Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org September 16, 2010
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On the Inside
CONGRESS
Congress Faces Crowded Legislative Schedule in Few Remaining Weeks
SAFETY
Hearing Planned on Miner Safety & Health Act
TRANSPORTATION
Obama’s Infrastructure Proposal Unlikely to Move Before Mid-term Elections
TAX
Vote to Repeal New 1099 Reporting Requirements Fails
ELECTIONS
The Tea Party Strikes Again
CONGRESS
Congress Faces Crowded Legislative Schedule in Few Remaining Weeks
 

With just three to four legislative weeks left in Congress before the November 2 election, a number of outstanding issues remain. It is unlikely that both chambers will pass a bill that has created one of the biggest and most partisan debates leading up to this election: a package addressing the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, which expire in December. The debate has centered on extending the tax cuts for all but the wealthiest 2 percent of households, or for everybody.

Congress will likely fail to pass the FY11 appropriations bills before October 1, resulting in a must-pass continuing resolution extending federal spending at current levels. Other major legislative items on the Democratic leadership’s list include a defense authorization bill (on which the Senate will vote on Tuesday); a reauthorization of the FAA programs that expire at the end of September; and a food safety bill.  If the Senate invokes cloture on the defense authorization on Tuesday, it will open the bill up to two items Democrats want to deliver before the elections: the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and the DREAM Act, which would allow a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants brought into this country as minors by their parents if these illegal immigrants are paying taxes, attending college or serving in the U.S. military. Items with little chance of passage or debate include card check, climate change, comprehensive immigration reform and telecommunications.

AGC has been urging Congress and the White House to finish work on long-term transportation and water infrastructure spending bills, and keep income tax rates (especially the death tax) from soaring to help construction industry employment recover from millions of lost jobs. AGC believes the stopgap funding for transportation isn’t providing the certainty companies need for hiring and growing. In addition, the prospect of a leap in taxes is deterring private investment.

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

SAFETY
Hearing Planned on Miner Safety & Health Act
 

In early October, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee is expected to hold a hearing on the AGC-opposed Miner Safety and Health Act.  This bill 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 nothing to help facilitate worker safety on a site or help businesses, especially small businesses, improve worksite safety. Instead, it focuses solely on introducing vague new standards for criminal liability and imposes complicated and costly procedures for adjudicating whistleblower cases. This legislation is ultimately a punitive measure, and does not promote injury prevention. 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. Instead it will hamper continued construction industry safety improvements through increased litigation and discouragement of cooperative relationships.

In July the House Education and Labor Committee passed the AGC opposed Miner Safety and Health Act.  Thanks to efforts here in Washington, D.C., and more importantly from grassroots efforts nationwide, this bill has not yet been considered by the full House.  Please use AGC’s Legislative Action Center to write your Senators and relay your concerns with this legislation.

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

TRANSPORTATION
Obama’s Infrastructure Proposal Unlikely to Move Before Mid-term Elections
 

The status of President Obama’s $50 billion infrastructure plan that was announced on Labor Day still remains unclear.  While Congress has returned from their August recess, no decisions have been made on if or when they would consider moving additional funding for infrastructure as proposed by the president. 

AGC met with several Members of Congress and their staff, and it appears unlikely that they will make any decisions before the mid-term elections on November 2.

AGC will continue to monitor and report on any new developments from Congress or the Administration.

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

TAX
Vote to Repeal New 1099 Reporting Requirements Fails
 

On September 14, the Senate rejected the Johanns Amendment to the Small Business Credit and Jobs Act that would have repealed the new Form 1099 reporting requirement enacted in the healthcare bill earlier this year. The vote on the procedural motion was 46 to 52.

AGC urged Senators to support the Johanns Amendment and may include how Senators voted in AGC’s Legislative Scorecard. To see a copy of AGC’s Key Vote letter, click here. To see how your Senator voted, click here.

The Senate also rejected the Bill Nelson Amendment that offered an alternative to the Johanns Amendment by a vote of 56 to 42. The Nelson Amendment would have exempted small businesses under 25 employees from the 1099 reporting requirement and would have increased the reporting threshold from $600 to $5,000 a year. AGC and the business community urged Senators to oppose the Nelson Amendment as it would not have provided full relief from the reporting requirement and was overly complex.

Although there are few legislative days left before the end of the year, Congress may try and pass repeal again. AGC will continue to monitor the debate and will post calls to action here.

Finally, thank you to all the AGC members who heeded the call and contacted their Members of Congress.

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

ELECTIONS
The Tea Party Strikes Again
 

DAYS UNTIL ELECTION DAY (NOV. 2)

47

Tuesday’s primaries delivered more surprises, particularly in Delaware, where so-called “Tea Party” candidate Christine O’Donnell defeated Rep. Mike Castle in the Republican Senatorial primary.  Castle was expected to be the winner of the nomination and, ultimately, the seat; however the polls quickly turned to a toss-up between O’Donnell and Democrat Chris Coons after O’Donnell won the nomination. Her unexpected Tea Party victory is shared with Rand Paul in Kentucky, Joe Miller in Alaska, and Sharon Angle in Nevada (among others).

NUMBER OF COMPETITIVE RACES*

House

Democrats Defending Seats: 79

Republicans Defending Seats: 8

Senate

Democrats Defending Seats: 12

Republicans Defending Seats: 6

 

*Competitive races are those the Cook Political Report has defined as “Lean” or “Toss Up”

In New Hampshire, former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte (R) barely beat out Tea Party candidate Ovide Lamontagne.  Ayotte declared victory by only 1,600 votes. Reid Ribble, a roofer by trade, was pronounced the winner of Wisconsin’s 8th district Republican Primary.  Ribble won his four way primary and will face Rep. Steve Kagen (D) in November.

Construction business owner Richard Hanna (R) in New York won his primary and will challenge Rep. Michael Arcuri (D).  Hanna lost to Arcuri in 2006 by a very narrow margin and could possibly win the seat this time. Tom Reed and Chris Gibson, both Republicans and financially backed by AGC PAC, won their primaries.  Andy Harris (R) in Maryland will once again run for Representative in the 1st district. 

Thank you to everyone who helped AGC PAC deliver all primary checks before Tuesday. Hawaii’s primary – the last official primary of the season – takes place Saturday, and Louisiana will hold its run off race on October 2. 

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

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