Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org October 6, 2011
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On the Inside
TAX
House Plans October Vote to Repeal 3 Percent Withholding – Take Action Today
BUDGET
House Passes CR; Government Funded Through Nov. 18.
LABOR
NLRB Delays Effective Date of Posting Requirement While AGC-Supported Coalition Joins Lawsuit to Block Rule
Legislation Introduced to Roll Back NLRB's Assault on Employers and Workers
Hearing Held on the Impact of DOL/NLRB Decisions and Proposed Rules on Small Business
AGC Continues Successful Effort to Deter Federal Agencies from Using Project Labor Agreements
ENVIRONMENT
Clean Construction Legislation Introduced in the House
House Approves Bill to Block EPA Cement Regulations
TRADE
AGC Joins Business Community in Opposing Onerous Buy American Provisions in President’s Jobs Bill
SAFETY
OSHA Testifies on Workplace Rulemaking
2012 Election
The Congressional Redistricting Shuffle: The Status of this Decennial Dance
TAX
House Plans October Vote to Repeal 3 Percent Withholding – Take Action Today
 

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to begin consideration of a bill to repeal the 3 percent withholding mandate next week. The bill will first be considered by the House Ways and Means Committee, followed by a vote on the House floor as early as the week of Oct. 24.

AGC wants as many representatives to vote for the bill as possible in order to send a strong message to the Senate to follow suit. We are asking you and your employees to contact your representative today and urge them to cosponsor and support passage of H.R. 674.  The House bill currently has 258 cosponsors while the Senate cosponsor list has 33 signatures.

The most recent additions to the House cosponsor list are:

Rep Matheson, Jim [UT-2] - 10/3/2011 
Rep Labrador, Raul R. [ID-1] - 10/3/2011 
Rep Conaway, K. Michael [TX-11] - 10/3/2011 
Rep Johnson, Timothy V. [IL-15] - 10/3/2011 
Rep Crenshaw, Ander [FL-4] - 10/3/2011 
Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] - 10/3/2011 
Rep McNerney, Jerry [CA-11] - 10/5/2011 
Rep Cole, Tom [OK-4] - 10/5/2011 
Rep Buchanan, Vern [FL-13] - 10/5/2011 
Rep Graves, Tom [GA-9] - 10/5/2011

The most recent additions to the Senate cosponsor list are:

Sen Tester, Jon [MT] - 10/4/2011 
Sen Crapo, Mike [ID] - 10/5/2011

Below are four options for contacting your representative:

  1. Send a letter using AGC’s Legislative Action Center.
  2. Schedule a meeting with your representative during the District Work Period the week of Oct. 17. Click here for background and talking points.
  3. Call your representative by dialing (202) 224-3121 and asking for your representative’s office. Click here for a phone script template.
  4. Tell us your story by replying to this email. Your emails will be shared with our allies on Capitol Hill to support repeal.

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.

Click on your state to find out if your representative has yet to cosponsor H.R. 674.

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

BUDGET
House Passes CR; Government Funded Through Nov. 18.
 

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed a short-term continuing resolution (CR) - which had cleared the Senate last week - to keep the government funded at current levels through Nov. 18.  A CR is needed because none of the 12 appropriations bills were passed and signed into law by Sept. 30, the end of FY 2011.

The CR passed the House by a vote of 352-66.  Fifty-three Republicans voted against the bill, mainly because of their objection that the rate of spending in the CR for the first few weeks of FY 2012 is $24 billion more than what was adopted in the FY 2012 House-passed budget resolution.  Instead, the bill was based on the $1.043 trillion spending cap put in place by the Budget Control Act.

House and Senate leaders from both parties have said they intend to stick with the $1.043 trillion spending cap number as they finish work on the remaining 12 appropriations bills.  This could lead to a more significant battle between the lower House-passed budget resolution spending cap and the higher cap set forth in the Budget Control Act.

AGC continues to closely monitor this developing issue and encourage Congressional leaders to move on all FY 2012 appropriations bills to bring certainty and predictability to the numerous federal construction programs.

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

LABOR
NLRB Delays Effective Date of Posting Requirement While AGC-Supported Coalition Joins Lawsuit to Block Rule
 

The National Labor Relations Board announced on October 5 that it has postponed the implementation date of its recently issued regulation requiring nearly all private-sector employers to post notices of employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act.  The Board has delayed the deadline for compliance from Nov. 14, 2011, to Jan. 31, 2012.  The agency stated that it plans to make no further changes to the rule or to the form or content of the required notice. 

