Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org March 8, 2012
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On the Inside
TRANSPORTATION
Senate Bill Moves Forward While House End Game is Still in Question
SMALL BUSINESS
Committee Approves Small Business Contracting Bills, Submits Views & Estimates on SBA Budget
ENVIRONMENT
Senate Approves Legislation Directing BP Fines to Gulf Coast States
LABOR/HR
First Court to Rule on NLRB Notice Posting Regulation Upholds Posting Requirement
AGC PAC
AGC PAC Wants You to Win a FREE, New iPAD NEXT WEEK!
Super Tuesday Recap: Romney Wins, But Doesn’t Close the Door
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TRANSPORTATION
Senate Bill Moves Forward While House End Game is Still in Question
 

Last night, the Senate finally reached a unanimous consent agreement that limits the number of amendments that can be offered to the S. 1813, the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (MAP-21), its two-year $109 billion authorization. The Senate has now started the process of debating and voting on approximately 30 amendments to MAP-21; many of the amendments are not germane to the bill.  As of this afternoon, the Senate has disposed of seven amendments and agreed to waive all points of order under the Budget Act that might be made against the bill.  Thus far, the Senate defeated amendments that would allow for expanded drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf, delay Environmental Protection Agency rules on industrial boiler emissions and would require the Office of Management and Budget to find savings in duplicative federal programs.  In addition, the two amendments dealing with construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline were defeated.  The Senate adjourned this afternoon and will finish consideration of the amendments next week.  There are four amendments that AGC is urging Senators to vote against.  Three would devolve the federal-aid highway program to the states and one would expand Buy American requirements.

In the House, AGC has participated in several high level meetings this week with Transportation and Infrastructure Committee staff and Republican leadership staff. There remains a strong desire to pass a multiyear reauthorization bill.  House leaders have conceded that changes need to be made to the original bill – H.R. 7 – as it was reported to the Rules Committee.  The most notable change is that dedicated funding from the Highway Trust Fund to the Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund has been restored.  Republican leaders are in the process of “re-whipping” members of their conference in order to get to the 218 votes needed to pass a bill on the floor.  As we have reported before, this is not an easy task because few, if any, Democrats will support any House package.  If Republican leadership falls short of the necessary vote for passage, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has indicated that the House taking up the Senate passed reauthorization bill is an option.  We urge all members to visit our Make Transportation Job #1 site and contact their representatives in their districts next week to urge them to support the H.R. 7, the House five-year reauthorization bill.

Highway and transit program authorization expires on March 31, 2012. As with the last deadline, not only will spending authorization end but authorization to collect the federal motor fuels tax on gasoline and diesel will end as well. Both the House and the Senate have said they do not want to approve another short-term extension and are therefore focused on enacting a longer term measure before the March 31 deadline.

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

SMALL BUSINESS
Committee Approves Small Business Contracting Bills, Submits Views & Estimates on SBA Budget
 

Today, the House Small Business Committee, chaired by Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), held a full committee markup of six small business contracting bills recently introduced. AGC recently testified before the committee to discuss its priorities.

The legislation marked up included:

  • H.R. 3850 -- The GET Small Business Contracting (Government Efficiency Through Small Business Contracting) Act of 2012, sponsored by Chairman Graves and Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.)- PASSED by voice vote. 
  • H.R. 3851 -- The Small Business Advocate Act (SBAA) of 2012, sponsored by Chairman Graves- PASSED 11-7. 
  • H.R. 3893 -- The Subcontracting Transparency And Reliability (STAR) Act of 2012, sponsored by Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce Chairman Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.)- PASSED by voice vote. 
  • H.R. 3980 -- The Small Business Opportunity Act of 2012, sponsored by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) and Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations Ranking Member Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.)- PASSED by voice vote. 
  • H.R. 4121 -- The Early Stage Small Business Contracting Act of 2012, sponsored by Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.)- PASSED by voice vote. 
  • H.R. 4118 -- The Small Business Procurement Improvement Act of 2012, sponsored by Rep. Mark Critz (D-Pa.)- PASSED by voice vote. 

AGC is working with the committee to ensure this legislative package will provide greater transparency to the federal procurement process and help create additional opportunities for small and medium sized firms engaged in the federal construction market. AGC previously recommended that  Congress reform the federal procurement process to: (1) create safe harbor standards that do not penalize contractors for making good faith efforts to abide by Small Business Administration rules and regulations, (2) limit overreliance on construction to achieve overall agency small business contracting goals, (3) ensure that small business goals take into consideration actual small business capacity in relevant specialty markets, (4) count all small business participation at all contracting tiers, and (5) revise the bundling definition to clarify that contract bundling rules apply to construction procurements.  AGC believes these reforms will encourage the development of successful and enduring small construction businesses and will continue working with congressional small business leaders to ensure enactment of these recommendations. 

