Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org October 13, 2011
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On the Inside
TAX
House Committee Votes to Repeal 3 Percent Withholding; Chamber to Vote in Two Weeks
INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT
Presidentís Jobs Plan Fails in the Senate
House Committee Holds Hearing on Obama Infrastructure Bank Proposal
Water Infrastructure Bill Introduced in House, Combines Many AGC Priorities
House Committee Considers "Civilian BRAC" Legislation
President Obama Approves 14 Infrastructure Projects for New Streamlining Initiative
TRADE
Congress Approves Trade Deals
LABOR
House Committee Considers Legislation to Rein in NLRB
ENVIRONMENT
House to Prevent Hazardous Designation of Fly Ash
SMALL BUSINESS
SBA Proposes Major Rulemaking Governing Subcontracting
AGC PAC
Colorado Cultivates Gardner Relationship
TAX
House Committee Votes to Repeal 3 Percent Withholding; Chamber to Vote in Two Weeks
Take Action Today
 

Today, the Committee on Ways and Means approved, by unanimous consent, H.R. 674, a bill to repeal 3 percent withholding.  The House is expected to vote on the bill the week of Oct. 24.  AGC is asking you to contact your representative to urge them to support passage of this legislation.

Starting Jan. 1, 2013, all federal and state contracts for goods and services will be subject to a 3 percent income tax withholding on each and every payment over $10,000 to a contractor.  The requirement also applies to large local governments that make $100 million or more in annual expenditures for goods and services.  This mandate will be bad for construction and must be repealed now.

AGC wants as many representatives to vote for the bill as possible in order to send a strong message to the Senate to follow suit. We are asking you and your employees to contact your representative today and urge them to cosponsor and support passage of H.R. 674.  The House bill currently has 268 cosponsors while the Senate cosponsor list has 35 signatures.

The most recent additions to the House cosponsor list are:

Rep Johnson, Sam
Rep Gallegly, Elton
Rep Capps, Lois
Rep Berg, Rick
Rep Pascrell, Bill, Jr.
Rep Kind, Ron
Rep Kingston, Jack
Rep Brown, Corrine
Rep Smith, Adrian
Rep Flake, Jeff


The most recent additions to the Senate cosponsor list are:


Sen Barrasso, John
Sen Isakson, Johnny


Below are four options for contacting your representative:

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.

Click on your state to find out if your representative has yet to cosponsor H.R. 674 or either of the Senate bills.

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

INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT
Presidentís Jobs Plan Fails in the Senate
 

On Tuesday, the Senate voted 50-49 to block the president’s $447 billion jobs plan from being considered on the Senate Floor.   The House has no intention of considering the president’s plan as a whole.

The vote, which needed the support of 60 Senators to pass, is a clear indication that the president will have to repackage his proposal or it may even be broken up into separate parts consisting of tax cuts, incentives for businesses to hire and invest, and infrastructure funding.  AGC will continue to monitor the progress of components of the president’s job plan and advocate for proposals that benefit the construction industry.

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

House Committee Holds Hearing on Obama Infrastructure Bank Proposal
 

On Oct. 12, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing on a key component of President Obama’s America’s Jobs Act – the creation of a national infrastructure bank.  The president’s infrastructure bank plan calls for a one-time appropriation to help finance transportation, water, and energy infrastructure projects.  AGC has long supported the creation of a national infrastructure bank as a supplement to traditional funding. We also believe the priority should be to fully fund existing programs and utilize current financing tools available to finance transportation infrastructure projects.

In the hearing, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) labeled the president’s call for a national infrastructure bank as “dead on arrival.”   Chairman Mica believes, and AGC agrees, that there are current financing programs available for transportation infrastructure projects that need to be better capitalized and fully utilized before we create a new entity to perform a similar function.  For example, the next surface transportation bill is likely to include funding for additional Transportation Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act (TIFIA) financing and assisting states in utilizing state infrastructure banks; all of which AGC would support.

AGC will continue to work to ensure that innovative financing of transportation projects is a key component in the upcoming surface transportation authorization bill.

