Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org November 10, 2011
Spacer
AGC Home Page
Email our Editor
Search Back Issues
Forward to a Friend
Subscribe
Printer Friendly
AGC Political Toolkit
Take Action!
On the Inside
TAX
Senate Approves 3 Percent Repeal by 95 to 0; House to Vote Again
TRANSPORTATION
Senate Committee Approves Bipartisan Two-year Transportation Reauthorization Package
House GOP Signals Support for Passing a Highway and Transit Bill Update
INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT
Bill to Fund Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Introduced in the House
2011 Voters Show Strong Support for Funding Infrastructure
LABOR
House Expected to Consider Legislation to Roll Back Federal Labor Board's Assault on Employers and Workers
AGC PAC
Off to the Races: OR-1 Special Election Candidates Selected
TAX
Senate Approves 3 Percent Repeal by 95 to 0; House to Vote Again
 

On Nov. 10, the U.S. Senate passed H.R. 674, a bill to repeal the 3 percent withholding law after amending it slightly. AGC supports repeal of this onerous mandate. The U.S. House of Representatives may vote on the amended bill as early as next week.

H.R. 674 passed by a vote of 95 to 0, with one Senator voting “Present.” Click here to view how your Senators voted. During debate, the Senate voted to amend the bill with provisions to encourage employers to hire unemployed veterans and to require a study of tax compliance by federal contractors. The Senate did not consider any amendments to continue to apply withholding to delinquent taxpayers that Senate Majority Leader Reid contemplated the week of Oct. 31. Read AGC’s statement on the Senate vote here.

The bill now goes back to the House – currently in recess until next week – for its concurrence or further amendment. If the House approves the Senate-passed bill as currently written, it will then go to the President for his signature. The President has stated his support for both H.R. 674 and the veteran employment package. 

The House first passed H.R. 674 by a vote of 405 to 16 on Oct. 27.

Use the tools at AGC’s Legislative Action Center to send a letter to your Representative to vote for H.R. 674 as passed by the Senate when it returns from recess next week. 

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

  Return to Top

TRANSPORTATION
Senate Committee Approves Bipartisan Two-year Transportation Reauthorization Package
 

By a vote of 18 to 0, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) today approved a two-year transportation authorization bill. This is the first step in the long process of passing a reauthorization bill. AGC will continue to work with the House and Senate throughout this process to ensure the bill has the best possible impact on the construction industry.

The bipartisan bill (S. 1813), Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century or “MAP 21” was assembled primarily by Sens. Boxer (D-Calif.), Baucus (D-Mont.), Inhofe (R-OK) and Vitter (R-La.). It meets goals laid out by AGC to keep funding at the current funding levels or higher, streamline the review process, reduce program complexity, cut the number of programs and increase accountability.

Details of the bill can be found in the Highway Facts Bulletin from last Friday (11/4).

During yesterday’s markup a number of amendments were adopted including: amendments dealing with metropolitan planning, emergency relief, safety, the freight program, reducing regulations, and expanding project eligibilities in the border program. A “manager’s amendment” offered by Sens., Boxer, Inhofe, Baucus, and Vitter was also adopted.  This amendment made mostly technical and non-controversial changes to MAP-21.

The Senate measure will also need to be considered by the Banking, Commerce and Finance Committees before the bill makes its way to the Senate floor. The Finance Committee is responsible for providing the revenue to pay for the authorization bill.

Several Senators including EPW Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Chairman Max Baucus  -  also the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee - spoke directly to the need to secure the $12 billion necessary to pay for the legislation.

Recognizing the difficulty in securing the $12 billion, AGC and our transportation partners sent letters supporting the markup of MAP-21, and urged the Senate Finance Committee to find the revenue to support the levels proposed in the bill. 

AGC will continue to work with the EPW Committee and the Finance Committee to ensure that a bipartisan solution is reached that provides our industry with the stability and certainty that comes with a multi-year bill at current funding levels.

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

  Return to Top

House GOP Signals Support for Passing a Highway and Transit Bill Update
 

As we reported last week, AGC joined forces with Reps. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) and Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) to circulate a letter to Republicans in the House of Representatives calling on Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to take action on a multiyear surface transportation reauthorization bill.  

The letter with 123 signatures was sent to the Republican leaders on Friday, Nov. 4. The 123 members of Congress represents over half of the entire Republican Conference and sends a clear message to leadership that most Republicans want immediate action on a transportation reauthorization bill.

