June 5, 2008
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Presidential Contest Narrows to Two AGC Releases First Version of Candidate Comparison
TRANSPORTATION
Senate Begins Consideration of Climate Change Legislation; Set to Delay Further Action
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC Provides Corps Assistance on WRDA Implementation
House Passes School Construction Bill
Sens. Obama and Coburn Introduce Act to Provide More Federal Contracting Information Online
SMALL BUSINESS
SBA to Attempt Size Standards Revision
Senate Finance Considers Small Business in Advance of Tax Reform

  Presidential Contest Narrows to Two AGC Releases First Version of Candidate Comparison
The Presidential primaries concluded this week and the campaign for the White House between Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has begun. The outcome of the November election in 151 days will have a tremendous impact on public policy for the next four years.  Candidates have begun outlining their immigration, tax, infrastructure, labor, safety, tort reform, energy, health care and trade policy. 

On November 4th you will be given the democratic opportunity to make an individual decision on the candidate which best represents your ideals.  AGC has compiled a Presidential Candidate Comparison on AGC’s Legislative Priorities based on information obtained from the candidate’s websites, speeches, debates and internet research.  AGC hopes you will take the time to review the candidate’s positions as they relate to the construction industry and your personal beliefs.  AGC will update the Presidential Candidate Comparison as new issues and positions become apparent.

Additionally, AGC has provided everything you need to know about the 2008 elections including the candidate field, voter registration deadlines, election guides, results from previous elections and ideas on how to become politically active at www.agc.org/vote.
 
For more information contact Jim Young at youngj@agc.org or (202) 547-0133. [ return to top ]

  Senate Begins Consideration of Climate Change Legislation; Set to Delay Further Action
The Senate this week began consideration of legislation to regulate greenhouse gas emissions through a cap and trade regulatory program.  Following several hours of debate, including a delay tactic requiring the Senate clerks to read the entire 500-page bill over a nine-hour period, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed a cloture petition to end debate on the measure, effectively blocking unfriendly amendments from being offered to the bill.  The vote on the petition is expected to fail Friday, after which the bill will likely be pulled from further consideration this session of Congress.

AGC this week sent a letter to all Senators in opposition to a provision in the bill that would have required new and unprecedented federal oversight of states’ transportation plans.  At question is whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should be given the authority to approve states’ transportation plans in order for a state to access any of the $171 billion made available under the bill for public transportation, rail, and other transportation-related projects designed to reduce vehicle miles traveled. 

AGC, along with the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC), also sent a letter to all Senators this week in support of an amendment filed by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) to dedicate 40 percent of the transportation-related funds to congestion relief projects, including new road and bridge capacity projects.  AGC believes significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved through improvements to the nation’s most severely congested bottlenecks. 

Although debate on climate change legislation has likely concluded for the remainder of 2008, AGC will continue to analyze the impact of legislative and regulatory efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the construction community for when the debate resumes.

For more information, contact Karen Bachman at bachmank@agc.org or (202) 547-4733.
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  AGC Provides Corps Assistance on WRDA Implementation
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Thursday hosted an all-day public meeting to hear suggestions for proposed revisions to the agency's "Principles and Guidelines." The Principles and Guidelines are used to prescribe the process the agency uses during project planning. As required by the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 (Pub. L. 110-114), the Secretary of the Army is required to revise the ''Economic and Environmental Principles and Guidelines for Water and Related Land Resources Implementation Studies,'' which was last updated on March 10, 1983.

The current Principles and Guidelines focus solely on a single “federal’ objective – maximizing net national economic development benefits. AGC submitted suggestions for revision, stating that in order to reflect the intent of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 and recent USACE practice aimed at sustainable development, the revised Principles and Guidelines should return to the emphasis of multiple national objectives that include public safety, environmental quality, economic development, collaborative planning and implementation, and other social effects.

For more information, contact Marco Giamberardino at giamberardinom@agc.org or (703) 837-5325.
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  House Passes School Construction Bill
The House approved Wednesday H.R. 3021, the "21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act," by a vote of 250-164.

The bill would create a program to distribute up to $6.4 billion in grants and low-interest loans in 2009 to local educational agencies (LEAs) for the construction, modernization or repair of public kindergarten, elementary and secondary educational facilities. The measure also encourages LEAs to encourage these renovations to be LEED and Energy Star compliant and contains a provision that requires all laborers and mechanics be paid wages at rates not less than the prevailing rate.

The White House opposes the legislation because it believes the role of the federal government should not be expanded to fund school modernization and repair projects. It believes that responsibility rests with state and local governments, and should remain there. AGC will continue to track this legislation as it is prepared for possible Senate consideration.

For more information, contact Marco Giamberardino at giamberardinom@agc.org or (703) 837-5325.
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  Sens. Obama and Coburn Introduce Act to Provide More Federal Contracting Information Online
On Thursday, Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) introduced the "Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in Federal Spending Act of 2008" (S.3077), which would expand the information available on USASpending.gov, and make that data more accessible and readable.

USASpending.gov, which was created by the Coburn-Obama Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 and launched in December 2007, makes public information about nearly all federal grants, contracts, loans and other financial assistance available in a regularly updated and searchable format. Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are original cosponsors of this legislation.

The new legislation would allow USASpending.gov visitors to view copies of federal contracts, as well as information about competitive bidding, earmarks, government lease agreements, work quality, federal audit disputes, any violations or criminal activities, federal tax compliance and government reports.
 
Today, USASpending.gov tracks approximately $1 trillion in federal grants, contracts, earmarks and loans, provides real-time updates of data concerning federal spending, gives users an opportunity to post comments and provide feedback, and displays spending data according to contractor, grantee, and congressional district.
 
For more information, contact Marco Giamberardino at giamberardinom@agc.org or (703) 837-5325. [ return to top ]

  SBA to Attempt Size Standards Revision
On Tuesday, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) held a public meeting to announce that the agency is beginning a comprehensive review of all its small business size standards. The agency is expecting this process to take approximately two years to complete.

The agency last attempted to complete a major revision in 2004, but received overwhelming opposition against its proposed rulemaking to revise the standards and pulled the proposal. The current size standard for the construction industry is $31 million. All federal agencies use, and many state and local entities reference, the size standards established by SBA for the purpose of set-aside procurements and contract awards to small firms.

For more information, contact Marco Giamberardino at giamberardinom@agc.org or (703) 837-5325. [ return to top ]

  Senate Finance Considers Small Business in Advance of Tax Reform
The Senate tax writing committee on Thursday attempted to hold a hearing on the tax treatment of small businesses, but the hearing ultimately became a discussion of ownership options.  Senators and witnesses discussed the differences between the tax treatment of “S” corporation and other pass through entities who file their taxes on the individual level, versus “C” corporations who file at the corporate level.

While the hearing was intended to ensure small business was treated fairly during the consideration of tax reform, witnesses focused on the fact that “C” corporations faced double taxation of income because they not only paid a corporate tax, but also were taxed on dividends given to shareholders.  “S” corporations and partnerships, on the other hand, only faced one level of taxation at the individual level.  Witnesses asked Senators to consider this double taxation during reform and encouraged more parity between the two forms of ownership.  Sixty percent of businesses in the construction industry are pass through corporations, with the remaining 40 percent “C” corporations.  AGC is working to encourage low corporate rates on all corporations in order to encourage greater investment, flexibility in hiring, and the growth of the industry.

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