Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org May 24, 2012
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On the Inside
LABOR
AGC Joins Business Groups Questioning Administrationís Hiring Goals
TRANSPORTATION
Transportation Conference Committee Continues Deliberations
SMALL BUSINESS
AGC-Supported Small Business Contracting Reforms Pass House
BUDGET
Obama Administration Calls for 5 Percent Cuts From FY 2014 Agency Budgets
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
National News Media Highlights Needed Investment for Inland Waterway Infrastructure Investment
General Bostick Assumes Command of USACE
AGC PAC
AGC PAC-Supported Candidate Wins Arkansas Open Seat Primary Nomination
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LABOR
AGC Joins Business Groups Questioning Administrationís Hiring Goals
 

On May 23, 2012, AGC joined 10 other national business associations in a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Labor urging her to reconsider a series of new affirmative action mandates it plans to impose on contractors working on federal projects.  A press release from AGC today highlighted the lack of data from the government justifying the costly and burdensome rules.

The proposed rules AGC is concerned with come from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) at the U.S. Department of Labor. OFCCP has proposed to make very dramatic changes to its rules requiring affirmative action for veterans and individuals with disabilities.  AGC has asked OFCCP to exempt the construction industry from any final changes to these two rules. 

For more information on the individuals with disabilities rule, click here. For more information on the veterans rule, click here. The two rules are very similar to each other, their administrative and financial burdens are nearly equal, and both are expected to become final later this year.

AGC will continue to work with Congress and these federal agencies on minimizing the detrimental impact these rules would have on the industry.  AGC members can send a letter highlighting concerns about the burdensome requirements to their elected officials through AGC's Legislative Action Center.

For more information, please contact Jim Young at (703) 837-5319 or youngj@agc.org.


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TRANSPORTATION
Transportation Conference Committee Continues Deliberations
 

House and Senate staff continue to meet to negotiate various provisions in the transportation reauthorization legislation. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who is serving as the chair of the conference committee, set June 7, 2012 as the target date for having a compromise measure completed. The current authorization extension expires on June 30 and she hopes to have legislation to the President by then.  Sen. Boxer is also conducting one-on-one meetings with House conferees in an attempt to identify key issues that need to be worked out. The bigger provisions, such as approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, preventing fly ash from being classified as a hazardous waste, and how to pay for the bill, will be the final issues resolved and will likely come from leadership.

This week AGC of America communicated with chapters that have members on the conference committee and asked that they send these members AGC’s recommendations. A last push effort is necessary to emphasize the urgency for passing a transportation reauthorization bill before the June 30 deadline. You are asked to contact your representatives to urge them to make enactment of a transportation reauthorization bill a priority.

Contact with your members can be made through AGC’s Legislative Action Center. Your elected representatives need to hear from you. Please don’t delay – send a message now!

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

SMALL BUSINESS
AGC-Supported Small Business Contracting Reforms Pass House
 

Last week, the House of Representatives approved the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2013 with a host of small business contracting reforms attached to the measure. The reforms AGC supported and advocated for include:

  • Federal Agency Contract Bundling Justification. This would require all federal agencies to provide justification for bundling contracts, including construction contracts. Currently, the definition of "bundled contract" specifically excludes construction contracts. Consequently, all federal government bundled contracts — except bundled construction contracts — require such justification.
  • Safe Harbor for Small Business Categorization Misrepresentation. The bill includes a safe-harbor provision from small business misrepresentation claims.  Small business contracting affiliation laws and regulations that define circumstances when a small business is not acting as a small business are complex and confusing. This complexity and confusion can lead even innocent small business contractors to inadvertently fall victim to misrepresentation claims with stiff penalties, both civil and criminal, as well as possible debarment.

