Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org March 17, 2011
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On the Inside
TAX
289 Days Until 3% Withholding Begins – Action Needed
MEETINGS
AGC’s 92nd Annual Convention Highlights
BUDGET
House Passes Three Week Funding Bill
LABOR
AGC-inspired Good Samaritan Act Introduced in the House This Week
INFRASTRUCTURE
Bipartisan Group of Senators Propose Infrastructure Bank Legislation
AGC Releases Plan to Revive Construction Industry
FEDERAL
New Rules to Require Federal Agencies to Justify Sole-Source Contracts to 8(a) Firms
Corps of Engineers - Civil Works Budget Update
Registration Open for AGC’s Federal Contractors Conference
TAX
289 Days Until 3% Withholding Begins – Action Needed
 

AGC continues to urge Congress to repeal the 3 percent withholding mandate on federal, state, and local government contracts. Starting January 1, 2012, public owners will begin withholding 3 percent of every payment to contractors for goods and services.

 

This week Senators Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and David Vitter (R-La.) filed an amendment to small business legislation pending in the Senate to repeal the 3 percent withholding mandate. A vote on the amendment has not yet been scheduled. AGC is urging Senators to support the amendment and will record Senators’ votes on AGC’s Legislative Scorecard.

Stand-alone legislation has also been introduced in the House and Senate to repeal this mandate. Grassroots contact from AGC members is very important. To write your legislators and urge them to cosponsor the legislation, click here.

Currently H.R. 674 has 38 cosponsors in the House and two Senate bills, S. 89 and S.164, have 10 cosponsors. To see if your Senators and Representative are or have been a cosponsor of legislation to repeal the 3 percent withholding mandate, click here.

For more information, contact Karen Lapsevic at lapsevick@agc.org. Return to Top

MEETINGS
AGC’s 92nd Annual Convention Highlights
 

AGC’s 92nd Annual Convention, held in conjunction with the 2011 CONEXPO-CON/AGG tradeshow, will be held on March 21-25 and provide general and specialty contractors with the opportunity to gain the knowledge and expertise needed to survive and thrive in the coming year. The convention offers numerous sessions on federal legislative and regulatory issues.

Some highlights include:

  • AGC PAC Meeting, Monday, March 21 at 8:30AM
  • Tax and Fiscal Affairs Committee Meeting, Monday, March 21 at 1:30PM
  • Legislative Issues Lunch on Tuesday, March 22 at 12:30PM

In addition, legislative and regulatory issues will be on tap for the Highway and Federal Contractor division meetings on Wednesday, March 23 at 1:30PM and even more during the Municipal and Utility and Building Division sessions on Thursday, March 24 at 9AM. The Safety Committee holds a session on Safety Excellence on Wednesday, March 23 at 10:30AM.

Other important meetings are included on the environmental, labor and risk management issues facing the industry. View the convention schedule here.

For those of you attending, we look forward to welcoming you to this year’s convention and hope the rest of you will be able to join us next year!  To learn more about the annual convention, download the brochure, or register, visit our website.

For more information, please contact Jeff Shoaf at shoafj@agc.org. Return to Top

BUDGET
House Passes Three Week Funding Bill
 

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed - by a vote of 271-158 - a three week continuing resolution (CR) that will fund the federal government through April 8.  The vote on the latest CR was much closer than the three previous with the number of no votes increasing by 67 (48 Republicans 19 Democrats). The CR now awaits action in the Senate where it is expected to be voted on and pass by this Friday when the current CR expires. 

The new CR contains $6 billion in cuts, which is consistent with House Republicans’ pledge to cut $2 billion in spending per week from FY 2010 levels, bringing the total of discretionary spending cuts from the FY 2011 budget to $10 billion.  The majority of these cuts come from the elimination of dollars earmarked in FY 2010 and the reduction or elimination of programs that President Obama requested to eliminate.  The impact of these cuts on federal construction accounts has been minimal.

