Construction Legislative Week in Review December 1, 2011
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On the Inside
House Delays Work on Surface Transportation Bill until January While Senate Bill Moves Forward
Proposed Changes to Union Organizing Elections Debated by Congress, Amended by NLRB
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hears From AGC PAC
House Delays Work on Surface Transportation Bill until January While Senate Bill Moves Forward

House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) announced Nov. 29 that his committee will not take up surface transportation reauthorization legislation until late January or early February 2012. It had been anticipated that the T&I Committee would introduce its bill on Monday, Dec. 5 with the expectation that it would be considered by the full House before the end of the year. Those expectations were based on a recent announcement by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that a combined transportation and energy bill would be completed in the House this year. However, the number of “must pass” bills that need to be addressed in the House before the end of the year increased significantly when the “super committee” failed to agree on a deficit reduction package.  As a result, the House Leadership has determined that there is insufficient time to take up the transportation measure.  However, Chairman Mica remains optimistic that the transportation bill could be completed before the current short-term extension expires on March 31, 2012.

Both Chairman Mica and Speaker Boehner have indicated their preference for  a five-year measure augmented by new Highway Trust Fund revenue. Speaker Boehner also said that revenue generated from oil and gas royalties tied to increased oil exploration both off shore and in Alaska will be directed to the Highway Trust Fund. This funding is not anticipated to be adequate to keep the program at current funding levels during the 5 year course of the reauthorization, so it will need to be augmented by an additional source of funding. However, no legislative language has yet been released. AGC continues to emphasize with the T&I Committee and House leadership the need to pass a multiyear transportation measure that at the very least maintains current funding levels.

In the Senate, the Banking Committee is expected to take up the transit title of MAP-21, the Senate version of the transportation reauthorization legislation, before Congress recesses for the Christmas break. The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, on a bipartisan 18-0 vote, passed its portion of the legislation earlier this month. In addition to the EPW and Banking Committees, the Commerce Committee must also address the safety components of the bill and the Finance Committee needs to address how the bill will be funded. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has been working with the committee’s Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (Utah) to identify ways to provide sufficient Highway Trust Fund revenue to maintain current highway and transit funding levels until fiscal year 2014.    

For more information, please contact Brian Deery at (703) 837-5319 or Return to Top

Proposed Changes to Union Organizing Elections Debated by Congress, Amended by NLRB

On Nov. 30, 2011, the U.S. House passed (by a margin of 235-188) legislation blocking the National Labor Relations Board from moving forward with its “quickie election” proposal as well as reversing the Board’s recent decision on “micro unions.”  The vote fell largely along party lines with Republicans supporting and Democrats opposing.  The following Democrats, however, crossed party lines: John Barrow (D-Ga.), Dan Boren (D-Okla.), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.). The following Republicans crossed party lines: Mike Grimm (R-N.Y.), Tim Johnson (R-IL), Peter King (R-N.Y.), Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), Jon Runyan (R-N.J.), Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Don Young (R-Alaska.).  AGC supported the bill, named the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, and sent a letter in support to the House.

Despite passage of the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act in the House, it faces an uphill battle in the Senate and the White House, leaving options to overturn the NLRB’s proposed actions limited.

The labor board’s proposed rule to revise representation-case procedures, also known as the “quickie elections” or “ambush elections” rule, would be particularly difficult to apply in the construction industry given the complexity of defining an appropriate bargaining unit and determining voter eligibility as well as the decentralized nature of the workplace.  AGC submitted comments to the Board in August explaining these concerns and urging the Board to withdraw the proposed rule.

The House bill also reverses the Board’s recent Specialty Healthcare decision, which abandoned longstanding reliance on a “community of interest” standard for assessing the appropriateness of a petitioned-for bargaining unit and paved the way for the formation of “micro-unions.”

On the same day the House voted to limit the labor board’s ability to move forward with its “quickie election rule, the board voted on a resolution by the chairman to revise the proposed rule on “quickie elections.” This pared down version includes an amendment that prevents employers from filing appeals about election-related issues until after the election takes place. The Board approved the resolution despite a vote in dissent from the Board’s lone Republican. The action on Nov. 30 sets the stage for another Board vote on final language of the rule prior to the end of the year, at which time the Board is expected to lose its quorum and become unable to issue final rules.

For more information, please contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or Return to Top

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hears From AGC PAC

Leaders of the AGC of Kentucky presented two AGC PAC checks to Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers (R-Ky.) on Nov. 23. During the presentation, AGC members and chapter staff thanked Rep. Rogers for his support of the commercial construction industry and for the repeal of the 3 percent withholding law.

Rep. Rogers chairs the House Appropriations Committee, which has jurisdiction over the annual federal budget process. During his 16 terms in Congress, the Chairman voted with AGC 91 percent of the time.  

Pictured in the photo left to right are Doug Hacker, AGC of Kentucky President; Con. Hal Rogers; Richard Vincent, AGC of Kentucky Executive Vice President; and David Jackson, AGC of Kentucky Past President.

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at 202-547-5013 or Return to Top

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