Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org July 30, 2015
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On the Inside
TRANSPORTATION
Congress Passes 3-Month Extension before August Recess
ENVIRONMENT
Memo Reveals Flaws with Waters of the U.S. Final Rule
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
VA Reforms Included in the Highway Extension
House Passes Legislation Allowing VA Secretary to More Easily Fire Employees
LABOR
Please Respond to Survey of AGC Members on Proposed FLSA Overtime Rule
AGC Opposes NAVFAC-Mandated PLA Inquiries
AGC EVENTS
Register for First Ever AGC Utility Infrastructure Conference at ICUEE
Registration for the AGC Highway Contractors Conference is Open
Register for the AGC/CFMA Construction Financial Management Conference
TRANSPORTATION
Congress Passes 3-Month Extension before August Recess
Senate Approves DRIVE Act, House to Focus on Long-Term Bill in Sept.
 

The Senate today approved H.R. 22, the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act by a vote of 65-34. Thank you to those who have contacted their Senators over the past week, urging support for this long-term highway & transit bill. Our focus now shifts to the House, which has not yet begun action on a long-term bill.  Contact your representative and tell them to pass a long-term bill as soon as possible.

The DRIVE Act covers six years of funding authorization for highway and transit programs with annual average increases of approximately 3 percent. To fully fund the bill it will modify several tax law provisions and alter fees and revenue provisions, many of which are unrelated to transportation. The “pay fors” fully cover only three years of the legislation so, if enacted, it will be necessary to find additional revenue for the Highway Trust Fund to fully fund the DRIVE Act levels in the final three years of the authorization.  We are hoping that the House can fill this funding gap to give us a fully funded six year bill.

The House passed a five-month extension earlier this year that included an $8 billion transfer of general fund revenue to the trust fund to allow for consideration of a long-term bill later this year without disrupting the highway program payments to states. However, as the House prepared to leave for the five-week summer recess, there was pressure on them to adopt the Senate long-term bill. Instead of adopting the Senate bill, the House passed a shorter three-month extension and indicated that they plan to complete action on their own version of a transportation reauthorization bill. The Senate followed the House and passed the extension by a vote of 91-4.  Please urge your representative to take up a long-term bill as soon as possible.

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

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ENVIRONMENT
Memo Reveals Flaws with Waters of the U.S. Final Rule
Significant Disagreements among Corps & EPA
 

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations, Major General John Peabody, cited significant issues in the Waters of the United States final rule prior to its release in a May 15 memorandum to Assistant U.S. Secretary for the Army for civil works, Jo-Ellen Darcy.  The final rule redefines ‘waters of the U.S.’ and expands the waters over which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers claim jurisdiction.  The two agencies jointly issued the final rule on June 27, and it takes effect on August 28.

In the memo, General Peabody notes that the final rule contains “numerous inappropriate assumptions, with no connection to the data provided, misapplied data, analytical deficiencies, and logistical inconsistencies.” USACE’s economist Paul Scodari also notes that “[t]he corps had no role in selecting or analyzing the data that the EPA used in drafting” the rulemaking’s economic analysis or technical support document. “As a result,” Scodari states, “the documents can only be characterized as having been developed by the EPA and should not identify the corps [sic] as an author, co-author or substantive contributor.”

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee recently sent a letter questioning Assistant Secretary Darcy on statements in the memo and the final rule. At least 30 states have filed suit, and a request for injunction against the rule has been filed as well. Legislative efforts to reverse and repeal the rule have been gaining support, and provisions in pending appropriations bills would block the administration from implementing the rule during fiscal year 2016. AGC will continue to work with its Congressional allies to require the agencies to revisit their rulemaking process and also intends to meet with officials from the agencies to discuss the rule’s implementation.

For more information contact Scott Berry at berrys@agc.org or Leah Pilconis at pilconisl@agc.org Return to Top

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FEDERAL CONTRACTING
VA Reforms Included in the Highway Extension
 

The highway & transit extension also includes $3.4 billion to cover a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) funding gap for the remainder of the current fiscal year, ending September 30.  The department needed the additional funds to continue to pay for non-Department medical services to veterans, which were enacted last year in response to the VA hospital waiting list scandal. The need for additional funds was also necessary as the department attempts to fix problems that have plagued construction projects such as missing key decision deadlines, poor communication with construction contractors and late completion of design work. The problems on the construction side have negatively impacted health care VA funding accounts.

