Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org August 8, 2013
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On the Inside
LABOR
An Important Update on the Administrationís Plans to Impose New Employment Mandates
WATER RESOURCES
House Action Expected on WRDA in September
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC Effectively Impacts New Past Performance Evaluation Final Rule
CONGRESS
New Jersey Special Primary Scheduled for Next Tuesday All but Over
AGC SURVEY
Tell Us About the Current Supply of Skilled Workers in Your Area
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LABOR
An Important Update on the Administrationís Plans to Impose New Employment Mandates
 

On Tuesday, Aug. 6, AGC met with the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) to discuss the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) proposed rules that will govern federal contractors’ employment of veterans and people with disabilities before they become final.

These rules will require federal contractors to put in place many new recruiting and reporting measures and all but establish hiring quotas for all companies who work with the federal government.  Notably, the requirements in the new rules cover your entire firm and not just the portion engaged in federal projects.  Click here for more background.

While progress on the rules stalled last year after AGC raised a number of concerns about the cost and justification for these measures, it appears that the Obama administration is on the brink of completing both measures.  Just last week, the OFCCP formally transmitted both rules to OMB for final review.  That is the last step in the regulatory process before the rules are finalized and go into effect.  AGC met with OMB to once again explain why these costly new mandates are not necessary. In addition to citing federal enforcement data that shows fewer than 0.02 percent of all federal contractors may have discriminated against veterans or the disabled in the past eight years, AGC also shared a new analysis of federal employment data showing that the annual average unemployment rate for all veterans in 2012 was 7.0 percent, lower than the 7.9 percent rate for non-veterans, while a higher share of employed veterans than non-veterans work in the construction industry.  In addition, people with disabilities are as likely to be employed by construction firms as people without disabilities.  These facts make our point that the rules are solutions in search of problems.

AGC formally asked the administration to reopen the record on both of these proposed rules and determine whether there is sufficient justification for imposing an estimated $6 billion in new annual regulatory compliance costs on the federal contracting community.  AGC believes there is a clear and compelling case for not imposing these mandates.  However, given the administration’s regulatory approach to date, we are not overly optimistic that reason and data will prevail.

AGC will continue to alert its members on any new developments with these rules and any additional steps that may have to be taken to protect our federal contractor members from these costly and unnecessary new hiring mandates.

For more information, please contact Tamika Carter at (703) 837-5382 or cartert@agc.org Return to Top

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WATER RESOURCES
House Action Expected on WRDA in September
 

Late last week, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) announced his intention to release and mark up a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill in September. The chairman also expected the bill to reach the House floor in October.

AGC has actively advocated for sufficient investment to maintain and improve our nation’s flood control, inland waterway, and marine port systems, as well as to complete environmental restoration projects. In addition, AGC continues to fight for a WRDA bill that streamlines decades of laws and regulations that delay projects before construction begins, dedicates Harbor Maintenance Tax revenues for harbor maintenance and leverages with private funds, but does not replace public dollars with private for building water infrastructure.

The Senate overwhelmingly passed its version a WRDA bill by an 83 to 14 vote in May.  If the House passes a WRDA bill, a conference committee comprised of members from both chambers will commence to reconcile the differences between the bills before final passage. AGC will continue to press for enactment of a WRDA bill that includes the construction industry’s priorities, as mentioned above.

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at (703)-837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org
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FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC Effectively Impacts New Past Performance Evaluation Final Rule
FAR Council Does Not Remove Contractor PPE Appeal Process
 

On Aug. 1, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council issued a final rule that all federal agencies adopt uniform past performance ratings and factors based on the ratings and factors used in the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS).  However, the FAR Council did not remove the right for contractors to seek review of past performance evaluations at a level above the contracting officers, as it had initially proposed. In its comments to the proposed rule, AGC repeatedly highlighted the need to retain this administrative appeal right, among other things.

This final rule represents a positive step towards standardizing the past performance evaluation process throughout the federal government.  However, as AGC’s comments reflect, it is necessary for the final rule to incorporate mechanisms to ensure consistent evaluations.  

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at (703)-837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org.
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CONGRESS
New Jersey Special Primary Scheduled for Next Tuesday All but Over
 

The New Jersey special primary election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) is scheduled for next Tuesday, but according to Quinnipiac University's final poll before the vote, the race is virtually over.

When Mr. Lautenberg died in early June and Gov. Chris Christie (R) scheduled the special election to choose a replacement, the early polling showed Newark Mayor Cory Booker with numbers approaching or breaking 50 percent of the Democratic vote, with the other candidates, U.S. Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.-6), Rush Holt (D-N.J.-12), and state House Speaker Sheila Oliver, barely breaking past 10 percent or registering only in single digits.

In the just-released Q-Poll (8/1-5; 2,042 N.J. registered voters) the results have barely changed. According to the data, Mr. Booker commands support from 54 percent of the polling sample versus just 17 percent for Rep. Pallone, 15 percent for Rep. Holt, and only 5 percent for Speaker Oliver. With less than a week to go, it's hard to conceive of any scenario that does not result in a Booker victory.

Two candidates are running for the Republican nomination – former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan and practicing physician Alieta Eck. In the aforementioned poll, Republicans favor Lonegan over Eck by a wide margin – 74 to 10 percent – with 13 percent undecided.

Forecasting toward the special general election, the Democrat versus Republican results are similar.  A projected Booker-Lonegan pairing appears to be no contest. According to the Q-Poll, Mr. Booker would lead such a campaign 54-29 percent.

Booker appears to be defying normal political voting patterns. Typically, mayors perform very poorly in attempting to advance to statewide office, particularly those from a state's largest city. This usually occurs because voters not living in the largest city tend to have a negative opinion of the most populous region and generally do not support the leader of that community for higher office. Mr. Booker is proving to be the exception to that rule. It's even more extraordinary when one sees that Newark, in and of itself, is still not held in high regard as a municipality. It clearly appears that this 2013 Senate special election campaign is evolving into a coronation of Mayor Cory Booker. The voting begins next week with the general election taking place on Oct. 16.

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

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AGC SURVEY
Tell Us About the Current Supply of Skilled Workers in Your Area
Is Your Construction Company Facing Worker Shortages?
 

Over the past several months, we have received a number of reports, most of which were anecdotal, about sporadic shortages of skilled construction workers in certain parts of the country.  At the same time, overall construction employment, while rising steadily, remains well below peak employment levels.  As a result, we are having a hard time gauging the extent of worker shortages and if and where those shortages may be impacting construction projects.  Please take a few brief minutes to complete the following survey so we can conduct a more complete and accurate assessment of if, where and to what extent there are actual shortages of skilled craft workers and/or qualified construction professionals.  Your input will help us correctly calibrate our messaging to elected officials and the media and will also guide our efforts to support workforce development. Thank you in advance for your time and support. Take the survey here.

For more information, please contact Nahee Rosso at (703) 837-5348 or rosson@agc.org.
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