Construction Legislative Week In Review
From the Congressional Relations Staff
March 11, 1999
Volume 4, Issue 10

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
House Committee Passes Aviation Bill

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today unanimously passed H.R. 1000, the Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR-21). AIR-21 is a five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Airport Improvement Program (AIP). The bill includes a 150% funding increase for aviation programs and takes the Aviation Trust Fund off-budget. No floor consideration is scheduled for either the House or Senate multi-year aviation bills. Last week, a Senate committee approved a two-month extension of the AIP, which expires on March 31, 1999. The House has passed a six-month extension of the AIP.

Court Ruling Could Block Highway Projects: The US Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Environmental Defense Fundís (EDF) challenge of a long-standing EPA conformity rule. EDF challenged a regulation that allowed highway projects to continue even if the area would no longer be in compliance with clean air standards. The projects could continue because they had been approved under prior clean air modeling. Without this so-called "grandfather clause" projects can be stopped until alternatives have been put in place to reach clean air goals. This ruling could directly impact legal action attempting to halt eighty-one highway construction projects in the Atlanta area. In related action, Senator Bond (R-MO) introduced, S. 495, a bill to amend the Clean Air Act to eliminate highway sanctions. Urge your Senators to cosponsor S. 495 by calling 202-224-3121.

Budget Outline Allows for a Tax Cut: Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee Pete Domenici (R-NM) and his House counterpart John Kasich (R-OH) have announced a broad framework for the FY2000 budget that would allow for a first-year tax cut of roughly $15 billion. Larger cuts of up to an estimated $900 billion over ten years could then begin in FY 2001, once the budget begins running an anticipated on-budget surplus that does not include funds earmarked for Social Security. Several GOP Senators known as the "tax rebels" have stated they intend to seek a larger tax cut for FY 2000. AGC continues to push for death tax relief as part of any tax-cut package.

Senate Democrats Push Managed Care Mandates: Senate Democrats this week promised to try to attach their Patientsí Bill of Rights (S. 6) to any bill considered on the Senate floor if the Republican leadership fails to schedule prompt floor debate on the issue. The biggest sticking point between Democrats and Republicans is again the question of expanding malpractice liability to healthcare plans and employers. Democrats are insisting on the right of patients to sue healthcare plans and employers, while Republicans are in favor of an external review process of plan decisions.

Jeffress Sees Quick Ergonomics Standard - Expects Completion by 2000: OSHA Administrator Charles Jeffress, speaking to reporters this week at an Applied Ergonomics Conference, indicated that the rule could be finalized by as early as January 2000. This would be nearly a year before a congressionally-mandated National Academy of Sciences study of ergonomics is complete. Last week, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) introduced H.R. 987, a bill designed to postpone the new regulation until the study is complete. Unless this legislation is enacted, the agency will proceed with the rulemaking on schedule.

Miller Act Bill Introduction: Introduction of the AGC-supported amendments to the Miller Act is expected tomorrow. The Construction Industry Payment Protection Act increases the payment bond to equal the value of the contract award, allows delivery of notice for nonpayment through any written, third-party service that can provide verification of receipt, and prohibits a contract from containing an advanced waiver of payment rights. AGC and 22 construction and surety trade associations agreed to these targeted reforms last week.

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