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

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House Passes Legislation Allowing VA Secretary to More Easily Fire Employees
 

Yesterday, the House passed the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Accountability Act of 2015, which would allow for the department secretary to more easily remove or demote the agency’s civil service employees guilty of misconduct or found to be incompetent.  The bill would also require that all probationary periods for new employees be extended from the current requirement of one year to at least 18 months. The secretary would also be able to strip pension benefits from department senior executives who are convicted of a crime that influenced their job performance. The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee approved similar legislation last week and floor action in the Senate is pending.

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

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LABOR
Please Respond to Survey of AGC Members on Proposed FLSA Overtime Rule
 

Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division announced proposed changes to the overtime regulations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. If implemented without changes, the proposed rule would increase the salary threshold for the executive, administrative and professional exemptions from $455 per week ($23,660 per year) to a 2016 level of $970 per week ($50,440 per year). The threshold for highly compensated employees would also increase from $100,000 per year to $122,148 per year. Both thresholds would be adjusted annually based on one of two proposed methods. Although the Wage and Hour Division did not propose any changes to the duties tests, it strongly indicated consideration of changes and requested comments on possible changes.

Your help is needed as AGC prepares to draft its response to the proposed rule on behalf of the non-residential construction industry. To ensure that we are accurately depicting the impact this rule will have on your company, please take a few moments to complete this survey. 

Click here to complete the survey by August 7th. 

For questions, contact Tamika Carter at cartert@agc.org or Jim Young at youngj@agc.org. Return to Top

AGC Opposes NAVFAC-Mandated PLA Inquiries
 

Recently, AGC sent two letters opposing the possible use of project labor agreement (PLA) mandates posted by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest (NAVFAC) for projects in San Diego, California. One letter addresses the possible use of mandatory PLA involving the design-build construction of a Littorial Combat Ship Support Facility and the other letter addresses future projects under consideration for the NAVFAC Coastal Campus Program.

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. Return to Top

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AGC EVENTS
Register for First Ever AGC Utility Infrastructure Conference at ICUEE
 

AGC will be hosting its first ever Utility Infrastructure Conference, Sept. 29–Oct. 1 in Louisville, Kentucky. Join other contractors, owners and key industry constituents involved in every aspect of utility infrastructure construction for high-quality education sessions, the premier utility construction equipment expo, and networking opportunities.

This year’s conference will be co-located with the International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition (ICUEE), which is the largest industry event focused exclusively on the utility infrastructure market, with over 17,000 industry professionals attending ICUEE 2013. All conference sessions will take place inside the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

Sessions will focus on the utility construction economic outlook, the challenges and opportunities in managing a multigenerational workforce, and how OSHA’s new Confined Space Entry final rule will impact utility construction contractors. AGC will also host a legislative & regulatory update on the Expo Demo Stage and will partner with the Common Ground Alliance for an Underground Damage Prevention lunch.

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

Register for First Ever AGC Utility Infrastructure Conference at ICUEE Return to Top

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Registration for the AGC Highway Contractors Conference is Open
More Information at meetings.agc.org/highway
 

Get up-to-date information on a variety of issues that will impact the highway and transportation construction markets over the next year. The 2015 AGC Highway Contractors Conference will be held Nov. 5-7, 2015, at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa.  Industry professionals from companies involved in building highway, bridge, transit, airport runway and rail projects will benefit from this conference.  The conference will feature presentations and discussions on major trends in highway construction, including:

  • Washington Legislative & Regulatory Update
  • State & Local Funding Initiatives
  • Social Media in Advocacy
  • Construction Technology
  • Use of Drones in Construction
  • Risk Management

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

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Register for the AGC/CFMA Construction Financial Management Conference
Register Now and Save at meetings.agc.org/agc_cfma
 

Jointly sponsored by AGC and the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA), the 19th Annual AGC/CFMA Construction Financial Management Conference will be held Nov. 4-6, 2015 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nev. This three-day conference offers programs and workshops designed specifically for financial professionals in the construction industry. The 32 interactive sessions will cover the latest industry issues and their financial implications.

Register by Friday, Sept. 4 for special “Early Bird” discounts.  Additional discounts are available for subsequent registrations from the same firm.  Participants may earn up to 20 continuing professional education (CPE) credits for attending. 

For more information, please contact Brynn Huneke at (703) 837-5376 or brynn.huneke@agc.org Return to Top

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