Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org March 28, 2013
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On the Inside
Immigration
Construction Industry Under Attack – Urge Your Senator to Stand Up for the Construction Industry in Immigration Debate
BUDGET
Continuing Resolution Provides DOD Some Flexibility During Sequestration
AGC EVENTS
AGC’s 2013 Federal Contractors Conference is Less than a Month Away
STATE & LOCAL PROCUREMENT
More State 'Buy American' Laws Proposed
CONGRESS
Senator Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) Will Not Run for Re-election
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Immigration
Construction Industry Under Attack – Urge Your Senator to Stand Up for the Construction Industry in Immigration Debate
 

A bi-partisan group of Senators – Schumer (D-N.Y.), McCain (R-Ariz.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Graham (R-S.C.), Menendez (D-N.J.), Rubio (R-Fla.), Bennet (D-Colo.), and Flake (R-Ariz.) – are working on an important piece of immigration reform – the future temporary worker visa program. These Senators are currently considering restricting the construction industry from any future temporary worker visa program. That would make construction the only industry not eligible to legally bring in temporary workers if they are needed.  Very few details have been agreed upon, but this is the first contentious issue being fought over. The construction industry employs nearly six million people; forecasts show the industry adding two million more people to construction payrolls by 2020. The last time major immigration reform was signed into law was 1986, so if this bi-partisan group does continue to move forward along these lines, the construction industry may be forced to comply with these rules for decades.

Tell your Senators to object to any effort to restrict construction employers from being able to access legal foreign temporary workers in the future. The scope of the temporary worker visa program should be the same for all industries. Your Senators need to know that singling out an industry makes no sense.  The nation’s immigration policy should be guided by economics and sound rational policy across all industries.  It should not be guided by fear and misconceptions.  Taking away the tools our industry may need in the future will only hurt the industry’s ability to adapt to economic cycles and growth.  Please call or write your Senators now as negotiations are nearing completion.

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

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BUDGET
Continuing Resolution Provides DOD Some Flexibility During Sequestration
 

On March 26, President Obama signed the continuing resolution (CR) that will fund the federal government through Sept. 30, 2013. The funding measure includes spending cuts that were part of the $85 billion in across-the-board cuts under sequester, but allows some agencies to move funds around to different accounts, providing a limited degree of agency flexibility.

For example, the Department of Defense (DOD) will reduce the number of furlough days civilian employees will be required to take under the sequester from 22 to 14. Officials were able to reduce plans for unpaid leave because the CR shifted $10 billion into the Pentagon’s operations and maintenance accounts.  This should provide some flexibility for agencies like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Naval Facility Engineering Command (NAVFAC) and U.S. Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC) to maintain more normal construction procurement and jobsite operations than if this part of sequester was not addressed. However, because furloughs are still expected, defense contractors should be prepared to encounter some disruptions.

The CR included five full appropriations bills, including military construction. This means that DOD military construction can initiate new starts on projects. However, during AGC’s 2013 Annual Convention in Palm Springs, Calif., USACE noted that obtaining authority within DOD to begin new projects may require higher administrative permission within the agency than what is normally required.

Had Congress not passed this CR, it was reported that the execution of 97 percent of the fiscal year 2013 military construction program would have been blocked under the new starts prohibition. As a result, more than 250 MILCON projects in 42 States, the District of Columbia, and overseas would be put on indefinite hold. AGC strongly supported passage of the CR and had long noted its objection and the implications of the new starts prohibition.  AGC continues to review the funding measure for its impact on sequestered federal construction programs.

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at 703-837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org.
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AGC EVENTS
AGC’s 2013 Federal Contractors Conference is Less than a Month Away
Don't Miss Out - Limited Space Available
 

The 2013 AGC Federal Contractors Conference will be held April 23-25, 2013, at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. This meeting is the only national event where contractors and federal agency personnel can meet in a collaborative forum to review federal construction contracting issues and trends from around the United States. These insightful and highly productive exchanges have solidified the need for both federal construction contractors and the federal construction agencies to share information on a wide variety of issues, foster better communication, and create real solutions.

