Construction Legislative Week in Review August 29, 2013
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On the Inside
New Affirmative Action Rules for Federal Contractors Finalized
OSHA Announces Proposed Silica Rule Finalized
Debt Ceiling Looms Sooner Than Expected
2014 Toss-Up Races: A Three-Part Series
New Technology, Risk Assessment, Highway and Water Funding, Equipment Valuation, Legal Issues Among the Topics to be Addressed at the Highway and Utilities Contractors Issues Conference
New Affirmative Action Rules for Federal Contractors Finalized

On August 27, U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs announced two final rules and immediately issued a brief statement. One rule updates the regulations for the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974; the other updates regulations for Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Both rules address the affirmative action requirements of direct federal contractors and their subcontractors with regard to veterans and individuals with disabilities. These rules will become effective 180 days after their publication in the Federal Register. Publication is expected within the next two weeks, making the rules effective around March 2014.

AGC has participated in the regulatory process since the rules were first proposed in 2011 with formal comment letters, independent analysis and research on the cost implications of the rules, and the lack of government justification for the rules. In addition, AGC CEO Steve Sandherr and staff recently met with top Administration officials on the construction industry concerns with the rules. AGC is conducting a thorough review of the final rules, their impact on the industry, and appropriate next steps including compliance resources for members and potential litigation options.

To read more about the rules and AGC activities, click here.

For more information, contact James Young Return to Top

OSHA Announces Proposed Silica Rule Finalized

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and the Office of Management and Budget have completed their review of the revision of the Silica standard.  A notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) will be published in the Federal Register in the near future. OSHA has developed  two regulatory texts, one for the general industry and maritime sectors, and one for construction. You can read the regulatory text here.

The proposed rule would set a new permissible exposure limit of 50 micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic meter of air (about half the current limit); in the construction industry monitoring will need to begin if exposure may be above 25 micrograms.  OSHA plans to convene public meetings on the rule on March 4, 2013. AGC will participate in the public meetings and will provide comments on the NPRM and will continue to monitor the development of this rule.

Excerpts from OSHA’s website on the proposed rule:

What would the proposed rule require?

Workers' exposures would be limited to a new PEL of 50 micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic meter of air (μg/m3), averaged over an 8-hour day. The new PEL would be the same in all industries covered by the rule.

The proposed rule also includes provisions for measuring how much silica workers are exposed to, limiting workers' access to areas where silica exposures are high, using effective methods for reducing exposures, providing medical exams to workers with high silica exposures, and training for workers about silica-related hazards and how to limit exposure.

Major Provisions of the Proposed Construction Standard

The proposed standard for construction includes provisions for employers to:

  • Measure the amount of silica that workers are exposed to if it may be at or above an action level of 25 μg/m3 (micrograms of silica per cubic meter of air), averaged over an 8-hour day;
  • Protect workers from respirable crystalline silica exposures above the PEL of 50 μg/m3, averaged over an 8-hour day;
  • Limit workers' access to areas where they could be exposed above the PEL;
  • Use dust controls to protect workers from silica exposures above the PEL;
  • Provide respirators to workers when dust controls cannot limit exposures to the PEL;
  • Offer medical exams-including chest X-rays and lung function tests-every three years for workers exposed above the PEL for 30 or more days per year;
  • Train workers on work operations that result in silica exposure and ways to limit exposure; and
  • Keep records of workers' silica exposure and medical exams.

The OSHA website for the proposed standard is located here:

For more information, contact Kevin Cannon at Return to Top

Debt Ceiling Looms Sooner Than Expected

On August 26, Treasury Secretary Lew wrote to lawmakers that the Department will exhaust the “extraordinary measures” employed to keep from breaching the $16.7 trillion limit by mid-October.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is considering short-term legislation that would both fund agencies and increase the debt limit for a few months. This plan would allow lawmakers to focus on the debt limit and sequestration, as well as to figure out how much to spend on agency budgets for the duration of Fiscal Year 2014. This may also provide an opportunity to advance the tax reform debate During an August 27 interview on CNBC, Secretary Lew stated that, "Congress should come back and they should act," he reiterated that, "The president will not negotiate conditions on the debt limit." At a private fundraising event held this week, Speaker Boehner promised a “whale of a fight” over the debt ceiling.

