September 11, 2008
Email the Editor
Home Page
. Search back issues
. Forward to a Friend
.
. Subscribe/Unsubscribe
Printer Friendly
TRANSPORTATION
House and Senate Pass Highway Trust Fund Fix
CONGRESS
AGC Urges Congress To Address Critical Economic Issues Before Election
ELECTIONS
McCain/Palin Get Convention Bounce
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Announces Leadership Changes
IMMIGRATION
Rising Construction Costs Contribute to More Delays in Border Fence
TAXES
Senate Tax Writing Chair Predicts AMT Passage, Introduces Energy Bill
SAFETY
AGC Co-Hosts Crane Safety Summit with Operating Engineers and McGraw-Hill's ENR
WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
AGC Sponsors Liquid Assets Debut in Washington, D.C.

  House and Senate Pass Highway Trust Fund Fix
On a voice vote Wednesday the Senate passed HR 6532, legislation transferring $8 billion from the general fund of the Treasury to the Highway Trust Fund. The transfer will prevent a shortfall in available funds from slowing down federal reimbursements to states for on-going federal-aid highway construction projects. The Senate amended the House bill to allow for the transfer to happen immediately rather than on October 1. The House passed the bill Thursday by a vote of 376-29, and the President is expected to sign it expeditiously.

This action caps off several days of intense negotiations in which three Republican Senators were seeking to offer amendments to the bill and were also requesting a roll call vote on the measure.

In an announcement last week, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters reported on the dire situation in HTF revenue which, if not remedied, will result in a slow down and reduction in payments to state DOTs. At that time she called on Congress to pass HR 6532. Numerous state DOTs announced that, if the full federal funds were not forthcoming, that they would be forced to cancel contract lettings, slow down work on ongoing projects and, in some cases, issue debt to make payments to contractors.

AGC Chapters and members responded to AGC of America's many pleas for contact with Congressional delegations on this legislation. Thank you for your help.

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

  AGC Urges Congress To Address Critical Economic Issues Before Election
On September 8, AGC urged the U.S. House and U.S. Senate to focus on six priority areas - those that will most impact the ability of AGC members to hire, manage their businesses and pay taxes into the future - in the waning weeks of the 110th Congress. The construction industry is suffering a drop in employment, especially in highway and transportation construction, where there has been a drop of more than 5% in the past year. The construction industry has also seen significant volatility in diesel/energy prices over the last five years.

AGC urged Congress to focus on the following top six priorities:

• Fixing the shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund, which passed the Senate Wednesday and the House on Thursday;
• Extending the authorization for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) into the 111th Congress;
• Finalizing appropriations for fiscal year 2009 and providing economic stimulus that creates jobs;
• Improving domestic energy security;
• Extending tax provisions; and
• Reauthorizing the E-Verify program.

To view a copy of the letter click here.

For more information, contact Jim Young at youngj@agc.org or (202) 547-0133. [ return to top ]

  McCain/Palin Get Convention Bounce
McCain/Palin received a post-convention bounce, leading in one poll this week by as much as ten points (USA Today/Gallup 9/5-9/7).  Average poll numbers produce a less dramatic but still significant change in direction for the GOP. Since the end of the Republican Convention, polls shows Sen. McCain leading 47.6 to 45.2; this is almost exactly the opposite of the averages following the Democratic Convention when Sen. Obama led by four points.

McCain is now faring better on the question of which candidate can best handle today’s economy, the topic that voters identify as their leading concern (about 43% of the time).  Following the Democratic Convention, Obama led McCain 55% to 36% on this issue, but the gap has narrowed to just a 3% lead for Obama (48% to 45%). The economy now outranks concerns about Iraq (15%), energy, including gas prices (14%) and healthcare (11%). 
 
Both candidates picked up ground with their favorability ratings as each ranks in the mid 50s. Gallup’s examination of the numbers shows that much of the McCain bounce has come from independents; 52% now support McCain, up from 40% prior to the GOP convention. Voters will continue to evaluate the candidates over the next 53 days and it may be weeks before independents firm up their choices. Experts predict that as many as 135 million votes will be cast for President in November, and the race is likely to stay close until Election Day.

For more information, contact Jim Young at youngj@agc.org or (202) 547-0133. [ return to top ]

  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Announces Leadership Changes
In the coming weeks, staff changes will take place at HQ USACE. Major General Don Riley, who was promoted to Deputy Commanding General earlier this year, left a vacancy in the Civil Works Directorate. Earlier this week, Lieutenant General Van Antwerp announced that Major General Bo Temple, the current Deputy Commanding General for Military and International Operations, will assume the position of Deputy Commanding General for Civil Works and Emergency Operations later this fall.