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

Water Infrastructure Bill Introduced in House, Combines Many AGC Priorities
 

On Tuesday, Congressman Rahall (D-W.V.), Congressman Bishop (D-N.Y.), Congressman LaTourette (R-Ohio) and Congressman Petri (R-Wisc.) introduced the “Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act” (HR 3145). The bill includes Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund (CWSRF) reauthorization with language similar to many of the reauthorization bills of the last few Congresses. It does not yet include the drinking water SRF as the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the House only has wastewater jurisdiction. The bill would also establish a clean water trust fund for long term funding of water infrastructure, but does not identify revenue sources to populate that trust fund. Instead, the bill calls for a study to identify revenue sources. Finally, the bill creates a national water infrastructure loan guarantee program.

AGC and our Water Infrastructure Network (WIN) Coalition partners have been involved with this legislation from the very early stages, and sent letters of support for the legislation in advance of the introduction. We are particularly pleased at the bipartisan introduction, as water infrastructure has traditionally been advance with strong bipartisan support. The affirmation that investment in water infrastructure is a time tested, bipartisan means for creating jobs bodes well for future support of water infrastructure investment. AGC will be actively recruiting new cosponsors for this legislation in the coming weeks and months. 

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

House Committee Considers "Civilian BRAC" Legislation
 

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee met today to consider H.R. 1734, the “Civilian Property Realignment Act.” The bill, sponsored by House Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), would employ a Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC)-like process for civilian properties, reduce the federal footprint and save taxpayers billions of dollars. AGC has been working with committee staff to better understand the impact of this legislation and how the construction industry can play a large part in ensuring the success of this effort.
 
Simply put, this legislation would employ the use of a civilian BRAC-like process to address federal real property management issues. The main focus of this legislation and a similar proposal by the Obama administration is to examine the possible liquidation of as many as 14,000 “excess” buildings and 55,000 “underutilized” buildings in the federal real estate portfolio.  Rep. Denham’s legislation would establish a framework through which an independent commission would review federal properties and make recommendations for consolidations, co-locations, redevelopment, selling or other actions to minimize costs and produce savings to the government.
 
AGC has been working with committee leaders and administration officials on this proposal and will continue to advocate for a smart and manageable federal building portfolio with facilities that are modernized and updated to meet federal employee needs.

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

President Obama Approves 14 Infrastructure Projects for New Streamlining Initiative
 

On Oct. 10, the administration announced a list of 14 infrastructure projects to be expedited through a permitting and environmental streamlining process. These projects are part of President Obama’s efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of federal permit decisions and environmental reviews in order to create jobs by moving projects quickly from conception to completion. 

The projects represent diverse sectors of the economy and will support the creation of tens of thousands of jobs. According to the White House, these specific projects were chosen because they will:

  • Create a significant number of jobs
  • Have already identified necessary funding
  • The remaining significant steps before construction are within the control of the federal government
  • Can be completed within 18 months.

The acceleration of these projects marks the first step in reforming and improving the permitting and review process for the federal agencies, as well as state, local and tribal governments.  Additionally, at the end of November, the public will also be able to track the progress of projects under review through one central web page. This should promote transparency in the federal government and preserve opportunities for public participation in federal decision-making. 

AGC supports cutting the red tape to help create jobs, and will continue to follow and report on the developments of these projects in the future.

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

TRADE
Congress Approves Trade Deals
 

The House and Senate both approved three bilateral free trade agreements with the countries of Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. AGC supported approval to increase demand for construction services and keep costs low for components, materials, and manufactured goods.

Each of the trade deals voted on passed by wide margins, rarely seen in this Congress. The deals will now be sent to President Obama, where he is expected to quickly sign them into law. The deals would enter into force later this year. The three deals together comprise the largest free trade deal since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993. AGC sent letters of support to both the House and Senate, calling for passage of all three pacts.

