Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org December 15, 2011
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On the Inside
BUDGET
House-Senate Impasse Putting FY 2012 Funding at Risk; OMB Warns of Government Shutdown
SAFETY
Pipeline Safety Bills Cross the Finish Line
Senate Commerce Committee Marks up Safety Bills, Banking Action Not Likely before 2012
WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
Senate Holds Hearing on Water Infrastructure
Labor
OFCCP Proposes Changes to Affirmative Action Obligations Related to Individuals with Disabilities
Obama Makes Recommendation to Labor Board
NLRB Complaint Against Boeing Withdrawn
AGC PAC
Republican Presidential Nominee May Not Be Determined Until April 2012
AGC EVENTS
AGC Surveys for 2012 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook Report
BUDGET
House-Senate Impasse Putting FY 2012 Funding at Risk; OMB Warns of Government Shutdown
 

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) announced on Dec. 13 that the House and Senate have come to agreement on a roughly $900 billion FY 2012 spending plan.  However, numerous disputes between House and Senate leaders have put the deal on hold and a government shutdown is now looming.  The current continuing resolution is set to expire at midnight on Dec. 16.  AGC has advocated for this measure to come together to ensure the vast majority of the federal construction programs are well funded for the next fiscal year, as this legislation includes the remaining nine appropriations for FY 2012.

The reported outline of the deal is $915 billion, with an extra $115 billion in war funding for the Department of Defense and $11 billion in war funding for the Department of State. The deal is under the agreed-to spending rate of $1.043 trillion per the Budget Control Act of 2011. The Conferees report that they also provided funding at levels “proportionate to the effectiveness of the program, the quality of the service and the importance to the taxpayer.”  Congress previously approved the Agriculture, Commerce/Justice/Science, and Transportation/Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bills – also known as the “Mini-bus” – in November before the Thanksgiving holiday. If there is a shutdown, those agencies would continue operating as they have their full funding for FY 2012.

In preparation for a possible government shutdown, the Office of Management and Budget directed agencies to begin shutdown preparations on Dec. 14. No agencies have posted new information at press time. However, AGC was able to successfully obtain shutdown information from the federal agencies last April and posted that information on the AGC Federal Government Shutdown Resource Center.  Much of this information is still relevant for contractors should there be a shutdown and AGC encourages its members to check back on the center for updates.

AGC is closely monitoring the situation to determine what the final outcome of this deal means for the federal construction programs and will continue to keep members informed on the final numbers.

For a detailed summary of the agreement, please click here.

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

SAFETY
Pipeline Safety Bills Cross the Finish Line
 

The Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 (H.R. 2845) final language was agreed on last week and the bipartisan, bicameral work of the House and Senate committees of jurisdiction resulted in swift house passage Monday. The legislation authorizes funding for programs of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) through FY 2015.  PHMSA oversees safety programs for the 2.3 million miles of natural gas, petroleum and other hazardous liquid pipelines in the United States.  The federal government and construction industry have taken steps to improve pipeline safety, and this legislation ensures the continuation of the downward trend in pipeline damages despite increased volume of energy transported. After passage of the House by voice vote, the measure was quickly taken up by the Senate, where it passed by unanimous consent. The bill now goes to the president, where he is expected to sign the measure into law.

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

Senate Commerce Committee Marks up Safety Bills, Banking Action Not Likely before 2012
 

On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committed moved several bills out of their committee.  S. 1449, the Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Improvement Act ; S. 1950, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act; S. 1952 the hazardous Materials Transportation Safety Improvement Act; and S. 1953, the Research and Innovative Technology Administration Reauthorization Act address federal highway safety and research policy and will be part of the committees overall contribution to the surface transportation reauthorization bill.

The bills were mostly bipartisan and non-controversial, except for the Commercial Motor Safety bill.  Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) added language to the bill that would create a new federal policy for surface transportation and a multi-modal freight program.  AGC has several concerns with the language inserted by Senator Lautenberg.  Specifically, we are concerned that neither a funding source nor a funding amount is identified.  We are also concerned that the multi-modal aspect of the proposal is not paid for out of the Highway Trust Fund, but rather with General Fund dollars.  AGC will continue to monitor the developments in the Commerce Committee and work to ensure no money is diverted from the Highway Trust Fund to provide funding for transportation modes that do not contribute to the Highway Trust Fund.

The Senate Banking Committee, with jurisdiction of the transit portions of the surface transportation bill, had intended to mark up this week, but yesterday Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R- Ala.) announced that there were still outstanding issues with their bill and they will not be marking up this week.  Both Shelby and Johnson said there is a possibility that if the Senate is in session next week they may take action on their bill.

