Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org June 7, 2012
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On the Inside
TRANSPORTATION
House Subcommittee Approves FY 2013 Transportation Funds
Transportation Conference Committee Continues Deliberations
Attempt to Slash Transportation Funding Expected in the House
Pipeline Safety
AGC Submits Comments to PHMSA on Damage Prevention Program Rule
LABOR &EMPLOYMENT
Legislation on Job Training Moves In the House
ENVIRONMENT
Policy Rider to Halt EPA Clean Water Act Guidance Survives Floor Vote
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
House Reduces Construction Funding in FY13 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Funding Bill
Cuts to USACE’s Civil Works Construction Accounts in House Passed Energy & Water Development Funding Bill
AGC EVENTS
AGC Safety & Health Conference
Free Webinar for AGC Members and Chapters: The Changing Scope of the Clean Water Act
Walking the Compliance Tightrope – How to Meet Legal Requirements for Public Work Eight-Part AGC Webinar Series
Call for Presentations Now Open for AGC's 94th Annual Convention
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TRANSPORTATION
House Subcommittee Approves FY 2013 Transportation Funds
 

Today, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation approved the FY 2013 transportation spending bill, which included funding for the federal-aid highway program at $39.1 billion – the same level as FY 2012. The Senate approved its version of the appropriations bill last month, which provided the same level of funding as the House. This amount is approximately $2 billion (5 percent) below the FY 2011 level. The House bill eliminates funds for high-speed rail and the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, while the Senate bill included $500 million for the TIGER grants. The House bill cuts the transit capital program by $138 million and the Senate bill increases this program by $89 million.

The full House Appropriations Committee will take up the measure later this month, but ultimately, the bill's spending levels are tied to the transportation authorization bill that is now being debated in a conference between the House and Senate. Current program authorization expires on June 30.

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

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Transportation Conference Committee Continues Deliberations
Speaker Boehner Hints at 6-Month Extension
 

Negotiations between the House and Senate over their separate versions of a transportation authorization bill accelerated somewhat this week when Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), together with Ranking Committee Republican Jim Inhofe (Okla.), personally delivered an offer of compromise language on provisions to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.). The “offer” was received by the House as a positive gesture. Chairman Mica said the House conferees would begin making "sequential counteroffers" today.

The Senate offer addressed issues directly related to transportation and did not address funding, Keystone pipeline or coal ash, but nevertheless was viewed as an important step in the negotiation process. Senator Boxer, who also serves as the chair of the conference committee, continues to press for a compromise measure to be negotiated before the current extension expires on June 30. While the House will be in recess next week, Chairman Mica indicated that committee staff would continue to meet and House conferees would remain engaged.

Adding to pressure on House and Senate conferees, today Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) says he may press for a six-month extension of federal highway and transit programs if the House and Senate fail to reach a deal by the June 30 deadline.  This statement from the Speaker only reaffirms the need for AGC members to get involved and urge their Representatives and Senators to produce a final transportation reauthorization bill by June 30. 

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

Attempt to Slash Transportation Funding Expected in the House
 

Today, the House of Representatives will vote on a Motion to Instruct conferees to slash FY 2013 funding on the surface transportation reauthorization bill.  The Motion to Instruct was offered by Representative Paul Broun (R-GA) and would limit funding in FY 2013 to $37.5 for federal highway and transit programs.  A Motion to Instruct is non-binding and, if it is adopted, it simply asks House conferees to take a certain negotiating position.  AGC sent a Key Vote letter to the entire House of Representatives opposing the motion because it had the potential to reduce the highway funding each state receives by up to 90 percent in FY 2013. This amendment to slash transportation spending and others like it are supported by groups like Freedom Works and Heritage Action.

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

Pipeline Safety
AGC Submits Comments to PHMSA on Damage Prevention Program Rule
 

AGC recently submitted comments on a proposed rule issued by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) that addressed federal enforcement of state damage prevention laws. This proposed rule establishes the criteria for determining the adequacy of state enforcement of pipeline damage prevention laws and proposes a process for federal enforcement under the authority of the Pipeline Inspection, Protection, Safety, and Enforcement (PIPES) Act of 2006.

