Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org July 18, 2013
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On the Inside
ENVIRONMENT
TAKE ACTION: Safeguard the Use of Fly Ash in Construction
HEALTHCARE
House Passes Healthcare Bills on AGC-Supported Individual and Employer Mandates
BUDGET
House Panel Approves GSA Funding Bill Above FY 2013 Investment Levels
LABOR
Deal Reached in Senate on Presidential Nominations
AGC Responds to Two NAVFAC PLA Inquiries
CONGRESS
Liz Cheney's Big Play
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ENVIRONMENT
TAKE ACTION: Safeguard the Use of Fly Ash in Construction
 

Next week, the U.S. House is expected to vote on a piece of legislation that could safeguard the use of fly ash and other coal combustion residuals (CCRs) in construction.  AGC supports H.R. 2218, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013, which would establish reasonable disposal requirements that protect human health and the environment.

Without the legislative solution that H.R. 2218 presents, the decision about future use of fly ash would remain in the hands of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  A hazardous designation, one of the options EPA is considering, would jeopardize the continued use of these materials. 

Fly ash has been safely used for more than half a century in many types of construction applications, ranging from concrete and asphalt to carpet and wallboard.  For example, contractors used almost 12 million tons of fly ash in ready-mix concrete manufacturing in 2011 alone.

Let’s keep this resource available for use in tomorrow’s construction projects.  Click here to send a letter to your Representative today.  Tell them to support H.R. 2218.

For more information, please contact Melinda Tomaino at (703) 837-5415 or tomainom@agc.org. Return to Top

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HEALTHCARE
House Passes Healthcare Bills on AGC-Supported Individual and Employer Mandates
 

On July 17, the U.S. House passed legislation on delaying the employer and individual mandates of the 2010 healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The renewed attention to the ACA by the House is a direct result of the administration’s announcement on July 2 of its transition relief from reporting requirements and the transition relief from the penalty or “shared responsibility payments” for employers until 2015. AGC supported H.R. 2667, the Authority for Mandate Delay Act, because it codifies the one-year delay of penalties and reporting requirements and provides employers desperately needed certainty on the employer mandate.

The second bill, H.R. 2668, the Fairness for American Families Act, delays the individual coverage requirement included in the ACA for one year. AGC supported the act because it will provide relief to individuals who are struggling to keep up with the complexities of the mandate and the new complexity of exchanges; the imposition of penalties based on annual household income; and the availability of acceptable employer-provided health insurance that meets the “minimum value” and ”affordability” requirements of ACA.

AGC sent a letter in support of the two bills and also joined other employers groups in separate coalition letters that all can be viewed on the AGC website.  While the two bills passed this week did receive bipartisan support, it remains unlikely that the Senate would follow suit, having received veto threats from the president should both bills ultimately pass the Senate. AGC will continue work to  make  implementation less costly and less complex, while providing acceptable options for employers by working with legislators and regulators.

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

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BUDGET
House Panel Approves GSA Funding Bill Above FY 2013 Investment Levels
Funding Below Presidentís FY 2014 Request for GSA Construction Spending
 

On July 17, the House Appropriations Committee approved a General Services Administration (GSA) funding bill that would increase construction accounts compared to FY 2013. However, the proposed levels of GSA construction investment are well below the president’s FY 2014 budget request.

The House Appropriations Committee bill would provide $635 million for a newly created “Capital Projects” account, which would merge the previous “Construction and Acquisition” and “Repairs and Alterations” accounts. This amounts to $305 million more for GSA construction investment than FY 2013 enacted levels, which totaled $330 million. In addition to consolidating construction accounts, the House bill would further direct GSA construction investment by “highest priority capital needs.” Accordingly, of the $635 million for construction investment in GSA facilities, the House bill would direct $100 million to the Judiciary, $125 million to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, $100 million to consolidation activities, $50 million for all other facilities as prioritized by the Public Building Service, and $260 for basic repairs and alterations. For details, view pages 50 through 60 of the House Appropriation Committee Report.

The president’s FY 2014 budget request for GSA, however, includes $816 million for the new construction and acquisition account – more than $760 million above the FY 2012 and FY 2013 funding levels – and $1.3 billion for the repairs and alterations account – an increase of over $1 billion compared to FY 2012 and FY 2013 levels. Under the president’s budget, GSA released details concerning specific projects for which the administration proposes funds. Many of these proposed projects could be in jeopardy if this House bill becomes law, as the House bill would provide $1.483 billion less than the president’s request.

