Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org October 23, 2014
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On the Inside
ENVIRONMENT
Deadline for Comments on EPA Water Rule Extended
2014 ELECTIONS
Election Day Countdown: 12 Days to Go!
Update on the Top U.S. Senate Races
TRANSPORTATION
Take Action Today to Fix the Highway Trust Fund
AGC Participates in DOT DBE Meeting
HOTEL SELLING OUT Register Today for Highway & Utilities Contractors Issues Conference
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
New FAR Rule Eliminates a Small Business Bid Preference
DOE Issues Green Building System Final Rule for Federal Agencies
LABOR
AGC Opposes USACE and NAVFAC Mandated-PLAs
ENVIRONMENT
Deadline for Comments on EPA Water Rule Extended
Tell EPA to Withdraw the Rule
 

The comment period has been extended on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps)proposed rulemaking that redefines “waters of the U.S.” under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The new comment deadline is Nov. 14, 2014. 

Use the AGC Regulatory Action Center to submit comments on this rule.

For more information, please contact Scott Berry at berrys@agc.org or (703) 837-5321. Return to Top

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2014 ELECTIONS
Election Day Countdown: 12 Days to Go!
Voter Registration, Early, and Absentee Voting Deadlines End Soon
 

With more than six million workers, the construction industry has a tremendous opportunity to impact this election. To be successful, it is critical you encourage your colleagues, family members and friends to register to vote, and then cast a ballot on or before Nov. 4.

Upcoming Voter Registration deadlines:

Oct. 24  

Nebraska (In-Person)

Oct. 25  

New Hampshire (By Mail)

Oct. 27  

Colorado, Washington (In-Person)

Oct. 28  

Connecticut (In-Person)

Oct. 29  

Vermont

Oct. 31  

Wisconsin (In-Person)

Nov. 1  

District of Columbia (In-Person)

Nov. 4  

Iowa (In-Person), Montana (In-Person), New Hampshire (In-Person)


Early Voting Dates

In-Progress  

Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, D.C., Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Oct. 25  

Early Voting Begins - Florida

Oct. 27  

Early Voting Begins - Georgia

Oct. 28  

Early Voting Begins - Kansas

 

Early Voting Ends - California

Oct. 30  

Early Voting Begins - Oklahoma

Early Voting Ends - Maryland, Tennessee

Oct. 31  

Early Voting Ends - Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin


Absentee Ballots Dates

Oct. 25  

Absentee Application Deadline - Alaska

Oct. 27  

Absentee Application Deadline - Indiana

Oct. 28  

Absentee Application Deadline - Arkansas (By Mail), California (By Mail), Colorado (By Mail), District of Columbia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey (By Mail), New York (By Mail), North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas (By Mail), Virginia (By Mail)

Oct. 29  

Absentee Application Deadline - Florida, Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, West Virginia

Oct. 30  

Absentee Application Deadline - Alabama, Illinois (By Mail), Maine, Utah, Wisconsin (By Mail)

Oct. 31  

Absentee Application Deadline - Colorado (In-Person), Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, New Mexico, South Carolina (By Mail), Wisconsin (In-Person)


  

Absentee Ballot Return Deadline - Idaho (In-Person), Pennsylvania

Download this document and use the sample text to send an email to your colleagues, family and friends reminding them about registering to vote, early voting and how to request an absentee ballot. Also included are messages to post on your company’s social media pages as well as links to the Construction Votes videos.

Visit ConstructionVotes.com for more information, and vote on or before November 4!

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

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Update on the Top U.S. Senate Races
 

As the election nears, many Senate races – and the Senate majority – are still neck and neck.  Just two weeks ago, it appeared that Democrats were building momentum to gain the upper hand and save their majority. This changed last week when the tide seemed to sway back toward Republicans, with the chance that they can win the six net seats needed to claim the majority appears better than ever. However, with more than two full weeks remaining before Election Day, anything can still happen.

Alaska: Republican Dan Sullivan is leading Sen. Mark Begich (D), and he appears ready to put this race away. At this point, the Alaska race looks to be the Republicans' best conversion prospect in the country. The last eight public polls all show Sullivan leading, with margins between two and eight percentage points.

Arkansas: Polling here has been up and down for both candidates, but Republican Tom Cotton has led in more surveys, and by much larger margins. Sen. Mark Pryor (D) typically scores in the low 40s, very dangerous territory for any incumbent. With the open Governor's race looking strong for the GOP, and all of the House races below the Senate campaign also looking equally robust, the indicators suggest a Cotton victory is more likely than not.