For more information, contact Brian Lenihan at   Return to Top

2014 Toss-Up Races: A Three-Part Series

The U.S. Senate races are rightly attracting much of the attention during the early portion of the 2013-2014 election cycle, as minimal action is occurring in House campaigns. At this point, House Republicans appear poised to hold their majority, and may be more likely to add a small number of seats, besting their Democratic Party counterparts.

Comparing the 2014 House line-up to what we saw during the 2012 cycle yields a much different situation. "Toss-up” seat projections are way down. Currently, only seven races appear as pure toss-ups; two held by Republican House members and five held by Democrats.

The two Republican toss-up House races are featured this week.

California’s 31st district

In 2012, under California’s “jungle” primary – where the two top finishers advance regardless of party affiliation – Democrats failed to have a candidate qualify to face Rep. Gary Miller (R) in the November election. Miller went on to defeat fellow Republican state Sen. Bob Dutton with 55.2% of the vote. What was one of the Democrats best pick-up opportunities became one of their biggest embarrassments.

Miller will not be so lucky this election cycle. Representing a Hispanic/Latino majority district which twice voted for President Barack Obama by 57% has made the congressman “Target #1.” Following his re-election, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) afforded Miller just one month before it began running ads against him. This activity will increase heavily as Election Day 2014 nears.

So far, Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, former U.S. Rep. Joe Baca, Attorney Eloise Reyes and San Bernardino School Board member Danny Tillman are the announced Democratic candidates.

Aguilar, who finished third in the 2012 primary, has the backing of the DCCC. Its support is definitely evident in Q2 fundraising efforts; he has raised $301,880, just $14,368 less than Congressman Miller’s haul. The DCCC’s efforts, however, may be complicated by Emily’s List, a national group that supports female pro-choice candidates, which has placed its support behind Reyes.

It’s hard to predict the results of a “jungle” primary, but it’s likely the top two candidates will be Millerand  Aguilar or Reyes.

Colorado’s 6th district

After winning re-election to a third term, Rep. Mike Coffman (R) begins 2013 as the second most vulnerable House Republican. He represents CO-6, a district with a slight Democratic tilt that twice voted for President Obama. Had Democrats recruited one of their top tier candidates in 2012, it is likely that Coffman would have been defeated.

Democrats are not making the same mistake again. Former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D), who during his time in the legislature became the state’s second youngest House speaker at the age of 39, has stepped forward. Romanoff is a better candidate than his 2012 predecessor and it’s showing in his fundraising efforts. He is running near even with Coffman – having raised more than $1 million, and has the cash-on-hand advantage over the congressman by more than $60,000.

One unknown in this race is how a new law will impact voter turnout. Recently, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) signed a bill which states that all registered voters will receive a ballot by mail.

The previous electoral structure, where voters had to go to a polling location on Election Day, would have resulted in a midterm electorate that would have favored Republicans. Any advantages they may have had could now be mitigated by the new law.

Featured next week are the five Democratic toss-up House races:

  • AZ-2: Rep. Ron Barber
  • CA-52: Rep. Scott Peters
  • FL-26: Rep. Joe Garcia
  • NC-7: Rep. Mike McIntyre
  • UT-4: Rep. Jim Matheson

For more information, contact David Ashinoff at Return to Top

New Technology, Risk Assessment, Highway and Water Funding, Equipment Valuation, Legal Issues Among the Topics to be Addressed at the Highway and Utilities Contractors Issues Conference

Get up to date information on a variety of Issues that will impact the highway, transportation and utility construction markets over the next year. The 2013 Highway and Utilities Contractors Issues Conference will be held Nov. 7-9, 2013, at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Ariz.  Industry professionals from companies involved in building highway, bridge, utility and underground construction, transit, airport runway and rail projects will benefit from this conference.  Presentation and discussions on major trends in highway and utility construction will be featured, including:

  • Use of tablets to manage project progress, reporting and inspection.
  • Stringless paving and Intelligent Compaction
  • A contractors guide to evaluating project risks, including both insurable and uninsurable risks
  • Washington Update - Outlook for highway, transit, water and infrastructure funding. Tax and immigration reform, sequestration - will these changes happen and how will they impact your business?
  • MAP-21 Implementation
  • Highway Trust Fund & Water Trust Fund Innovative Financing
  • Future Construction Opportunities: Bioreactors/Biodigesters at Wastewater Treatment Plants
  • High-Tech and Low-Tech Project Management Solutions: A Panel Discussion
  • New Technology Developments: BIM, CIM & Intelligent Compaction

To register for the conference, please visit

For more information, contact Brian Deery or Scott Berry at Return to Top

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