Construction Legislative Week In Review
From the Congressional Relations Staff
June 24, 1999
Volume 4, Issue 25

The Associated
General Contractors
of America
333 John Carlyle Street
Suite 200
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 548-3118
(703) 837-5404 fax

Jeffrey D. Shoaf
Executive Director
Congressional Relations

Joan Huntley LaVor

Peter Loughlin
Construction Markets

Loren E. Sweatt
Procurement and

Phil Thoden
Tax & Fiscal Affairs

Patrick Wilson
Human Resources & Labor
Workforce Committee Sends Ergonomics Bill to Full House

"Blunt praises AGC members for their strong support."

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved (23-18) the Workforce Preservation Act of 1999 (H.R. 987), without amendment. This clears the way for consideration by the full House of Representatives later this year. The billís sponsor, Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, praised the hard work and consistent efforts of AGC members in helping to secure the more than 155 Republican and Democratic House co-sponsors. This important legislation would prevent the OSHA from imposing a comprehensive ergonomics regulation until the completion of a National Academy of Sciences study on ergonomics injuries in the workplace. This study would provide an accurate assessment of which injuries could be prevented with an ergonomics regulation. OSHA has decided to ignore the will of the Congress and rush ahead with this broad and burdensome standard.

OSHA continues to argue, without specific science, that these changes will not be costly or burdensome. The Small Business Administrationís Office of Small Business Advocacy disagrees. These new regulations could lead to job losses, reduced productivity and perhaps even unexpected injuries caused by new work practices.

In short, this OSHA proposal will undermine the safety and health of workers by forcing contractors to spend limited time and resources on paperwork, recordkeeping, and other compliance costs that will result from this Washington-knows-best approach. Contact your Representative and Senators (202/225-3121), urge them to oppose this new federal mandate and work with Representative Blunt to force OSHA to at least wait until this congressionally-commissioned study is complete.

FHWA Issues Final Guidance: On June 18, 1999, FHWA issued final guidance negotiated with the Environmental Defense Fund and the Environmental Protection Agency as to how conformity will be addressed in the wake of a recent DC Circuit Court decision. The court vacated EPAís "grandfather clause" preventing previously approved projects from going forward if the state submitted a later plan that did not meet air quality standards or "conformity." The guidance states that during a conformity lapse: Projects can go forward if the project began construction before the lapse, or a right of way offer had been made prior to the lapse; No new projects can begin during the lapse; Design activities will be given a 40-day notice to stop work; and, states must submit a new conformity plan.

House Approves FY 2000 Transportation Appropriations: By a vote of 429-3, the House approved the Fiscal Year 2000 Transportation Appropriations bill. The bill provides $29 billion for the highway program, including $27.7 billion for the core program. Highway funding is increased by over $2 billion from this year and the "firewalls" established in TEA-21 are working. The Airport Improvement Program (AIP) is funded at $2.25 billion, which is an increase of $300 million over this year. The Senate may take up its bill next week or shortly after the July 4th recess.

AGC Tax Committee Lobbies Congress on the Death Tax: Members of the AGC Tax and Fiscal Affairs Committee descended on Capitol Hill today to urge Congress to "Demolish the Death Tax". AGC members heard from Senator John Kyl, who is currently circulating a letter to his colleagues that calls on Majority Leader Trent Lott and Finance Committee Chairman Bill Roth to include his death tax elimination bill, S. 1128 in the GOP tax package. S. 1128 fully and immediately eliminated the death tax but requires payment of capital gains taxes using the original cost basis when inherited assets are sold. This bill now has bipartisan support.

Managed Care Reform Heats Up in Senate: Senate Democrats this week carried out their threat to try to add their Patientsí Bill of Rights Act (S.6) to any bill considered on the Senate floor. Though unsuccessful, the Democrats intend to try again unless an agreement can be reached with the GOP over Senate debate on the bill. AGC sent a letter to the full Senate opposing S. 6, as its mandates will increase health care premiums.

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