Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org April 19, 2012
Spacer
AGC Home Page
Email our Editor
Search Back Issues
Forward to a Friend
Subscribe
Printer Friendly
AGC Political Toolkit
Take Action!
On the Inside
AGC EVENTS
AGC Meeting Brings Contractors, Agencies Together
TRANSPORTATION
House Passes 90 Day Extension of Transportation Bill
Federal Contractors Win Big on Highway Extension Vote
Senate Committee Approves FY 2013 Transportation Funding
LABOR/HR
Vote Expected on Legislation to Nullify NLRB Quickie Election Rule
House Examines OFCCP Enforcement and Regulatory Actions
House Holds Hearing on Job Training Reforms
Appeals Court Blocks Application of NLRB Posting Rule for Those Who are Not Federal Contractors
Advertisement

AGC EVENTS
AGC Meeting Brings Contractors, Agencies Together
 

AGC’s 2012 Federal Contractors Conference attracted nearly 400 people to Washington, D.C., this week to meet with 20 federal agencies and review procurement and contracting issues.

While the meeting continued on Thursday with participation from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the week was packed with productive face-to-face exchanges.

The Federal Owners Advisory Council, brought together contractors and representatives from over a dozen federal agencies in one room to talk about construction industry concerns from project labor agreements (PLAs) and small business contracting goals to operating in difficult budgetary times.  The following agencies joined AGC members in the Council meeting: USACE, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Energy, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Small Business Administration (SBA), the Office of Federal Lands Highway, the National Resources Conservation Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

AGC and the Corps, NAVFAC and Air Force met throughout the week to discuss safety, best value contracting, sustainability, PLAs, Building Information Modeling, and past performance evaluations.

AGC and the General Services Administration (GSA) focused on budgetary challenges, current facilities disposal management programs, the prospect of a "civilian BRAC" process, and PLA implementation, as the agency continues to press for their use for construction jobs.

The Department of Veterans Affairs the meeting focused on the ways in which AGC and the Department could partner to help improve its contracting mission.

AGC's Small Business Forum convened with representatives from the SBA and small business representatives from the major federal construction agencies, including GSA, NAVFAC, USACE, and VA to discuss the new changes to the 8(a) program; how to pursue teaming arrangements and joint ventures; and details on lower tier subcontracting.

The AGC International Construction Forum had record attendance and included discussion on the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations’ new initiative for Design Excellence in Embassy Construction and the steps they are taking to increase the use of best-value and early contractor involvement project delivery vehicles.

Senior Department of Transportation representatives from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, Federal Aviation Administration and Federal Railroad Administration briefed participants on their construction budgets for the coming fiscal year and other program highlights. Participants also discussed transportation reauthorization legislation, procurement issues - in particular the Construction Management/General Contractor (CMGC) project delivery method.

Representative Reed Ribble (R-Wisc.), a member of both the House Budget and the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committees, addressed conference attendees and discussed the need to maintain and improve America's infrastructure, even during these austere federal budgetary times.  Other members of Congress attended a reception at the AGC townhouse.

During the conference, AGC members launched an all out offensive on the legislative front with a series of organized Capitol Hill visits to provide information on the need for multi-year infrastructure investment authorizations of transportation, federal facilities and water programs and federal regulation reform.

For more information, contact Jimmy Christianson at (703) 837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org. Return to Top

TRANSPORTATION
House Passes 90 Day Extension of Transportation Bill
 

By a vote of 293-127, the House approved HR 4348, a 90 day extension of the surface transportation programs through Sept. 30, 2012. The legislation will act as a vehicle to conference with the Senate on a longer term transportation reauthorization bill. H.R. 4348 was amended on the House floor to include the environmental streamlining provisions from H.R. 7, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, the five year comprehensive transportation reauthorization bill that was reported from the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee earlier this year but was lacking sufficient support for passage on its own. Also included in H.R. 4348 were several good provisions not directly related to the highway and transit programs as follows:

  1. The AGC supported provision allowing approval of construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
  2. The text of the AGC supported Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act that would, among other things, prevent EPA from defining fly ash as a hazardous waste, thereby, limiting its beneficial use.
  3. An AGC supported amendment guaranteeing that the total amount available for spending from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) each fiscal year would equal Trust Fund receipts as estimated by the President's budget for that year.
  4. The AGC supported RESTORE Act directs much of the money  from Clean Water Act fines resulting from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to be used for infrastructure investments in Gulf coast states.

The Obama Administration issued a statement prior to the vote threatening to veto H.R. 4348 based on the inclusion of the Keystone XL pipeline. While AGC has consistently and unequivocally called for a long-term transportation reauthorization bill with increased funding and significant program reforms, political realities have prevented that from happening. AGC supported the current strategy of passing H.R. 4348 as a means to conference with the Senate on S. 1813 to provide program continuity, certainty in funding levels for the next 15 months and program reforms. AGC and our stakeholder partners were very involved in educating and urging House Members to vote for the bill. The AGC  'key vote" letter can be found here along with coalition letters from the Transportation Construction Coalition and the Americans for American for Transportation Mobility.

