Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org August 25, 2011
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On the Inside
TAX
AGC Urges Continued Push on 3 Percent Withholding During August
BUDGET
OMB Clarifies 2013 Budget Guidance Memo to Federal Agencies, CBO Releases their Budget and Economic Outlook
TRANSPORTATION
Surface Transportation Reauthorization Update
ENVIRONMENT
EPA Delays Nationwide Limit on Dirt in Stormwater; Move Will Help Construction Industry Avoid Billions in New Costs
LABOR
AGC Urges NLRB to Withdraw “Quickie Election” Rule
AGC Resources
AGC Launches New and Improved PLA Website
AGC PAC
AGC of Kentucky Meets with Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.)
TAX
AGC Urges Continued Push on 3 Percent Withholding During August
 

In an opinion-editorial in the Washington Post on Sunday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) wrote that repeal of the 3 percent withholding mandate would be part of the Republican Party’s legislative agenda this fall to remove obstacles to economic growth.  Cantor wrote that 3 percent withholding “serves as an effective tax increase on those who do business with the government.” 

With the congressional August recess in full swing, AGC urges its members and chapters to contact their senators and representatives to ask that they cosponsor legislation to repeal the 3 percent withholding mandate.

To date, 221 representatives – more than half of the U.S. House – have signed on in support of a bill that would repeal the 3 percent withholding mandate, and there are 29 senators behind similar legislation in the U.S. Senate.  Unfortunately, despite this strong showing of support, Congress has yet to schedule debate on this issue.    

AGC members and the construction industry have been at the forefront of the repeal campaign.  As such, AGC continues to ask its members to contact their elected officials and to reach out to local stakeholders and state and local agencies to let them know how the 3 percent withholding mandate will affect their businesses and why it should be repealed. 

Use AGC’s 3 percent withholding website to find additional resources including talking points, IRS regulations, videos on the impact of this legislation, letters sent to Congress by AGC, and ways to become involved.  Please continue to make contact with your legislators and encourage your employees to do the same by using AGC’s Legislative Action Center.

For a list of cosponsors in your state, please click here.

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

BUDGET
OMB Clarifies 2013 Budget Guidance Memo to Federal Agencies, CBO Releases their Budget and Economic Outlook
 

After releasing a memo instructing federal agencies to submit 2013 budget requests that are between 5 and 10 percent lower than current appropriation funding levels, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) wrote a blog on August 18 to provide clarification.

OMB Director Jack Lew clarified that not all agency budgets will be cut by 5 to 10 percent in 2013, but that the president is working to identify waste and eliminate inefficient programs while putting additional resources into effective programs.  The administration is looking to avoid making across-the-board cuts which means some agency budgets will be cut more than others.  AGC will continue to promote construction spending to reduce the impacts these cuts may have on construction budgets and the industry.

In addition, the Congressional Budget Office released the “Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update” yesterday, August 24.  In the report, CBO projected a $1.3 trillion budget deficit for FY 2011, the third-largest shortfall in the past 65 years. TCBO also went on to report that his year's deficit stems in part from the long shadow cast on the U.S. economy by the financial crisis and the recent recession, the pace of the recovery has been slow and the economy remains in a severe slump. The report also warned that if policies don’t change to curb federal spending, much greater deficits and a higher national debt could result, slowing the economic recovery.  To read the full report, please click here.

For more information, please contact Marco Giamberardino at (703) 837-5376 or giamberm@agc.org. Return to Top

TRANSPORTATION
Surface Transportation Reauthorization Update
 

Last week, AGC and other transportation stakeholders participated in a conference call with Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif), who provided an update on the next extension of the current highway authorization and the steps towards reauthorization.

Senator Boxer laid out a two-week schedule for the return of the Senate from its August recess.  The first priority is the extension of the current authorization, which expires September 30.  Senator Boxer said an extension would be marked up in the EPW Committee on September 8.  The extension is expected to be four months long and will not include any changes to current policy or funding levels. 

Senator Boxer said she intends to mark-up the bipartisan two-year highway reauthorization- which she and Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) have drafted - on September 15th.   

