Construction Legislative Week in Review June 28, 2012
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On the Inside
Supreme Court Rules on Healthcare Law
Agreement on Transportation Reauthorization Reached Conference Report Goes to House and Senate for Final Approval
House Appropriations Committee Approves Interior/Environment Legislation
GSA Seeks Comments on Green Building Certification
Senate Passes Critical Flood Control Dam Funding
AGC Analyzes Cost of New Hiring Quotas for Federal Construction Contractors
GSA Delays New Federal Contractor Registration System Implementation
Supreme Court Rules on Healthcare Law

Today, the Supreme Court upheld the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) – the individual mandate.  As a result, most of the Affordable Care Act currently in effect will remain in effect unless future legislation revokes any of those provisions.

According to the law, by 2014, each of the fifty states will need to create exchanges and employers with 50 or more workers must offer coverage or face a penalty of $2,000 for each employee receiving insurance that is subsidized by the government.  Subsidized insurance companies are also no longer able to exclude individuals with pre-existing conditions.

In addition, next year, the threshold for claiming medical expenses on tax returns will be increased and the limit on flexible spending accounts will decrease.  Two new taxes will also be imposed on all taxpayers making more than $200,000 per year and on couples earning more than $250,000, the first tax is a 2.35 percent Medicare payroll tax, and the second is a 3.8 percent tax on capital gains, dividends and other unearned income.  Furthermore, in 2015, a new excise tax will be imposed on employer-provided plans that cost between $11,850 and $30,950.

While we were successful repealing the 1099 mandate last year, other paperwork requirements that remain in place include:

  • Changes to W–2 Forms: Effective in 2011, employers are required to include the cost of employer-sponsored health coverage on the employee’s W-2.
  • Notice to Employees: Effective March 1, 2013, or upon subsequent hire, employers must provide written notice to employees about exchange information, eligibility for tax credit or cost-sharing reduction and possible loss of employer contribution.
  • Report on Health Insurance Coverage: Effective Jan. 1, 2014, large employers must file a report on health coverage and make information available to employees.
  • Automatic Enrollment: Employers with more than 200 employees must automatically enroll full-time employees in a health plan and provide employees adequate notice and an opportunity to opt-out.

AGC opposed the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) because it did not create a framework that would reduce healthcare costs.  Instead, it imposed new mandates on insurance companies, employers and individuals that are likely to increase the cost of providing health care while limiting healthcare options.  It also financed the new costs by shifting obligations to the states (increased Medicare coverage), raising taxes on a small portion of the population (Medicare surtax and tax on unearned income), and imposed a tax on so-called “Cadillac health plans.” The House of Representatives has announced plans to hold votes for full repeal of the healthcare act in July, but even if passed in the House, repeal bills are unlikely to pass the Senate. 

For more information, please contact Jeff Shoaf at (202) 547-3350 or Return to Top

Agreement on Transportation Reauthorization Reached Conference Report Goes to House and Senate for Final Approval

The House and Senate leadership and conferees reached an agreement yesterday on the final outstanding issues in the transportation reauthorization negotiations. Logistical issues related to finalizing language and getting sign-off from all conferees has kept the conference report from being formally filed.   The Senate and House, however, are still expected to vote on the measure before the June 30 deadline, in time to avoid the need for a 10th extension of highway and transit program authorization.

The conference report was posted online early Thursday morning and AGC is now in the process of analyzing its content. The following are the broad parameters of the agreement:

  • The authorization is extended through the end of FY 2014 (this is one year longer than the authorization contained in the Senate passed MAP-21). The authorized funding levels for the highway and transit programs are as follows:

FY 2012

FY 2013

FY 2013


$39.144 B

$39.699 B

$40.256 B


$8.361 B

$ 8.478 B

$ 8.595 B

  • Significant reform of the environmental review and planning requirements, with the Senate moving closer to the House provisions on many streamlining issues.
  • Transportation enhancement funding will be split, with 50 percent provided to local governments and 50 percent to states. States will be permitted to opt out of the enhancement requirements and instead use these funds for transportation improvements.
  • Consolidation of programs giving states more flexibility in using their transportation funds.
  • It also includes RESTORE Act provisions that dedicate penalties paid by BP for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico for coastline restoration.

A provision included in the House-passed bill to restrict the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating coal ash as a hazardous substance was dropped, as was a provision approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

AGC has contacted all Senators and Representatives urging them to vote in favor of the conference report and indicating that this is an AGC Key Vote. AGC members are urged to deliver the same message to their Senators and Representative. You can send a message to your Congressional delegation through AGC’s Legislative Action Center.

AGC will provide you with more details on the conference report once all of the details have been analyzed.

For more information, please contact Brian Deery at (703) 837-5319 or Return to Top

House Appropriations Committee Approves Interior/Environment Legislation

The House Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2013 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, which includes funding for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Forest Service, and various independent and related agencies. In total, the bill cuts of $1.2 billion below last year’s level, with $870 million (or 73 percent) coming in the form of cuts to the State Revolving Funds (SRF) for clean water and drinking water infrastructure. The Committee approved only $689 million in its FY 2013 budget for the Clean Water SRF (a 53 percent cut over FY 2012) and $829 million for the Drinking Water SRF (a cut of nearly 10 percent as compared to FY 2012).