This CR is likely to be the last non-controversial extension of federal funding.  Conservatives in both the House and Senate are starting to become more vocal in their opposition to these short-term CRs.  This poses a potential problem due to the fact that Republicans and Democrats remain about $50 billion apart in how much spending they would like to cut for the remainder of FY 2011 and do not appear to be close on a deal to address that difference.  If a deal is not struck and opposition to another short-term CR strengthens, it leaves the door open to a possible government shutdown on April 9.

AGC will continue to advocate that now is not the time to make severe cuts to construction spending.

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

LABOR
AGC-inspired Good Samaritan Act Introduced in the House This Week
 

This week, Congressman Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) and Congressman Jim Matheson (D-Utah) introduced the Good Samaritan for Construction, Architectural, and Engineering Volunteers Act, H.R. 1145.  

This bill would provide construction contractors and other entities limited immunity from liability for negligence when providing services or equipment on a volunteer basis in response to a declared emergency or disaster.  It would not cover gross negligence or willful misconduct. 

Those protected under the bill would be providing such assistance at the direction of a public official acting in an official capacity. This legislation would provide limited protection for those responding in the immediate aftermath of a tragic event.  The fear of law suits should not make construction contractors hesitate or decide not to assist in times of need.

AGC supports this bill and will be asking other members of the House of Representatives to co-sponsor the legislation once it is introduced.

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

INFRASTRUCTURE
Bipartisan Group of Senators Propose Infrastructure Bank Legislation
 

Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Kay Bailey Hutchison, (R-Texas) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) announced a new proposal for the creation of a federal infrastructure Bank on Tuesday.  The legislation, which has yet to be introduced, is called the “Building and Upgrading Infrastructure for the Long-Term Development Act” (BUILD Act) and will create a federal government owned but independent financing authority.

The financing authority known as the American Infrastructure Financing Authority (AIFA) will be authorized to receive $10 billion in upfront federal funding to provide loans and loan guarantees (no grants) for transportation, energy and water infrastructure projects that meet certain criteria.  Some requirements include projects that are at least $100 billion in size and are of regional and national significance.  Projects must have a clear public benefit, meet rigorous economic, environmental, and technical standards, and be backed by a dedicated revenue stream.

The Build Act would also provide protections for projects in rural parts of the country by lowering the project threshold to $20 billion and requiring that 5 percent of the initial funding of the AIFA will be dedicated to helping rural projects.   AIFA will also include an Office of Rural Assistance to provide technical assistance regarding the development and financing of rural projects.

Once the BUILD Act is formally introduced, AGC will provide a detailed analysis of the legislation.

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

AGC Releases Plan to Revive Construction Industry
 

AGC released a new national plan Tuesday detailing measures to stimulate demand for construction. The plan is necessary to reverse construction employment declines that have taken place in 317 out of 337 metro areas since January 2007, according to new data.

The plan outlines measures to boost private sector construction activity, improve aging infrastructure and cut needless and costly regulations.

AGC arranged a media event to release the plan, which was co-hosted by the Arizona Builders’ Alliance and Arizona Chapter, AGC, at a stalled hotel project in downtown Phoenix. It included participation from Arizona Chapter, AGC chairman Gary Haydon (Haydon Building Corp.) and president David Martin, as well as Arizona Builders’ Alliance executive director Mark Minter.

Read Building a Stronger Future: A New Blueprint for Economic Growth.

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

FEDERAL
New Rules to Require Federal Agencies to Justify Sole-Source Contracts to 8(a) Firms
 

The Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) Counsel on March 16, 2011 issued an interim rule amending the FAR to implement section 811 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Pub. L. 111-84). The provision requires Federal agencies to provide a written justification prior to awarding a sole-source contract in an amount over $20 million under the 8(a) program by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

This written justification must include a description of the agency's needs, a determination that the contract is in the government's best interest, and verification that its costs will be fair and reasonable. It must also be approved by an appropriate official and, after award, made public. Authorized by 15 U.S.C. 637(a), the 8(a) program enables contract awards to be made to small business concerns determined eligible for the 8(a) program by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

The regulatory change, which was required in the 2010 Defense Authorization bill, could have serious implications for Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs), which, along with Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations, are eligible to receive 8(a) contracts of any value. All other 8(a) participants are capped at receiving sole-source contracts of $3.5 million for services and $5.5 million for manufacturing.