In explaining the reason for the postponement, the Board said that its decision “followed queries from businesses and trade organizations indicating uncertainty about which businesses fall under the Board’s jurisdiction, and was made in the interest of ensuring broad voluntary compliance.”  However, the delay also allows time for progress in legal challenges to the rule.  The first of several lawsuits filed to overturn the rule was brought by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).  NAM argues that the rule exceeds the Board's statutory jurisdiction and authority.  The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace – of which AGC is a member – joined NAM’s lawsuit on September 26.  A hearing on motions for summary judgment is scheduled for December 19 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.  The court could issue a decision on the motions before the new implementation date of the rule.

For more information on the rule and the poster, read the AGC articles published here and here.

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

Legislation Introduced to Roll Back NLRB's Assault on Employers and Workers
 

On Oct. 5, the chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, John Kline (R-Minn.), introduced the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act. The bill would rein in the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and disallow the NLRB to use executive action to implement key portions of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). Despite Congress’s refusal to pass EFCA, the NLRB is attempting to effectively silence employers by reducing the amount of time an employer can address their employees before a vote during an organizing drive. As a result, many workers will only hear the union’s side.

The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act (H.R. 3094) will:

  1. Ensure employers are able to participate in a fair union election process;
  2. Guarantee workers have the ability to make a fully informed decision in a union election;
  3. Reinstate the traditional standard for determining which employees will vote in the union election; and
  4. Safeguard privacy by allowing workers to decide the type of personal information provided to a union.

AGC expects the House to act on this bill later this year.  AGC will continue to follow the bill’s progress and encourage members to support the legislation.

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

Hearing Held on the Impact of DOL/NLRB Decisions and Proposed Rules on Small Business
 

On Oct. 5, the House Small Business Committee held a hearing titled, “Adding to Uncertainty: The Impact of DOL/NLRB Decisions and Proposed Rules on Small Businesses.” The hearing examined recent proposed rules by the Department of Labor (DOL) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and how they will add uncertainties to small businesses. Issues addressed included the “persuader rule,” the “quickie election rule” and the “poster rule.” 

On Aug. 22, AGC submitted comments to the NLRB opposing the “quickie election” proposed rule and on Sept. 21, AGC and the AGC Labor and Employment Law Council submitted a comment letter opposing DOL’s “persuader rule.”

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

AGC Continues Successful Effort to Deter Federal Agencies from Using Project Labor Agreements
 

AGC is again attacking agency efforts to use Project Labor Agreements on federal construction projects.  AGC sent a follow-up letter today to the Department of Labor (DOL) expressing strong concerns against DOL’s decision, to impose a project labor agreement (PLA) on contractors that will perform the construction of the Department’s new Job Corps Center in Manchester, New Hampshire.

This is the second solicitation DOL has released for this project.  The original solicitation came out in September 2009, mandating the use of a PLA, and AGC sent a letter on Sept. 23, 2009 expressing concerns and asking for information regarding the Department’s determination that a PLA mandate was appropriate for the project.

While AGC neither supports nor opposes PLAs in general, AGC strongly opposes government mandates for PLAs on publically funded construction projects.  AGC is committed to free and open competition in all public construction markets and believes that publically-funded contracts should be awarded without regard to the lawful labor relations policies and practices of the government contractor.

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

ENVIRONMENT
Clean Construction Legislation Introduced in the House
 

Today, Reps. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) and Donna Edwards (D-Md.) introduced the AGC-supported Clean Construction Act of 2011.  The legislation is intended to minimize the impact on contractors whose equipment must comply with air quality standards in PM 2.5 non- attainment areas.

The Clean Construction Act of 2011 will use a portion of congestion mitigation and air quality improvement funds to give contractors an incentive to upgrade their equipment.  Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.).  Reps. Hanna and Edwards, and Sen. Carper intend to include the legislation as part of the surface transportation reauthorization.

AGC was successful in securing language in the bill requiring that a diesel retrofit and repowering of existing equipment must be proven to be effective and not adversely impact the operation of the equipment or the safety of the workers.  We will continue to work with staff throughout the legislative process to ensure this or any other legislation requiring a diesel retrofit or repower does not have a negative impact on the construction industry.

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

House Approves Bill to Block EPA Cement Regulations
 

Today, the House approved H.R. 2681, the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011, a bill that would force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rewrite three new rules targeting cement makers that impose stringent emission requirements and solid waste standards on the industry.

As reported last week, these rules could result in the loss of thousands of jobs in the cement industry and adversely affect the availability and cost of cement in the United States.

The bill would provide additional time and guidance for EPA to issue achievable standards for cement manufacturing facilities. AGC sent a letter to the Hill on Oct. 4 in support of the legislation.