These numbers remain unchanged from the Subcommittee’s version of the legislation approved last week (see story and video). In the time leading up to the full Committee’s markup, AGC joined industry partners in the design and construction industry with a letter once again calling for restoration of funding to the SRFs at least to last year’s levels. The letter highlights the skyrocketing need for restored funding levels due to reduced federal spending over the past decade and increased federal mandates to meet treatment requirements.

In addition to reductions in the SRF accounts, the Committee approved an amendment that would apply ‘Buy American’ domestic sourcing requirements for iron, steel and manufactured goods to the Clean Water SRF and Drinking Water SRF. AGC opposed this amendment and joined industry partners in design, equipment manufacture and distribution, construction, trade, and business in calling for its defeat.

On the positive side, the legislation also includes a provision that would ban funding for EPA for the purposes of implementing their guidance on Clean Water Act jurisdictional determination. The provision joins a similar one offered by Rep. Rehberg (R-Mont.) on the Energy and Water Appropriations legislation.

It remains to be seen how these cuts and policy provisions will fare if and when this legislation is considered by the full House. It should be noted that similar levels of funding were proposed in last year’s Interior/Environment funding legislation, which also made it this far. However, those cuts were drastically reduced in the final compromise omnibus legislation. AGC will continue to report on this issue as it develops.

For more information, please contact Scott Berry at (703) 837-5321 or Return to Top

GSA Seeks Comments on Green Building Certification

The General Services Administration (GSA) will issue a recommendation in the fall on whether the federal government should: (1) continue using a third-party certification system as the primary federal standard for energy-saving green buildings; and (2) determine if other certification systems, besides LEED, should be accepted.

To help guide its recommendation, GSA is holding a virtual listening session on July 10 at 2:00 pm ET seeking comments on its Green Building Certification System Report (see bottom of website). If you would like to participate, you must register by July 3 and can do so by clicking here. Topics for discussion include:

  • The EISA§436(h) report evaluating green building certification systems.
  • Interrelationships among green building certification systems and recently promulgated green building standards (i.e. ASHRAE 189.1 and the IGCC).
  • Federal high performance building design, construction and operations requirements.
  • Proposed revisions to the High Performance and Sustainable Building Guiding Principles.
  • Metrics to inform building performance tracking and reporting.
  • Consideration of cost effectiveness: how high performance in buildings can reduce the total cost of ownership.

For a more detailed list of topics for discussion, click here.

For more information, contact Jimmy Christianson at 703-837-5325 or Return to Top

Senate Passes Critical Flood Control Dam Funding

On June 21, the Senate passed a farm bill that would authorize $425 million—$85 million per year for five years—for the nation’s only dam rehabilitation program. The Small Watershed Rehabilitation program assists local communities with improving aging flood control dams, thereby helping to address public health and safety needs before a tragic dam failure occurs.

The current $15 billion infrastructure of 11,000 flood control dams and conservation practices in 2,000 watersheds provides $2 billion in annual benefits to over 47 million citizens. As it stands, nearly one-fifth of those 11,000 dams have reached the end of their 50-year planned service life. By 2016, almost two-thirds of the watershed dams will have reached this milestone.

Action on the farm bill now moves to the House of Representatives, where the House Agriculture Committee is scheduled to mark up its bill on July 11. AGC continues to strongly advocate for sorely needed investment in our nation’s aging infrastructure, including its dams.

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at 703-837-5310 or Return to Top

AGC Analyzes Cost of New Hiring Quotas for Federal Construction Contractors

In response to the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) proposed major changes to the rules governing federal contractor affirmative action programs (AAP) for covered veterans ("Section 4212") and individuals with disabilities ("Section 503"), AGC has completed an analysis of the rule’s true financial and administrative burden for federal construction contractors.

OFCCP's existing Section 4212 and Section 503 regulations emphasize contractor good-faith efforts to recruit, select, retain and develop qualified veterans and individuals with disabilities, and neither of these regulatory programs has ever required numerical goals or benchmarks. The rules will now include numerical benchmarks, a 7 percent hiring goal for these classes of workers, along with numerous recordkeeping requirements.

AGC’s analysis shows the proposed new hiring quota for the disabled would cost employers 30 times more than officials predict while a new hiring quota for veterans would cost employers 20 times more than originally estimated.  To read AGC’s recent press release and the analysis, click here.  It is expected that the rules will be finalized later this year.

For more information, please contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or Return to Top

GSA Delays New Federal Contractor Registration System Implementation

The General Services Administration  (GSA) recently announced that it is moving the implementation date of the System for Award Management (SAM)—the federal government’s new registration system-- from May 29, 2012, to the end of July 2012. According to GSA, the additional time “will allow federal agencies to continue preparing their staff, give agencies and commercial system providers even more time to test their data transfer connections, and will ensure SAM contains the critical, documented capabilities users need from the system.”

As a result of SAM’s implementation, the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) system will no longer exist. Additionally, SAM will incorporate the Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA), the Federal Agency Registration (FedReg), and the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS). The federal government will transfer information for those contractors already registered in CCR and ORCA.

For a brief introduction to SAM, click here.

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at 703-837-5325 or Return to Top

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