Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.orgMarch 18, 2010
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On the Inside
HEALTH CARE
Final Vote on Health Care Scheduled Industry Targeted
TRANSPORTATION
President Signs Nine-Month Highway Program Extension
TAX
House Ways and Means Committee Considers its Jobs Bill
LABOR
Possible Recess Appointment for AGC-Opposed Nominee to the National Labor Relations Board
Outline for Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill Expected to be Released This Weekend
FEDERAL
U.S. Army Corps Leaders Headline AGC Convention
Hotel Deadline Fast Approaching for AGC Federal Contractors Conference
HEALTH CARE
Final Vote on Health Care Scheduled Industry Targeted
 

Today, the House released a draft reconciliation bill that will be used to move the Senate’s Health Care Reform package that passed last December through Congress. A vote is expected by Sunday, March 21 in the House. If the bill passes on Sunday, it would be sent to the President for his signature, and the Senate would then begin the process of debating a reconciliation bill to amend the new law.

The process that Democratic leaders are taking is unprecedented for such a large piece of legislation and a provision that removes the small business exemption, commonly known as the Merkley Amendment, remains included in the bill. AGC is urging Congress to eliminate the provision for the following reasons: unions and construction associations who endorsed the amendment represent less than 15 percent of total construction employees and represent less than 3 percent of America’s construction companies; the five employee and $250,000 threshold is out of line with the House bill and the Senate bills passed out of committee; the provision is out of line with other human resource laws and out of step with very common concerns about the impact of government regulations on small businesses; and, finally, the provision is an inexcusable and direct attack on small businesses in the industry most battered by the recession.

AGC urges members to continue to communicate on the need to remove this provision via the AGC Legislative Action Center.

For more information, contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org. Return to Top

TRANSPORTATION
President Signs Nine-Month Highway Program Extension
 

President Obama today signed the “jobs” legislation, which the Senate approved yesterday thanks to AGC’s continued advocacy and an effective grassroots lobbying effort. The bill, known as the "HIRE Act," includes the following provisions of importance to the highway construction industry:

•        Extends highway program authorization through December 31, 2010 at current funding levels.

•        Provides additional revenue to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent through the first quarter of 2011 by restoring $19.5 billion in interest payments foregone on the HTF’s previous cash balances.

•        Restores $12 billion in highway spending authority that was cut on September 30, 2009 due to an $8.7 billion budget rescission in SAFETEA-LU and a subsequent rescission of $3.2 billion. 

•        Authorizes payment of interest on future HTF balances.

•        Alters the way in which long-standing fuel tax exemptions provided to state and local governments are accounted for, which are projected to increase HTF balances by about $1.7 billion annually, for a total of $9.8 billion over six years.

•        Provides $4.6 billion in additional authority for Build America Bonds which have been used extensively by state and local governments to fund infrastructure projects, including highway and bridge projects.

•        Extends section 179 expensing thresholds so that taxpayers may elect to write-off up to $250,000 of certain capital expenditures in 2010 in lieu of depreciating those costs over time.

For more information, contact Brian Deery at (703) 837-5319 or deeryb@agc.org. Return to Top

TAX
House Ways and Means Committee Considers its Jobs Bill
 

In his first hearing as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) pushed for legislation that would provide tax incentives for small businesses and lending assistance for infrastructure projects.

AGC sent a letter to committee members in advance of the markup highlighting its support for several provisions, including:

·         Relief for small businesses from IRS Section 6707A penalties, which can be stiff for contractors who unwittingly fail to disclose listed transactions to the IRS.

·         Extension of the Build America Bonds (BAB) program. State and local governments have used the widely successful BABs to finance more than $80 billion in infrastructure programs.

·         Removal of the private activity bond volume cap for water and wastewater projects. The private activity bond cap removal is expected to leverage nearly $2 billion in private sector dollars waiting on the sidelines.

·         Extension and reallocation of the Recovery Zone Bond program. The Recovery Zone Bonds will be extended and reallocated based on unemployment in a locality, allowing the hardest hit areas to receive a higher amount of funding opportunities.

AGC asked for the legislation to include “Fresh Start” and ensure that all of the losses are subject to 30-year amortization for pension plans, as pension relief was included in early drafts of the bill, but was dropped from the legislation prior to the markup.