There are potential roadblocks to both the extension and reauthorization.  First, there may be senators who object to a “clean” extension of the current authorization.  This problem increases in the House where the “clean” extension would be subject to a point of order on the House floor because it cannot sustain current funding levels without future tax increases and would thus violate the House-passed fiscal 2012 budget resolution.  Because the extension would require tax increases, such as an extension of the gas tax, it must originate in the House, setting up a potential scenario where the House and Senate could have different funding levels for their respective extension.  This is a concern because the House and Senate will only have a few weeks to extend the program before its September 30 deadline, in order to prevent the programs from shutting down and to prevent most of the federal gasoline, diesel fuel, and truck taxes from expiring after that date. 

 In terms of reauthorization, Senator Boxer indicated that there is still no final agreement with the Finance Committee on the additional $12 billion in revenues needed for the Highway Trust Fund in order to ensure that highway programs do not run out of cash before the end of the two-year bill.  Although an agreement with the Finance Committee is not necessary for Boxer to mark up her bill, the legislation can’t move to the Senate floor before the Finance Committee approves the revenue title.  The House has not yet indicated when they plan to move their multi-year surface transportation bill.

AGC continues to work with bipartisan members of the Senate Finance and EPW Committees in moving the reauthorization bill and securing the $12 billion necessary to fund the bill.

It is imperative that you reach out to your members of Congress and stress with them the need to extend the program and gas tax at current levels while they expeditiously pass a multiyear surface transportation bill.  Visit our Legislative Action Center to send a letter to your members of Congress.

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

ENVIRONMENT
EPA Delays Nationwide Limit on Dirt in Stormwater; Move Will Help Construction Industry Avoid Billions in New Costs
 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement that it is delaying its effort to protect the Earth from dirt gives temporary relief for struggling contractors.  AGC’s chief executive officer, Stephen E. Sandherr, issued a statement approving the decision by the EPA to withdraw a proposed “numeric limit” on the amount of dirt the federal government will allow in stormwater from construction sites.

Specifically, EPA has withdrawn from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) the rulemaking proposal that would have revised the numeric turbidity limit for runoff from construction sites.  (OMB clearance is the last step in the rulemaking process before a regulation is signed and published in the Federal Register.)  EPA withdrew the proposal on August 12 – eight months after it sent the draft rule to OMB for review – with plans to collect more data before reaching a final decision. Unfortunately, EPA is only seeking to delay imposing its nationwide limit on dirt in stormwater, instead of abandoning the idea all together.  "We will continue to fight this," said Sandherr.  Read AGC’s statement

An official EPA statement appears on its website, along with links to prior EPA action on this matter – http://water.epa.gov/scitech/wastetech/guide/construction/index.cfm.

EPA admitted to AGC in a meeting last week that it needs more information on the effectiveness of existing stormwater “passive-treatment technologies” at construction sites before moving ahead with a new rule.  As previously reported by AGC, the industry was both surprised and alarmed when it learned that EPA had derived its prior nationwide numeric limit of 280 nephelometric turbidity limits (NTU) by relying on discharge monitoring reports from only nine construction sites, spanning just three different states(California, North Carolina and Oregon).  What is more, the Agency set that strict one-size-fits-all requirement based on the capabilities of expensive and site-specific advanced treatment systems that were being used on those nine sites.  Yet in the end, EPA continued to endorse and base its economic impact calculations on the use of less-costly "passive" treatment.

Click here to watch AGC’s general counsel Mike Kennedy explain the significance of the EPA decision.

The news was covered by Fox News and Roads and Bridges.

For more information, please contact Leah Pilconis at pilconisl@agc.org. Return to Top

LABOR
AGC Urges NLRB to Withdraw “Quickie Election” Rule
 

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) should withdraw a proposed rule to amend procedures in union representation cases, AGC argued in comments submitted yesterday.  AGC submitted the independent comments in addition to signing onto comments submitted by the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) in order to detail how the proposed rule would impact the construction industry.