Colorado: There appears to be a turning of the tables in the Centennial State. For months, first-term Sen. Mark Udall (D) held a consistent, but very small lead over Rep. Cory Gardner (R). However, in the last ten public polls, Gardner leads in nine, with margins between one and eight points. This race may be peaking at the right time for Mr. Gardner and the Republicans.

Georgia: While an average of the past several polls has Republican Perdue leading by less than one percent, it is Michelle Nunn (D) who has lead in the two most recent surveys. The Georgia Senate contest is tight, but time still remains for Perdue to right his faltering ship. For Nunn, her campaign is firing on all cylinders right now. She will have to keep the momentum churning in order to score the upset win. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, a winner won’t be decided until the Jan. 6 run-off.

Iowa: The last ten surveys show Republican Joni Ernst leading in six, Democrat Bruce Braley ahead in three, and one as a tie. One Republican poll gives Ernst a nine-point lead, but no other survey gives either candidate an edge beyond three points. This will undoubtedly be a close finish, but Ernst has a bit more of an advantage as the two candidates head into the home stretch.

Kansas: Veteran Republican incumbent Pat Roberts continues to face challenges against Independent challenger Greg Orman, who leads in most polls. Roberts is going hard after Orman to try and define him as a liberal. If the strategy works, Roberts has a chance at winning.  If Roberts fails to garner additional support before Election Day, then this could be another GOP loss in what should be a safe state for them.

Kentucky: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appears poised to put distance between he and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. Polls still rate this campaign as close, but McConnell is viewed as a favorite.

Louisiana: There has been a decided shift in this race toward challenger Bill Cassidy (R), the Baton Rouge Congressman, with six polls in a row place him leading Sen. Mary Landrieu (D). The question remains, with nine candidates on what amounts to a primary ballot, can either Cassidy or Sen. Landrieu obtain the 50 percent needed to win outright on Nov. 4? If no one attains majority support, a Dec. 6 run-off election will occur.

Michigan: This race appears headed toward a win for Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14). All data shows the Detroit Congressman putting distance between he and Republican nominee Terri Lynn Land, the former Secretary of State. Put this one in the Democratic column.

New Hampshire: The latest poll shows former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) taking a one point lead over Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D). This state has swung more violently than any place in the country since 2006, defeating more incumbents than the voters have re-elected. Sen. Shaheen remains the favorite, but Brown cannot be discounted.

North Carolina: Sen. Kay Hagan (D) has been on a nice roll in her battle with state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R), but the race is again beginning to tighten. Margins are now back to no more than two points, and the swing seems to be turning in favor of a damaged Tillis. Sen. Hagan has clearly run the superior campaign, but the state's conservative voting pattern in the midterm election and the voters' penchant for unseating incumbent Senators means a close race retains an upset possibility.

South Dakota: What should be a cruise for the GOP has now turned into a three-way affair among former Gov. Mike Rounds (R), ex-congressional aide Rick Weiland (D), and former Republican U.S. Senator-turned-Independent Larry Pressler. The ex-senator has been gaining, but Rounds still leads the race, though dropping below 40 percent. Now in the high 30s, his chances of victory are less. The three-way format will likely save Rounds, and he will still probably win the race despite performing poorly in this campaign.

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

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TRANSPORTATION
Take Action Today to Fix the Highway Trust Fund
Visit HardhatsforHighways.org to Contact Your Elected Officials
 

Following the midterm elections on Nov. 4, the 113th Congress will reconvene to take final action on a number of legislative items that must be addressed before its adjournment. While Congress passed an extension providing funding until May 2015 for the federal transportation programs, AGC is pushing for transportation authorization and funding to be one of the priorities that will be taken up in the lame duck session.

Contact your Senators and Representative and urge them to address transportation needs. New email messages have been loaded on to the Hardhats for Highways website for you to send to your members of Congress. Please encourage your employees to send emails as well.

For more information, please contact Brian Deery at (703) 837-5319 or deeryb@agc.org Return to Top

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AGC Participates in DOT DBE Meeting
 

AGC was invited to participate in a stakeholders meeting this week called by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to look into questions about the effectiveness of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program. The meeting was held in response to a DOT Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) report critical of the success of the program over its 30-year history. The OIG report said state DOTs, which are charged with administering the program, are focused on certifying firms for inclusion in the program, but not their success once in the program. OIG noted that only a small percentage of the certified firms actually participate and that those few firms have been in the program for ten years or more. DOT was interested in hearing from stakeholders about how this outcome could be improved.

