March 13, 2008
Email the Editor
Home Page
. Search back issues
. Forward to a Friend
.
. Subscribe/Unsubscribe
Printer Friendly
INFRASTRUCTURE
Senate Doubles Funding for Ready-To-Go Infrastructure Projects, May Boost Water Infrastructure Funding
IMMIGRATION
GOP Forces Action on AGC-Opposed Electronic Employment Verification Mandate Bill
BUDGET
House and Senate Debate Income and Estate Taxes on Budget Resolution
TAXES
Finance Committee Holds Estate Tax Hearing
MUNICIPAL
Pipeline Safety Official Asks for AGC Assistance

  Senate Doubles Funding for Ready-To-Go Infrastructure Projects, May Boost Water Infrastructure Funding
By voice vote the Senate today approved an amendment offered by Senator Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) to the Senate budget resolution for fiscal year 2009, adding $3.5 billion in spending in fiscal year 2008 for ready-to-go transportation projects.  The amendment brings the total amount of spending for ready-to-go infrastructure projects to a total of $7 billion.

The Senate may also approve an amendment today or Friday offered by Senators Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio) that would add nearly $500 million in spending for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund program.  If passed, the amendment would increase funding for the program to $1.35 billion for fiscal year 2009.

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

  GOP Forces Action on AGC-Opposed Electronic Employment Verification Mandate Bill
This week, the House Republicans used a parliamentary procedure known as a discharge petition to force action on legislation that AGC strongly opposes.  If enough Representatives sign the discharge petition, the legislation will be brought directly to the House floor for a vote with limited ability to change the bill. 

The legislation, the Secure America through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act, is an immigration border and enforcement bill that was introduced at the end of last year by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.).   While AGC supports efforts to strengthen our borders, the employer enforcement and electronic verification system provisions mandated in the bill concern AGC.  The bill would mandate the use of E-Verify (formerly called Basic Pilot) for all employers to use on both current employees and new hires.  Large employers and federal contractors would have to use the program immediately upon enactment of the legislation; medium and smaller employers would phase in to the system within four years. 
 
There is very limited liability protection for employers who make hiring and firing decisions based on the results of this system and there are no database improvement benchmarks for the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration to reach before this program expands to millions of employers.  There is no federal preemption in the bill to end the growing patchwork of state and local laws being passed around the country. 
 
House Republican Leadership claims to realize the problems with the SAVE Act, but are using the discharge petition for political purposes. The tactic they have chosen, should it succeed, would provide little chance to address AGC concerns. 
 
For more information, contact Kelly Knott at knottk@agc.org or (202) 547-4685. [ return to top ]

  House and Senate Debate Income and Estate Taxes on Budget Resolution
Both the House and Senate this week considered their respective non-binding budget resolutions, addressing income taxes, estate taxes and the alternative minimum tax.  Under both resolutions, the 2001 Bush tax cuts are not extended, which Republicans argue would result in a tax hike in 2011 for the majority of taxpayers.  Democrats in both chambers claim that their plans help low and middle class taxpayers by instead the lowest 10% tax rate.

In the House, the budget attempts to find revenue from other sources to pay for a one year AMT patch to ensure this tax does not affect more people in 2008 than it did in 2007.  The Senate, meanwhile, lacks the votes necessary to pay for the AMT patch and instead does not address the issue.  The AMT patch will need to be voted on before the 2008 filing season.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) offered an amendment in the Senate which would permanently extend the 10% tax rate, extend the increased refundable child tax credit and the marriage penalty tax relief, plus modify the estate tax law to make permanent the 2009 rate of 45% over a $3.5 million exemption.  Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) offered an amendment that would extend the 2001 Bush cuts, the lowered capital gains and dividends rates, and make permanent a $5 million estate tax exemption with a 35 percent tax rate.  While the Baucus amendment passed last year, Congress did not act on it, and is not expected to this year.

For more information, contact Heidi Blumenthal at (202) 547-8892 or blumenth@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  Finance Committee Holds Estate Tax Hearing
The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday held a hearing on the merits of the estate tax versus an inheritance tax. An inheritance tax is a tax based on the amount of a gift or bequest.  It is distinct from an estate tax in that the individual who receives the gift is taxed rather than the estate of the deceased. Nevertheless, when a family-owned business is left for the beneficiaries, they may still have to pay off the capital assets of the business to pay the tax.

While Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) continues to press for permanent repeal of the death tax, he noted that the Senate remains short of the 60 votes necessary.  AGC continues to push for permanent fundamental reform so that families and businesses can be assured of their ability to plan.

For more information, contact Heidi Blumenthal at (202) 547-8892 or blumenth@agc.org.
[ return to top ]

  Pipeline Safety Official Asks for AGC Assistance
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) Associate Administrator James Wiggins traveled to Las Vegas to ask AGC’s Municipal & Utilities Division to assist PHMSA in improving state one-call programs by providing contacts in the states themselves. 

AGC successfully included equitable enforcement among all stakeholders to the one-call process, which is also a central component in the AGC-backed Nine Elements of a successful one-call program featured in the Pipeline Safety Act reauthorization.  AGC then provided expertise in crafting guidance to PHMSA in making federal grants to one-call systems as a Founder in the Excavation Damage Prevention Initiative (EDPI).  PHMSA has also asked AGC to assist in judging submissions for those federal grants. 

To learn more about AGC’s safety and damage prevention initiatives or to learn how to get involved, contact Stu Megaw at (703) 837-5321 or megaws@agc.org.
[ return to top ]