The Senate has not yet begun work on its version of the GSA funding bill. AGC will continue to advocate for robust investment in federal facilities as a means to help produce taxpayer savings by reducing the government’s footprint, both through space consolidation and energy sustainability opportunities.

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at (703) 837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org.
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LABOR
Deal Reached in Senate on Presidential Nominations
 

After weeks of partisan disagreement – with Democrats threatening to change the procedural rules in the Senate to avoid Republican attempts to filibuster presidential nominees, including nominees for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Secretary of the Department of Labor (DOL) – Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have reached a deal to confirm the nominees.

The bipartisan deal would pave the path for votes on NLRB nominees, Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce, Harry I. Johnson, III, and Philip A. Miscimarra. Part of the deal requires that President Obama withdraw his previous board nominations of Sharon Block and Richard Griffin. Block and Griffin were last year’s two controversial recess appointees.

The deal also led to the confirmation of Thomas Perez as Department of Labor Secretary. Perez’s confirmation could result in the DOL moving forward with many items on their regulatory agenda, including issues that focus on safety and health regulations, affirmative action requirements for federal contractors, and finalizing a Persuader rule. The Persuader rule would limit the “advice” exception under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act so that all consultation with labor lawyers and/or consultants would be subject to disclosure to the DOL.  This rule will significantly impact employers’ ability to retain counsel.  A final rule is projected for November 2013.

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

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AGC Responds to Two NAVFAC PLA Inquiries
 

AGC recently sent two letters opposing the possible use of project labor agreement (PLA) mandates posted by the U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command in the Pacific for: (1) the renovation of an existing aircraft maintenance hangar at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii; and (2) the construction of a submarine production support facility in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

AGC has sent over 70 letters to federal agencies opposing PLA mandates and bid preferences during the Obama Administration, most in response to agency announcements that a PLA mandate or preference was under consideration for a particular project or an anticipated set of projects in a particular area. Of those, only one PLA mandate has been issued to date.

AGC neither supports nor opposes contractors’ voluntary use of PLAs on government projects, but strongly opposes any government mandate for contractors’ use of PLAs. AGC is committed to free and open competition for publicly funded work, and believes that the lawful labor relations policies and practices of private construction contractors should not be a factor in a government agency’s selection process.

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at (703) 837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org.


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CONGRESS
Liz Cheney's Big Play
 

It's rare when two candidates make a public announcement about their political plans on the same day, but that's exactly what happened on Tuesday in the Equality State of Wyoming. Shortly after three-term Sen. Mike Enzi (R) confirmed that he will run for re-election next year, Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice-President and ex-Wyoming Congressman Dick Cheney, released a video officially launching a primary campaign against the incumbent Senator.

Immediately, the Republican establishment in Washington and the state began rallying around Enzi. His Senatorial colleague, John Barrasso immediately endorsed Enzi’s re-election. The state's lone U.S. House member, Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R), quickly followed suit by brandishing her own public support. National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) also went public with an Enzi endorsement and pledged to put the resources of his organization behind the Senator.

Though the Cheney family's roots are deep in Wyoming, Liz Cheney's are not. Up until last year, she and her immediate family lived in the northern Virginia suburbs. She was born in Wisconsin, attended high school in Virginia, graduated college in Colorado, received her law degree from the University of Chicago, and spent her professional career in Washington, D.C. The home grown contrast with the former shoe business owner from Gillette, who was raised in Thermopolis and Sheridan and served in the state House and Senate beginning with his election in 1986 before winning his U.S. Senate seat in 1996, will be stark.

It will be the candidate’s message that wins or loses this race. Based upon Cheney's announcement video, shot in a Wyoming pasture, she will attempt to nationalize the race, making a vote for her symbolize deep opposition to the Obama Administration.  She will attempt to stir the electorate into a conservative fever pitch against Washington, with her own candidacy as the remedy.

Sen. Enzi, on the other hand, will also illuminate what is wrong with the administration, but diffusing the campaign with his calming, down home approach, and relying upon his deep roots within the constituency to show that there is little in the way of issue difference between Ms. Cheney and him.

Despite Cheney’s ability to command campaign resources from conservative sources across the country, this will be a tough race for her. She has only one victory scenario, making the electorate so concerned and upset about their federal government that they will helplessly view her as their only cause of action. All other scenarios favor Enzi.

The Wyoming primary is scheduled for Aug. 19, 2014. The winner of this election will claim the seat in November.

For more information, please contact David Ashinoff at (202) 547-5013 or ashinoffd@agc.org.
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