One section of the bill that AGC opposed in its letter would apply continuous levy to employment tax liability of certain federal contractors.  This provision would allow the IRS to levy employment taxes on federal contractors prior to a Collection Due Process (CDP) hearing. AGC opposes a collection of a tax that has not been subjected to due process.

The full House is expected to consider the new legislation as early as next week.

For more information, contact Karen Lapsevic at (202) 547-4733 or lapsevick@agc.org. Return to Top

LABOR
Possible Recess Appointment for AGC-Opposed Nominee to the National Labor Relations Board
 

The Senate was unable to pass the nomination of Craig Becker to become a member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in February.   However, there is a strong possibility that the president could appoint Becker to the NLRB with a recess appointment during the Senate’s Easter break. In remarks to the AFL-CIO winter meeting, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis hinted that the president would take this approach.  If this occurred, Becker would serve until the end of this year. 

Becker is the Associate General Counsel of the SEIU and the AFL-CIO and has been a prolific writer on the National Labor Relations Act, the law he will be responsible for interpreting and enforcing.   These writings have indicated his extreme views on labor law such as wanting to eliminate the role of employers in union elections and vastly limiting the role of employers in communicating with their employees.  In addition, he is a strong advocate of the so-called Employee Free Choice Act and is certain to push the NRLB to effect changes to employee rights like those attempting by the bill.

AGC opposes the nomination of Becker to the NLRB because of his controversial positions on labor law.  AGC members can contact Congress by using the AGC Legislative Action Center.

For more information, contact Kelly Knott at (202) 547-4685 or knottk@agc.org. Return to Top

Outline for Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill Expected to be Released This Weekend
 

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are expected to release an Op-ed tomorrow to provide an outline of what could be expected in a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill, on which both senators are working.  They met last week with President Obama on immigration reform, and a demonstration is scheduled for Sunday.   

AGC remains a steering committee member of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC) and is in active discussions with both Capitol Hill staff and the administration on this issue.  AGC is seeking to promote workable reform, which would include reasonable employer enforcement as well as a new visa program that would create a system to supply the U.S. economy with the workers it needs as the country begins to recover from the downturn and grow in the years ahead. 

For more information, contact Kelly Knott at (202) 547-4685 or knottk@agc.org. Return to Top

FEDERAL
U.S. Army Corps Leaders Headline AGC Convention
 

Major General Todd Semonite, Commander, South Atlantic Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on March 18, 2010 made several presentations at the 91st Annual AGC Convention and Pavilion where he provided a detailed review of all activities of all USACE activities worldwide and reviewed contracting activity for FY 2009 and 2010 and was the keynote speaker at the Marvin M. Black Partnering Awards. As Division Commander, MG Semonite oversees the planning, design and construction of projects to support the military, protect America’s water resources, and restore and enhance the environment within a 250,000 square mile area which includes all or part of 8 southeastern states.

Mr. T. Stephen Gambrell, who serves as Executive Director, Mississippi River Commission and Executive Assistant, Mississippi Valley Division also. He provided a detailed overview of the Mississippi River Commission (MRC) and detailed its mission to develop plans to improve the condition of the Mississippi River, foster navigation, promote commerce, and prevent destructive floods.

AGC continually liaisons with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in fulfillment of its partnering agreement with the agency and will continue to monitor and report on future activities.

For more information, contact Marco Giamberardino at (703) 837-5325 or giamberm@agc.org. Return to Top

Hotel Deadline Fast Approaching for AGC Federal Contractors Conference
 

The deadline to reserve a hotel room at the AGC rate at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C. is April 9. The 2010 AGC Federal Contractors Conference will be held April 26-29, 2010. This meeting is the only national event where contractors and federal agency personnel meet in a collaborative forum to review federal construction contracting issues and trends from around the United States.

This year, the AGC Federal Contractors Conference is introducing a special new conference format – separate concurrent tracks will highlight each of the unique federal and federally-assisted markets. The first track highlights water infrastructure, and includes meetings with agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers - Civil Works Directorate. The second track focuses on federal facilities construction, which includes meetings with the General Services Administration and the Military Construction agencies of the Department of Defense. Highway and transportation rounds out the final track, which includes meetings with the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration and the transit and rail agencies. More than 20 federal agencies are confirmed for this year’s meeting.

Download the conference brochure and register at www.agc.org/fedcon.  For more information, contact Marco Giamberardino at (703) 837-5325 or giamberm@agc.org. Return to Top

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