Additionally included is a Department of Defense (DOD) contracting pilot program where contracts over $25 million could be restricted to mid-sized contractors. Mid-sized contractors who are independently owned and are not dominant in their field of operation could participate in the program if they meet at least one of the following qualifications: (1) the contractor has twice the number of employees the Small Business Administration (SBA) has assigned as a size standard to the North American Industrial Classification Standard (NAICS) code in which the contractor is operating; or (2) three times the average annual receipts the SBA has assigned as a size standard to the NAICS code in which the contractor is operating.

However, the reform package also includes provisions AGC continues to oppose, including raising the federal government-wide small business prime contracting goal from 23 to 25 percent. The federal government has failed to reach this mark for years. AGC has noted that Congress should reform the current system to all the government to meet the existing goals and truly benefit small business, rather than raising the goal to an even higher level. By enacting reforms that make contracting goals more consistent with what the small business market can provide and that more accurately account for small business participation at lower tiers, the small business program would work better for the firms it was intended to benefit.

Earlier this year, AGC testified before the House Small Business Committee concerning this small business package. As a result of that testimony and the association's advocacy efforts, pro-construction industry reforms continue to work their way through the legislative process.

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

BUDGET
Obama Administration Calls for 5 Percent Cuts From FY 2014 Agency Budgets
 

The White House budget office recently issued a memorandum to federal agencies directing them to plan for discretionary spending cuts of 5 percent below the 2014 levels the administration had previously outlined in its 2013 budget request.  Acting Office of Management and Budget Director Jeff Zients notes that “the 2014 Budget will need to make hard choices,” as the Budget Control Act, which put into place steep discretionary spending cuts resulting from the last summer’s debt ceiling deal, continues to sharply constrain discretionary spending.

Though the memorandum does not specify where agencies should make the cuts, AGC continues to strongly advocate for continued investment in federal agency construction accounts as a means to create jobs and to build efficient federal workspaces and an infrastructure network capable of meeting increased economic demands.

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

FEDERAL CONTRACTING
National News Media Highlights Needed Investment for Inland Waterway Infrastructure Investment
 

America transports $180 billion worth of freight across 38 states on inland waterways. However, as AGC has long advocated, the nation’s inland waterway infrastructure system needs adequate investment to keep up with freight demand.  USA Today underscored that point in an article this week . As the article notes, “inadequate investment led to nearly 80,000 hours of lock outages in fiscal 2010, four times more than in fiscal 2000.” To view the article, click here.

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

General Bostick Assumes Command of USACE
 

Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick officially assumed command as U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' 53rd commanding general on May 22. Previously, Bostick served as Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1, U.S. Army. In April 2011, the U.S. Defense Department announced his nomination to the rank of Lieutenant General as well as his assignment as Commanding General, Corps of Engineers, and Chief Engineer of the U.S. Army.

President Obama nominated Lt. Gen. Bostick to lead the Corps over a year ago. Bostick's path was slowed by holds put on his nomination by two senators, David Vitter (R-La.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Bostick has been serving as the Army Deputy Chief of Staff. His earlier assignments have included leading the Corps division in Iraq.

AGC congratulated Lt. Gen. Bostick at the assumption of command ceremony and looks forward to continuing its partnership with the Corps under his leadership.

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at 703-837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org.
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AGC PAC
AGC PAC-Supported Candidate Wins Arkansas Open Seat Primary Nomination
 

AGC PAC-supported candidate Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) won the Republican primary outright in Arkansas's 4th Congressional District on May 22, avoiding a runoff election. Prior to running for Congress, Cotton served for five years in the U.S. Army as an infantry officer in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He also worked as a business consultant for a major firm and clerked for a Federal Court of Appeals judge. As a business consultant whose family owns a cattle farm business, Cotton understands the regulatory burden small businesses across the industry-wide spectrum have to bear to compete in today’s difficult marketplace.

Mr. Cotton’s opponents will face off in a runoff election for the Democratic nomination on June 12. The current congressman in the district, Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), announced his retirement earlier this term after redistricting made his seat more favorable for Republicans than Democrats. AGC PAC continues to monitor the congressional electoral field for construction-friendly candidates worthy of AGC PAC support.

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

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