Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org June 9, 2011
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On the Inside
Highlights in This Week’s Issue
TAX
3 Percent Repeal Bills Continue to Attract House and Senate Cosponsors
CONGRESS
AGC Testifies on Bill Requiring Level Field for Both Union and Open Shop Contractors
Waterways Infrastructure Funding and 2011 Flood Update
AGC Urges House Leadership to Include Infrastructure in Jobs Plan
SAFETY
CGA Moves Forward on Damage Prevention Process Video
IMMIGRATION
Enforcement and Employment Verification Bill Expected in the House Soon
TRANSPORTATION
Committees Move Closer to Unveiling Bill
AGC Comments on Proposed Changes to Hours-of-Service Rules
Highlights in This Week’s Issue
 

Support to repeal 3 percent withholding continues and grassroots action is needed. AGC wrote a letter to House Leadership urging them to Include Infrastructure in their Jobs Plan.  The House Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee has moved the FY12 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, and the House Judiciary Committee is expected to introduce legislation that would require all employers to use the E-Verify program.  AGC comments on proposed changes to Hours of Service Rules and testified before Congress on Project Labor Agreements. Return to Top

TAX
3 Percent Repeal Bills Continue to Attract House and Senate Cosponsors
 

 

The House cosponsor number has grown from 36 during the week of the AGC convention to 148 this week.  The most recent additions to the House cosponsor list are:


Rep Biggert, Judy [IL-13] - 6/2/2011
Rep Broun, Paul C. [GA-10] - 6/2/2011
Rep Gibbs, Bob [OH-18] - 6/2/2011
Rep Harper, Gregg [MS-3] - 6/2/2011
Rep Lance, Leonard [NJ-7] - 6/2/2011
Rep Luetkemeyer, Blaine [MO-9] - 6/2/2011
Rep Pompeo, Mike [KS-4] - 6/2/2011
Rep Tipton, Scott [CO-3] - 6/3/2011


Also, there is one new cosponsor in the Senate this week.


Sen Johanns, Mike [NE] - 6/7/2011


If you know these members of the House or Senate, please send them a thank you for cosponsoring.  To send a letter to your member of Congress and Senators, click here.


Additionally, Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Scott Brown (R-MA) have once again filed 3% repeal as an amendment to the pending business in the Senate (S. 782 the Economic Development Revitalization Action of 2011).  It is still not clear if they will be able to get a vote on this amendment.  AGC sent a letter to the full Senate today urging adoption of the amendment.  AGC also signed on to a coalition letter from the Withholding Relief Coalition. As the schedule becomes clearer we will get information out to members.


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

CONGRESS
AGC Testifies on Bill Requiring Level Field for Both Union and Open Shop Contractors
 

On Friday, June 3, AGC’s General Counsel told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that AGC supports H.R. 735, the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act, sponsored by Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.).   This legislation provides that federal contracting agencies may neither require nor prohibit project labor agreements (PLAs).  It also forbids these agencies to discriminate against any contractor, or to give any preference to any contractor, because the contractor has either signed or refused to sign a PLA.

Appearing before the committee’s Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and Procurement, Michael Kennedy emphasized that “construction contractors are in the best position to determine whether, and if so, when a project labor agreement will help them meet the government’s legitimate interest in having it s projects constructed on time, within budget and according to all specifications.”  For that reason, he continued, AGC supports legislation that would have the net effect of requiring federal contracting agencies to score all bids and proposals in one and the same way, without regard to whether they include or omit a PLA.

Turning to President Obama’s executive order on the subject, which gives federal contracting agencies the option of mandating PLAs, Kennedy pointed out that such mandates have the effect of limiting competition for federal work.  He explained that PLAs typically require open shop contractors to change the way that they would otherwise approach an upcoming project, and may even require union contractors to change their approach. 

