Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org December 16, 2010
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On the Inside
TAX
House Delays Action on Tax Extension
AGC Submits Comments on Proposed Leases Accounting Standard
TRANSPORTATION
DERA Reauthorization Likely
Transportation Secretary Calls for Renewed Federal Infrastructure Investment at AGC Co-hosted Forum
BUDGET
Appropriations End Game Still A Question Mark
LABOR
Senate Expected to Vote on Immigration Bill this Week
REGULATORY
House GOP Planning to Increase Oversight in the Next Congress
TAX
House Delays Action on Tax Extension
 

The U.S. House of Representatives today began consideration of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for all taxpayers for another two years.  The House had been expected to vote on the measure by mid-afternoon, but liberal House Democrats objected to debate delaying the bill until late Thursday.  The U.S. Senate passed the bill on Wednesday.

The deal includes extensions of other current tax measures, the Republicans’ preferred estate tax rate, a 13-month extension of unemployment benefits, and a one-year reduction in employee payroll taxes for Social Security.  In addition, the agreement allows for 100 percent expensing for businesses in 2011, applied retroactively to September 8, 2010, and 50 percent in 2012.

AGC supported the package and urged all members of Congress to vote for the bill.  The vote on the bill may be counted on our legislative scorecard as a “Key Vote.”

The House is expected to vote on an amendment to change the estate tax to the levels in place in 2009.  The amendment would have applied a 45 percent tax rate on estates worth more than $3.5 million, or $7 million for couples.  The bill the Senate passed would set the estate tax rate at 35 percent and exemption levels at $5 million for singles and $10 million for couples through 2013.

UPDATE:
The bill passed Thursday night 277 to 148. The estate tax amendment was defeated 194 to 233.

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

AGC Submits Comments on Proposed Leases Accounting Standard
 

AGC Wednesday submitted commentsto the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) in response to the Board’s proposal to change the financial reporting of lease contracts. 

The project is a joint effort by the FASB, which sets U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), the international standards-setting body.  The purpose of the proposal is to change the way financial reporting information is made available to investors about the financial effects of lease contracts. 

AGC’s comment letter discusses specific construction industry concerns with the proposal and makes recommendations to the Board to improve the final standard.

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

TRANSPORTATION
DERA Reauthorization Likely
 

AGC has been working through a broad coalition effort in support of the reauthorization of the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA), which provides grants for retrofitting diesel equipment.

DERA is scheduled to be approved by the Senate today and is expected to be approved by the House this week. The five year authorization provides $100 million in grant funding for diesel retrofits, which is a 50 percent reduction from the funding provided over the past five years. The bill makes two significant changes advocated by AGC that will make the grants more available to construction contractors. First the bill eliminates a requirement that 50 percent of the funds be made eligible only for public sector vehicles. The second change allows individual companies to apply directly for the grants rather than through a third party non-profit organization. Other changes in the program will streamline the application process and provide more transparency.

For more information, contact Brian Deery at deeryb@agc.org.



 

Return to Top
Transportation Secretary Calls for Renewed Federal Infrastructure Investment at AGC Co-hosted Forum
 

AGC of America co-hosted a forum Wednesday in Charleston, S.C., to call for renewed federal infrastructure investment. The forum featured U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, Jr., during which LaHood said it was the administration’s goal to have a six-year transportation bill on President Obama’s desk by August 2011.

The policy forum focused on the importance of smart infrastructure investment as a way to maintain America’s economic competitiveness and enhance our quality of life. The forum was in partnership with AGC, Mayor Riley’s office, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Building America’s Future Educational Fund.

AGC member Randy Snow of Charleston-based United Infrastructure Group represented AGC during a December 14 media event and editorial board meeting in advance of the forum, and during the forum itself.

The news was covered in the Charleston Regional Business Journal, Charleston Post and Courier, the Associated Press and local television stations, including WCIV and WCSC.

For more information, contact Brian Turmail at (703) 837-5310 or turmailb@agc.org. Return to Top

BUDGET
Appropriations End Game Still A Question Mark
 

On Tuesday December 14, the Senate Appropriations Committee released their $1.1 trillion omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 2011.  The bill, which includes all 12 annual appropriations bills along with over $8 billion in earmarks, faces an uncertain future in the Senate with Republican leadership and rank-and-file Republicans objecting to the bill en masse.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has indicated that he will bring the omnibus up for consideration by the full Senate prior to the expiration of the current continuing resolution (CR) at midnight on December 18.

