Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org March 17, 2016
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On the Inside
SAFETY
AGC Advocates to Stop OSHA Proposed Rule on Crystalline Silica
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC Urges Congress to Stop Blacklisting Executive Order
Know What New Regulations Will Impact Your Construction Business?
BUDGET
House Committee Moves FY 17 Budget Resolution
TAX
Chairman Brady Calls Tax Reform a Priority
TRANSPORTATION
Senate Moves Forward on FAA Reauthorization
The Highway Trust Fund: Still Under Construction
2016 ELECTIONS
Trump & Clinton Win Big. Kasich Survives.
SAFETY
AGC Advocates to Stop OSHA Proposed Rule on Crystalline Silica
Help Us Spread the Message Contact your Congressman
 

AGC is supporting legislative attempts to force the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to prove that their proposed rule to regulate the hazards of crystalline silica exposure is technologically and economically feasible prior to finalization, implementation or enforcement. Please contact your Congressman and help block implementation of OSHA’s proposed rule on silica.

Silica is one of the most abundant substances on earth. It is most commonly found in sand or Quartz. Silica is ubiquitous on construction sites by virtue of its presence in many commonly used construction materials including: concrete, bricks, rocks, and stones. Construction activities that can generate/spread silica dust include but may not be limited to: jackhammering, grinding, tuckpointing, milling, rock crushing, drywall finishing, earthmoving, sawing, and drilling.

The proposed rule is expected to be finalized later this year. The proposed rule is expected to cut the silica exposure limit by 80 percent, require operational control methods that are contrary to safety rules and require the purchase of new costly and ineffective equipment before then mandating the expanded use of respiratory protection.  This week AGC sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives urging support for a provision to be included in the Fiscal Year 2017 Labor-HHS-Education funding bill that would ensure the rule is necessary and feasible prior to its implementation.

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

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FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC Urges Congress to Stop Blacklisting Executive Order
Urge Your Congressman to Delay Implementation
 

Please contact your member of Congress to urge them to delay implementation of the Blacklisting Executive Order. This President Obama executive order will require federal prime and subcontractors to report violations of 14 federal labor laws and "equivalent" state labor laws during the previous three years, and again every six months, on federal contracts over $500,000.

Essentially, the Blacklisting Executive Order allows federal agency contracting officers to de-facto debar a federal construction prime contractor or subcontractor on a contract-by-contract basis—during either the solicitation process or after contract award—for a single labor law violation. AGC is working with Representative Scott Rigell (R-Va.) to urge his colleagues to include language in the Fiscal Year 2017 Financial Service and General Government Appropriations Act that requires the Obama Administration to conduct a thorough analysis and impact assessment of the Blacklisting Executive Order 13673 before its implementation or enforcement is permitted to continue.  A final rule implementing this executive order is expected before President Obama leaves office, which would make it difficult to undo.

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

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Know What New Regulations Will Impact Your Construction Business?
Learn How to Prepare at the Federal Contractors Conference
 

Leading federal construction law attorneys will provide an in-depth discussion on a host of new and pending executive orders, regulations and case law that will impact your construction business at the Federal Contractors Conference, held May 9-11 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. Register today!

One of many sessions addressing the latest information on federal construction contracting, the “federal Contracting—What You Need to Know” session will include insight on how your company can prepare for the Blacklisting and Paid Sick Leave Executive Orders, the Small Business Administration’s mentor protégé program expansion to all small businesses, CPARS evaluation issues, false claims, bid protests and claim resolutions. Attendees will hear from the top attorneys with the construction law firm of Smith Currie and Hancock—with decades of experience among them—including S. Gregory Joy, Stephen J. Kelleher, Steven L. Reed, Harry Z. ("Zack") Rippeon, Alan I. Saltman, Brian S. Wood and Eric L. Nelson.

In addition to this session, attendees will have an opportunity to discuss the latest issues with leaders of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Naval Facility Engineering Command, Air Force Civil Engineer Center, General Services Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of State, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Bureau of Reclamation.

For more information click here Federal Contractors Conference, or contact Jimmy Christianson at 703-837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org Return to Top

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BUDGET
House Committee Moves FY 17 Budget Resolution
 

This week, House Budget Committee approved a fiscal year 2017 budget resolution by a 20-16 vote.  Republicans on the Budget Committee say their $3.9 trillion plan would reduce deficits by $7 trillion over 10 years, without increasing taxes, by cutting $6.5 trillion in government spending.  The budget maintains the $1.07 trillion cap for discretionary spending in fiscal year 2017 that was set in last year’s bipartisan budget agreement – a level opposed by members of the House Freedom Caucus who want greater reductions in discretionary spending. Interestingly the Freedom Caucus opposition may lead to a continuing resolution that will result in a defense spending cut of more than $2 billion.

The budget also sets several policy priorities, including language that calls for devolving federal transportation programs to state and local governments and aligning Highway Trust Fund spending to revenue coming into the fund.  In addition, the budget eliminates subsidies for Amtrak and the TIGER grant program.  Most of these positions are consistent with previous House Republican budgets; however, they are unlikely to ever see the light of day.  In fact, the previous Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.)  – who is now Speaker of the House – fully-supported and was integral in getting the FAST Act signed into law, but included similar policies in his budgets as chairman. AGC and our coalition partners have been successful fighting off these types of cuts for years.