For more information, please contact Sean O’Neill at (202) 547-8892 or oneills@agc.org.
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WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
Senate Holds Hearing on Water Infrastructure
 

On Dec.13, the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife held a hearing entitled "Our Nation’s Water Infrastructure: Challenges and Opportunities." The hearing featured testimony from Environmental Protection Agency Jim Hanlon, who is the Director for the Office of Wastewater management – with jurisdiction over the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. Representatives from the engineering community were also there to discuss their latest report on water infrastructure. Several measures to help water infrastructure were discussed, and AGC submitted a statement for the record describing the various tools that could be made available including: SRF reauthorization, a Clean Water Trust Fund, private activity bonds, Build America bonds and a water infrastructure bank. The purpose of the hearing was to build out the official record to have an effective foundation for potential water infrastructure legislation in the Senate early next year. AGC will continue to be heavily involved in the development of this legislation.

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

Labor
OFCCP Proposes Changes to Affirmative Action Obligations Related to Individuals with Disabilities
 

On Dec. 9 the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued its proposed rule to revise regulations on implementing affirmative action and nondiscrimination obligations to contractors and subcontractors, and to evaluate the affirmative action provisions.

While AGC agrees that individuals with disabilities must not be discriminated against, AGC’s Sept. 21, 2010 comments to OFCCP’s then Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, addressed the belief that the OFCCP’s contemplated broad affirmative action requirement for the recruitment of individuals with disabilities may be difficult to achieve or possibly counterproductive in the construction industry. AGC noted that record unemployment in construction, the unique nature of the construction industry, and the undue burden the additional recordkeeping would place on construction employers may make the new requirements difficult to achieve.  AGC urged the OFCCP to continue to leave the decision to hire to construction employers, and those decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis based on the candidate’s ability to perform the essential functions of a particular job safely, with or without a reasonable accommodation.

The proposed rule is now open for public comment until Feb. 7, 2012. AGC is currently soliciting feedback on the affects of the proposed rule from AGC members.  Members interested in providing AGC feedback should contact Tamika Carter at cartert@agc.org.  Additionally, OFCCP is sponsoring a webinar on the proposed rule. The webinar is not an AGC-affiliated event but is open to the public by clicking here.

For more information, please contact Tamika Carter at (703) 837-5382 orcartert@agc.org, or Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org. Return to Top

Obama Makes Recommendation to Labor Board
 

On Dec. 14, President Obama announced his intention to nominate Sharon Block (D) and Richard Griffin (D) to fill two vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board.  Block is the current Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor and Griffin is the General Counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers. At the end of the year, Craig Becker’s (D) term expires which will leave the board with only two members and unable to exercise its full authority.  The Senate is unlikely to confirm the two most recent nominations and it is unlikely Obama will be able to seat them through recess appointments. This action will leave the board unable to perform its full duties or issue new rules.

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

NLRB Complaint Against Boeing Withdrawn
 

On Dec. 9, the NLRB withdrew its complaint against the Boeing Company over the new plant in South Carolina due to a settlement with the machinists union in Washington State. The NLRB General Counsel filed a complaint April 20, 2011, against Boeing, claiming that Boeing violated federal labor law by building a second production line for its Dreamliner at a non-union factory in South Carolina in retaliation against past strikes by the unions. The case could impact future company’s ability to move operations from a pro-union state to a right-to-work state for fear of having the NLRB meddle in the decision. AGC supported legislation addressing the complaint that ultimately passed the House but was not considered by the Senate.

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

AGC PAC
Republican Presidential Nominee May Not Be Determined Until April 2012
 

Members of the AGC PAC Contributions Subcommittee heard the latest on the presidential race from Republican National Committee Political Director Rick Wiley during the PAC’s quarterly conference call. Wiley discussed the Electoral College challenge President Obama faces given the current economic and political climate. In addition, he suggested that the Republican presidential nominee may not be determined until April, as the lion share of delegates are up for grabs in later, winner-take-all primary states.

Additionally, the subcommittee approved more than $120,000 in contributions to 45 construction-friendly candidates in 27 states. That amount will spend all the funds that the PAC has raised so far towards the 2012 election cycle. To help continue AGC’s political momentum, PAC Co-Chairmen Doug Pruitt and Ted Aadland reiterated the PAC and grassroots goals for the 2012 election cycle. These goals include each state raising 10 percent more than its 2010 election cycle receipts, and encouraging AGC member company employees to participate in AGC grassroots activities through the Legislative Action Center at www.agc.org/lac.   

To learn more about AGC PAC’s activities in your state, visit www.agc.org/pac.

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at 202-547-5013 or christiansonj@agc.org.
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AGC EVENTS
AGC Surveys for 2012 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook Report
All survey participants are qualified to enter to win a $100 gift card to Amazon
 

AGC is currently conducting our annual Construction Hiring and Business Outlook for 2012 and we are hoping to have as many members as possible complete the survey by Monday, Dec. 19.  Your answers will help us craft a legislative, policy and education program bettered tailored to meet the needs of your firms.

All survey participants are qualified to enter to win a $100 gift card to Amazon.

For more information, please contact Brian Turmail at (703) 837-5310 or turmailb@agc.org. Return to Top

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