However, with Republicans and several Democrats likely to oppose the bill, its chances for garnering the 60 votes for passage are unclear.  Even if the Senate gets the 60 votes and sends the bill to the House it will face similar hurdles to passage with what will be likely unanimous Republican opposition.  The House as already passed a CR that funds the federal government at current levels through fiscal year 2011.  The Senate also has the option to consider the House-passed CR, which would be the most expeditious resolution, or take up a two month extension of the current CR that has been offered by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).   If the Senate fails to act on any FY 2011 funding bill, Congress must pass another short term CR to avoid a government shutdown. 

The Senate omnibus provides $41.8 billion for the  federal-aid highway program, a $669 million dollar increase from FY2010 and the House passed CR, and $10.6 billion for the Federal Transit Administration, $135 million less than FY 2010 and the House-passed CR.  The bill reduces high-speed rail grants from $2.5 billion in FY 2010 to $1 billion for FY 2011 and provides $500 million for DOT discretionary multimodal grants (“TIGER II”). On the aviation side, the Federal Aviation Administration would see a $529 million increase from FY 2010 to $16.52 billion in FY 2011. Funding for the Airport Improvement Program is frozen at $3.5 billion.

The bill also funds EPA’s Clean Water and Drinking Water SRFs $1.9 billion and $1.2 billion respectively, with some of the money being available for principal forgiveness, negative interest loans, and grants (rather than just capitalization for SRF loans, so they don’t have to be paid back).  USDA’s Rural Utilities Service water and waste disposal system grants gets $70 million and the technical assistance grants for rural water and waste disposal get $19.5 million.

Again, the end game for the FY 2011 appropriations process remains very fluid.  AGC will continue to monitor the deliberations and report on any progress. 

For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at oneills@agc.org. Return to Top

LABOR
Senate Expected to Vote on Immigration Bill this Week
 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is expected to hold a vote either late this week or next week on the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.  This bill would give undocumented young people who were brought to the United States before age 16 a chance to qualify for legal status if they attend(ed) U.S. colleges or serve(d) in the U.S. military.

For those who have been in the country for at least 5 years, are less than 30 years old on the date of enactment, and who meet various factors, such as not having a criminal record, paying all back taxes and providing biometric data to the Department of Homeland Security, the bill grants conditional nonimmigrant status for 10 years followed by three years as a Legal Permanent Resident prior to applying for naturalization.  This bill passed the House 216-198 on December 8, 2010.   It is not expected that Senator Reid will be able to succeed in getting 60 votes needed to invoke cloture on the bill. 

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

REGULATORY
House GOP Planning to Increase Oversight in the Next Congress
 

As a result of the November election and Republican control of the House in the next session, the GOP is planning to utilize the oversight function of all standing Committees to seriously evaluate the Obama administration’s regulatory agenda.  

There will be several key tenets of the plan, including highlighting one major oversight hearing each week that plays into the overall focus on job creation and reducing spending. At a minimum, House hearings would be highlighted on the floor schedule and incorporated into the week’s priorities. Also, current rules will be changed to require Committees to issue oversight reports on a quarterly basis, rather than at the end of the Congress to ensure oversight work is prioritized. Finally, Committee reports would be brought to the floor for approval of its findings under appropriate circumstances.

Republicans plan to conduct a comprehensive review of existing and proposed government rules, regulations and statutes that impose additional, unnecessary costs on employers and job creators. This was promised by incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as he pledged to require a top to bottom reform focusing on 1) jobs and the economy, 2) reducing spending, and 3) shrinking the size of government while increasing and protecting liberty.

Of particular interest to AGC, members of Congress are looking at identifying issues that negatively impacted job growth in the construction industry as well as identifying needed reforms. AGC has already begun the process of sharing information with Congressional leaders. In preparation to the change in power in January, AGC is currently conducting a similar review from the association’s membership and staff on rules, regulations, as well as proposed rules and regulations, that hinder growth and job creation within the construction industry. If you or your company has been impacted, please take a minute to share and comment with AGC so that we can communicate important anecdotal occurrences.

To share your insight, contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org. Return to Top

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