Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org March 31, 2011
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On the Inside
TAX
275 Days Until 3% Withholding Begins – Action Needed
TRANSPORTATION
Reauthorization Effort Focuses on Ohio
AGC Brings Reauthorization Recommendations to House T&I Committee
TCC Fly-In: Your Elected Officials Need to Hear from You
PIPELINE SAFETY
Transportation Secretary LaHood Brings Pipeline Safety Message to CONEXPO-CON/AGG
ENVIRONMENT
AGC Calls on Congress to Restore Funding to Diesel Retrofit Program
FEDERAL
Navy Decides to Forego PLAs in Guam After AGC Weighs in On Issue
Hotel Registration Deadline Approaching for AGC’s Federal Contractors Conference
CONGRESS
Key Votes Possible in Senate
PAC
AGC PAC Sets Goals, Approves Contributions and Makes Changes at March 21 Meeting
TAX
275 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.

On March 15, 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. AGC members have sent more than 2000 messages to Congress on this issue in the last two weeks.

Currently H.R. 674 has 46 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

TRANSPORTATION
Reauthorization Effort Focuses on Ohio
 

AGC is working with its construction industry and transportation allies in the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) and the Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) on a series of media events in Ohio on Thursday, April 14 to highlight the need for Congress to pass a multi-year transportation reauthorization bill.  The events, which will be held in conjunction with the release of a new TRIP report on the cost of congestion in Ohio, will highlight how the state’s business community needs improved transportation connections to be competitive and to add jobs. 

Media events will be held at local businesses in Columbus and Cincinnati that will emphasize the importance of good transportation to the success of their businesses.  In addition to the two media events, the coalition is launching a statewide advertising campaign highlighting the connection between good transportation networks and a healthy business community. The Ohio Contractors Association and TRIP will also hold related news events in Toledo and Cleveland, also on April 14.

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

AGC Brings Reauthorization Recommendations to House T&I Committee
 

AGC Vice President Paul Diederich (left) represented AGC at a hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, which is soliciting ideas to include in the highway and transit authorization legislation. Diederich told the committee of the need for certainty in funding so that states can make decisions about long term highway and bridge improvements and contractors can have confidence in maintaining their work force and investing in new equipment.

The testimony pointed out the need for increased revenue by making an analogy between postage stamps and the highway user fee. Diederich offered the following example: “When President Eisenhower signed the first highway bill in 1956, the user fee was 3 cents-per-gallon, and a first-class postage stamp was the same.  Today the user fee stands at 18.4 cents-per-gallon, six times the rate in 1956.  On the other hand, a first class stamp costs 44 cents, more than 14 times the rate in 1956.  It is absolutely critical that we continue to invest in our nation’s infrastructure in order to maintain the integrity of what we have, as well as to improve in areas of need.”

AGC’s testimony also pointed out that without increased revenue the highway program will have to be reduced by as much as 30 percent, requiring programs and funding categories to be cut if this becomes the new reality. Among the reforms to the program that were suggested to expedite project delivery were the following: delegation of environmental reviews to the states; concurrent decision making; and new authority over utilities to have their facilities moved in a timely fashion and quicker right of way acquisition. AGC also suggested some supplemental financing options that should be considered to help close the funding gap, but cautioned that while public private partnerships (PPPs) have a place in financing transportation infrastructure projects, they are not a panacea and are a viable option on only a small percent of projects.  

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

TCC Fly-In: Your Elected Officials Need to Hear from You
 
Join your industry allies in Washington, D.C., on May 24-25 for the Transportation Construction Coalition’s 2011 Legislative Fly-in as we make the case that “Transportation Moves the Economy.”

Your Congressional delegation needs to hear from you about the importance of transportation infrastructure investment to the nation’s economy – creating jobs while building the future.  Federal transportation programs face challenges like never before. SAFETEA-LU expired on September 30, 2009 and funding for the highway and transit programs have been continued through a series of short term extensions. Highway Trust Fund revenue is insufficient to support current funding levels. A multitude of new Representatives and Senators are unfamiliar with how these programs operate and the benefits they bring not only to their states or districts but to the national economy. Congress needs to understand that reduced Federal investment undermines state and local transportation programs and hurts the construction industry: contractors, material suppliers, designers, equipment manufacturers and labor.

The Fly-In schedule is as follows:

Tuesday May 24, 2011

11:00 am-1:30 pm       AGC Issues Briefing Lunch

2:00 pm- 4:30 pm        Legislative Briefing

6:00 pm                         Capitol Hill Reception

Wednesday May 25, 2011

7:00 am – 7:45 am      Continental Breakfast

8:00 am – 5:00 pm      Congressional Visits

To register for the Fly-In and for hotel information, click here.

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

PIPELINE SAFETY
Transportation Secretary LaHood Brings Pipeline Safety Message to CONEXPO-CON/AGG
 

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood attended AGC’s 92nd Annual Convention in Las Vegas to discuss pipeline safety and federal investment in transportation infrastructure. 

The Common Ground Alliance hosted Secretary LaHood and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) Administrator Cynthia Quarterman at the CONEXPO-CON/AGG construction show, where they outlined national measures designed to improve the safety of oil and gas pipelines. AGC plays a lead role in the pipeline safety coalition and helped organize the media event.

AGC member and past Municipal & Utilities Division Chair Brad Barringer of B.R.S. Inc. (Richfield, N.C.), pictured above with Secretary LaHood, also spoke at the event, highlighting the perspective of the professional excavation community and the need for casual excavators to call 811 before they dig. Barringer's remarks spoke to the need for underground damage prevention to be a shared responsibility and emphasized that all excavation companies want their employees to return home safely at the end of every day. His remarks were featured in Engineering News-Record.