Brigadier General Jeffrey Dorko will become the Deputy Commanding General Military and International Operations upon his return from a highly successful term as Commander of the Gulf Region Division in Iraq. BG Dorko was the keynote speaker at the annual Marvin M. Black Excellence in Partnering Awards during the 2007 AGC Convention in San Antonio.

The changes are expected to take place beginning in October. AGC looks forward to its continued work with these two great leaders.
 
For more information, please contact Marco Giamberardino at giamberardinom@agc.org or (703) 837-5325. [ return to top ]

  Rising Construction Costs Contribute to More Delays in Border Fence
On Wednesday, September 10, the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on the efforts to build a fence along the country’s southern border.  The hearing mostly focused on the delays behind the building of the virtual fence, but briefly touched on the cost increases for the physical fence as well.

The Department of Homeland Security testified that the increased costs of construction materials was part of the reason for the fence building delays and asked Congress for more money for both the physical and virtual fence.   Since 2005, Congress has already appropriated over $2.5 billion for the fence project.  While most Members of Congress in attendance focused on the technical problems faced by the development of the virtual fence, it was another example of the affect of rising construction materials costs around the country.

AGC supports comprehensive immigration reform that includes strengthening our borders. 

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

  Senate Tax Writing Chair Predicts AMT Passage, Introduces Energy Bill
Earlier this week, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) predicted the Senate would pass legislation to halt the effects of the alternative minimum tax for one more year.  Congress must pass a “patch” each year to ensure that middle income Americans aren’t taxed at this much higher level.  Last year, the patch was not signed into law until just months before the April 15th tax filing date, leading to many complications for taxpayers.

At the same time, Chairman Baucus predicted that the so-called “extenders,” a group of tax cuts that are passed year by year, would not be agreed to this year and would have to be addressed by the next Congress.  This package includes the state sales tax deduction, brownfields deduction and leasehold improvement depreciation, all of which are supported by AGC.

Also this week, Chairman Baucus and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced tax legislation to spur energy production.  Included in their plan is an extension for credits for energy production from wind, solar, biofuels and carbon sources. The bill also attempts to improve fuel security through the use of credits for alternative fuels, as well as conservation and energy efficiency.  Finally, the bill extends the tax incentives for energy-efficient buildings and homes, which expires this year. The bill is paid for by reductions in tax breaks for the oil and gas industry, something the Democratic Congress has focused on this year.

AGC supports extending the energy tax credits and looks forward to working with Congress to ensure a national energy plan that benefits the environment, the nation’s economic competitiveness and results in increased energy efficiency.

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

  AGC Co-Hosts Crane Safety Summit with Operating Engineers and McGraw-Hill's ENR
This week AGC of America worked with both the International Union of Operating Engineers and McGraw-Hill’s Engineering News-Record to assemble a cross section of crane experts from across the country for a one-day event focused on finding the best ways to improve crane safety.  The participants discussed crane operations, jobsite supervision, rigging, signaling and inspection of cranes. They examined recent high profile accidents and looked for trends and critical links that can improve safety.  The group will work together to produce recommendations for further focus and action such as identifying improvements to management processes, data collection and training programs.

For more information, contact Michele Myers at myersm@agc.org or (703) 837-5410. [ return to top ]

  AGC Sponsors Liquid Assets Debut in Washington, D.C.
AGC co-sponsored the debut of Liquid Assets: The Story of Our Water Infrastructure on September 9 at Washington, D.C.’s Newseum on Capitol Hill.  The documentary, produced by Penn State Public Broadcasting with support from AGC and other organizations, highlights the nation’s deteriorating water infrastructure network and our need to reinvest in this most valuable asset.

Chairwoman Johnson (D-Texas) and Art Daniels (AR Daniel Construction Services Inc., Cedar Hill, Texas), Vice-Chairman of AGC Municipal &Utilities Division.
 
The event attracted more than 250 attendees, and featured remarks by Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), Chairwoman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment,  as well as Ranking Member Congressman John Boozman (R-Ark.), and Benjamin Grumbles, Assistant Administrator for Water, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 
 
AGC has distributed a Liquid Assets marketing toolkit to its Chapters, which will assist them in encouraging PBS stations to broadcast the documentary and promoting community discussions through participation in local events.
 
AGC sponsored the Liquid Assets airing in the D.C. area on the two largest stations in the Washington DC area, Howard University Television WHUT (Washington, D.C.) on October 5 and 8, and on WETA (Arlington, Va.) on October 5.
 
For more information contact Perry L. Fowler at fowlerp@agc.org or (703) 837-5321. [ return to top ]