Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org May 3, 2012
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On the Inside
ENVIRONMENT
ACTION NEEDED: Tell Your Members of Congress to Halt EPA Wetlands Jurisdictional Overreach
TRANSPORTATION
Transportation Conference Set to Begin Next Week
LABOR
NLRB “Quickie Election” Rule Effective April 30
FEDERAL
AGC Takes Action with ASAE to Combat Legislation Limiting Federal Agency Participation at Conferences
AGC PAC
AGC PAC Montana Supporters Meet with Secretary Rumsfeld & Rep. Rehberg
AGC of Colorado Presents National PAC Check to Rep. Mike Coffman
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ENVIRONMENT
ACTION NEEDED: Tell Your Members of Congress to Halt EPA Wetlands Jurisdictional Overreach
 

Now is the key time to tell your Members of Congress that the forthcoming final guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is bad for your business and the construction industry as a whole. The final guidance document – which describes EPA and the Corps’ view of their authority to regulate all waters and wetlands — significantly changes and expands what water features are subject to federal jurisdiction and permit requirements under the Clean Water Act (CWA). 

EPA and the Corps issued draft guidance  in May 2011 on “Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act.” As this guidance document moved from proposal to final form, concerns, including those raised in AGC’s comments, were not addressed. The guidance document, which was sent in final form to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Feb. 21, 2012, significantly changes and expands what water features are considered protected under the Clean Water Act. This increase in jurisdiction could increase construction costs and project delays with expensive permits that take years to obtain. There is already an extensive backlog of these Section 404 permits, and this will likely add to it.

Legislation to stop the implementation of this guidance has already been introduced in the Senate, and now bipartisan companion legislation has been introduced in the House. Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair John Mica (R-Fla.) and Ranking Democrat Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) with Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chair Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) join Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Ranking Democrat Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) to introduce the House legislation. The strong bipartisan showing from these Committees shows the far-reaching and catastrophic potential this Guidance has on some of the economy’s largest sectors.

Visit AGC’s Legislative Action Center to tell your Members of Congress that EPA has gone too far by.

For further reading, visit this story in AGC’s Environmental Observer

For more information, contact Scott Berry at (703) 837-5321 or berrys@agc.org or Leah Pilconis at (703) 837-5332 or pilconisl@agc.org. Return to Top

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TRANSPORTATION
Transportation Conference Set to Begin Next Week
 

House and Senate leaders have appointed their conferees, setting the stage for the start of negotiations on a surface transportation reauthorization proposal when Congress returns from recess next week. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) appointed 14 senators – eight Democrats and six Republicans – and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Oh.) appointed 33 representatives – 20 Republicans and 13 Democrats. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairperson Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.), who will serve as the conference committee Chair, has scheduled the first official meeting of the conference for Tuesday, May 8.

The conference committee will be charged with working out the differences between H.R. 4348, a 90-day extension of the current surface transportation authorization that includes environmental streamlining provisions, approval of the XL oil pipeline and other provisions with the Senate's two-year $109 billion comprehensive bill, MAP-21.

The meeting of the conference committee on May 8 will largely be ceremonial, consisting mostly of opening statements by most, if not all 47 members of the conference committee.  Meanwhile much of the initial work of reconciling differences on underlying transportation issues will be conducted out of the public eye by the staffs of the committees of jurisdiction. Some of these preliminary talks have already begun.

AGC sent a letter to the conferees detailing AGC’s positions on a variety of priority issues, including funding, financing, environmental streamlining and others.

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

LABOR
NLRB “Quickie Election” Rule Effective April 30
 

The National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) rule on representation case procedures went into effect April 30, 2012. The NLRB rule, also known as the “quickie election” or “ambush election” rule, would expedite the union representation election cycle to as little as 14 days. It is bad for both employers and employees.

While the rule doesn’t require any immediate action by employers, nor will the rule affect any cases filed prior to today, employers should still continue to develop internal procedures in the chance of an organizing campaign. The outcome of the rule will require swifter action by employers to educate employees during an organizing campaign.

AGC opposes the rule because it effectively limits workers’ access to information and an adequate opportunity to consider information, on whether they want to be represented by the union seeking to represent them. The 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 determining voter eligibility in the industry, and the decentralized nature of construction workplaces operated by the same employer.

AGC is a member of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) which has filed a lawsuit against the rule. The court is expected to issue a decision on the merits by May 15.

A congressional resolution that would have nullified the rule was defeated last week.

For background on the rule and AGC’s concerns, click here. For more information on the rule from the NLRB, click here.

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

FEDERAL
AGC Takes Action with ASAE to Combat Legislation Limiting Federal Agency Participation at Conferences
 

AGC and the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) met this week with the House Oversight & Government Affairs Committee to discuss legislation that would severely restrict federal agency participation in conferences hosted by private organizations.  Aside from ASAE, AGC was the only other organization there to fight for continued open discussion with federal agency representatives at private industry conferences and meetings.

The reason for this discussion came as a result of legislation—H.R. 2146 and S. 1789—which passed separately, with minimal debate, in both the House and Senate last week as a response to the recent General Services Administration training conference scandal.  Though not enacted into law and still facing additional legislative action, if enacted, this legislation would bar more than one meeting with a federal agency per year, per organization. A reasonable reading is that, for example, if employees from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) attend a construction conference sponsored by one AGC chapter, no other USACE employees could attend any other conference or meeting sponsored by an AGC-affiliated organization until the next fiscal year.

AGC will continue to work closely with ASAE to redress this provision.

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

AGC PAC
AGC PAC Montana Supporters Meet with Secretary Rumsfeld & Rep. Rehberg
 

AGC PAC supporters at the Montana Contractors Association recently held a fundraiser for Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) with former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as a special guest. The National PAC has contributed the legal maximum of $10,000 to Rep. Rehberg’s toss-up U.S. Senate race against incumbent Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.). Montana Chapter members presented the National PAC checks directly to Rep. Rehberg.  

During his six years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Rehberg has voted the AGC preferred way 88 percent of the time. In his current term, he co-sponsored the 3 percent withholding repeal bill, signed a letter urging the House Republican leadership to pass a multi-year surface transportation bill, and authored a policy rider that would bar the Army Corps of Engineers from implementing guidance that clarifies which U.S. waters fall under federal protection via the Clean Water Act, among other things.

This Montana U.S. Senate race is considered among the most competitive races in the country. Whoever wins this election will help determine which party controls the Senate for the next two years. AGC PAC is proud to support Rep. Rehberg as the most construction-friendly candidate in the race.

Pictured left to right: Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Montana Contractors Association President Russ Olsen, R&R Taylor Construction and Rep. Denny Rehberg.

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

AGC of Colorado Presents National PAC Check to Rep. Mike Coffman
 

AGC of Colorado members presented an AGC PAC check to Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) in Denver this week. Seeking a third term, Rep. Coffman has voted with AGC 88 percent of the time while serving in the House of Representatives. The congressman has voted the AGC way 100 percent of the time this Congress and is the pro-construction candidate in this year’s race.  

As a result of redistricting, Rep. Coffman faces a competitive re-election challenge. Since its origin in the 1980s, that particular congressional district has been a GOP stronghold. However, the district is now divided in thirds between Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters. AGC PAC continues to monitor races around the country for pro-construction candidates, like Rep. Coffman, worthy of support.

Pictured left to right: Eric Wilson, Hensel Phelps Construction and Colorado State AGC PAC Chair and Rep. Mike Coffman.

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

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