Dubbed by some opponents as the “quickie election” or “ambush election” rule, the regulatory proposal would change the NLRB’s procedures in cases where a union files a petition for an election to determine whether it will become the collective bargaining representative of a unit of workers.  The changes would speed up the process, limiting employers’ opportunity to communicate with workers about union representation, enhancing unions’ opportunity to communicate with workers, and otherwise making it easier for unions to organize open shop contractors or to shore up relationships with union contractors that have pre-hire agreements.  Among the changes proposed, the proposed rule would:  shorten the time between the filing of the petition and the holding of the election, eliminate pre-election hearings, expand the information that employers must disclose about employees to include e-mail addresses and telephone numbers, and render post-election review by the Board’s discretionary.  

CDW’s comments assert, among other things, that the shortening of the pre-election time period subverts the policies and purposes of the National Labor Relations Act, that the disclosure of employee e-mail addresses and phone numbers would cause undue interference with business operations and employee privacy rights, that deferral of hearings until after election defeats the purpose of such a hearing, and that the requirement of a pre-hearing statement of position constitutes a denial of due process for employers.  AGC is also a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which submitted comments focusing on various substantive and procedural deficiencies in the proposal rule. 

AGC’s supplemental comments explain how the proposed rule would have a particularly difficult application and detrimental impact in the construction industry.  This is due to a number of unique aspects of the industry, including the complexity of bargaining unit and voter eligibility determination, and the decentralized nature of the workplace.  Regarding the proposed mandatory disclosure of employee e-mail addresses and telephone numbers, AGC pointed out that recent cases have illustrated how construction unions might misuse such information.  AGC also advised that the proposed rule might lead to unintended consequences in the realm of increased litigation and backlash legislation.

AGC also provided an abbreviated letter for members to send to the NLRB on their own via AGC’s online Legislative Action Center.  The deadline for submitting comments was Monday.

AGC will continue to monitor and report on developments.  Given the extraordinary number of public comments submitted, the NLRB is not expected to issue a final rule very quickly.

For more information, please contact Denise Gold at (703) 837-5326 or goldd@agc.org. Return to Top

AGC Resources
AGC Launches New and Improved PLA Website
 

AGC has launched a new website to provide its members with a comprehensive resource on government mandated project labor agreements (PLA).  Included on the website is AGC’s position on PLAs, a library of every letter AGC has sent to the Administration, the Congress and the Federal agencies, as well as additional resources on what impact PLAs have on the construction industry.

The site also provides a link to our Legislative Action Center where AGC members may go to write a letter to their representatives and senators expressing their opposition to the utilization of government-mandated PLAs on federal construction projects. 

The new site will continually be updated with new and relevant information regarding the use of PLAs on federal projects and AGC members are encouraged to visit it regularly.

For more information, please contact Marco Giamberardino at (703) 837-5376 or giamberm@agc.org. Return to Top

AGC PAC
AGC of Kentucky Meets with Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.)
 

Whether congressional members are in Washington, D.C., or at home in the district, AGC Polical Action Committee (PAC) is there to ensure lawmakers to hear about AGC’s legislative priorities. During this current congressional recess, AGC of Kentucky members presented Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) with a PAC contribution on August 19 for his long-time support of the construction industry. AGC members discussed a number of issues with Rep. Davis, including repealing the 3% withholding tax, private activity bond volume cap and reauthorization of the federal highway and transit programs.


Over his four terms, the Congressman has proved his support of the construction industry, voting the AGC-way three out of four times. As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Davis is a critical ally in AGC’s efforts to repeal the 3% withholding provision. In the current Congress, Rep. Davis is a 3% withholding co-sponsor and the lead Republican sponsor of a private activity bond measure that will increase investment in water infrastructure.  


Pictured in the photo left to right are Richard Vincent, Executive Vice-President of AGC of Kentucky, Rep. Geoff Davis, Ellis Heffner, AGC of Kentucky board member, and Doug Hacker, President of AGC of Kentucky.  Mr. Hefner is presenting Rep. Davis a contribution from AGC PAC.


For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at 202-547-5013 or
christiansonj@agc.org. Return to Top

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