January 22, 2009
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STIMULUS
AGC Provides Testimony at Stimulus Hearing on Capitol Hill
Many Dispute Congressional Budget Office Report on Infrastructure Funding
House Ways and Means Committee Approves Stimulus Tax Package
TAXES
Senator Introduces Bill to Repeal 3 Percent Withholding Law
REGULATORY
White House Orders Review of Pending Regulations
AGC Comments and Requests Public Hearings on Proposed Crane and Derricks Standard
Senate Passes Pay Discrimination Legislation
LABOR
Senate Votes Down Amendment to Block Government Mandated Project Labor Agreement Amendment

  AGC Provides Testimony at Stimulus Hearing on Capitol Hill
Dr. Stephen S. Fuller of George Mason University testified on behalf of AGC before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on Thursday. The hearing was held to examine how infrastructure investment contributes to job creation and economic recovery.

In his testimony, Dr. Fuller noted that the current stimulus plan’s proposed infrastructure investments would create or support more than 1.85 million new jobs between now and the end of 2010.  He said these jobs would include over 620,000 construction jobs, 300,000 jobs in supplying industries and 930,000 jobs throughout the broader economy. To view the testimony, click here.

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

  Many Dispute Congressional Budget Office Report on Infrastructure Funding
Committee Modifies Language to Speed Spend Out
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office earlier this week released a report giving its assessment of the proposed economic stimulus legislation and projected that less than half of the funds are likely to be used before the end of fiscal year 2010. The CBO said the balance would likely be spent over the next several years, after the recession is projected to end. The report specifically questions how quickly the infrastructure funds will make their way into the economy. Republican leaders said the analysis shows that the package wouldn't create the promised jobs.

AGC and coalition partners the Transportation Construction Coalition, Americans for Transportation Mobility and AASHTO responded to the report with a letter to Congress stating “This is not business as usual!” and pointing out that CBO’s analysis of the infrastructure spending is based on historical data which does not apply to the current situation. State DOTs, the construction industry, materials suppliers and labor are geared to move “ready to go” projects quickly to contract and construction and thus create thousands of jobs in this fiscal year. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the leadership of the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee also responded by pointing out that CBO did not have the full data when they created the report. T&I Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) met with the CBO director, who admitted that they did not have the full data on which to base their projection.

In addition, the Appropriations Committee moved to clarify a section that may have slowed the spending under the bill.

For more information, contact Brian Deery at (703) 837-5319 or deeryb@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  House Ways and Means Committee Approves Stimulus Tax Package
By a party line vote, the House Ways and Means Committee today passed the tax component of the economic stimulus bill, clearing the measure for floor consideration.  The bill would provide approximately $275 billion in tax relief for individuals, businesses and state and local governments.  A major change from the initial plan announced last week is the inclusion of the full repeal of the 3 percent withholding law on government contractors (the original proposal would have deferred the effective date one year). 

Highlights of the bill benfiting the construction industry include:
• Extension of depreciation bonus
• Extension of enhanced small business expensing
• 5-year carryback of net operating losses
• Incentives to hire unemployed veterans and disconnected youth
• De minimis safe harbor exception for tax-exempt interest expense for financial institutions
• Modification of small issuer exception to tax-exempt interest expense allocation rules for financial institutions
• Eliminate costs imposed on state and local governments by the alternative minimum tax
• Creation of new Qualified School Construction Bonds
• Extension and increase in authorization for Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB)
• Tax credit bond option for state and local governments
• Repeal 3 percent withholding law on government contractors
• Recovery Zone Bonds for areas of high poverty, unemployment, or home foreclosures
• Tribal economic development bonds
• Long-term extension and modification of renewable energy production tax credit
• Temporary election to claim the investment tax credit in lieu of the production tax credit
• Repeal subsidized energy financing limitation on the investment tax credit
• Removal of dollar limitations on certain energy credits
• Additional Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (“CREBs”)
• Additional Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds
The Senate Finance Committee has yet to release details of its proposal.  The Senate package may also include language to address the 3 percent withholding law, and it is also reported that the Senate may include an AMT patch for 2010. 

Because the House Appropriations Committee having also approved the spending package, the House is expected to begin floor consideration on the complete economic recovery package next week.

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

  Senator Introduces Bill to Repeal 3 Percent Withholding Law
Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) Wednesday introduced S.292, a bill to repeal the 3 percent tax withholding requirement set to go into effect in 2011. 

The bill was introduced along with Republican Senators Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Pat Roberts (Kan.), Jim Inhofe (Okla.), David Vitter (La.), George  Voinovich (Ohio) and Johnny Isakson (Ga.).  It is the companion bill to H.R. 275 introduced in the House by Reps. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) and Wally Herger (R-Calif.) on January 7.  Both bills have been referred to their committees of jurisdiction, the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee.  AGC has made enactment of legislation to repeal the 3 percent withholding law a top legislative priority for the 111th Congress. 

Full repeal of the 3 percent withholding law has been included in the House stimulus bill.

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

  White House Orders Review of Pending Regulations
The White House issued a memorandum that orders an immediate review of proposed and final regulations coming from various federal agencies. The action will result in all regulations that are currently in the regulatory process to be approved by the Obama administration before they are published.

AGC will continue to monitor regulations that affect the construction industry and the 60 day delay that this memo will likely create for them. To view a sample of some of the current regulatory issues pending, click here.

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

  AGC Comments and Requests Public Hearings on Proposed Crane and Derricks Standard

AGC submitted public comments January 22 to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and also requested that public hearings be held nationwide on the proposed Crane and Derricks in Construction standard. OSHA is tentatively scheduling public hearings for mid-March 2009 and the locations are yet to be determined. Crane operator qualification and certification is still AGC’s primary concern with the proposal.  AGC also commented on several other areas for clarification, such as the scope, definitions, fall protection, inspections and assembly/disassembly requirements.  AGC’s comments were derived from conference calls with members and chapters who reviewed and commented on the proposal.

For more information on the history of the Crane and Derricks in Construction proposed rule and AGC’s comments during the C-DAC process or the SBREFA panel, click here

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

  Senate Passes Pay Discrimination Legislation

Today, the Senate passed pay discrimination legislation that is similar to a bill which the House passed earlier this month. The bill would change how pay disparity in the workplace is handled as well as allow for a new influx of frivolous lawsuits against employers. The House is expected to pass the Senate version and President Obama is expected to sign the legislation.

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.  AGC opposes this legislation and is part of a coalition working against it.

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 take on labor issues in the next two years.  AGC will continue efforts to monitor labor bills and keep AGC members informed.

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

  Senate Votes Down Amendment to Block Government Mandated Project Labor Agreement Amendment

Today, the Senate failed to pass an amendment offered by Senator Vitter (R-La.) that would have ensured government neutrality in the bidding process for federal and federally funded construction projects.  The amendment would have ensured such neutrality by prohibiting the use of Government Mandated Project Labor Agreements (GMLAs).

AGC believes that GMLAs would disrupt labor-management relations in the construction industry and run afoul of the National Labor Relations Act.  Use of GMLAs would tread upon both the rights of union contractors’ ability to work under the conditions of already negotiated collective bargaining agreements and would impact an open shop contractor’s right to not engage in collective bargaining.

The amendment was offered during the debate on a pay disparity bill. AGC key voted this amendment to be used in AGC’s annual scorecard of how legislators vote.

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