AGC’s comments called for additional scrutiny of the owner/operator and locator’s roles in damage prevention so as to better reflect all nine elements of an effective damage prevention program outlined in the PIPES Act. AGC asked PHMSA to encourage State regulatory authorities to equally enforce state laws applicable to underground facility owners and operators who fail to respond to a location request or fail to take reasonable steps in response to such a request. Accurate and timely enforcement will help all parties ensure accurate marking and locating of the pipeline facility to prevent damage. Unfortunately, locating and marking duties are all too often neglected or performed inadequately by underground facility operators and the contract locators they retain. It is absolutely critical that enforcement of these requirements be a high priority for state authorities.

AGC also called for:

  • A bottom up approach to damage prevention located first and foremost in the states.
  • A process by which the federal government relinquishes enforcement authority if the state can demonstrate improvements in its damage prevention program in the interim between its annual reviews.
  • More formal and extensive protections for contractors (including formal rules of evidence, transcriptions, and evidence discovery) in the federal adjudication process after being cited for a damage.
  • A federal presumption against exemptions to one-call laws (without data to support their existence) when evaluating the effectiveness of a state’s law.

AGC will continue to track this rule as it goes through the process and work closely with PHMSA as they develop the final rule.

Read AGC’s comments on the PHMSA proposed rule here.

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

LABOR &EMPLOYMENT
Legislation on Job Training Moves In the House
 

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

AGC highlighted that 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 that 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 to ensure that the industry benefits from its reforms. The legislation will now head for a vote in the House; its outlook for consideration in the Senate is less clear.

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

ENVIRONMENT
Policy Rider to Halt EPA Clean Water Act Guidance Survives Floor Vote
 

A policy rider that would bar the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing their guidance on Clean Water Act Jurisdiction survived an amendment offered by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). The amendment would have stripped the provision out of the Energy and Water Appropriations bill. The Moran Amendment failed by a vote of 152-237. The original rider was introduced by Rep. Dennis Rehberg (R-Mont.) during the Committee markup and passed by a vote of 29-20. As an Appropriations rider, this provision is only able to de-fund implementation of the Guidance for one year.

AGC continues to push legislation that would put a permanent halt to this guidance in both the House and the Senate. The Energy and Water Appropriations legislation passed the House yesterday by a vote of 255-165.

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

FEDERAL CONTRACTING
House Reduces Construction Funding in FY13 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Funding Bill
 

On May 31, the House passed the FY 2013 Military Constriction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill, providing $71.7 billion in discretionary funding for military construction and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This funding level matches the FY 2012 enacted level, but falls $694 million below President Obama’s FY 2013 request.

Looking specifically at the construction numbers, the bill provides $10.6 billion for military construction projects, a decrease of $2.4 billion from last year’s level, and $573.4 million less than the President’s FY 2013 budget request.  Much of the reduction is attributable to the deliberate pause in military construction by the Air Force (-$839 million) and a continued decline in funding requirements for the BRAC 2005 process. As for VA construction funding, the major construction account is funded at $532.5 million, which is $57.1 million below FY 2012 and the same as the President’s FY 2013 Budget Request.  Funds from this provide for the construction of new VA facilities. Turning to VA’s minor construction account, the bill sets the bar at $607.5 million, which is $125.1 million above FY 2012 and the same as the President’s FY 2013 budget request. This account allows the VA to build or renovate health clinics, medical residences, and nursing homes, as well as acquire cemetery land and facilities.

The Obama administration threatened to veto the House-passed funding measure because, overall, Republican priorities would hold FY 2013 discretionary spending below the level set in last year’s debt limit law—the Budget Control Act—requiring cuts to programs important to the administration, such as education, job training and health care. AGC continues to advocate for increased funding for these federal construction accounts.  

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

Cuts to USACE’s Civil Works Construction Accounts in House Passed Energy & Water Development Funding Bill
 

Yesterday, the House approved the FY 2013 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies appropriations bill totaling $32.1 billion – a cut of $965 million below the President’s budget request. The legislation provides the annual funding for the various agencies and programs under the Department of Energy (DOE) and other agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and its civil works program.