The budget may be on the House floor for a vote next week if Republican leaders can round up the votes necessary to pass it.  This may prove difficult considering the universal opposition from Democrats and the problems with the conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus.

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

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TAX
Chairman Brady Calls Tax Reform a Priority
 

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) addressed AGC’s Highway and Transportation Division during AGC’s 97th Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas. Chairman Brady’s committee is responsible for tax issues in the House including Highway Trust Fund motor fuel tax revenue. He said he was pleased that Congress was able to find sufficient revenue last year to fund the FAST Act for the next five years but he believes we need to get back to a user fee-based revenue source. He reported that transportation committee chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) is organizing a summit of key House members and outside stakeholders to discuss the best route to a long-term, sustainable solution.

Rep. Brady also reported that tax reform is a top priority for him and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc). He is looking to make the tax code pro-growth, noting that it is currently too costly, too complex, and unfair. He said the six principles he will follow in tax reform are:

  • Make the code fair, flatter
  • Small businesses should not pay higher rates than big businesses
  • Close deductions, exemptions and loopholes to allow for lower rates
  • Must be competitive around the world with rates in other countries.
  • Must not be used to bail out Washington’s spending problem.

He said that comprehensive tax reform historically happens only once in a generation. Since the last reform was in 1986, the time to get it done is now. He noted that politically it will be difficult to pass, so will be a bipartisan effort.

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

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TRANSPORTATION
Senate Moves Forward on FAA Reauthorization
House and Senate Pass Competing Extensions
 

This week, the Senate Commerce Committee passed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2016. The nearly two-year authorization provides a $400 million increase in 2017 for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) but does not lift the volume cap on the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) program.  The AIP and PFC are the main funding and financing mechanisms for airport and runway infrastructure projects.  Prior to the committee’s consideration, AGC sent a letter supporting the increase in the AIP and asking for the Senate to consider an increase in the PFC as the legislative process moves forward.

The bill – which enjoyed bipartisan support – did not include privatization of the nation’s air traffic control operations.  In addition, it also went a bit further than the House in terms of reforms to policy dealing with drones.  Specifically, the Senate bill would mandate the FAA create risk-based, consensus industry standards for drones, including a streamlined certification process for smaller drones.  The bill would also reauthorize and expand exemption authority for FAA to authorize operations in the national airspace – it also makes explicit the FAA has the authority to approve nighttime and beyond-line-of-sight operations (a position supported by AGC).

Earlier this week, the House passed a three and a half-month extension of the current FAA authorization and related aviation taxes for one year.  The Senate opposed the tax piece of the House extension and passed their own four-month extension of the current authorization and related taxes.  The Senate has adjourned until April 4, so with the current extension expiring on March 31, the House must either pass the Senate bill or risk a lapse in FAA programs.

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

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The Highway Trust Fund: Still Under Construction
Deliver the Message at the TCC Fly-In
 

The Transportation Construction Coalition’s (TCC) 2016 Legislative Fly-In is scheduled for May 10-11, 2016. While the FAST provides a steady source of funding over the next five years for highway and transit programs, the legislation did not solve the long-term Highway Trust Fund revenue problem. At the expiration of the FAST Act in FY 2020, significant new revenue will be needed just to maintain current funding levels. Your Senators and Representative need to understand that they need to get started on fixing the transportation infrastructure investment shortfall we are facing now and into the future.

The AGC and TCC briefings will be held at the conveniently located Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill. A block of rooms has been reserved there for the nights of May 9-11. The hotel typically sells out quickly so don’t delay in making your reservations.

For more information and to register for the event, please click here. Return to Top

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2016 ELECTIONS
Trump & Clinton Win Big. Kasich Survives.
 

On Tuesday, Donald Trump easily won the Florida winner-take-all primary, and in such a landslide (66 of 67 counties) that Florida Senator Marco Rubio was forced to suspend his campaign. Winning Florida entitles Trump to the state’s 99 delegate votes. Mr. Trump also placed first in North Carolina and Illinois, which will add to his delegate totals. Since those two states have no vote threshold requirement, all candidates, including Rubio, added to their delegate totals. Mr. Trump fought Sen. Ted Cruz to a virtual draw in Missouri, leading by less than 2,000 votes statewide, but due to the congressional district winner-take-all system the state employs his actual delegate take may be as high as 34-15.

In Ohio Governor John Kasich notched an 11-point victory over frontrunner Trump. Therefore, Kasich captures Ohio’s 66 winner-take-all delegates. Currently, Trump has about 660 pledged delegates, while Sen. Cruz, his closest competitor, trails by more than 200 delegates. The question remains, however, whether or not Trump can get to the 1,237 votes needed to win the nomination. Coming up short in Ohio last night likely portends a similar national outcome, which would result in the first contested, or broker, Republican convention since 1940.

On the Democratic front, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may have delivered the political knockout punch that she has needed to put the nomination battle to bed. Winning the Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Illinois primaries will increase her already substantial delegate lead, thus beginning to put her in sight of the 2,383 convention votes needed to win the nomination. For his part, Sen. Bernie Sanders only outpolled Ms. Clinton in Missouri.

The next round of presidential voting takes place on:

  • March 22: Arizona primary, Idaho Democratic caucuses, and Utah caucuses
  • March 26: Alaska Democratic caucuses, Hawaii Democratic caucuses, and Washington Democratic caucuses
  • April 5: Wisconsin primary

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

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