Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org November 5, 2015
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On the Inside
TRANSPORTATION
House Passes Six-Year Highway & Transit Bill
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
Defense Bill Redux: House Passes NDAA; Senate Vote Next Week
HEALTHCARE
AGC Helps Deliver Needed Affordable Care Act Reform
ELECTIONS
Election Day Results: GOP Increases Number of Governorships. Incumbents Win Big.
TRANSPORTATION
House Passes Six-Year Highway & Transit Bill
 

Following nearly three days of debate and the consideration of 147 amendments, the House of Representatives passed the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act (STRRA) of 2015 by a vote of 363-64.  The six-year bill is the first long-term bill to be passed in the House in a decade. The next step is for House and Senate negotiators to work out final details of the bill prior to the expiration of the current extension on Nov. 20.  Prior to the vote, AGC sent a letter urging support for passage of the bill.  In addition, the AGC –led Transportation Construction Coalition and our partners in the Americans for Transportation Mobility voiced support for passage of the Act. 

Prior to passage, a number of amendments were adopted by House.  An AGC-championed amendment to expand the mileage limit from 50 to 75 miles allowing construction drivers to reset their hours-of-service time after a 24-hour break was adopted by voice vote.  The amendment would also allow states to opt out of the increase for travel solely within a state.  An AGC-opposed amendment expressing a “Sense of Congress” in support of devolution failed by a vote of 310-118.  But potentially, the most important amendment to the bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.  Representative Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) stripped two of the Senate pay for’s that provided $19 billion for the Highway Trust Fund with a new provision that would provide $59 billion for the Highway Trust Fund.  What this means is that House and Senate negotiators must now decide on whether to use the extra $40 billion to fund the final bill for five years at increased funding levels or six years at current funding levels.   Funding and other issues will be worked out during negotiations in what is called a conference committee. 

The conference will likely start next week once the Senate agrees to go to conference and they name conferees.  A comparison of the House and Senate bills can be found here. AGC will work with conferees to ensure the final bill provides long-term stability and increased funding for federal highway and transit programs.

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

FEDERAL CONTRACTING
Defense Bill Redux: House Passes NDAA; Senate Vote Next Week
AGC Federal Procurement Priorities On Path to Becoming Law
 

The House of Representatives today overwhelmingly passed the National Defense Authorization Act of FY 2016 (NDAA Bill), a bill the president vetoed just two weeks ago. The bill is expected to pass the Senate next week and be signed into law by the president as a result of the bipartisan budget agreement reached last week. Compared to the vetoed version of the bill, this NDAA bill has slightly lower levels of spending for Department of Defense programs.

The bill includes several AGC-backed federal procurement reform provisions that would help prevent individual surety fraud, allow joint ventures to submit individual businesses’ relevant past performance evaluations as part of their proposals—not merely the relevant past performance of the joint venture itself—and fix a recent court decision that would have required small business construction contractors to purchase all their materials and supplies from other small businesses. AGC testified in support of these reforms earlier this year before the House Small Business Committee. AGC also led a coalition of 15 national construction trade associations in an effort to push such construction procurement reforms through Congress.

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

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HEALTHCARE
AGC Helps Deliver Needed Affordable Care Act Reform
New Measure Ends Requirement for Firms to Automatically Enroll Employees
 

This week, President Obama signed into law a bipartisan budget package that included AGC of America-backed legislation to eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) mandatory automatic enrollment provision.  The mandatory automatic enrollment provision would have required employers with more than 200 full-time employees to automatically enroll employees into coverage if an employee did not voluntarily chose or decline a plan.  As AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr noted, the "new measure protects countless construction workers from being forced to pay deductions for health insurance they may not need or cannot afford."

Doing away with the automatic enrollment provision has been among AGC of America's top legislative priority since the Affordable Care Act was enacted.  During that time, AGC staff and members participated in meetings with House and Senate members, congressional leadership, and committees of jurisdiction on both sides of the Capitol and both sides of the aisle; and coordinated with a broad business coalition named the E-FLEX Coalition.  Moving forward, the association will continue to push for additional reforms to make sure construction workers have access to high quality, affordable health care.

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

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ELECTIONS
Election Day Results: GOP Increases Number of Governorships. Incumbents Win Big.
 

Republican venture capitalist Matt Bevin came up a big winner in Tuesday’s Kentucky Governor’s race defeating Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway 53 to 44 percent.  In winning, Mr. Bevin is only the second Republican to become Governor since World War II ended.

About a week before the election both Survey USA and Western Kentucky University found Conway to be holding a 45-40 percent lead, almost the exact opposite of the final result.  Vox Populi, which released the poll closest to the election, correctly found Bevin gaining momentum going into Election Day.  Their last ballot test projected the candidates tied at 44 percent, but the sample seemed to possess a slight Republican skew.  The actual results, however, proved the Vox methodology, as it related to turnout model projection, sound.
  
In other Kentucky statewide races, Democratic state Auditor Adam Edelen, who was being tested as a possible opponent to Sen. Rand Paul (R), fell to Republican Mike Harmon.  Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), who challenged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) in the 2014 election, barely held onto her position with a 51-49 percent win.  Democrat Andy Beshear, son of outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear (D), captured the open Attorney General’s position with a very slim 2,194-vote margin from more than 950,000 cast ballots. 
 
Kentucky notwithstanding, the night belonged to incumbents.  In the Virginia legislature, both the full House and Senate stood for election and not one incumbent from either party was defeated.  The chamber division remained constant, with Republicans holding their majorities in both houses: a tight 21-19 margin in the state Senate, and a whopping 66-34 in the House of Delegates.
 
The evening’s other gubernatorial election, in Mississippi, saw Gov. Phil Bryant (R) record a 66-32 percent re-election win in a race that was never in doubt from the campaign’s early stages.  All of the statewide incumbents were re-elected, including Attorney General Jim Hood who is the only remaining Democratic statewide elected official in the Deep South. 

Here, too, incumbents ruled the day in the legislative races.  In the 52-member Mississippi state Senate, just one incumbent, a Republican was defeated.  Four state Representatives, three of whom are Democrats, lost their positions in the 122-member state House.
 
Good news came for Democrats in the country’s Mid-Atlantic region.  In New Jersey, where the 40 legislative districts send two Assemblymen apiece to the state capitol in Trenton, four Republican incumbents lost their seats.  The results expanded the Democratic majority to 52-28.  The state Senate was not up for election in the 2015 political cycle.
 
Turning to neighboring Pennsylvania, Democrats successfully swept the three state Supreme Court positions and wrestled the panel majority away from Republicans.  These results will likely come into play during the post-census redistricting cycle when lawsuits are certain to find their way to the state’s highest court.
 
With the Kentucky and Mississippi GOP wins, the new nationwide gubernatorial total features 32 Republicans, 17 Democrats, and 1 Independent, the largest Republican advantage in generations. 

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

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