Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org June 30, 2011
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Highlights in This Week’s Issue
GRASSROOTS ACTION
AGC Launches 3 Percent Repeal Campaign – Have You Taken Action?
AGENCIES
Take Action by July 11 on the EPA’s Proposed Construction General Permit (CGP) for Stormwater Runoff
CONGRESS
Senate and House Transportation Bills Close to Introduction
House Appropriators Zero-Out GSA Construction Funding for FY12
Debt Ceiling Debate at a Standstill
AGC is Working to Protect GPS Signals that Guide Construction Equipment
Highlights in This Week’s Issue
 

Take action by July 11 on the EPA’s Proposed Construction General Permit (CGP) for Stormwater Runoff and AGC continues to pressure Congress on repealing 3% withholding tax. Also, Senate and House Transportation Bills are Close to Introduction, contact with your Congressional Delegation is needed. Federal funding for GSA construction spending in jeopardy and the debt ceiling debate remains at a standstill. Return to Top

GRASSROOTS ACTION
AGC Launches 3 Percent Repeal Campaign – Have You Taken Action?
 

Momentum continues to build in Congress to repeal the three percent withholding tax, and AGC members and the construction industry have been at the forefront of the repeal campaign. This week AGC sent out individualized state-by-state updates to our members, which named legislators in their state that have not yet cosponsored three percent repeal legislation and encouraged members to take action and contact their representatives.


The legislation in the House and Senate continues to attract cosponsors, with 176 and 26 in the House and Senate respectively.  The legislation is one of the most bipartisan bills with 129 Republicans and 47 Democrats supporting the repeal legislation in the House. However, there are 98 Representatives who supported the bill in previous years but have yet to do so this Congress, which makes increased grassroots activity important.


The most recent additions to the House cosponsor list are:


Rep Bishop, Sanford D., Jr. [GA-2] - 6/23/2011
Rep DesJarlais, Scott [TN-4] - 6/23/2011
Rep Grimm, Michael G. [NY-13] - 6/23/2011
Rep Guinta, Frank C. [NH-1] - 6/24/2011
Rep Heinrich, Martin [NM-1] - 6/23/2011
Rep Holden, Tim [PA-17] - 6/24/2011
Rep Miller, Jeff [FL-1] - 6/24/2011
Rep Platts, Todd Russell [PA-19] - 6/24/2011
Rep Woodall, Rob [GA-7] - 6/23/2011


The most recent additions to the Senate cosponsor list are:


Sen Boozman, John [AR] - 6/28/2011
Sen McCaskill, Claire [MO] - 6/29/2011


The time for congressional action is ticking so we encourage every AGC member to encourage their employees and colleagues to contact Congress as well. AGC has provided the tools necessary to quickly and efficiently communicate with Congress.


The number of Chapters and members that have been helpful in contacting Congress is growing and we would like to highlight their activity in upcoming newsletters. Please share your stories with us and complete our survey.


Watch this video to learn more about the 3% withholding rule from AGC's Jeff Shoaf.


For more information, please contact Jeff Shoaf at (202) 547-3350 or
shoafj@agc.org Return to Top

AGENCIES
Take Action by July 11 on the EPA’s Proposed Construction General Permit (CGP) for Stormwater Runoff
 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) stormwater permit revisions would change the way contractors everywhere manage stormwater runoff. The revised construction general permit will replace the current 2008 permit, and EPA is accepting public comments on the draft until July 11, 2011.

The draft CGP includes significant changes that would increase the costs, labor, paperwork burdens and liability for construction site operators tasked with stormwater compliance. This affects all construction firms everywhere because states that run their own stormwater permit programs generally follow EPA’s lead in adopting enhanced protections. Please comment on the proposed permit.  AGC Chapters and members can easily send a letter directly to EPA through the AGC online Legislative Action Center. EPA must receive your comments by July 11, 2011.

EPA especially needs to hear from practitioners on how the proposal will impact them, their construction practices, and their businesses. AGC members’ input is crucial and will help shape the future of the construction stormwater runoff program.  For more information and analysis, click here.

Talking Points

  • EPA should not include the numeric stormwater limit or associated provisions in its new permit until the Agency has promulgated revisions to that regulation and concluded related litigation before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • EPA should avoid implementing overly-prescriptive erosion and sediment control requirements not specific to the December 2009 C&D ELG rule and issue guidance.
  • EPA should rely on its “Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program” to control construction site runoff to impaired waters and avoid setting unsubstantiated and costly benchmark limits.
  • EPA should allow simply quarterly reporting of turbidity data to track compliance with EPA’s numeric stormwater discharge limit.
  • EPA should extend the 2008 CGP for its full term until 2013.

Action Needed

Please visit AGC’s Legislative Action Center to send a comment letter to EPA. The online form will allow you to personally edit your comment letter. For more detailed instructions on submitting comments, click here.

Watch this video to learn more about EPA’s proposed permit for storm water runoff from AGC's Mike Kennedy.

For more information, please contact Leah Pilconis at (703) 837-5332 or pilconisl@agc.org. Return to Top

CONGRESS
Senate and House Transportation Bills Close to Introduction
Contact with Your Congressional Delegation Needed
 

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.) informed AGC and other transportation and construction stakeholder groups today that she is continuing to meet with EPW Committee Ranking Member Sen. Jim Inhofe (Okla.) to write a transportation reauthorization bill that will have bipartisan support.

