January 15, 2009
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STIMULUS
Congressional Leaders Release Details of Stimulus Package
AGC Past President Steve Massie Provides Testimony at Stimulus Hearing on Capitol Hill
SAFETY
AGC Meets with Federal Officials to Discuss Pipeline Safety Enforcement
STATE DEPARTMENT
State Department Promises “Sweeping” Improvements to its Overseas Building Programs
LABOR
Senate Following House Action on Labor Issues in 2009

  Congressional Leaders Release Details of Stimulus Package
On January 15, the House Democratic Leadership announced details of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Details of the $825 billion package were released by the House Appropriations and Ways and Means Committees. The total package consists of $275 billion in economic recovery tax cuts and $550 billion in targeted investments, coupled with several unprecedented accountability measures. AGC estimates that approximately $150 billion of the spending proposed in this bill would benefit the construction industry.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said today that she hoped Congressional Committees would take up the bill late next week, with the goal of sending a final product to the White House by mid-February. According to House Appropriations Chairman Dave Obey (D-Wis.), this package would create and save 3 to 4 million jobs and jumpstart our economy.

In many instances, funds would be distributed through existing formulas. How funds are spent, all announcements of contract and grant competitions and awards, and formula grant allocations must be posted on an open government web site. Governors, mayors or others making funding decisions must personally certify that the investment has been fully vetted and is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars. A Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency Board would also be created to review management of recovery dollars and provide early warning of problems. Federal and state whistleblowers who report fraud and abuse are protected. Finally, there are no earmarks in this package.

The House Ways and Means Committee’s $275 billion tax package would provide tax, health and other benefits to American families, as well as incentives for businesses to grow and create jobs.  Highlights in the package benefiting the construction industry include:
• One-year deferral of the 3 percent withholding law from 2011 to 2012
• Bonus depreciation
• 5-year carry-back of net operating losses
• Extension of increased small business expensing
• Repeal AMT limits on new private activity bonds
• School construction bonds
• Remove repayment requirement on $7,500 first-time homebuyer credit
• Tax exempt and tax credit bonds to “recovery zones” (i.e., areas of high unemployment, foreclosures or poverty)
• Various energy efficiency tax incentives and bonds

AGC’s CEO Stephen Sandherr released a statement indicating that the newly released details of the proposed stimulus package provide encouraging signs that Congress is willing to make significant, but essential, investments needed to rebuild our aging infrastructure and inefficient public buildings while repairing America’s ailing economy.  However, he pointed out that in an environment where almost 900,000 construction workers have lost their jobs, the construction community has the capacity to do even more work than is currently being considered. 

AGC is continuing to meet with House and Senate leaders to increase the proposed investments in infrastructure in the draft package and enact the bill as soon as possible.

To view a copy of the House Appropriations Committee Plan, click here.
To view a copy of the House Ways and Means Committee Plan, click here.
To view AGC’s analysis of the bill, click here

For more information, please visit www.agc.org/cs/economic_stimulus.  Contact Marco Giamberardino at (703) 837-5325 or giamberm@agc.org or Karen Bachman Lapsevic at (202) 547-4733 or bachmank@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  AGC Past President Steve Massie Provides Testimony at Stimulus Hearing on Capitol Hill
AGC past-president Steve Massie (Jack L. Massie Contractor, Inc., Williamsburg, Va.) testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business Wednesday.  The hearing was held to address the state of the small business economy and identify policies to promote economic recovery.  In his testimony, Massie said that within 30 to 60 days of projects being awarded, firms like his would be able to begin work, hiring, buying materials and working to improve infrastructure.  Massie's testimony was highlighted in The Washington Post.

AGC past-president Steve Massie (Jack L. Massie Contractor, Inc., Williamsburg, Va.) testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business Wednesday. 

AGC also submitted testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Republican Economic Stimulus Working Group as part of a hearing they held this morning on Economic Recovery Solutions.  AGC’s comments detailed the benefits of infrastructure investments and urged tax incentives to stimulate the economy, improve energy efficiency and create job opportunities.

Watch the testimony here.

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

  AGC Meets with Federal Officials to Discuss Pipeline Safety Enforcement
AGC staff hosted a meeting of pipeline safety advocates and U.S. Department of Transportation officials to discuss pending federal safety regulations.  DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration outlined its efforts to finalize regulations that would allow it to declare state “call before you dig” pipeline safety programs inadequate and conduct civil enforcements within those states.

AGC and its safety partners stressed the need for fair regulations that take into account the shared responsibilities of pipeline operators and contractors.  We’ll be seeking comment on the proposed regulations over the coming months. 

For more information, contact Perry Fowler at fowlerp@agc.org or (703) 837-5321. [ return to top ]

  State Department Promises “Sweeping” Improvements to its Overseas Building Programs
The interim head of the State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Building Operations has promised “sweeping” changes to the way the office does business in a letter to AGC.  In the letter, interim administrator Richard Shinnick praised AGC and its partners for identifying ways the federal bureau can make it easier for contractors to help build overseas facilities, and committed to make the necessary changes.  To view the letter, click here.

For more information, contact Perry Fowler at fowlerp@agc.org or (703) 837-5321. [ return to top ]

  Senate Following House Action on Labor Issues in 2009
This week the Senate is debating pay disparity legislation on the House floor.  The legislation is similar to the bills which the House passed last week that would change how pay disparity in the workplace is handled as well as allow for a new influx of frivolous lawsuits against employers.  The legislation seeks to restart the filing period for a discriminatory act each time a paycheck is issued and would expand the class of people able to bring claims against employers. In addition, they would provide for unlimited punitive and compensatory damages while limiting employer defenses as well as make it easier for class action lawsuits to be filed. 

Like the House, the Senate did not follow the committee process on holding hearings and allowing further examination of the legislation.  The choice to bring labor bills immediately to the floor is a strong indication of the approach that Congress is going to be taking on labor issues the next two years. 

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