If you are engaged in any aspect of constructing, designing, or planning a federal project and you are a general contractor, specialty contractor, service/supplier, attorney or any other important stakeholder already engaged in the Federal or Federally-assisted market, this conference has a place for you. If you are interested in learning more about Federal contracting opportunities and how to get started, this conference is a great place to begin your learning experience.

The conference is geared for AGC members who perform a diverse range of projects including building construction for agencies such as the General Services Administration, military construction projects for our Armed Services, highway and transportation projects for our nation, and water resources projects that benefit our nation's navigation and flood control. AGC continues to inform members from specific industry segments about emerging issues and trends that are relevant to their work.

For more information or to register, please visit www.agc.org/fedcon.
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STATE & LOCAL PROCUREMENT
More State 'Buy American' Laws Proposed
 

AGC is getting additional reports from multiple chapters across the country that state legislatures are considering establishing or strengthening their state government procurement laws regarding domestic sourcing. Many of these efforts would restrict access to well-established global supply chains and increase the administrative burden on contractors. To certify that products and materials used in the construction process meet requirements, it will often necessitate manufacturer certifications that are difficult or impossible to procure. This is compounded when Buy American legislation defines domestic sourcing in widely varying manners, making it confusing and difficult to comply with. Contractors who work across state lines will have an especially difficult time establishing a supply chain that meets each state’s different requirements. Additionally, these bills may leave the well-established waiver provisions of the federal Buy American laws off the table and currently do not grant access to products from countries we have trade agreements with, as is customary at the federal level.

Chapters facing these law changes can look at AGC’s Buy American website for information on how these laws worked (or didn’t) during the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). AGC also maintains a database of all waivers granted for products that were not in compliance, which highlights exactly how the process was slowed to accommodate domestic sourcing laws and provides examples of products that would be unlikely to meet proposed laws.

AGC will continue to assist chapters in analyzing their laws and helping them develop strategies where required.

For more information, please contact Scott Berry at (703) 837-5321 or berrys@agc.org.
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CONGRESS
Senator Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) Will Not Run for Re-election
 

As expected, Sen. Tim Johnson announced that he will not seek a fourth term in the upcoming 2014 election. He indicated after 36 consecutive years in elective office – including service in the state legislature, and combined time in the U.S. House and Senate – that he and his wife are looking forward to returning to life in South Dakota and "doing other things." Johnson conceded that the brain hemorrhage he suffered in 2006 has made life more difficult, but emphasized that he never stopped working hard for the people that repeatedly elected him as their representative.

Without Sen. Johnson on the ballot, the Republicans have a considerable opportunity to convert the South Dakota Senate seat to their column and must be considered the early favorites to do so. Former Gov. Mike Rounds (R) announced his candidacy just after the November election and began running full speed ahead – before Sen. Johnson's political intentions were known.

A Tea Party-backed recruitment effort to encourage Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.-Ala.) to enter the Senate race will likely intensify now that the seat is officially open. For her part, the Congresswoman only states that she "isn't ruling anything out" as it relates to making the Senate race or running for re-election. Realistically, the more time that elapses without Noem taking concrete steps toward developing a Senate campaign helps Rounds become a consensus candidate.

Democrat leaders are strongly looking at two people, former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and Sen. Johnson's son Brendan, who is the South Dakota U.S. Attorney.  The former Congresswoman, however, does have her share of political baggage. She spends most of her time living and working for a Washington lobbying firm, and though the state party chairman expresses strong confidence in her, she has lost two of her five statewide races including one as an incumbent. Brendan Johnson, who will be 38 later this year, has never before sought political office.

Senator Johnson becomes the tenth U.S. Senator to either leave the body or announce plans to do so since the November 2012 election.

For more information, please contact David Ashinoff at (2020 547-5013 or ashinoffd@agc.org.
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