Business groups and unions describe President Obama’s picks to fill the two vacant Democratic seats on the National Labor Relations Board as experienced labor attorneys on the union side. Unions are cheering Obama’s choices, announced on April 24, but business organizations are bracing for potential reversals of some Bush-era NLRB decisions. Craig Becker, associate general counsel to the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO, and Mark Pearce, a founding partner of the New York law firm Creighton, Pearce, Johnsen & Giroux, are expected to gain Senate confirmation. The third vacant board seat will be filled with a Republican, who
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) has put a “hold” on the nomination of Regina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air and Radiation. The Environment and Public Works Com- mittee cleared McCarthy’s nomi- nation on April 23, but Barrasso is concerned about her support for EPA’s recent finding that greenhouse gases may pose a public-health danger. The action blocks a floor vote on McCarthy.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) has added funds for Dept. of Defense hospitals to a 2009 supplemental spending bill. The $94.2-billion measure, which Obey’s panel was to take up on May 7, includes $3.2 billion for military construction, $900 million more than the White House sought. Obey says most of the boost is for hospital projects. The $3.2 billion also includes the $263 million that the White House requested to speed up hospital projects in Bethesda, Md., and Fort Belvoir in Virginia. Under DOD’s base-closure plans, those facilities would replace the current Walter Reed Army Medical Center in
Early congressional reviews of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act activity in core transportation sectors give agencies generally good marks, but lawmakers plan to keep a keen eye on stimulus spending as the flow increases. At recent House and Senate hearings, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said highway and transit sectors are showing the most progress. He also shed light on two big programs for which DOT hasn’t committed any money yet: $8 billion for high-speed rail and $1.5 billion for unspecified major projects. LaHood praised California’s rail plans and wants to fund work in several other corridors. He also said he’d
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) says he plans to soon unveil a new, multiyear surface transportation bill and predicts that it will move to the House floor in early June. Oberstar declined to disclose the amount of funding that the measure would authorize. An April 24 American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials-American Public Transportation Association report says highway capital spending by all government levels needs to reach $132 billion to $166 billion a year by 2015, depending on traffic growth. That compares with $78.7 billion spent in 2006. The report pegs annual transit capital
In an 8-1 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court on May 4 limited the legal reach of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, known as the Superfund law, in recovering cleanup costs from companies with possible links to pollution at sites. The high court said Shell Oil should not be held liable for contamination at an Arvin, Calif., site where it sold pesticides to a now-bankrupt chemical firm. Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens said liability under the relevant section of the Superfund law “does not extend beyond the limits of the statute itself.”
Some American Institute of Architects’ 2008 model contract documents for integrated project delivery are being challenged by at least one prominent lawyer who also is an architect and general counsel for a major A/E firm. The documents create a limited-liability company called a single-purpose entity (SPE). Do not use these model documents without “competent legal counsel review,” because they are “flawed,” says Bill Quatman, managing director for Burns & McDonnell Engineering Co., Kansas City. The single-purpose-entity agreement sets up a limited-liability company that contracts for design and construction. Under the SPE model, the owner has three managers, controlling the board.
On April 30 at its national convention in San Francisco, the American Institute of Architects released replacement construction manager documents and an updated version of AIA Contracts Documents software. The CM documents cover CM as advisor and CM as constructor. The CM documents replace those released in 2007 and 2008. They include dispute resolution check box that enables parties to select the method of binding dispute resolution. They incorporate the concept of an initial decision maker fill point where the owner and contractor may identify a third neutral party IDM other than the architect. The documents include digital data provisions
On April 27, the U.S. Green Building Council and the Green Building Certification Institute released LEED Version 3. The latest version of the green building rating system, in the works for more than three years, "sets the stage for the growth and improvement of the whole LEED program for the next several years," says Mike Optiz, USGBC's vice president for LEED implementation. The current release includes LEED 2009, LEED Online Version 3 and a new certification process based on ISO standards, administered by the GBCI. It also updates all the LEED categories at once. These include LEED for new construction,
After weeks of preparation, the Army Corps of Engineers has released its detailed plan of how it plans to spend the $4.6 billion the economic-stimulus measure provides for its civil-works program. The legislation, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, split the money into six categories. The largest shares are $2.1 billion for the Corps operations-and-maintenance account and $2 billion for the construction program. The new Corps list, released on April 28, covers 1,191 projects, including 892 operation- and-maintenance items and 178 in the construction account. “I’m very encouraged by what I see,” says John Doyle, Waterways Council Inc. vice president