Volume 4 -- Issue 45 -- December 6, 2007
Email the Editor
Home Page
. Search back issues
. Forward to a Friend
.
. Subscribe/Unsubscribe
Printer Friendly
IMMIGRATION
AGC Works to Prevent Harmful Immigration Enforcement and Border Bill
INSURANCE
AGC Pushes for Terrorism Risk Insurance Act Reauthorization
TAXES
Senate Gridlock Stalls AMT “Patch” Complicating Tax Filing
ENERGY
House Passes Energy Bill, Increases Fuel Economy Standards
CONGRESS
Time Running Out for Spending Deal

  AGC Works to Prevent Harmful Immigration Enforcement and Border Bill

In November, Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), and Senators Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) introduced legislation to strengthen the border, increase enforcement and mandate an electronic employer verification system. AGC strongly opposes this legislation, which mandates a program with a high error rate that lacks sufficient liability protections for employers.

The Secure America through Verification and Enforcement Act (SAVE Act) mandates all employers use E-Verify (formally called Basic Pilot) for both current employees as well as new hires.  Large employers and federal contractors would have to use the program immediately, while the rest phase in within four years.  The bill requires the Social Security Administration (SSA) to issue letters to any employer with one or more employees with a “no-match” and give only ten days to reconcile.  Finally, it allows information sharing between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Internal Revenue Service and SSA.  The legislation already has 120 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.
 
Click here to read AGC’s letter to Congress.  
 
For more information, contact Kelly Knott at knottk@agc.org or (202) 547-4685. [ return to top ]

  AGC Pushes for Terrorism Risk Insurance Act Reauthorization

The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) program expires December 31, 2007. 

This program was created after the 9/11 attacks when terrorism insurance was either unavailable or offered but prohibitively expensive.  TRIA creates a federal backstop which, should another terrorist attack occur, would cover the costs resulting from the attack once a certain monetary threshold was met. This provides the ability for coverage to be offered at a reasonable amount.

Both the House and the Senate passed different bills reauthorizing the program, but still need to compromise on a final bill. The Senate bill reauthorizes the program for seven years, while the House bill extends the program for 15 years.  In addition, the Senate omits language requiring carriers to make available coverage for a nuclear, biological, chemical or radiological attack. 

AGC will continue to push action on this legislation.

For more information, contact Kelly Knott at knottk@agc.org or (202) 547-4685. [ return to top ]

  Senate Gridlock Stalls AMT “Patch” Complicating Tax Filing

The harsh reality of the alternative minimum tax (AMT) continues to loom over middle class Americans and AGC “pass-thru” company owners who pay business taxes on their individual forms. The AMT limits the deductions and exemptions available to a taxpayer, once a certain income threshold is hit, resulting in higher taxes. 

The AMT is scheduled to hit 25 million unsuspecting taxpayers this year, unless Congress compromises to provide a one-year temporary fix to avoid this higher tax. 

While both parties agree something must be done, the Senate Thursday failed to move forward with debate, and refused an agreement to debate a one-year fix.  AGC continues to advocate for a one year fix to avoid onerous tax increases on construction businesses.
 
For more information, contact Heidi Blumenthal at blumenthalh@agc.org or ( 202) 547-8892. [ return to top ]

  House Passes Energy Bill, Increases Fuel Economy Standards

The House Thursday voted to pass H.R. 6, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.  The measure would increase Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and light trucks, and provide for new energy efficiency and conservation standards, among other things.

The bill requires an increase annually in CAFE standards from 27.5 mpg to 35 mpg by 2020, which is estimated to cost the Highway Trust Fund $2.1 billion in lost revenue due to less fuel consumption over the next decade.  While the bill would offset the $2.1 billion loss, the additional revenue raised by those offsets would be deposited into the General Fund rather than the Highway Trust Fund.  The Highway Trust Fund is currently projected to run a deficit in fiscal year 2009.  If no additional revenues are found to reverse this course, federal highway funding may be reduced by as much as 40 percent nationwide. 

The bill would also require the federal government to study and implement fuel economy standards for work trucks within three years.

The legislation also includes a number of provisions to provide for new energy efficiency and conservation standards in buildings, including a 30 percent reduction in energy consumption at all federal buildings by 2015, and creation of an Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings within the General Services Administration.  In addition, the bill would establish an Office of Commercial High-Performance Green Buildings tasked with reducing the quantity of energy consumed by commercial buildings and achieving the development of “zero net energy” commercial buildings.

H.R. 6 passed by a vote of 235 to 181, a margin insufficient to override a potential presidential veto on the bill.  The Senate is expected to take up the measure shortly.

For more information, contact Karen Bachman at bachmank@agc.org or (202) 547-4733. [ return to top ]

  Time Running Out for Spending Deal

Congress is running out of time to complete work on the fiscal year 2008 appropriations process prior to the end of the calendar year.  Congress has completed work on only one of the 12 annual appropriations bills, and the federal government is currently operating under a continuing resolution set to expire on December 14.  The White House has threatened to veto nearly every individual spending bill to be considered by either the House or the Senate for reasons of excessive spending or other policy concerns. 

Appropriators in both chambers are negotiating a possible scenario where they would split the difference between their recommendation and the President’s top line number and combine all of the remaining 11 measures into an Omnibus spending bill. Under this scenario, Appropriators would have to identify approximately $10 billion in cuts, putting at risk proposed increases in federal construction accounts.  It is uncertain if Republicans would support or the White House would likewise threaten to veto a reduced Omnibus, which puts into question whether there is enough time for Congress to override a veto or enact a revised bill.  As a result, Congress may be forced to pass a long-term continuing resolution into next year despite the desire of Congressional leaders to avoid this scenario. 

For more information, contact Karen Bachman at bachmank@agc.org or (202) 547-4733. [ return to top ]