Boxer also indicated that there are ongoing discussions with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) about finding additional Highway Trust Fund revenue to maintain the current highway and transit program funding levels. She said that the negotiations are at a critical juncture and that Senators needed to be contacted to develop the ground swell of support necessary to get a bill approved at current funding levels. She reiterated her intent of marking up a bill in Committee the week of July 27.

In the House, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) has said that he hopes to have a bill ready to be introduced the week of July 4. Chairman Mica has indicated that his bill will make significant reforms in the current highway and transit programs by consolidating or eliminating programs, streamlining the environmental review process, leveraging existing federal resources and enticing more private investment. Mica has also indicated, however, that the bill will not include a revenue increase and funding, and will therefore be limited by current Highway Trust Fund revenue.

You are encouraged to contact both of your senators and representative to urge them to work to complete a transportation bill before the current authorization expires on September 30, 2011. Please visit AGC’s Legislative Action Center to send an email correspondence requesting action.

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

House Appropriators Zero-Out GSA Construction Funding for FY12
 

On June 23, the House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2012 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. The legislation provides annual funding for the Treasury Department, the Executive Office of the President, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, the Small Business Administration, the General Services Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and several other independent agencies.

The bill includes a total of $19.9 billion in funding for the agencies, which is nearly $2 billion - or 9% - below last year’s level, and nearly $6 billion below the President’s fiscal year 2012 request. The General Services Administration’s (GSA) Federal Building Fund has now borne the brunt of these cuts -- the bill allocates $0 dollars for design and construction services and only $280 million for repairs and alterations for FY 2012. This cut comes on the heels of the recent FY 2011 budget deal that cut the agency’s budget by $1.7 billion.

It is anticipated, and somewhat explained in the Committee Report to the legislation, that the Committee is holding off on new construction of civilian Federal facilities as it and the Administration are concerned there are many unneeded and underutilized civilian Federal buildings that need to be taken off the Federal inventory. In the meantime, the Committee has lent its support to the creation of a Civilian Property BRAC to address this issue. Both the Administration and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee are considering proposals to create such a commission.  It is expected at the end of this process there will be an inventory of federal structures designated for expanded use, reduced use, decommissioning, modification and sale.

AGC is working with Senate Appropriations leaders to voice our concerns about these drastic cuts and will work to ensure the Senate provides funding for this critical program.

For the text and report of legislation considered today by the Appropriations Committee, please visit:

http://appropriations.house.gov/UploadedFiles/FY_2012_FS_Full_xml.pdf
http://appropriations.house.gov/UploadedFiles/FY_2012_FIN-SERVICES_FULL_COMMITTEE_REPORT.pdf

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

Debt Ceiling Debate at a Standstill
Senate Foregoing July 4 Recess
 

With the breakdown of Vice President Biden’s bipartisan deficit reduction negotiations last week over Democrats’ insistence on tax increases and Republicans’ refusal to accept any increase, the Senate is planning to stay in Washington and forego their July 4 recess in order to focus on deficit reduction negotiations, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-N.V.). 

Senate Democrats will host a meeting next Wednesday with President Obama and Biden to discuss proposals for deficit reduction.  President Obama declined a similar invitation from Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.  In addition to the meeting with the president and vice president, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) is planning to introduce his much delayed budget proposal.  Chairman Conrad claims his budget will cut more than $4 trillion from the federal deficit.

It is unlikely the bipartisan negotiations will resume as the political rhetoric heats up before the August 2 deadline for reaching a deal on raising the debt ceiling.  It has been reported that the latest proposal Republican leaders walked away from included $1 trillion in discretionary spending cuts over 10 years, coupled with revenue raisers of about $400 billion over 10 years.  The $400 billion in increased revenue is the deal breaker for Republicans. 

It appears that if any deal is made on the debt ceiling and deficit reduction prior to August 2, it will be made between the president and House and Senate Leaders. 

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

AGC is Working to Protect GPS Signals that Guide Construction Equipment
 

AGC has joined an industry group called the “Coalition to Save Our GPS,” which was organized to protect existing GPS receivers from the possibility of interference from the development of a strong signaled wireless broadband system being established by a  company called  LightSquared. LightSquared has petitioned and received a conditional permission from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to expand use of the Mobile Satellite Spectrum (MSS) immediately adjacent to GPS spectrum. The Coalition was formed because studies have shows that the LightSquared system has can cause severe interference with millions of GPS receivers currently in use.

Global Positioning System (GPS) manufacturers, however, have found that the new network would create interference with existing GPS signals, significantly disrupting high-precision GPS used on construction equipment, aircraft and in other applications. The Coalition includes equipment manufacturers, users and other businesses that rely on an accurate and reliable GPS signal in their operations.

On June 23, the House Appropriations Committee included an amendment to the fiscal 2012 Financial Services spending bill that would hinder LightSquared’s plan. The amendment would prevent the FCC from implementing a January 26 conditional waiver that would allow LightSquared to construct its network, which includes 40,000 ground stations. The FCC initiated a study to look into the claims of both sides in the dispute. The 750-page report was released on Thursday, June 30 and can be found here.

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

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