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

Waterways Infrastructure Funding and 2011 Flood Update
 

House Energy and Water Subcommittee Moves FY12 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill 

The House Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee has moved the FY12 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, setting the stage for the full committee mark-up scheduled for June 15.  

Under the bill, the Army Corps of Engineers civil works program would be funded at $4.8 billion, a decrease of $89 million from last year’s level and $195 million above the budget request.      

2012 Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Summary

                                                                    FY11                               FY12      

                                                                   Enacted                         Pres. Request                    Mark         

Total Civil Works                                    4,857,213,000             4,573,000,000                  4,768,406,000

Investigations                                         126,746,000                104,000,000                      104,000,000

Construction                                           613,822,000                1,480,000,000                   1,615,941,000

Miss River & Tributaries                       241,906,000                152,000,000                      210,000,000

Operations & Maintenance                  2,365,759,000             2,314,000,000                  2,366,465,000

Flood Control/Coastal emergencies -----------------                 27,000,000                        27,000,000

For the Bureau of Reclamation, the legislation would provide $934 million – $161 million below last year’s level and $117 million below the president’s request. 

The bill can be accessed online here.  

While the ambitious House schedule calls for a mark-up next week and consideration of the bill on the House floor prior to the August recess, there has been no action in the Senate thus far.  Unfortunately, there are some indications that, given the current political climate in Washington, there is considerable reluctance to vote on any funding measures prior to next year’s election.  As a consequence, we could be looking at another long-term continuing resolution.  AGC will provide further information as it becomes available.     

Water Resources Development Act Reauthorization (WRDA 2011)

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has again extended the deadline for submitting project and programmatic requests for water resources projects, this time until July 11.

Operation Watershed

The Corps of Engineers and the Mississippi River Commission are continuing their heroic efforts in fighting the historic flooding along the Mississippi River.  Watch this video to learn more about how the Corps is successfully managing the Great Flood of 2011, and visit the Facebook page for Operation Watershed.  

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

AGC Urges House Leadership to Include Infrastructure in Jobs Plan
 

Last week Republican leadership in the House of Representatives unveiled the “House Republican Plan for America’s Job Creators”.  The plan focuses on reducing uncertainty and limiting government imposed burdens by fixing the tax code, reducing regulatory burdens, increasing domestic energy production, cutting spending and passing free trade agreements.  The stated goal of the plan  is to create a pro-growth environment that will lead to increased job creation.  Unfortunately, the plan fails to include infrastructure investment. 

In response, AGC CEO Steve Sandherr sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and the entire Republican Conference.  In the letter, AGC urges them to include infrastructure investment as part of their Jobs Plan.  In addition, the letter calls on Congress to act on the stalled reauthorization of major infrastructure legislation, including surface transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, Water Resources Development Act, and Clean and Safe Drinking Water Revolving Fund Programs.

AGC will continue to push Congress to focus on infrastructure investment as a key component in creating jobs and revitalizing our economy.

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

SAFETY
CGA Moves Forward on Damage Prevention Process Video
 

The AGC-sponsored Common Ground Alliance held the final Education and Marketing Committee meeting before production of its new damage prevention process viedo commences next week.

The video, which is designed to help the excavation community understand the underground utility damage prevention process, is expected to be finished and ready for debut in time for August 11 (8/11) or 811 Awareness Day.  811 is the national “Call Before You Dig” number that is used to have underground facilities located and marked before an excavation project.  The video is designed to provide a balanced account of the steps for a safe dig and describes the responsibilities of each of the stakeholders involved in damage prevention

For more information, please contact Scott Berry at (703) 837-5321 or berrys@agc.org. Return to Top

IMMIGRATION
Enforcement and Employment Verification Bill Expected in the House Soon
 

The House Judiciary Committee is expected to introduce legislation in the next few weeks that would require all employers to use the E-Verify program, which is currently voluntary unless one is a federal contractor.

