Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org September 1, 2011
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On the Inside
TAX
U.S. House to Take Up 3 Percent Withholding Repeal
ECONOMIC STIMULUS
Construction and Architecture Groups Urge President, Congress to Adopt Measures to Boost Design and Construction Work
TRANSPORTATION
AGC Supports President Obama’s Call for Congress to Extend Highway/Transit/Aviation Programs – Continue Gas Tax – AGC Contacting Super Committee
AGC Contacts Super Committee, President Jobs Council
New Report Details Deteriorating State of Nation's Rural Roads and Bridges, Rural Fatality Rate Three Times above Average
White House Announces New Infrastructure Streamlining Initiative
AGC PAC
Kansas City Chapter Meets with Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO)
Nevada-2 Special Election is Underway; Oregon-1 Field Takes Shape
TAX
U.S. House to Take Up 3 Percent Withholding Repeal
 

In a memorandum to House Republicans Monday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) put repeal of the 3 percent withholding mandate on the Republican Party’s legislative agenda this fall to provide tax relief for American employers.  The House is expected to consider the legislation as early as October.

Cantor states in the memorandum that the House Republican leadership “will move quickly this fall to repeal this burdensome requirement and relieve construction contractors, medical providers, manufacturers, farmers, and many others providing goods and services under government contracts of the uncertainty the impending law is creating.”

This week, AGC’s CEO Steve Sandherr will be submitting a request to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to testify at a public hearing on Sept. 12 on proposed regulations to change the effective date of the 3 percent withholding mandate to Jan. 1, 2013 for new and materially modified contracts, and to Jan.1, 2014 for all contracts - new and existing.  AGC will be expressing support for the implementation delay and opposition to imposing the 3 percent withholding mandate on existing contracts on Jan. 1, 2014. 

AGC will work closely with House Republican leadership as it prepares for debate on 3 percent withholding.  During the last days of the congressional recess, AGC urges its members and chapters to contact their senators and representatives to ask that they co-sponsor legislation to repeal the 3 percent withholding mandate when they return to Washington next week.

To date, 221 representatives – a majority – have signed on in support of the 3 percent withholding repeal bill in the House, and there are 29 senators behind similar legislation in the U.S. Senate.  These numbers are expected to go up when Congress returns.  Many AGC members have continued the push for 3% cosponsoship during the August congressional recess and there have been a few commitments from members who want to support repeal.

Use AGC’s 3 percent withholding website to find additional resources including talking points, IRS regulations, videos on the impact of this legislation, letters sent to Congress by AGC, and ways to become involved.  Please continue to make contact with your legislators and encourage your employees to do the same by using AGC’s Legislative Action Center.

For a list of cosponsors in your state, please click here.

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

ECONOMIC STIMULUS
Construction and Architecture Groups Urge President, Congress to Adopt Measures to Boost Design and Construction Work
On Eve of Obama’s Infrastructure Initiative, American Institute of Architects and the Associated General Contractors of America Unite to Promote Design and Construction
 

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) issued a joint statement on August 31, 2011, urging policy makers to take immediate steps to create jobs in the design and construction industry.

On the eve of the Obama Administration’s major jobs initiative, the AIA and AGC- which together represent nearly 110,000 architects and general contractors - said the effort is designed to highlight how vital the design and construction industry is to the health of the entire economy. The industry employs more than 5 million people and has suffered from unemployment of one and one-half to two times the national average over the last three years.  Both Kermit Baker, chief economist for AIA, and Ken Simonson, chief economist for AGC, noted that investment in infrastructure is critical to the entire economy, as the value of construction put in place each year equals between five and eight percent of annual GDP.

"The devastating problems facing the construction industry are crippling our broader economy," said Stephen Sandherr, AGC’s CEO. "You can't fix our economy until you fix the construction industry". Sandherr added that policy makers should act on the proposals outlined in the association's construction industry recovery plan, Build Now for the Future.

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

TRANSPORTATION
AGC Supports President Obama’s Call for Congress to Extend Highway/Transit/Aviation Programs – Continue Gas Tax – AGC Contacting Super Committee
 

In a speech from the Rose Garden yesterday, President Barack Obama called on Congress to extend authorization of funding for the highway, transit and aviation programs as well as authorization for collecting the federal gas tax. The President warned of dire consequences for construction workers and their families across the country if these programs are allowed to lapse. AGC’s CEO, Stephen Sandherr, participated in the event to highlight the impact of inaction on the construction industry and to emphasize the need for Congress to act quickly upon its return from its August recess to ensure that a short term extension of the highway, transit and aviation programs are put in place and that a long term solution is found.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) both responded immediately, indicating their intent to keep these infrastructure programs from shutting down.

