Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org July 24, 2014
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On the Inside
TRANSPORTATION
Senate to Vote on Highway Trust Fund Extension Next Week
LABOR
President Signs AGC-Supported Legislation Reforming Workforce Development System into Law
AGC Joins Letter in Support of Repealing the Auto Enrollment Provisions of the ACA
Courts Issue Conflicting Decisions on the ACA
New Executive Order Prohibits Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination by Federal and Federally-Assisted Contractors
2014 ELECTIONS
Tuesday’s Run-off Elections in Georgia
TRANSPORTATION
Senate to Vote on Highway Trust Fund Extension Next Week
Resolution Must Come Before the August Recess
 

On Wednesday, Senate leaders reached agreement on how to proceed with consideration of the short-term highway and transit extension bill, which passed the House last week.  The agreement reached by Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would allow for the consideration of four amendments each requiring 60 votes to pass.  If the amendments do not receive the required 60 votes, the Senate would then vote on clearing the House-passed measure as-is, which would provide an $11 billion transfer to the Highway Trust Fund and an extension of the current transportation authorization (MAP-21) – through May 31, 2015.

Two of the amendments are of particular interest to AGC.  The first of these is a bipartisan amendment by Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) that would scale back the extension from May 31, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2014, and cut the Highway Trust Fund offset by $3 billion.  The intent of this amendment is to force Congress to deal with finding long-term revenue for the trust fund in the post-November election lame duck session of Congress.  AGC supports the intent of the amendment and is working with the offices of the three Senators to build additional support.   AGC has consistently called for Congress to address the long-term revenue in the lame duck and we encourage all Senators to support the Carper-Corker-Boxer amendment.  The second amendment, proposed by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) – known  as “Devolution” – would eventually reduce the gas tax to 3.7 cents, forcing every state to either raise funding for their transportation programs elsewhere or make drastic cuts to replace the federal investments.  AGC is actively opposing the Lee amendment.

If the Senate passes any of the amendments, included the two detailed above, the bill would then go back to the House where they can either take a vote on the Senate bill or try to work with the Senate to iron out differences between the two bills.  With time running out before the August Congressional recess, it is still uncertain as to exactly when next week this will be resolved.  However, AGC wants the extension to pass before Congress breaks for their August recess and we continue to work with members of the Senate and House to ensure that outcome.

For more information, please contact Sean O’Neill at (202) 547-8892 or oneills@agc.org Return to Top

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LABOR
President Signs AGC-Supported Legislation Reforming Workforce Development System into Law
 

On Tuesday, the president signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act into law. The bill easily passed both the House and Senate in recent weeks. The legislation will reform the workforce development system, giving states greater flexibility and strengthening employer engagement. To read more about the law, click here.

The legislation was a component of AGC’s Workforce Development Plan for the 21st Century, which was released earlier this year. AGC will continue to work on the plan’s other priorities.

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

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AGC Joins Letter in Support of Repealing the Auto Enrollment Provisions of the ACA
 

This week, AGC joined 171 employers and employer associations in a letter supporting the Auto Enroll Repeal Act (S. 2546). This bill was introduced by Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and would repeal the automatic enrollment provision under the Affordable Care Act (section 1511).  

The law states that employers with 200 or more full-time employees are required to automatically enroll their full-time employees in health care coverage by their 91st day of employment, unless the employee had opted out prior to the deadline. Employers that are subjected to this requirement are already bound by the health care law’s Shared Responsibility for Employers provision, which requires an offer of coverage to these same employees.

Groups are concerned that automatic enrollment may create additional confusion for employees in an already complex benefit area, and could result in unnecessary hardship if they find themselves automatically enrolled in a plan they do not wish to participate in. Overall, the automatic enrollment requirement is redundant, expensive and unnecessarily burdensome for employers without increasing employees’ access to coverage.

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

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Courts Issue Conflicting Decisions on the ACA
 

Two separate U.S. Courts of Appeals issued conflicting decisions on the availability of insurance subsidies to individuals under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) this week. The D.C. circuit ruled that the tax credits for insurance purchased on the federal exchange were illegal, because the federal exchange is not established by the state as required by the ACA. The 4th circuit in Richmond ruled that ACA language was ambiguous and subject to multiple interpretations, and therefore permits tax credits for the federal exchange.

The latest conflicting decisions are the most recent threat to the ACA, but will likely have to be decided by the Supreme Court in its 2016 term. AGC will continue to monitor these developments and the impact of employers. For more information, please refer to a legislative alert from Washington Council Ernst & Young.

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

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New Executive Order Prohibits Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination by Federal and Federally-Assisted Contractors
 

On July 21, President Obama signed an executive order (EO) prohibiting federal and federally-assisted contractors and their subcontractors from engaging in employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The newly signed EO amends EO 11246, originally signed by President Lyndon Johnson, which prohibits contractors with federal and federally-assisted construction contracts that exceed $10,000 and their subcontractors from discriminating against any employee or applicant for employment based on race, creed, color, sex or national origin. As such, government contractors should be familiar with the requirements to comply with EO 11246, which require filing of compliance reports. The new EO simply amends EO 11246 to include sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of classes protected from employment discrimination.  It is unclear at this time whether the new EO imposes any new affirmative action obligations.

The new EO will become effective on or after the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issues a final rule. DOL is charged with preparing regulations within 90 days, which would be sometime in late October. The EO will apply only to new contracts entered into on or after DOL issues a final rule.  AGC will monitor the rulemaking process and provide updates as appropriate.

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at christiansonj@agc.org or 703-837-5325. Return to Top

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2014 ELECTIONS
Tuesday’s Run-off Elections in Georgia
 

GA-Senate

Former Dollar General CEO David Perdue came from behind to defeat Rep. Jack Kingston in the U.S. Senate Republican run-off to score what most believe was an upset win for the GOP nomination.  He now faces Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn, who won her own primary back in May.  With just over 480,000 people voting in the run-off contest, Perdue captured 51 percent of the vote. 

GA-1

Mr. Kingston's open congressional seat was also the subject of a Republican run-off contest.  Scoring a 54-46 percent win with just over 42,000 votes cast is state Sen. Buddy Carter, who finished first in the primary election.  Often times when first place finishers don't clinch the nomination on the first vote, the second place qualifier unites the top candidate's opponents.  In this contest, Carter actually gained strength and was able to pull away from Tea Party-supported Bob Johnson. 

GA-10

In the seat Rep. Paul Broun is vacating for his unsuccessful Senate run, pastor, radio talk show host, and former congressional candidate Jody Hice scored a 54-46 percent victory over businessman Mike Collins, the son of former Rep. Mac Collins, with just under 50,000 votes cast.  There is little doubt that Mr. Hice will join the Tea Party caucus within the Republican conference.  Attorney Ken Dious won the Democratic nomination back in May, but he will be a heavy underdog to Hice in this midterm election.

GA-11

The least surprising finish last night came in the northwestern Georgia district, the seat Rep. Gingrey relinquished in order to launch his unsuccessful Senatorial bid.  With former Rep. Bob Barr only scoring 26 percent in the primary election despite universal name identification, the run-off campaign was a mere formality. 

With more than 51,000 people voting in the GOP secondary election, state Sen. Barry Loudermilk easily defeated Mr. Barr, 66-34 percent.  Loudermilk gained key conservative support and was able to isolate Barr on the libertarian wing of the party.  Because no Democrat or Independent filed to run, the new GOP nominee is now unopposed in the general election.

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

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