The Committee is expected to hold hearings and a vote on the bill.  AGC has been in touch with the Committee and is working to make sure that any bill has the priorities we believe the industry needs in a mandatory verification bill, including: strong liability protections for employers using the system; federal preemption; no vicarious liability; penalties commensurate with the violations; and keeping “knowing” as the liability standard.  While violators of immigration law should face consequences, AGC believes there should be a difference between those who commit simple paperwork violations and those who go out of their way to violate the law. 

AGC remains a steering committee member of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC), which is dedicated to working on immigration issues with both the Administration and Congress.  AGC is viewed by both those in the coalition and on Capitol Hill as a leader in the immigration debate and how to work with employers on this sensitive issue. 

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

TRANSPORTATION
Committees Move Closer to Unveiling Bill
 

The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee has indicated they may be prepared to release their highway portion of the Surface Transportation authorization bill as early as next week.  EPW Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ranking Members James Inhofe (R-OK) announced on May 25 that they had reached agreement on several issues and that they were progressing on their bill.  There still remain several issues that have yet to be resolved: funding totals; length of the authorization; financing and state distribution formulas. 

AGC has learned that the tentative timing for movement on the EPW bill will be possible introduction as early as next week, followed by a Committee mark up before the July 4th recess. When a bill could come to the Senate floor for a vote remains to be seen.  Since EPW only has jurisdiction over the highway part of the bill they would have to consolidate with the Senate Commerce (safety) and Banking (transit) Committees portions of the bill prior to any floor consideration and that may take some time.  Another potential delay for the bill moving forward is funding.  Senator Boxer is writing a bill at current funding levels.  However, the Highway Trust Fund cannot support those levels, which means that the Senate Finance Committee needs to find the additional revenue without raising the gas tax. 

In terms of the House, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is finishing up drafting their authorization bill but the timetable for moving the bill forward is unclear.  What we do know about Chairman Mica’s bill is that it will be funded at levels that the Highway Trust Fund can sustain, which equate to approximately a 30 percent cut from current funding levels for highways and transit.  The bill may include AGC supported policies to streamline the environmental review process and expedite project delivery.

AGC will continue to work with both the House and Senate Committees leading up to introduction of the bill.

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

AGC Comments on Proposed Changes to Hours-of-Service Rules
 

AGC submitted a second set of comments to the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) on its proposal to alter the truck driver Hours-of-Service regulations.  AGC’s comments addressed new studies the FMCSA placed in the public docket to support its effort to change the rules.

AGC noted: “These studies demonstrate the very substantial differences between the driving patterns in various industries and different factors that impact different driver fatigue and crashes.  AGC believes that these studies highlight the fact that a one size fits all rule is not the best way to approach the issue of driver fatigue.  AGC continues to support the current portion of the HOS rule that is specific to construction.  Furthermore, AGC believes that the findings in these new studies do not support altering the 11 hour driving and 14 hour on-duty times as contained in the current rules.”

FMCSA’s proposed rule suggests the following changes:

  • Maximum driving time within each driving window from the existing 11 hours to 10 hours.
  • Maximum on-duty time within each driving window from the existing 14 hours to 13 hours.
  • Allowed consecutive hours of driving would be limited to 7 hours or less since the last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes.
  • Define on-duty as not including any time resting in a parked Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV).

This proposed rulemaking does not alter the existing construction exemption, which allows drivers transporting construction materials and equipment to and from an active construction site within a 50-air-mile radius of the driver’s normal work reporting location to restart the on-duty counting period following any off-duty period of 24 or more successive hours.

AGC’s comments on the proposed rule change recommended the following: maintain the construction exemption but increase the distance coverage to a 100-air-mile radius; continue to allow 11 hours of driving time in each driving window; continue to allow the existing 14 hours maximum on-duty time within driving window; and “on duty” time for construction drivers should not include waiting time to deliver product.

For more information, please contact Brian Deery at (703) 837-5319 or deeryb@agc.org. Return to Top

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