It is anticipated that the House and Senate will begin negotiations  soon to resolve the differences between their respective versions of the bill.  In conference, the Senate would appear to have the upper hand on most of the transportation policy issues since the House was not successful in passing the policy initiatives in H.R. 7.  The House might have some leverage, though, since it could refuse to accept the Senate policy changes and insist on current law.  The most politically controversial issue that the conference will have to resolve is the Keystone pipeline language. 

AGC will continue to monitor the situation and work closely with those Members of Congress who will serve on the conference committee to ensure any final package has the greatest possible impact on the construction industry.

For more information, please contact Brian Deery at (703) 837-5319 or deeryb@agc.org. Return to Top

Federal Contractors Win Big on Highway Extension Vote
 

One of three amendments adopted during the debate of H.R. 4348. The Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, Part II, was a modified version of Congressman Charles Boustany’s (R-LA) Realizing America’s Maritime Promise (RAMP) Act.  H.R. 4348 is serving as the vehicle to get the House to a conference committee with the Senate on their surface transportation reauthorization bill which passed last month.

The RAMP Act ensures revenue coming into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) is used and spent for its designated purposes:  harbor maintenance and dredging projects.  The Army Corps of Engineers estimates that almost 30 percent of our nations ports are hindered because of inadequate channel depths attributed to a lack of proper dredging.  This amendment guarantees the total amount available for spending from the HMTF each fiscal year through the appropriations process is equal to the receipts collected as estimated in the President’s budget for that year.

Appropriations from the HMTF, which are primarily used by the Army Corps of Engineers for maintenance dredging, dredged material disposal areas, jetties, and breakwaters, have lagged behind revenues in the fund for several years.  The resulting HMTF surplus was approximately $6.42 billion at the end of fiscal year 2012.

 AGC has long advocated for the appropriations from the HMTF equal the revenue collected by the Harbor Maintenance Tax and we will work to ensure this provision which is supported by both Republicans and Democrats is part of the final package negotiated by the conference committee on the surface transportation bill.

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


Return to Top
Senate Committee Approves FY 2013 Transportation Funding
 

Despite the lack of authorizing legislation, nevertheless the Senate Appropriations Committee today approved funding for transportation programs for FY 2013 which begins October 1, 2012.

The legislation funds the Federal-aid highway program at $39.144 billion, the same level as this year but down 4.7 percent from the fiscal year 2011 level. This is below the funding level contained in MAP-21, the Senate passed two year authorization bill that will soon be subject to consideration in a Senate –House conference committee.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) New Starts program increased by 4.5 percent over 2012, to $2.044 billion This is also an increase over the FY 2011 level. FTA’s transit formula grants program is maintained at this year’s level of $8.361 billion (down slightly from FY 2011).

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Improvement Program funding is set at $3.35 billion, a reduction of 4.7 percent from FY 2011. However, this is the level that was approved in the recently enacted FAA authorization legislation.

The TIGER grant program was also maintained at last year’s level of $500 million, but also down from its high water mark of $527 billion in FY 2011.

Federal Rail Administration’s high-speed rail program received $100 million. No funds were provided for this program in fiscal years 2011 or 2012, however, residual funding still remains from the $10 billion provided for this program in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The ARRA funds are still available through FY 2016. 

Amtrak’s capital improvement program is funded at $1.05 billion an increase over FY 2012 of 10.3 percent.

For more information, please contact Brian Deery at (703) 837-5319 or deeryb@agc.org. Return to Top

LABOR/HR
Vote Expected on Legislation to Nullify NLRB Quickie Election Rule
 

Next week the Senate could consider a resolution providing for disapproval of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rule on representation-case procedures. AGC opposed the NLRB rule which will become go into effect April 30, 2012, unless Congress acts.

AGC opposes the rule because expediting the union representation election cycle to as little as 14 days denies employers due process and ample time to prepare. It effectively limits workers’ access to information and an adequate opportunity to consider information, about whether they want to be represented by the union seeking to represent them. This rule will have a particularly difficult application and detrimental impact on the construction industry due to the complexity of identifying the appropriate bargaining unit and of determining voter eligibility in the industry, and due to the decentralized nature of construction workplaces operated by the same employer.

Additionally, in construction, the rule can directly affect employers with unionized workforces as well as those whose workers are not yet organized, by putting their current pre-hire agreements in jeopardy. Historically, both union contractors and building trade unions have benefitted from the ease, convenience, and flexibility of 8(f), or pre-hire, agreements unique to the construction industry. The quickie election rule would enable unions to more readily convert their 8(f) relationships to 9(a) relationships in order to restrain a union contractor's flexibility or restrain a rival union from taking over its jurisdiction. In addition, a rival union might use the election process to take jurisdiction from a union with an 8(f) relationship.