In addition to shoring up support for a short term extension, AGC has been contacting Republican senators on both the Environment and Public Works Committee and the Finance Committee, seeking support for a funding package that would allow the highway and transit programs to be authorized for a two year period at current funding levels. The current balance in the Highway Trust Fund, along with incoming revenue from the motor fuels fees and other excise taxes, are not sufficient to maintain current funding levels. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is attempting to find revenue that would allow the programs’ funding levels to be maintained and AGC is working in support of this effort. 

The highway and transit programs expire on Sept. 30, 2011. Failure to enact an extension of authorization would result in a shutdown of the Federal Highway Administration and would halt reimbursements to states for ongoing construction contracts. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization has been operating since September 2007 under a series of 22 short term extensions. Just prior to the August recess the differences between the House and the Senate resulted in failure to pass an extension resulting in the shutdown of FAA funded contracts around the country as well as the inability to collect the airline ticket tax. The current FAA authorization is only in place until Sept. 16. AGC is urging Congress to work out the differences and not allow these programs to be halted in the meantime.

To see AGC’s press release, please click here.

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

AGC Contacts Super Committee, President Jobs Council
 

The debt ceiling compromise agreed to earlier this summer established the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the “Super Committee.”  This committee is charged with making recommendations for a long term solution to the Nation’s fiscal woes. In addition President Obama has established a jobs council to develop recommendations for spurring job growth and has requested time next week to address a joint session of Congress to present his proposals. 

AGC has been in contact with members of the Super Committee as well as the President’s jobs council providing a copy of AGC’s document “Building a Stronger Future, A New Blueprint for Economic Growth,” which includes a series of recommendations for spurring economic growth, and sharing AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr’s statement that “you cannot fix the economy until you fix construction.”  AGC has also written to the full House and Senate pointing out the dire circumstances currently facing the construction industry, with over 2 million jobs lost in the past four years, a 30 percent reduction in the annual amount of construction put in place and urging consideration of AGC’s recommendations that are contained in the “Blueprint.”

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

New Report Details Deteriorating State of Nation's Rural Roads and Bridges, Rural Fatality Rate Three Times above Average
 

The nation’s rural roads and bridges are rapidly deteriorating, causing the fatality rate along back roads to triple the national average for highway fatalities, according to a new report on rural road conditions released today. The report’s findings prompted members of the business, construction and transportation communities to call for passage of long-delayed federal legislation to fund road repairs and bridge maintenance.

“Employers understand all too well that when rural roads crumble, bridges deteriorate and safety declines, virtually every aspect of the American economy suffers,” said Stephen Sandherr, AGC’s CEO. “The best way to boost our economy, support private sector growth and cut unemployment is to pass a new surface transportation bill.”

The report, “Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland,” found that the highway fatality rate on the nation’s rural roads was 2.31 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles of travel, three times the fatality rate on all other roads. The report also found that 55 percent of the nation’s rural roads were rated poor, mediocre or just fair. And 23 percent of rural bridges were either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

The report, which was prepared by TRIP, a national transportation research group, ranked states based on their rural fatality rates, rural road conditions and the state of their rural bridges. It found that South Carolina and Florida had the highest rural road fatality rates. Vermont and Idaho have the highest percentage of rural roads in poor condition. Pennsylvania and Rhode Island lead the nation in the percentage of deficient rural bridges. Click here for complete state-by-state rankings.

Business and transportation industry leaders noted that employers rely on rural roads to ship much of the nation’s produce and goods. They said despite the clear connections between the economy and the nation’s road conditions, some in Washington were calling for additional transportation cuts, while others were even calling for an end to federal transportation funding. They cautioned that doing either would deprive states of the resources they need to improve road conditions, repair bridges and keep roads safe.

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

White House Announces New Infrastructure Streamlining Initiative
 

President Obama joined the call by congressional infrastructure leaders and announced plans to streamline the complex and sometimes time consuming federal permitting and review processes.  The memorandum instructs agencies to:

  1. Identify and work to expedite permitting and environmental reviews for high-priority infrastructure projects with significant potential for job creation;
  2. Implement new measures designed to improve accountability, transparency, and efficiency through the use of modern information technology. 