The measure includes $4.814 billion for USACE’s civil works program, a $187 million decrease from FY 2012 levels, but an $83 million increase over the president’s budget request. Looking at the construction accounts, the bill includes $1.477 billion for the FY 2013 general construction account, a $217 million cut when compared to FY 2012 levels. Additionally, the measure provides reduced funding for the Mississippi River and tributaries programs at a total of $224 million, a $28 million decrease from last year. However, on a brighter note, the bill includes $95 million more than FY 2012 levels for the operations and maintenance account at $2.507 billion.

AGC will continue to advocate for increased infrastructure investment as the appropriations process continues on Capitol Hill.

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

AGC EVENTS
AGC Safety & Health Conference
 

AGC’s premier meeting for safety and health professionals will take place July 11-13, 2012 in Washington, D.C.  Join more than 150 industry professionals and participate in the development of regulatory and legislative activity on both a national and local level, assist in the development and creation of new safety training programs and products, and hear the latest initiatives from OSHA and other industry experts. 

Attendees will be able to:

  • Receive the latest updates to regulations and OSHA activities.
  • Schedule visits to meet with their Senators and Representative.
  • Stay informed on congressional activities directly affecting construction safety and health.
  • Participate on subcommittee and taskforce meetings on government, education and performance.
  • Take an active role in improving safety and health in the construction industry.

Construction safety and health is vital for the success of the industry.  Join your industry colleagues to continue working towards a safer, healthier environment for construction professionals.  The hotel reservation cut-off date is June 18, 2012 at 5:00 PM EST.  Please follow this link to register and for more details.  

For more information, please contact Kevin Cannon at (703) 837-5410 or cannonk@agc.org. Return to Top

Free Webinar for AGC Members and Chapters: The Changing Scope of the Clean Water Act
 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Corps of Engineers (Corps) are on the cusp of releasing guidance on how they interpret their jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. AGC is part of the Waters Advocacy Coalition, which is putting on a webinar – free to AGC members and chapters – to describe the effect this will have on industry. The panel will include industry experts who will discuss the practical implications of how the upcoming guidance will impact our nation’s agriculture, construction, energy, housing, manufacturing, mining, and real estate sectors.

To RSVP for the webinar, click here

To tell your members of Congress to halt this jurisdictional overreach, click here

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

Walking the Compliance Tightrope – How to Meet Legal Requirements for Public Work Eight-Part AGC Webinar Series
 

Doing public work for federal, state and local agencies has become riskier and more challenging each year. Even small mistakes made while working to meet complex requirements can have enormous consequences. Only contractors working for federal agencies are required by law to implement an ethics and compliance program, but all government contractors are at risk of costly suspension or debarment if violations occur, and all contractors have a reputation to protect. 

AGC’s eight-part Compliance Webinar Series will provide a practical way to help contractors educate key personnel on the ever-growing risk of liability and help demonstrate your organization’s commitment to following the rules of the road. Everyone is invited to attend the first webinar in this series free of charge - Legal Compliance Programs: Why You Should Have One, and What it Needs to Include – on Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM EST.

To learn more and register, click here.

For more information, please contact Sarah Black at 703-837-5352 or blacks@agc.org. Return to Top

Call for Presentations Now Open for AGC's 94th Annual Convention
 

The Associated General Contractors of America will hold its 94th Annual Convention on March 6-9, 2013 at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort in Palm Springs, Calif. AGC is now accepting proposals for a limited number of speaking opportunities.

Proposals should focus on current and emerging issues in construction, best practice presentations on key project-related areas or responsibilities, and unique challenges facing contractor owners and executives. 

Ready to Submit?
All proposals must be submitted online. Individuals will be able to submit a maximum of three proposals.

To submit a proposal:

  1. Create a Proposal Space account here.
  2. Click on Start a Proposal.
  3. Select AGC's 94th Annual Convention.
  4. Start building your proposal.

All proposals must be received by Tuesday, July 3, 2012.

Selection and Notification

Submission of a presentation does not guarantee inclusion in the Convention schedule. All proposals will be reviewed and the point of contact for the presentation will be emailed as to whether the proposal was accepted on or before Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012.

For more information, please contact Meri Woods at (703) 837-5366 or woodsm@agc.org. Return to Top

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