AGC is concerned that this regulation could have substantial unintended consequences and destabilize an industry that is struggling to recover from depression-like conditions. The rule is also a change in direction from over 50 years of U.S. labor law where the NLRB has almost never issued regulations and has frequently recognized the unique and complicated aspects of the employer-employee relationship in the construction industry. Visit AGC’s Legislative Action Center and write to your Senators urging them to vote in favor of the resolution providing for disapproval of the NLRB’s rule.

For more information, please contact Jim Young at 202-547-3350 or youngj@agc.org. Return to Top

House Examines OFCCP Enforcement and Regulatory Actions
 

This week the House Education and Workforce subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions held a hearing on the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ recent regulatory and enforcement actions. The OFCCP is responsible for ensuring federal contractors follow federal nondiscrimination hiring requirements.  The agency has announced several proposals that will make advanced significant changes to its regulatory and enforcement policies that could create additional costs and challenges for employers and workers in the construction industry.

One of the proposals addressed in the hearing was OFCCP’s notice of proposed rulemaking which would implement significant revisions of the regulations governing affirmative action requirements for direct federal contractors and their subcontractors with respect to individuals with disabilities as required by Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act. AGC submitted comments during the public comment period asking OFCCP to exempt the construction industry from the requirements of the proposed rule.  Also addressed in the Hearing was an OFCCP notice of proposed rulemaking, which would implement significant revisions of the regulations governing affirmative action requirements for direct federal contractors and subcontractors with respect to protected veterans. Read AGC’s comments here.

AGC fully supports OFCCP's stated overall goal of increasing employment opportunities for covered veterans and the disabled; however, AGC does not support the burdensome requirements of the proposed rules.  AGC will continue to work with congressional leaders on making the proposed rules less burdensome for the construction industry.

For more information, please contact Jim Young at 202-547-3350 or youngj@agc.org. Return to Top

House Holds Hearing on Job Training Reforms
 

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing on legislation that would help reform the nation’s job training system by strengthening employer engagement in state and local workforce decisions, as well as giving states and localities more flexibility, the Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012. AGC sent a letter to the committee outlining AGC’s support for a strong and skilled workforce.

AGC highlighted the construction industry is made up of predominantly small employers. In the past, many employers in the industry have had trouble connecting with local workforce investment systems or workforce investment boards (WIBs) due to the structure of the boards and types of training offered locally. However, H.R. 4297 will strengthen the presence and participation of employers on WIBs, and this increased participation by employers will be a welcomed change to the construction industry. Local employers can ensure local job training will address workforce gaps and better fit local population needs.

AGC intends to continue to work with congressional leaders on reforming the job training system and ensuring the industry benefits from its reforms.

For more information, please contact Jim Young at 202-547-3350 or youngj@agc.org. Return to Top

Appeals Court Blocks Application of NLRB Posting Rule for Those Who are Not Federal Contractors
 

In the continually changing saga of the National Labor Relations Board’s new regulation to require most private-sector employers to post certain notices informing employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Board, the very latest development is that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia this week granted an injunction pending appeal of a legal challenge to the rule brought by the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, of which AGC is a member, and co-plaintiffs.  With oral argument on the merits of the appeal not set until September, this effectively means that the Board may not enforce the April 30 effective date of the rule.  The regulation will not go into effect – and employers need not post the poster – until fall at the very earliest, if at all.  The rule could become permanently invalidated by the court or rescinded by the Board. 

For further clarification, this latest development should not be confused with a decision by a U.S. District Court in South Carolina issued last Friday.  That court ruled that the Board’s regulation was invalid, but its decision reached only statewide.  Today’s decision relates to an appeal in a separate challenge to the rule brought in a different district, where the district court in DC ruled earlier that the posting mandate portion of the regulation is valid but the penalty provisions are not.  The present decision enjoining implementation of the regulation applies nationwide.

These cases and the Board’s regulation also should not be confused with a similar but separate regulation by the Department of Labor requiring federal contractors to post a similar notice of employee rights.  That rule remains in effect.

AGC will continue to update members on developments.

For more information, please contact Jim Young at 202-547-3350 or youngj@agc.org. Return to Top

AGC Townhouse, 53 D Street SE • Washington, DC 20003 • 202.547.1625 (phone) • 202.547.1635 (fax)• www.agc.org
AGC Home | About AGC | Advocacy | Industry Topics | Construction Markets | Programs & Events | Career Development | News & Media

To ensure delivery of AGC’s Construction Legislative Week in Review, please add 'communications@agc.org' to your email address book or Safe Sender List. If you are still having problems receiving our communications, visit our white-listing page for more details.

© Copyright The Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America. All Rights Reserved.