Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org March 3, 2011
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On the Inside
BUDGET
Federal Government Now Operating Under a Two-Week Continuing Resolution
TRANSPORTATION
House and Senate Approve Highway and Transit Extension to September 30
AGC Submits Comments on Proposed Changes to Hours of Service Regulations
TAX
House Passes Paperwork Mandate Repeal
WATER
EPA Office of Water Testifies At Congressional Hearing
BUDGET
Federal Government Now Operating Under a Two-Week Continuing Resolution
 

Facing a government shutdown on March 4th, President Obama signed a continuing resolution that will fund the government through March 18th.  The continuing resolution which originated in the House of Representatives and was reluctantly accepted by Senate Democrats, continues to fund all discretionary programs at FY 2010 levels, but goes a step further in making nearly $4 billion in cuts on an account-by-account basis.  About $1.5 billion worth of cuts are from federal construction accounts.   The majority of those cuts come from elimination of earmarks in the Department of Transportation and the Army Corps of Engineers.

The path forward on funding for the remainder of FY 2011 remains unclear.  What is known is that President Obama has now interjected the White House in the discussion between the House and Senate. On Wednesday, the President announced that Vice-President Biden along with the White House Chief of Staff and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget have been tasked with working out a budget deal with the House and Senate over the course of the next two weeks.  The White House’s engagement in this debate does not guarantee a deal can be struck.  Republicans in the House and Senate are standing firm on their pledge to cut FY 2011 funding by $100 billion and are not willing to agree to any deal until Senate Democrats produce a spending bill of their own (which they have shown no inclination to do).

AGC continues to work against many of the cuts to construction spending; urging Members of Congress to work to reform and improve programs rather than just slash spending.  

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

TRANSPORTATION
House and Senate Approve Highway and Transit Extension to September 30
 

Following AGC and our transportation and construction industry allies spending the last several weeks educating Members of Congress on the impact that failure to pass an extension would have on state DOTs and the construction industry, the House and the Senate each passed H.R. 662, extending federal surface transportation program funding through September 30, 2011. The highway and transit programs are currently operating under the sixth authorization extension which is set to expire on Friday, March 4.

The House of Representatives passed the bill on Wednesday, by a vote of 421 to 4.  The four no-votes were as follows: Reps. Amash (R-Mich), Polis (D-Col), Flake (R-Arz) and Stearns (R-Fla).  The Senate passed the bill this afternoon by a voice-vote.

With a long-term extension in place Congress will be able to focus on moving a multi-year surface transportation authorization bill.  AGC will continue to work closely with key Members of Congress in the House and Senate to ensure the best interests of the construction industry are represented in the next authorization bill.

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

AGC Submits Comments on Proposed Changes to Hours of Service Regulations
 

The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking seeking to overhaul the hours of service rules for truck drivers. The comment period was extended to March 4, 2011.

This proposed rulemaking does not alter the existing construction exemption which allows drivers transporting construction materials and equipment to and from an active construction site within a 50-air-mile radius of the driver’s normal work reporting location to restart the on-duty counting period following any off-duty period of 24 or more successive hours.

The Proposed Rulemaking for drivers suggests the following changes:

  • Maximum driving time within each driving window from the existing 11 hours to 10 hours.
  • Maximum on-duty time within each driving window from the existing 14 hours to 13 hours.
  • Allowed consecutive hours of driving would be limited to 7 hours or less since the last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes.
  • Define on-duty as not including any time resting in a parked Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV).

AGC’s comments addressed the following:

  • Urge FMCSA to maintain the construction exemption.
  • Urge FMCSA to continue to allow 11 hours of driving time in each driving window.
  • Urge FMCSA to continue to allow the existing 14 hours maximum on-duty time within driving window. 
  • Suggest to FMCSA to increase the 50-air-mile radius to a 100-air-mile radius in the construction exemption for transporting construction materials and equipment to and from an active construction site. This would help the industry hold down the materials costs by allowing longer hauls from existing processing sites.
  • Suggest that the rules not count as “on duty” the time construction drivers are in a queue waiting to deliver product.

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

TAX
House Passes Paperwork Mandate Repeal
 

The U.S. House of Representatives today, Thursday March 3rd, passed 314 to 112 a bill that would repeal a tax information reporting mandate included in last year’s health care overhaul bill.

AGC wrote a letter to all Representatives urging them to support the bill.  AGC designated the vote a “Key Vote” for purposes of its legislative scorecard on issues of importance to the construction industry.

The new health care law expanded tax information reporting rules by requiring businesses to issue a Form 1099 for any payments to corporations (rather than just to individuals) and for any payments for property (rather than just for services or investment income) that exceed $600 per year, per payee. 

The bill, H.R. 4, the Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act of 2011, would also repeal the new Form 1099 filing requirement for taxpayers who rent real property.  The provision was included in the small business lending bill Congress enacted in September 2010.

The Senate passed its own Form 1099 mandate repeal as an amendment to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill in January.

The House and Senate must pass identical legislation before sending it to the President for his signature.

For more information on the 1099 reporting requirement and to write your Senators and Representative, use the AGC Legislative Action Center by clicking here

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

WATER
EPA Office of Water Testifies At Congressional Hearing
 

The new Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water at EPA, Nancy Stoner, testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment at a hearingconcerning EPA’s FY12 water program budget. Freshman Chairman of the Subcommittee Bob Gibbs (R-OH) chose to focus his opening statement and questions on what he called “the proliferation of so-called ‘guidance’ coming out of EPA in an attempt to short-circuit the process for changing Agency policy without following a proper, transparent rulemaking process.”  Chairman Gibbs took issue with EPA’s guidance documents having the force of de facto rules instead of advisory guidelines. While the Republicans’ focus remained on regulatory enforcement of the Clean Water Act, new Ranking Member Tim Bishop (D-NY) and panel Democrats took issue with the proposed cuts to State Revolving Fund appropriations, both in the President’s FY12 Budget Request and in the Continuing Resolution that recently passed the House to fund the rest of FY11. He was particularly worried about the impact the reduction of funds would have on the construction industry, citing the 22% unemployment rate the industry is currently facing.

Despite the SRF programs being one of the largest budget line-items for the Office of Water, most of the questions in the hearing focused on the Clean Water Act permitting process and enforcement. Many on the Subcommittee took the time to vociferously oppose unfunded mandates without making the connection that AGC has been bringing to the Hill – without federal financing assistance to help states and localities build and maintain water infrastructure, EPA’s water quality regulations for drinking water and wastewater become unfunded mandates. AGC will continue to educate and inform Members of Congress about the impacts of funding cuts to the SRF programs.

For more information, contact Scott Berry at (703) 837-5321 or berrys@agc.org Return to Top

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