For more information contact Scott Berry at (703) 837-521 or berrys@agc.org. Return to Top

ENVIRONMENT
AGC Calls on Congress to Restore Funding to Diesel Retrofit Program
 

AGC this week signed a letter with more than 400 organizations to call on Congress to restore funding for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA).  The letter specifically requests Congress to fund the DERA program at a level of at least $50 million in fiscal year 2012.

Enacted in 2005, DERA is a voluntary national and state-level grant and loan program to reduce diesel emissions.  Congress reauthorized the program for another five years in late 2010. 

Seventeen AGC Chapters have applied for DERA grants on behalf of their members to help them retrofit their construction equipment, with roughly $9 million in grants having been awarded to five chapters. 

President Obama’s budget request to Congress for fiscal year 2012 recommends terminating the DERA program.  AGC is working with a broad coalition of industry and environmental groups to ensure that Congressional and Administration support for the DERA program is renewed and that federal funding is continued.

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

FEDERAL
Navy Decides to Forego PLAs in Guam After AGC Weighs in On Issue
 

The Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), after considerable time and effort in evaluating numerous factors and realities in the Federal procurement process, has decided not to utilize Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) in Guam.

In accordance with Executive Order 13502 (EO) and additional Federal regulations, NAVFAC considered requiring the use of a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for construction projects in Guam and invited AGC to comment. The agency gathered input from industry, organized labor, and government officials from both the federal government and the government of Guam to assess whether requiring a PLA for construction projects on Guam would meet the economy and efficiency goals of the Executive Order. AGC sent extensive comments to NAVFAC detailing numerous considerations that must be made before making a final decision.

Some key considerations NAVFAC researched before making a final decision included the following:

  • The Department of Defense (DoD) has executed construction projects in Guam for many decades and has not encountered delays due to labor-management instability.
  • PLAs have not been used for any prior DoD construction projects on Guam.
  • There is no precedent for strikes or work stoppages by construction workers at military construction projects on Guam.
  • There was no evidence that implementation of a PLA and its increased labor costs would bring about enhanced efficiencies that would meet the economic goals of the EO.

Ultimately, the agency decided not to utilize PLAs for the massive rebuilding in Guam. The Joint Guam Program Office (JGPO) was established to facilitate and manage provisions of the Defense Policy Review Initiative that call for the relocation of approximately 8,000 Marines and their 9,000 dependents from Okinawa to Guam. NAVFAC was designated as the design and construction agent for this endeavor and is responsible for all military construction contract award and administration for DoD on Guam.

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

Hotel Registration Deadline Approaching for AGC’s Federal Contractors Conference
Register by April 9 to Guarantee Hotel Discount
 

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. The Water 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 the conference website.

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

CONGRESS
Key Votes Possible in Senate
 

As many as three AGC “Key Votes” are possible in the Senate this week as the chamber continues consideration of small business legislation.

U.S. EPA Greenhouse Gas Regulation

AGC sent a Key Vote letter to all Senators this week to urge them to vote in support of an amendment offered by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that would prohibit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gases to address climate change.  AGC believes that EPA is using the Clean Air Act as the wrong tool under which to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and would make it harder for construction activity to take place.  EPA began regulating large stationary sources on January 1.

IRS Form 1099 Repeal

This week AGC also sent a Key Vote letter to ask Senators to vote in support of an amendment offered by Senator Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) that would permanently repeal the IRS Form 1099 reporting requirement included in the 2010 healthcare overhaul bill.  The mandate requires all businesses to submit Form 1099s to any business with which it purchases $600 or more in goods or services in a year, creating a tremendous paperwork and compliance burden for businesses of all sizes.  The provision goes into effect on January 1, 2012.

Senators are also working towards a vote on the House-passed Form 1099 repeal bill, H.R. 4, which, if approved by the Senate in its current form, would clear the measure for the President. 

3 Percent Withholding Repeal

Earlier in the month, AGC sent a letter that would make a vote in support of an amendment filed by Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) to repeal the 3 percent withholding mandate on government contracts a Key Vote.  The amendment would repeal the 3 percent withholding mandate on federal, state, and large local governments whereby starting January 1, 2012, they will be required to withhold 3 percent of any payment to a contractor for goods or services, including construction.  Repeal of the 3 percent withholding mandate is a top legislative priority of AGC.

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

PAC
AGC PAC Sets Goals, Approves Contributions and Makes Changes at March 21 Meeting
 

Last week, AGC PAC launched the “Victory 2012: Each One, Reach One” campaign, which encourages each AGC PAC contributor to reach out to enlist new contributors for the AGC PAC. The initiative will help AGC PAC meet its goal of $1.2 million in contributions during the 2012 election cycle.  The AGC PAC raised nearly $200,000 towards that goal.

PAC co-chair Doug Pruitt presided over the PAC Contributions subcommittee where he recognized Bill B. Armstrong, Jr. (Armstrong Industries, LLC, Roswell, N.M.) for 25 years as a 535 Club Member, and the following 30-year 535 Club Members:

  • Zack T. Burkett, III, Zack Burkett Co, Graham, Texas
  • Robert P. Elsperman, Tarlton Corporation, St. Louis, Mo.
  • William G. Heffner, AGG Rok Materials, Grove City, Ohio

The meeting also approved more than $200,000 in contributions to candidates across the country. 

Members reaffirmed the importance of PAC contributors delivering PAC checks directly to candidates.  The committee talked about the need to increase PAC contributions during the 2012 election cycle and decided unanimously to increase the required contribution for the 535 club from $1,000 to $1,500, beginning January 1, 2012. 

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

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