AGC firmly believes that trade promotes U.S. economic growth and must play a role in alleviating the pressure of this recession. Significant increases in exports will enrich U.S. companies, in turn fueling demand for new facilities and the transportation and water infrastructure to support them. Increases in imports also benefit the economy by significantly lowering prices on materials and goods used throughout the construction process. Opening up new international markets is also key to the survival and growth of many of the crucial support sectors of the U.S. construction industry, such as manufacturing, materials, equipment, and services. When the domestic construction industry recovers, these sectors will be critical to sustaining and maintaining that recovery. AGC will continue to support expanded free trade to protect the health and future growth potential of the construction industry.

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

LABOR
House Committee Considers Legislation to Rein in NLRB
 

On Oct. 12, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing on the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, H.R. 3094. The bill would roll back recent actions by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by blocking it from moving forward with its "quickie election" proposal as well as reverse the NLRB's recent decision opening the door for “micro-unions”.

The committee examined the bill which would restrict the NLRB, or any future NLRB, from violating the National Labor Relations Act and circumventing Congress in the union election process. AGC joined the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace in a letter of support. The bill could be considered by the House before the end of the year. 

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

ENVIRONMENT
House to Prevent Hazardous Designation of Fly Ash
 

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass AGC-supported legislation, H.R. 2273, the Coal Residuals and Management Act on Friday. The bill would prevent coal combustion residuals (e.g., fly ash) from being designated as “hazardous” materials.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designation would have limited the use of fly ash in construction.

The bill would also allow for the responsible storage of coal combustion residuals to address environmental concerns while allowing its continued use in construction.

Fly ash is used in concrete to enhance its performance, strength, durability, and lifespan, and has been an environmentally-responsible construction practice that reduces and recycles waste that would otherwise be unusable.

AGC and the AGC co-chaired Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) sent letters to the House in support of the legislation.  To view copies of the letters click here and here

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

SMALL BUSINESS
SBA Proposes Major Rulemaking Governing Subcontracting
 

On Oct. 5, the Small Business Administration (SBA) proposed a new rulemaking that would heighten the scrutiny on a contractor’s compliance with its small business subcontracting plan and impose additional duties on both the prime contractor and the contracting officer.  The majority of these new provisions implement the AGC-opposed contracting reform provisions of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.

The proposed rule requires prime contractors to notify a contracting officer in writing whenever the prime contractor does not hire a subcontractor that was initially used when preparing a bid or proposal during contract performance. SBA is also proposing to amend its regulations to require a prime contractor to notify a contracting officer in writing whenever the prime contractor reduces payments to a subcontractor or when payments to a subcontractor are 90 days or more past due. 

In addition, SBA is also proposing the following:

  • Clarify that the contracting officer is responsible for monitoring and evaluating small business subcontracting plan performance
  • Clarify which subcontracts must be included in subcontracting data reporting, which subcontracts should be excluded, and the way subcontracting data is reported
  • Make other changes to update its subcontracting regulations, including changing subcontracting plan thresholds and referencing the electronic subcontracting reporting system (ESRS) 
  • Require the contracting officer to review subcontracting plan reports within 60 days of the report ending date
  • Address how subcontracting plan requirements and credit towards subcontracting goals can be implemented in connection with Multi- agency, Federal Supply Schedule, Multiple Award Schedule and Government-wide Acquisition indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts

AGC has already been in contact with SBA to discuss the proposal and will continue to have additional discussions. In addition, AGC will be submitting comments to this proposed rule by the Dec. 5, 2011 deadline.

To view a copy of the proposed rule, click here.

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

AGC PAC
Colorado Cultivates Gardner Relationship
 

AGC of Colorado Building Chapter and the Colorado Contractors Association met with first-term Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) on Sept. 28 to discuss construction industry legislative issues and deliver a federal AGC PAC contribution for his reelection campaign. The PAC helps AGC chapters and members build relationships with their construction-friendly federal lawmakers by showing the industry's support for their election efforts.

Pictured from left to right are Jim Moody, Colorado Contractors Association, Rep. Cory Gardner, and Michael Gifford, AGC of Colorado Building Chapter.

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

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