December 4, 2008
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INFRASTRUCTURE
Economic Stimulus Package Likely Early Next Year; Will Impact All Construction Markets
REGULATORY
First National Effluent Limit for Construction Runoff Proposed by U.S. EPA
AGC and Many AGC Members Comment on Detrimental EPA Rule
ELECTIONS
AGC Ally Wins Georgia Run-Off, Minnesota Senate Race Still Unresolved
LEGISLATIVE ACTION COMMITTEE
AGC Legislative Action Committee to Evaluate Top Legislative and Regulatory Priorities

  Economic Stimulus Package Likely Early Next Year; Will Impact All Construction Markets
Congress, Obama Transition Team Continue to Develop Comprehensive Economic Stimulus Plan
Congressional leaders have talked about an economic stimulus package that could total as much as $500 billion. It is unlikely that it would be taken up before the 111th Congress convenes on January 6, 2009, and it will not be sent to the president before President Elect Obama takes the oath of office on January 20.

Infrastructure Investment

While details of the package are still under development, it is widely expected that the infrastructure investment component of the package could represent  20-30% of the total package.  AGC has been successful in coordinating information from various owner groups about projects ready to go and relaying our message that a significant investment in infrastructure will spur economic development, helping to cultivate support among key Congressional decision-makers.  Significant increased investment is expected in transit, airports, schools, roads, bridges, public housing, flood protection and waste water and drinking water infrastructure projects in the stimulus bill. Support for infrastructure investment is also strongly supported by President-elect Obama, who announced on November 21 a new initiative to save or create 2.5 million jobs in the next two years that includes infrastructure investment, school modernization and new energy policy initiatives.

At a meeting of the National Governors Association on December 2, the nation's governors requested that the stimulus package include as much as $136 billion worth of road and bridge repair projects that are “ready-to-go.” The governors are also asking for direct aid to states experiencing significant budget deficits and urged President-elect Obama to consider establishing a national infrastructure bank that could issue bonds to finance infrastructure projects as part of the economic stimulus package currently being developed. During his campaign, Obama proposed creating an infrastructure bank that could issue up to $60 billion in tax-credit bonds, which provide investors with a tax credit instead of interest payments. AGC endorsed similar legislation introduced in the 110th Congress. 

Below are funding needs AGC has compiled from many owner groups that have been identified as “ready-to-go” projects.

 Highways and Bridges  

 At least $30 billion for projects as identified by AASHTO

 Water Resources

 $7 billion - $10 billion in new funding for the Corps of Engineers

Drinking Water and Wastewater Treatment Systems

 $10 billion for the repair and construction of publicly owned sewage treatment works

$10 billion in new financial aid to the nation's drinking-water treatment systems

 Public Transit

 $3.6 billion for transit projects already authorized

 Aviation

 $600 million worth of capital improvement projects

 Dams

 $50 million for the dams in greatest need of repair

 School Construction

 $10 billion needed for repairs and new construction

 Federal Facilities

 $1 billion for repair and alterations

 Public Housing

 $1 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund

Energy

As details of the structure of the stimulus package continue to emerge, another central component of the measure would be a “green-jobs” program. The program may include home weatherizing, installation of “smart meters” designed to reduce home energy use, tax breaks or direct government subsidies for a variety of clean energy projects, including solar arrays, wind farms, biofuels and clean coal technology.  Members of Congress have also talked about spending $100 million or more on energy transmission upgrades.

Tax Incentives

In November, the Senate Finance Committee proposed one-year extensions through 2009 of bonus depreciation and Section 179 elective expensing to help stimulate business investment. The bonus depreciation provision would allow a taxpayer to depreciate 50 percent of the cost of an asset in the year in which the asset was acquired (i.e., 2009). The Section 179 elective expensing provision would allow small businesses to elect, in lieu of depreciation, to deduct up to $250,000 for property acquired and placed into service in 2009. AGC has endorsed the section 179 expensing and has also proposed a full repeal of the 3 percent withholding law set to go into effect in 2011 as part of the stimulus package. In addition, we are working with owner groups to identify other tax incentives that would stimulate building improvements and construction such as accelerated depreciation of certain energy efficiency improvements or green building additions.

Take Action

AGC will continue to press Members of Congress in Washington to enact an economic recovery package with infrastructure investment as soon as possible. It is critical to continue educating your Members of Congress in the coming weeks about the projects that are ready to go in your area and the important economic contributions offered by the construction industry. Please use the tools on AGC’s Legislative Action Center to contact your congressional delegation and urge them to support infrastructure investment in an economic recovery package.

