1. Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced a bipartisan reauthorization for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Unlike the House of Representatives’ controversial six-year proposal, the Senate measure runs through the end of FY 2017 and keeps the FAA’s air traffic control unit within the FAA. Most notably for the electrical construction industry, the Thune-Nelson bill would raise funding for the FAA’s construction grants account, the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) by $400 million, or 12 percent. It would not, however, raise the cap on passenger facility charges, another source of airport infrastructure funding.
NECA’s Look Ahead: Congress is expected to act on another short-term reauthorization measure before March 31st when the current FAA stopgap lapses. The path forward for a long-term proposal remains unclear given the significant difference between the House and Senate proposals.
2. NECA submitted a formal request to the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division for a 60-day extension to file regulatory comments to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking implementing President Obama’s Executive Order requiring federal contractors to provide their employees with up to 7 days of paid sick leave annually, including paid leave allowing for family care.
NECA’s Look Ahead: NECA will provide feedback at meetings to be held at both the U.S. Small Business Administration and the House Small Business Committee next week. Regulatory comments on the proposed rule are currently due by March 28, 2016. NECA is currently soliciting information from contractors and chapter managers with concerns about the proposed rule. If you have any feedback on how to respond to these new requirements, please let us know at NECAGovtAffairs@necanet.org.
3. The saga of the Senate’s energy bill continues to navigate the dangerous waters of Senatorial holds on the bill. This is a procedural move that allows a single Senator to literally “hold” up progress on a bill until a deal can be had on an issue they want addressed.
NECA’s Look Ahead: The latest Senator to play this game is Bill Nelson (D-FL), who placed a hold on the pending deal on the legislation over his objection to an amendment by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) that would expand revenue sharing for existing offshore drilling operations off the coasts of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alaska. The Senator is against this expansion, even though it does not apply to Florida. As reported last week, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) placed a hold on the bill, but that is expected to be resolved shortly.