AGC pointed out that the program should be focused on quality not quantity. Increasing the number of certified firms and the resulting increases in goals does not achieve the program’s objective. A better measure of success would, for example, be business development factors such as the ability to obtain bonding, insurance, reputation, submitting winning quotes, repeat business, financing, and other business factors. AGC suggested that developing metrics to measure the progress of DBEs in the program in meeting these goals should be a DOT objective.

The meeting involved a wide variety of stakeholders including DBE advocacy groups, state DOTs and others with direct knowledge of how the program operates. U.S. DOT is interested in making improvements in the program to respond to the criticism from the OIG. The recently released adjustments to the DBE implementation rules were not the focus of the meeting and were generally not discussed. 

For more information, please contact Brian Deery at (703) 837-5319 or deeryb@agc.org Return to Top

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HOTEL SELLING OUT Register Today for Highway & Utilities Contractors Issues Conference
Book your Hotel Conference Rate Expires Tomorrow
 

Construction Future will be the overriding topic at the 2014 Highway & Utilities Contractors Conference on Nov. 13-15 at the Omni La Costa resort in San Diego, Calif. A variety of sessions have been organized to cover topics that will help contractors position their companies for Construction Future. Highlights include: discovering the next generation of managers; technology applications; paperless projects; industry megatrends; November election impacts; and Design-Build success stories. To learn more, book your hotel room and register, click here.

For more information, please contact Scott Berry at berrys@agc.org. or Brian Deery at deeryb@agc.org Return to Top

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FEDERAL CONTRACTING
New FAR Rule Eliminates a Small Business Bid Preference
 

On Oct. 14, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council issued a final rule that removes FAR sections implementing a bid preference for “small disadvantaged businesses” (SDBs) in accordance with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s ruling in Rothe Development Corporation v. Department of Defense (2008).

In Rothe, the court ruled unconstitutional a federal program—implemented by DOD, the U.S. Coast Guard, and NASA—allowing a 10 percent price reduction of bids submitted by “small disadvantaged businesses” in determining which bid or offer had the lowest price or represented the best value for government. See 10 U.S.C. 2323. As a result of this court ruling, the final rule removes FAR subpart 19.11 (Price Evaluation Adjustment for Small Disadvantaged Business Concerns, and FAR subpart 19.12 (Small Disadvantaged Business Participation Program).

However, the final rule does not eliminate other policies, practices and programs that agencies have been relying on to encourage SDB participation in the federal market, including the 5 percent goal for federal contract dollars to SDBs at the prime and subcontract levels. In addition, there is nothing in this rule that precludes an agency from using evaluation factors and subfactors for subcontracting with SDBs. Furthermore, this rule does not impact other existing small business set aside programs, like the 8(a), Woman Owned Small Business, HUBZone, Veteran Owned Small Business and Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business programs.

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

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DOE Issues Green Building System Final Rule for Federal Agencies
 

On Oct. 14, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) published a final rule advising federal agencies on their use of green building certification systems for federal building construction and design.

The final rule does not endorse or mandate a specific green building rating system for use in new federal buildings and major renovations. Rather, it delineates elements that any third-party green building rating system must meet for a federal agency to use it for its construction program. DOE further encourages agencies to take into consideration the General Services Administration’s (GSA) previous recommendations to use either Green Building Initiative's Green Globes 2010 or the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) 2009.

GSA is currently reviewing USGBC’s LEED v4, which was released a month after GSA’s last green building certification system review. If GSA approves that system, DOE may revise this final rule.  This rule is effective Nov. 13.

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

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LABOR
AGC Opposes USACE and NAVFAC Mandated-PLAs
 

Recently, AGC sent three letters opposing the possible use of a project labor agreement (PLA) mandates posted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC). The letters were sent opposing PLA mandates for:

  1. The New Orleans to Venice, NOV-05A, Upper Reach A, West Bank Levee Back Levee, St. Jude to City Price, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana issued by USACE Vicksburg District;
  2. Large scale construction projects (greater than $25M) within the Baltimore-Washington Corridor issued by USACE Baltimore District; and
  3. B-431 Seismic Upgrades and Renovations at Naval Base Kitsap Bremerton, Bremerton, Washington issued by NAVFAC Northwest.

AGC has sent over 90 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. To view AGC efforts opposing government mandated PLAs, click here.

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

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