For more information contact Jeff Shoaf at (703) 547-3350 or shoafj@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  First National Effluent Limit for Construction Runoff Proposed by U.S. EPA
A proposed rule released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Nov. 19 would establish the first national effluent (discharge) limit for storm water runoff from construction sites. Upon early review, it appears that AGC’s advocacy efforts and close work with EPA staff have produced a workable proposal that recognizes the importance of providing contractors with the flexibility to select best management practices (BMPs) to fit the conditions of their sites. Much work remains, however, to ensure that the final rule does not include a strict numeric limit dictating the amount of sediment that may lawfully be discharged from construction sites across the country.

The proposal would require contractors to meet EPA’s technology-based “floor” on most sites by installing and maintaining a range of erosion and sediment controls that “are generally recognized and accepted as effective” BMPs. Construction sites disturbing 10 or more acres of land at a time would also need to install sediment basins to treat their storm water discharges. In addition, a strict numeric limit on the allowable level of turbidity would apply to sites of 30 acres or more that are located in rainy areas where the soil has high clay content.

AGC is analyzing EPA’s proposal with an eye to the underlying data on the costs and benefits of the rule and will keep chapters and members informed of its actions. The construction and development (C&D) effluent limitation guideline (ELG) proposal and other information are online here. EPA will accept public comment for 90 days after the proposal appeared in the Federal Register on Nov. 28. AGC plans to ask EPA to extend the public comment period.

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

  AGC and Many AGC Members Comment on Detrimental EPA Rule
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering action that could halt the future construction and the major renovations of buildings nationwide, and could also jeopardize funding for highway and transportation projects.

EPA released an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) soliciting public comment on the merit of using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from buildings and construction equipment. In response, AGC of America, several AGC Chapters, and over 300 individual AGC members submitted comments to EPA stating that the Clean Air Act is not the right regulatory tool for controlling greenhouse gas emissions.

While EPA’s proposal is still in the preliminary drafting stage, AGC expects that there will be additional legislative and regulatory steps in the near future. AGC and members of AGC’s Environmental Network Steering Committee will meet with EPA staff on this and many other important environmental issues on December 9-10. AGC will continue to update members throughout the rulemaking process.

To obtain additional information on the ANPR, click here.

For more information contact Melinda Tomaino at (703) 837-5415 or tomainom@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  AGC Ally Wins Georgia Run-Off, Minnesota Senate Race Still Unresolved
After failing to reach the 50% +1 margin on November 4, Georgia's senior U. S. Senator, Saxby Chambliss, won his re-election campaign in a hotly contested run-off against the Democratic challenger Jim Martin by a 57.4% to 42.6% margin.  Chambliss' win secures at least 41 Republican seats and ensures the Democrats will not have a filibuster-proof Senate when the 111th Congress convenes in January.

Because of his support for business and strong relationship with Georgia contractors and the Georgia Branch AGC, AGC of America's Political Action Committee (AGC PAC) provided the maximum campaign contribution support to Senator Chambliss during the primary, general and run-off elections.

The Minnesota Senate race is the last remaining contest to be resolved.  As of December 2nd, 93 percent of the ballots had been recounted, and AGC ally Sen. Norm Coleman (R) held a slim 303 vote lead over Al Franken (D). Assuming Coleman keeps his seat, there will be 58 Democrats and 42 Republicans in the next Senate, for a Democratic gain of seven seats, one more than 2006.  If Coleman loses, Republicans would return with 41 seats, down eight.  Like Chambliss, Coleman has been an ardent friend of AGC and consequently received the maximum campaign support from AGC PAC during the primary, general and recount.

For more information contact Elisa Brewer Pratt at (202) 547-5013 or brewere@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  AGC Legislative Action Committee to Evaluate Top Legislative and Regulatory Priorities
On December 10, the AGC Legislative Action committee will meet via conference call to evaluate the association’s legislative and regulatory priorities for the 111th Congress (2009-2010).

AGC has already received input from Chapters and members through a survey earlier this year of issues that will impact  the industry, will be addressed in the next Congress and that are achievability.  The recommendations of the committee will be forwarded to the AGC executive board for consideration during their January meeting and then will be shared with policy makers. As in year’s past, the recommendations to the Legislative Action Committee will focus on increasing federal funding for infrastructure.

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