Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org June 3, 2010
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TAKE ACTION
AGC Action Requested Senate to Vote June 10 on Resolution to Block EPA from Using Clean Air Act to Stop Construction Projects
TAX
AGC Sets the Record Straight on Multiemployer Pension Relief
WATER
EPA Releases Updated Clean Water Needs Survey to Congress
ELECTIONS
Voters Choose Candidates in Alabama, Mississippi and New Mexico
TRANSPORTATION
Department of Transportation Announces $600 Million in TIGER II Grants
TAKE ACTION
AGC Action Requested Senate to Vote June 10 on Resolution to Block EPA from Using Clean Air Act to Stop Construction Projects
 

The U.S. Senate will vote Thursday, June 10 on a resolution that would block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.  AGC is concerned that Clean Air Act regulation of greenhouse gases would delay or stop construction projects nationwide.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced the Senate resolution in response to EPA’s effort to regulate greenhouse gases from motor vehicles that then trigger requirements for emission controls from all other sources, including commercial buildings, industrial facilities, and more.   

EPA regulation under the Clean Air Act means more pre-construction permits, operating permits, and costly technology control installation requirements for building projects, and puts approval and federal funding for highway and bridge projects at risk.  It also means higher energy costs for businesses and consumers that will affect demand for construction services nationwide, especially in a down economy. 

AGC urges all members to contact their Senators in support of Sen. Murkowski’s resolution.  To send a message to your Senators, visit AGC’s Legislative Action Center here.

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

TAX
AGC Sets the Record Straight on Multiemployer Pension Relief
 

AGC last week signed a letter with over 30 business groups to express concern about misinformation circulating regarding multiemployer defined benefit plan relief proposals before Congress.  Recent press stories have referred to the Preserve Benefits and Jobs Act being debated in the House, and the Create Jobs and Save Benefit Act being debated in the Senate, as a “union bailout” and to multiemployer plans as “union plans.”  The letter states that contributions to multiemployer plans are funded entirely by employers and not unions.

The majority of defined benefit plans have been negatively impacted by the recent financial crisis, and the median investment loss by multiemployer plans has exceeded 20 percent.  The losses occurred in the first year of new aggressive funding rules required by the Pension Protection Act, giving rise to concerns for potential additional contribution increases, deep benefit cuts, or both.  The financial crisis also exacerbated funding problems that certain multiemployer plans were already facing prior to the market downturn. 

The House proposal aims to protect employers contributing to multiemployer plans from the immediate funding crisis by providing plans additional time to make up for the losses beginning in 2008.  Both the House and Senate proposals also seek to correct problems associated with joint and several liability rules that govern multiemployer plans and require employers in the plan to become responsible for paying the accrued benefits of all the workers in the plan, including those who never worked for them.  This situation is particularly acute in the Teamsters Central States Plan where several trucking industry employers have gone out of business over the years, leaving the remaining employers responsible for paying benefits to those firms’ former employees. 

As part of a package of tax provisions, infrastructure programs and unemployment payments, the U.S. House of Representatives Friday passed a number of provisions designed to provide multiemployer plans with immediate funding relief.  The American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act, H.R. 4213, would allow multiemployer pension plans to elect a 30-year amortization period for certain losses incurred in 2008 and/or 2009. The bill also extends the smoothing period from five to 10 years and allows plans the option of up to a five year extension of their funding improvement or rehabilitation periods.  H.R. 4213 now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

The Senate Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Committee last Thursday held a hearing on multiemployer pension plans, including the Senate proposal.  The hearing was a first step towards Congressional action on additional multiemployer plan relief called for in both the House and Senate proposals that would facilitate mergers and alliances of funds and allow the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) to provide assistance to certain plans (e.g., Central States) through a process called “partitioning” to lower long-term costs.  The bill would also update PBGC benefit guarantees.

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

WATER
EPA Releases Updated Clean Water Needs Survey to Congress
 

Today the U.S. EPA unveiled is 2008 Clean Watershed Needs Survey (CWNS).  The report identifies projected investment needs in excess of $298.1 billion for clean water infrastructure over the next 20 years for individual states. 

This total represents a 17 percent increase over EPA’s 2004 study.  Combined with the latest Drinking Water Needs Survey released in March of 2009, the EPA has identified roughly $632.9 billion in total water infrastructure capital investment needs over the next 20 years.

Categories representing the largest segment of needs include:secondary treatment;  advanced treatment; replacement and rehabilitaion of sewers; and addressing Combined Sewer Overflows(CSO).

AGC will conduct additional analysis of the new report and share the data with our members.  This increase in the national needs supports AGC's request for additional funding for drinking and wastewater infrastructure. To learn more about water infrastructure needs and related legislation, please visit www.agc.org/water.

To read a complete copy of the report, click here.

For additional information, contact Perry Fowler at fowlerp@agc.org or (703)837-5321. Return to Top

ELECTIONS
Voters Choose Candidates in Alabama, Mississippi and New Mexico
 

Voters went to the polls on Tuesday to select their party’s candidates in Alabama, Mississippi and New Mexico.

In Alabama’s 1st District, no Republican candidate received 50 percent of the vote, and Marth Roby and Rick Barber, the top two contenders to challenge Democrat Bobby Bright in November, face a run off in six weeks.  Roby currently serves on the Montgomery City Council.  Barber is a small business owner and Marine Corps Veteran. Only six months after switching parties, Alabama’s 2nd District Republican Incumbent Parker Griffith lost his bid in the primary to Madison City Commissioner Mo Brooks.

Alan Nunnelee, a conservative in the Mississippi State Senate, is set to face Blue Dog Democrat Travis Childers in the fight for Mississippi’s 1st District seat.   Although a Democrat currently represents the district, polling has shown it is leaning heavily Republican. And State Representative Steven Palazzo will face Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) in November for the state’s 4th District seat.

Jon Barela, a Hispanic small business owner in the state of New Mexico, was chosen as the Republican Party’s challenger to incumbent freshman Martin Heinrich in New Mexico’s 1st District.  Barela was among the first of the GOP candidates around the country to receive the “Young Guns” endorsement from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

In New Mexico’s 2nd district, former Congressman Steve Pearce (R) will once again face freshman Democrat Harry Teague, but this time as a challenger. The Republican Party overwhelmingly chose Pearce, who served as the district’s representative from 2002-2008, as their candidate.

For more information, contact Blair Hood at (202) 547-5013 or hoodb@agc.org. Return to Top

TRANSPORTATION
Department of Transportation Announces $600 Million in TIGER II Grants
 

On May 28, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the availability of $600 million in TIGER II grants for capital investment in surface transportation projects.  According to DOT, TIGER II grants will be awarded on a competitive basis to projects that have a significant impact on the nation, a region or metropolitan area and can create jobs.

According to the DOT press release, the grants will be awarded based on primary criteria, including the contribution to the long-term economic competitiveness of the nation, improving the condition of existing transportation facilities and systems, improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving the safety of U.S. transportation facilities, and improving the quality of living and working environments of communities through increased transportation choices and connections. 

Pre-applications for the TIGER II grants are due on July 16, and applications are due on August 23 from state and local governments, including U.S. territories, tribal governments, transit agencies, port authorities and others. The Federal Register notice can be accessed by clicking here.

For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at (202) 547-8892 or oneills@agc.org. Return to Top

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