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

ENVIRONMENT
Senate Approves Legislation Directing BP Fines to Gulf Coast States
 

Today, the Senate approved  legislation in the form of an amendment to the chamber’s version of the transportation bill. The amendment will ensure 80 percent of the Clean Water Act penalties the federal government collects as a result of the BP oil spill are distributed in the best interest of the communities along the Gulf Coast. The legislation was sponsored by Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and was supported by all Senators from the region in a bi-partisan manner.

Under current law, the penalties acquired from BP and other responsible parties would go into the U.S. Treasury.. This legislation would ensure the vast majority of all civil penalties paid by BP, or any other responsible party in connection with the Deepwater Horizon spill, would be divided among the five Gulf Coast states most impacted by the spill.

The House passed a similar measure creating a Trust Fund to collect such related fines for the Gulf Coast as part of the transportation bill it considered in February and it is expected there will be an agreement between the House and Senate on enacting a comprehensive relief package. AGC is encouraged this legislation would promote the long-term construction opportunities in the Gulf Coast region through the funding of infrastructure projects, including coastal flood protection directly affected by coastal wetland losses, beach erosion, or the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

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

LABOR/HR
First Court to Rule on NLRB Notice Posting Regulation Upholds Posting Requirement
 

On March 2, 2012, a federal court in Washington, D.C., upheld most of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) notice posting rule. The posting rule is described here,here, and here.

The court upheld the NLRB’s right to issue the posting requirement but invalidated the remedial portions of the rule. The court ruled that failing to post the notice cannot automatically constitute  an unfair labor practice. The NLRB would have to prove each unfair labor practice on a case-by-case basis.  The court likewise invalidated the portion of the rule automatically tolling the statue of limitations in unfair labor practice cases involving a job site where the notice was not posted.  However, the court again left the door open for the NLRB to make such decisions on a case-by-case basis.

The plaintiffs in the case also included a challenge to the president’s right to make recess appointments to the NLRB earlier this year while the Senate was not technically in recess. As expected, the judge refused to consider this challenge, leaving the issue to be decided in a future case.

In essence, the posting requirement stands for now, and penalties may be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Both parties are likely to appeal the decision, and a decision in a separate lawsuit challenging the rule in a South Carolina federal court is still pending.  As a result, the posting requirement might be delayed further or struck down altogether.  Until such a ruling occurs, employers are advised to be prepared to post the notice by the current deadline of April 30, 2012.  Click here for information about obtaining the poster.

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

AGC PAC
AGC PAC Wants You to Win a FREE, New iPAD NEXT WEEK!
 

Want to be entered to win a free iPAD? You can by simply completing AGC PAC’s prior approval form at www.agc.org/pac.

Before AGC PAC can ask you to support its cause, it must have prior approval to do so. Completing the form does not obligate you to support the PAC. Rather, it merely allows AGC PAC to fully communicate with you.

For each year you grant the PAC prior approval, you will have a chance to win an iPAD during the PAC Raffle held next Thursday, March 15 during the AGC Legislative Luncheon at the AGC Annual Convention in Hawaii. You don’t need to be present to win!

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

Super Tuesday Recap: Romney Wins, But Doesn’t Close the Door
 

Gov. Mitt Romney won six out of 10 state primary contests on Super Tuesday—the most delegate rich primary day on the nomination calendar—with 419 delegates up for grabs. Alaska, Idaho, Massachusetts, Ohio, Vermont and Virginia voted for Romney, while Sen. Rick Santorum won North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Speaker Newt Gingrich took his home state of Georgia.

The magic number of delegates needed for clinching the Republican nomination is 1,144 delegates. After Tuesday’s contests, the delegate count breaks down as follows: Romney (415 delegates), Santorum (176), Gingrich (105), Paul (47). Coming up on Saturday, March 10, the candidates will fight in primary battles in Guam (9 delegates), Kansas (40), Northern Marianas Islands (9), and the Virgin Islands Caucuses (9).  

The Republican National Committee’s Political Director Rick Wiley told the AGC PAC State Chairmen during a conference call in December that this contest would go well into April. From the looks of it, he couldn’t have been more correct. AGC PAC will continue to monitor this race and the congressional races for construction-friendly candidates.

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

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