AGC notes that the requirement for a justification is not a ceiling or a “cap” on sole-source awards over $20 million for 8(a) contractors. The statute requires execution of the written justification documenting the reasons for making the award on a sole-source basis rather than competing among the small businesses in the 8(a) program. Prior to the enactment of this requirement, a sole-source award of a new contract made using the 8(a) contracting authority did not require a J&A, regardless of the dollar value, and  the new statute does not institute any requirement for a J&A for sole-source 8(a) awards that are less than or equal to $20 million. Incidentally, the FAR Council noted in the interim rule that the new regulation may “…indirectly benefit the 9,165 currently certified section 8(a) firms by improving their likelihood of a contract award through increased competition.”

AGC will continue to analyze this interim rule and submit comments to the FAR Council. The government is accepting public comments on each of the proposed rule changes through May 16. Comments can be submitted through Regulations.gov, or mailed to the General Services Administration, Regulatory Secretariat; attention Hada Flowers, 1275 First Street N.E., 7th Floor, Washington, D.C., 20417.

To view a copy of the rule change, click here

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

Corps of Engineers - Civil Works Budget Update
 

As Congress continues to debate funding levels for FY 2011 and beyond, there have been several developments in the debate over the future of the Civil Works Program.

The House Transportation & Infrastructure Water Resources & Environment Subcommittee and the House Energy & Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee held hearings last week on Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works funding in the FY2012 Administration budget request. 

The House Water Resources Subcommittee hearing was held on March 15, chaired by Congressman Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), was attended by approximately a third of the Subcommittee members.  Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy and Lieutenant General Robert L. Van Antwerp, Chief of Engineers, testified on behalf of the Corps of Engineers.  Committee members challenged the Corps over dredging problems on the Lower Mississippi River, use of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund and the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, “404 permit” problems, and regulatory oversight.  On March 16, the House Energy & Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, chaired by Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), held a budget hear with Secretary Darcy and LTG Van Antwerp testifying. During that hearing they faced most of the same issues raised in the earlier House Water Resources Subcommittee hearing.

Finally, the staff of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has indicated that the committee may hold a hearing on a new Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) in April or May.  Also, the Committee’s ranking member, Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) appear to have reached an accommodation on “earmarks,” and would allow Senate consideration of specific earmark requests if they are first considered and approved by Senate authorization committees.

AGC will continue working with House and Senate leaders to ensure a well-funded Civil Works program and regularly enacted Water Resources Development Act.

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

Registration Open for AGC’s Federal Contractors Conference
May 2-5, 2011 | The Mayflower Hotel | Washington, DC
 

The 2011 AGC Federal Contractors Conference will be held May 2-5, 2011 at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. This meeting is the only national event where contractors and federal agency personnel can meet in a collaborative forum to review federal construction contracting issues and trends from around the United States.

These insightful and highly productive exchanges have solidified the need for both federal construction contractors and the federal construction agencies to share information on a wide variety of issues, foster better communication, and create real solutions.

If you are engaged in any aspect of constructing, designing, or planning a Federal project and you are a general contractor, specialty contractor, service/supplier, attorney or any other important stakeholder already engaged in the Federal market, this conference has a place for you. If you are interested in learning more about Federal contracting opportunities and how to get started, this conference is a great place to begin your learning experience. AGC chapter leadership and staff are also invited to attend and be a part of the great meeting.

Continuing on the success of separate concurrent tracks that highlight each of the unique federal and federally-assisted markets, AGC has added an additional new track of education sessions to help contractors at all experience levels better understand and be successful in the federal and federally-assisted markets. TheWater Infrastructure Track includes meetings with agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Army Corps of Engineers – Civil Works Directorate. The Federal Facilities Track includes meetings with the General Services Administration, the International Construction Agencies, and the Military Construction agencies of the Department of Defense. The Highway and Transportation Track features meetings with the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration and the transit and rail agencies.

To learn more about the conference, download the conference brochure and register, visit http://www.agc.org/cs/events/2011_federal_contractors_conference.

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

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