expected to pass and now includes an amendment that will restore $200 million to the Highway Trust Fund due to AGC’s lobbying efforts. Because several of the amendments would cut various transportation investment programs, AGC and our colleagues in the transportation construction industry sent a letter opposing any effort to scale back the transportation funding levels in the bill.

An amendment offered by the Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), drew the most attention.  The amendment restored $200 million that was taken from federal highway formula funds to fund DOTs “livable communities” initiative.  The “livable communities” initiative is an unauthorized, yet to be defined grant program that DOT hopes to create to provide certain planning grants to communities. The amendment was opposed by the Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, John Olver (D-Mass.), as well as several House Democrats who wanted to ensure that federal transportation dollars were not spent on particular modes or types of projects. 

AGC along with its transportation construction stakeholder partners led the lobbying efforts for the DeFazio amendment.  These efforts ultimately led to Chairman Olver accepting the amendment, ensuring that the $200 million will remain in the Highway Trust Fund.

The bill provides $45.2 billion for the highway program, $11.3 billion for transit program funding, $3.5 billion for the Airport Improvement Program (the same amount as appropriated in previous years), $1.4 billion for high-speed passenger rail, and $400 million for TIGER Grant programs, while failing to provide the $4 billion requested by the president for a National Infrastructure Innovation and Finance Fund.

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

TAX
Small Business Jobs Bill Stalls Again in Senate
Failure to agree on how to handle bigger tax provisions continues to block consideration
 

The Senate today failed by a vote of 58 to 42 to pass a procedural vote (60 votes needed for passage) on a new substitute amendment to the Small Business Jobs Act.  The Senate Democrat and Republican leadership were once again unable to reach an agreement on amendments to be offered by Republicans to the bill prior to the vote. 

The Bill would make $30 billion in funds available to community banks to make loans to small businesses and provide $12 billion in tax cuts, including quicker write-offs for depreciation. The bill also includes relief from small businesses from Internal Revenue Code section 6707A penalties.

The measure had been stalled for weeks in the Senate over Republican amendments on issues including the estate tax, federal spending, border security, nuclear loan guarantees, and other expiring tax provisions.  Another pending amendment offered by Senator Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) would repeal the expanded Form 1099 reporting requirements enacted in the health care reform bill that requires every business and corporation to file a Form 1099 for every purchase of goods or services totaling $600 or more in a calendar year.

Further action on the bill in the Senate may be delayed until after the Senate returns from its August recess in September.

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

FEDERAL
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Considers New Water Resources Development Act
 

The Water Resources Development Act of 2010 was introduced July 28, 2010 by Rep. James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.), Chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. The legislation authorizes approximately $6 billion for critical navigation, flood damage reduction, and environmental restoration projects, as well as studies carried out by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Among the projects included in the legislation are three concerning storm mitigation and ecosystem restoration, 31 for aquatic ecosystem restoration, 31 small flood damage reduction projects and 160 studies for potential future water projects, according to a news release.

The package is much smaller than the WRDA 2007 legislation, which totaled $23 billion, however that bill was nearly eight years late. Another factor impacting the total authorized amount is the fact that the package does not include Republican project designations at this time. Other language in the bill would clarify the way expenditures are credited, increase transparency of reviews and improve mitigation of environmental impacts associated with Army Corps projects. 

AGC notes three provisions in the bill. The first, which causes some concern, would classify Operations and Maintenance work as “inherently governmental.” This could put this type of work, which is normally done by contractors, in-house within the Corps. A second provision that will require further examination would increase opportunities for the Corps to facilitate watershed planning and carry out watershed and river basin assessments.

Another provision, one that AGC strongly advocated for, would create a “firewall” to ensure all funds contributed to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund will be spent out on an annual basis. This will ensure as much as a 50 percent increase in funding for projects financed by the Fund.

AGC was a key leader in getting the WRDA 2007 bill passed and we are working to provide a full analysis of the complete bill as soon as possible.

To view a copy of the bill, click here. To view a summary of the bill click here. To view a copy of Chairman Oberstar’s statement of introduction, click here. To view AGC’s policy on WRDA 2010 passage, click here.

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

AGC Launches New Resource on “Buy American”
 

AGC has compiled a new resource for all things Buy American on its website. The new page describes the differences between “Buy American,” “Buy America,” and the Recovery Act Buy American provisions.

The page also catalogues AGC’s standing policy of opposition to expansion of the Buy American Act, a description of the Recovery Act rules and regulations governing the Recovery Act Buy American provisions (both for direct-federal and federal-aid work), AGC’s analysis of several key provisions of the rules and regulations, and a catalogue of waivers guidance from agencies that have construction portfolios. This valuable new comprehensive resource is located at www.agc.org/buyamerican and will be updated on an ongoing basis as new information is released from the agencies.

For more information, contact Scott Berry at (703)837-5368 or berrys@agc.org. Return to Top

WATER
Capitol Hill Briefing on the Clean Water Trust Fund Attracts More than 100 People
 

AGC sponsored and participated in a briefing on Capitol Hill in an effort to educate staffers on the Clean Water Trust Fund (H.R. 3202). A Clean Water Trust Fund will protect vital sources of drinking water and fragile watersheds, including the nation’s great water bodies, enhancing the health and security of citizens nationwide. EPA’s most recent needs surveys estimates nationwide needs for drinking water and wastewater improvements at over $600 billion. With a rate of 28,500 jobs per billion spent, projects across the country would spur economic growth, create jobs and improve the environment and public health.

In a packed room of over 100 staffers, Kasim Reed, mayor of Atlanta, explained the challenges faced by big cities that need to service large numbers of people with outdated and aging water systems. The audience also heard about the challenges faced by small towns forced to shoulder the debt burden from the mayor of Buhl, Idaho, Tom McCauley. They heard about the state of the construction and equipment industries from AGC and United Rentals and the environmental benefits from the National Wildlife Foundation. Finally, staffers heard an impassioned appeal for water and wastewater infrastructure from the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority.  

AGC has been on the forefront of advocating for a Clean Water Trust Fund that would be deficit-neutral, financed by user fees, and help counteract the steady decline in federal investment in water and wastewater infrastructure. AGC will continue to garner support in the House for this important legislation.

For more information, contact Scott Berry at (703) 837-5368 or berrys@agc.org. Return to Top

AGC Townhouse, 53 D Street SE • Washington, DC 20003 • 202.547.1625 (phone) • 202.547.1635 (fax)• www.agc.org
AGC Home | About AGC | Advocacy | Industry Topics | Construction Markets | Programs & Events | Career Development | News & Media

To ensure delivery of AGC’s Construction Legislative Week in Review, please add 'communications@agc.org' to your email address book or Safe Sender List. If you are still having problems receiving our communications, visit our white-listing page for more details.

© Copyright The Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America. All Rights Reserved.