Constructor - January/February 2013 - (Page 15)
What Is Different When Nothing Is Different?
WITH PRES. OBAMA SET TO BEGIN a new term and Congress ready to reconvene with Republicans in control of the House and Democrats in control of the Senate, it is easy to wonder what, if anything, will be different in Washington this year. After all, the same people are in charge of the same parts of our government, and even if the exact numbers have changed slightly, neither party scored a big enough victory to truly claim a mandate for a new agenda or direction. Yet just because not much is different doesn’t mean things will stay the same in Washington next year. Indeed, the status quo election of 2012 is likely to produce a number of signiﬁcant changes out of Washington that will impact construction ﬁ rms across the country. By the time you read this, Congress and the administration will have – hopefully – come to some kind of a resolution to the “ﬁ scal cliff” that threatened massive tax increases for millions of employers and taxpayers. Likewise, Washington ofﬁcials will have likely decided by now whether to proceed with billions in across-the-board spending cuts to a host of federal programs as part of the “sequestration” process. Assuming – which is a stretch – whatever deal our federal leaders reached on tax and spending policies doesn’t require additional action in 2013, a host of other changes are in store for our industry this year. Those changes include implementing key parts of the health care “reform” law; a host of new federal labor and environmental regulations; and new measures ostensibly designed to boost our lagging economy. And while those changes present a number of important opportunities, they also pose signiﬁcant threats for our industry. The president’s re-election essentially guarantees that his signature health care reform measure will be implemented. While backers promise the measure will improve health care and access to it, there is no doubt that the measure will impose signiﬁcant new costs and regulatory burdens on ﬁ rms that employ 50 or more workers. And as the extent of those new burdens becomes even clearer, many employers will have to decide whether to continue providing coverage for their employees or to pay the “penalty” and not provide coverage. Even as ﬁ rms begin bracing for health care and insurance changes, they run the risk of seeing costly new regulatory burdens. With the election over, there is every reason to expect the administration to act on a number of rules that had been on hold because of their economic impact and lack of popular support. Those new measures include costly new storm water mandates that will force contractors to spend millions on measures to protect the Earth from dirt. The administration is also likely to move forward with its efforts to impose project labor agreements despite the lack of beneﬁt; force federal contractors to meet new hiring quotas despite the lack of data supporting the need for them; and impose new DBE mandates for highway and transit construction despite signiﬁcant ﬂ aws with the current program, among other measures.
BY STEPHEN E. SANDHERR AGC CEO
No matter how aggressive we are, how many visits with members of Congress we schedule or how much noise we make in the media, the bottom line is that our most effective lobbying resource is our membership.
J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3 | www.constructormagazine.com 15
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Constructor - January/February 2013
A SLOW CLIMB
HIGH HEELS AND HARD HATS
ACHIEVING NET ZERO TAKES TEAMWORK
SECURE THAT SITE
AGC IN ACTION
ACCELERATED BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION EARNS HAMILTON TOP HONORS
WHO ARE YOU? PART II
LOW IMPACT AT HIGH SPEED
BUILDING CONCRETE RELATIONSHIPS THROUGH BIM
MEMBER AND CHAPTER NEWS
LEGISLATIVE AND REGULATORY NEWS
2013 SERVICE & SUPPLY BUYERS’ GUIDE - A SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION
PRODUCTS & SERVICES MARKETPLACE
INDEX TO ADVERTISERS
Constructor - January/February 2013