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

TRADE
AGC Joins Business Community in Opposing Onerous Buy American Provisions in President’s Jobs Bill
 

AGC joined several other industry and trade groups in the business community calling on Congressional leaders to oppose the expansion of Buy American provisions in the president’s jobs bill, the American Jobs Act of 2011. These provisions, while similar to language in the Recovery Act passed in 2009, are expanded to cover programs that have never been covered before. The opposition group has written a letter describing the expansion of the regulations and the potential backlash from our trading partners the provisions would elicit. These trading partners include China, Canada, Brazil and Indonesia. The letter further identifies significant costs to projects that resulted from these provisions.

AGC also joined U.S and Canadian manufacturers in sending a letter to the chairs of the House Manufacturing Caucus to explain how the Recovery Act negatively impacted the U.S. supply chain by preventing American projects from using Canadian goods and services. 

To find out more about Buy American provisions, visit AGC’s Buy American Information Clearinghouse at http://www.agc.org/buyamerican.

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

SAFETY
OSHA Testifies on Workplace Rulemaking
 

On  Oct. 5, the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, chaired by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), held a hearing entitled, “Workplace Safety: Ensuring a Responsible Regulatory Environment.” The hearing examined Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulatory proposals and their impact on worker safety.  The hearing also featured a discussion about finding a responsible way to promote strong safety protections for workers without stifling economic opportunity and job creation.

Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Safety and Health, was asked to address concerns voiced by Republicans on the OSHA regulatory agenda.  These concerns center on proposals that reflect the administration’s ongoing efforts to advance significant changes to health and safety standards and the impact these regulatory proposals would have on businesses’ costs and effectiveness. He also addressed concerns expressed over a new fall protection rule for residential construction. Democrats criticized the Republican-drafted Labor-HHS Appropriations bill, expressing concerns that it contains several workplace safety riders which would block regulators from finalizing an injury and illness prevention program and halt tougher safety rules at residential construction sites.

Michaels said that the workplace safety rules were "vitally important" and noted that OSHA has developed and instituted only two new workplace safety rules under the Obama administration, one pertaining to cranes and derricks and the other to shipyards. Many of the agency's new rules had been in the works for years.

AGC will continue to regularly engage with OSHA on a wide variety of issues affecting the safety and health of construction workers nationwide.

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

2012 Election
The Congressional Redistricting Shuffle: The Status of this Decennial Dance
 

Every ten years following the census, state legislatures, special commissions, courts, and occasionally the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) engage in a complex, two-step dance to redraw congressional district lines to address population shifts. AGC PAC continues to closely monitor the status of this process across the country to better position the construction industry for the 2012 election.

To date, 21 states have completed the congressional redistricting process—accounting for just 153 of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.  It is reasonable to believe that the six states waiting on pre-clearance from the DOJ and the three states where the process failed will all be finished by the end of 2011.  This would leave 155 congressional districts—or 36 percent of all House seats—that would need to be finalized early next year.

However, with so many lines undetermined, the quality of candidates could be greatly impacted. Without these districts finalized, the candidate filing start and end dates, the primary election day, new precinct boundary maps, and so forth cannot remain undetermined.  Having less time to study a district and the makeup of voters within a district, many thoughtful candidates may conclude there simply is not enough time to wage a competitive race, particularly against an incumbent.

With the current set of completed and near-completion maps, the picture of which political party "wins" becomes clearer.  Some states are obvious (Massachusetts will only have nine districts after redistricting and currently is represented by ten Democrats), while others such as Florida, California, Texas and North Carolina are not as clear on the number.

At the end of the day, the 2012 elections will be decided by the political environment, how the country is doing economically, where the open seat races are, the president's re-election chances, and how many candidates and who is the best in competitive districts.  AGC PAC continues to closely monitor these districts and races for construction-friendly candidates to support.

Current status on the congressional redistricting process unfolds as follows:

Completed congressional redistricting:

AR, HI, IA, IL, IN, LA, ME, MO, NE, OH, OK, OR, WI, WV
Plus At-Large States – AK, DE, MT, ND, SD, VT, WY

Completed congressional redistricting, waiting on approval from the DOJ due to compliance with the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965:

AL, CA, GA, MI, NC, SC

DOJ denied pre-clearance

TX

State Legislature failed to draw a new map.  Map will now be drawn by a Court:

CO, MN, NV

Likely to be completed in 2011

AZ, ID, MA, MD, NJ, NM, PA, UT

Likely to be completed in 2012

CT, FL, KS, KY, MS, NH, NY, RI, TN, VA, WA


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

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