The plan requires the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, and Transportation to select up to three high-priority infrastructure projects each for expedited review by their respective departments, based on the following criteria:

  1. The project will create jobs, with consideration given to the magnitude and timing of the direct and indirect employment impacts;
  2. All necessary funding to implement the project has been identified and is reasonably expected to be secured within six months of completion of the federal permitting and review processes;
  3. The significant remaining permit decisions, environmental reviews, consultations, or other actions required before construction can commence on the project are within the control and jurisdiction of the executive branch of the Federal Government and can be efficiently and effectively completed within 18 months of the date of this memorandum, with priority given to projects for which required federal actions can be completed within twelve months of the date of this memorandum.

AGC will closely monitor how this new policy will be implemented and how congressional leaders might incorporate a similar policy initiative in forthcoming long-term infrastructure authorization bills.

For more information, please contact Marco Giamberardino at (703) 837-5376 or giamberm@agc.org. Return to Top

AGC PAC
Kansas City Chapter Meets with Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO)
 

While Congress is out of town, wrapping up their August break, AGC members continue to meet with them locally to advocate on behalf of the industry. Last week, representatives of the Kansas City Chapter met with U.S. Representative Sam Graves (R-MO). Graves is the current chairman of the U.S. House Small Business Committee, which was established to protect and assist small businesses, and has been an ally of the industry evidenced by his committee holding a hearing in May on repealing the 3 percent withholding tax. During the meeting AGC addressed specific small business issues including access to capital and federal regulations. Graves has a 92 percent lifetime voting record with AGC and has received  AGC Political Action Committee contributions since he first became a candidate for office in 2000.

The representatives of the Kansas City Chapter included August L. Huber III, CEO of A.L. Huber, Inc. and Kansas City AGC Chapter Board Chair, Jeff Riesberg, Regional Manager of Ceco Concrete Construction and Board Chair of The Builders’ Association, and Don Greenwell, Executive Director and Allen Dillingham, Director of Government Affairs for the Kansas City Chapter. The attendees also addressed a desire to repeal the 3 percent withhold tax, the impact of the Environmental Protection Agencies new stormwater runoff rule and the need for Congress to reauthorization the highway funding program.

For more information, please contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org. Return to Top

Nevada-2 Special Election is Underway; Oregon-1 Field Takes Shape
 

With early voting underway in Nevada's 2nd Congressional District special election, Republicans outpace Democrats to the polls, a good sign for AGC PAC-backed candidate Mark Amodei (R). In Reno’s Washoe County, the most populous county in the district, Republicans account for 52 percent of the voters who have cast ballots early, compared with just 37 percent who have been Democrats. In Carson City, the state’s capital, the disparity is even greater: Republicans are out-voting Democrats 58 percent to 30 percent. In both places, the rate of Republican voting is out-performing party registration rates.

A former state legislator and state party chair, Amodei met with members of the Nevada Chapter-AGC last month. To show the construction industry's support of his candidacy, Chapter President Dave Backman presented Amodei with an AGC PAC check. Throughout his state house tenure, Amodei remained a friend of AGC members in Nevada. His prime opposition is Democrat Kate Marshall, the state treasurer. She has chastised Republicans for wanting to end Medicare, while touting her credentials in maintaining fiscal discipline in her office.

Governor Brian Sandoval (R) called for the special election following two-term Senator John Ensign's (R) resignation after a sex scandal and the district's three-term Representative Dean Heller (R) appointment to fill the remainder of his term.  The second district has been considered the most Republican of Nevada's three seats, but President Obama won the territory in 2008 by a margin of 89 votes out of more than 335,000 cast.  Heller won in 2010 with 52 percent. 

Meanwhile, in Oregon's 1st Congressional District, the ballot is set for the Nov. 8 primary. There are eight Democrats and five Republicans who qualified for the ballot after the August filing deadline. The leading Democrats are state senator Suzanne Bonamici and state labor commissioner Brad Avakian. The presumed Republican frontrunner is 2010 nominee Rob Cornilles, who received 43 percent in his contest against Representative David Wu (D) in November 2010.

The seat became available after Wu resigned Aug. 3, following months of accusations of erratic and improper behavior.  The special election will be conducted under the boundaries of the current seat, even though the state has drawn new congressional district lines. AGC PAC will continue to monitor the field for potential support.


For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at 202-547-5013 or
christiansonj@agc.org. Return to Top

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