December 13, 2007
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APPROPRIATIONS
Facing Deadline, Congress Attempts to Finish Spending Bills
TAX ISSUES
House and Senate Continue to Jockey on AMT
TERRORISM RISK INSURANCE ACT
AGC Pushes for Terrorism Risk Insurance Act Reauthorization
SMALL BUSINESS
House Small Business Committee Tackles Regulatory Reform
ENVIRONMENTAL
AGC Weighs in on Green House Gas Provision in Pending Energy Bill
AGC Submits Comments to Senate Committee on Federal Wetlands Jurisdiction
AGC PAC
AGC Gets Out the Special Election Vote
PIPELINE SAFETY
AGC Participates in State One-Call Guidance and Grants Award Process

  Facing Deadline, Congress Attempts to Finish Spending Bills

House and Senate Democrats this week agreed on a plan to complete the remaining 11 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2008 prior to the end of the calendar year.  Under the plan, Congress would combine all of the pending measures in an “Omnibus” appropriations bill that would generally comply with President Bush’s spending limits.  The administration has threatened to veto nearly every spending bill to come up for a vote for excessive spending or for other policy reasons. 

The current fiscal year began on October 1, 2007, without any appropriations bill having been signed into law.  With the exception of the Department of Defense, the remainder of the federal government has been operating under a continuing resolution due to expire Friday.  Congress is expected to pass another continuing resolution through December 21 with the hope that it will provide enough time to enact the Omnibus.  Despite concessions by Democrats, it remains uncertain whether the President will sign the bill.

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

  House and Senate Continue to Jockey on AMT

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. Estimates put this increase as high as $2000 per taxpayer.

Last week, the Senate passed legislation to stall the impact, but didn’t “pay for” the tax change.  On Wednesday, the House volleyed back with a fix that included payfors—legislation the Senate Republicans have threatened to filibuster because they don’t agree fixing the AMT should result in tax increases on others. 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 ]

  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. The House is currently working on a revised bill that would more closely mirror the Senate bill, but a final agreement has not been made yet.  With a hard deadline looming, it is most likely that the Senate bill will be the agreed upon vehicle to continue the program.

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 ]

  House Small Business Committee Tackles Regulatory Reform

Today, the House Small Business Committee approved bipartisan legislation (H.R. 4458) to improve the Regulatory Flexibility Act.  The legislation is designed to reduce the existing regulatory burden on small business; require agencies to consider the true economic impacts of their regulations on small businesses; and improve agency compliance with existing law. 

AGC supports this legislation as a means of encouraging Federal regulators to realistically consider the effect of the rulemaking process on small firms.
 
For more information, please contact Marco Giamberardino at giamberm@agc.org or (703) 837-5325. [ return to top ]

  AGC Weighs in on Green House Gas Provision in Pending Energy Bill

This week, AGC signed a coalition letter from trade associations calling on Congress to exempt green house gas emissions, including carbon dioxide (CO2) from a time consuming and costly Clean Air Act permit process in the pending Energy bill (H.R. 6).  The fix is necessary to prevent construction from coming to a halt.

Should CO2 be deemed regulated under the act, no new or existing “major” stationary source of CO2 can be built or modified (if the modification increases net emissions) without first obtaining a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit.  Major sources include most large buildings heated by furnaces using fossil fuels or buildings of any size using natural gas in commercial kitchens.  Current PSD permits can cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars and take years to obtain.  Furthermore, permittees are required to install best available control technology, which is determined on a case-by-case basis at the state level and can take 12-18 months.

The Senate today, by one vote, failed to end a filibuster; the Senate will now rewrite the legislation to address concerns with the bill. 

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

  AGC Submits Comments to Senate Committee on Federal Wetlands Jurisdiction

On Thursday, AGC submitted detailed comments to be included in the record of a hearing conducted by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Clean Water Act jurisdiction following the recent U.S. Supreme Court cases on the issue.  Legislation, the so-called Clean Water Restoration Act (H.R. 2421/S. 1870), has been introduced in the House and Senate that would greatly expand the federal government’s authority to regulate construction activities in waters and wetlands by removing the term “navigable” from the Act.

In its statement, AGC stated its strong opposition to the bill and encouraged the Administration to undertake and Congress to oversee a common sense rulemaking that would establish readily identifiable limits to federal jurisdiction over waters and wetlands.  AGC believes that a rulemaking is the best way to provide the clarity both the regulatory agencies and the regulated community seek.

AGC submitted similar comments to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee following its hearing on the issue in July.

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

  AGC Gets Out the Special Election Vote

Special elections were held Tuesday in Virginia’s 1st Congressional District and the 5th Congressional District of Ohio. AGC alerted members to the election and provided information about polling locations. 

While Republican candidates won out in each election, both faced more opposition than expected as the parties pour in hundreds of thousands of dollars and pundits looked to prophesize about potential results of the 2008 elections. 
 
With support from AGC’s federal political action committee (AGC PAC), state lawmaker Bob Latta won the Ohio-5 special and will complete the term of U.S. Rep. Paul Gillmor who passed away in September.  In Virginia, state House of Delegates member Rob Wittman, was victorious and fills the vacancy left by four-term Republican Rep. Jo Ann Davis who passed away in October.
 
For information regarding upcoming special elections or AGC’s Get-Out-The-Vote program, please contact Elisa Brewer at (202) 547-5013 or brewere@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  AGC Participates in State One-Call Guidance and Grants Award Process

AGC is developing guidance for the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to make grants to state one-call programs.

State programs will be judged by the Nine Elements of a Successful One-Call Program which are outlined in the AGC-backed Pipeline Safety Act reauthorization from last Congress. 

PHMSA has requested that AGC participate in the review of the programs that are being considered for funding.  These initiatives will encourage states to improve their programs and ensure that contractors involved in incidents are not judged at higher enforcement standards than any other stakeholder to the one-call process. 

For more information, contact Stu Megaw at (703) 837-5321 or megaws@agc.org.   


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