Likely in response to that letter, Speaker Boehner announced last week that the House intends to pass surface transportation reauthorization legislation before the end of 2011.  The Speaker said House Republicans plan on introducing an energy and infrastructure jobs bill, and hope to move it through the House by the end of the year.  Based on meetings and discussions AGC has had with Republican leadership and several members of Congress, the goal is to put together a package that will provide necessary revenue for the Highway Trust Fund to support investment in highways and transit at or above current funding levels, the proposed legislation is expected to use funds generated by fees linked to new oil and gas exploration.

While there are several obstacles that need to be overcome before any legislation can move through the House, AGC is encouraged by the new-found support House Republicans are showing. We will continue to stay engaged with key policymakers as this process moves forward.

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

  Return to Top

INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT
Bill to Fund Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Introduced in the House
 

Representative Tim Bishop (D-NY) introduced H.R. 3145, the “Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2011,” which would reauthorize both the clean water and safe drinking water State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs and establish a clean water trust fund. On Nov. 4, AGC sent a letter to Rep Bishop thanking him for introducing the bill.  AGC also held a media event with the AGC of Greater Milwaukee on Oct. 27 to promote legislation like Rep. Bishop’s.  AGC urges all of its members to visit our Legislative Action Center to write a letter to your representative asking them to support and cosponsor the bill.

The nationwide need for water and wastewater infrastructure continues to far outpace the amount of funding available at all levels of government.  The United States has an estimated need of $400 to $600 billion over the next 20 years for safe drinking water and wastewater treatment infrastructure.  There has been a persistent downward trend in federal water infrastructure funding.  This bill would create a long-term, sustainable, off-budget source of funding to finance the construction and maintenance of water infrastructure funding for future generations.

For additional information on the water infrastructure funding please click here and here.

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

  Return to Top

2011 Voters Show Strong Support for Funding Infrastructure
 

The results of the 2011 election show voters remain supportive of statewide bonds despite the economic downturn, with $6.575 billion approved in two states. Arkansas voters approved a renewal of a $575 million highway bond program and Texas voters approved $6 billion in bonds for water projects.

In another victory for infrastructure funding, Washington state voters defeated a proposal to limit the use of toll and gas tax revenues. If passed, the initiative would have severely limited the use of toll revenues for construction projects, limited financing options for projects and subject the tolling process to unworkable political influences.

In addition, three closely watched local infrastructure initiatives passed on Tuesday, while a comparable number failed.  As with previous elections, voters tended to support new funding measures when they could make a clear connection between the increase in funding and how specific infrastructure that affects them would be improved.  AGC continues to work with members of Congress to explain that there is widespread public support for funding infrastructure projects as long as those projects can deliver clear, tangible improvements.

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

  Return to Top

LABOR
House Expected to Consider Legislation to Roll Back Federal Labor Board's Assault on Employers and Workers
 

Later this year, the  House is expected to consider the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, a bill that would rein in the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and prevent the board from unilaterally streamlining the union representation elections, also known as “quickie elections”. In recent months, the NLRB has attempted to speed up union elections and limit appeals and procedural safeguards that protect the integrity of representation elections. The board’s actions may reduce the amount of time an employer can address their employees before a vote during an organizing drive. The Workforce Fairness and Democracy Act would return balance to the workplace by:

·       Providing for a fair hearing process by allowing employers at least 14 days to prepare their case for the board and allows employers to raise issues during the hearing.

·       Prohibiting ambush elections by requiring a campaign period of at least 35 days prior to an election. This will guarantee that workers have an opportunity to hear both sides of the unionization debate.

·       Reinstating the long-standing criteria that the board has traditionally used for determining the appropriateness of a proposed bargaining unit.

·       Allowing employees to choose how they may be contacted by union

AGC supports the legislation. Unfortunately, it faces a challenging battle in the Senate.  

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


  Return to Top

AGC PAC
Off to the Races: OR-1 Special Election Candidates Selected
 

The only federal elections occurred in Oregon this past Tuesday, where both Suzanne Bonamici (D) and Rob Cornilles (R) easily won their respective primaries for a chance at the first district congressional seat. 

Bonamici—a state senator—won with nearly 66 percent in her primary while Cornilles—a business consultant who lost to then-Rep. David Wu (D) in 2010—garnered just over 72 percent while defeating four opponents.

David Wu resigned from the seat amid scandal in August, setting the stage for this special election. The election for this congressional district is set for Jan. 31, 2012. AGC PAC continues to closely monitor the race for an opportunity to support a worthy, construction-friendly candidate.

For more information, contact Jimmy Christianson at 202-547-5013 or christiansonj@agc.org or visit www.agc.org/pac.

  Return to Top

AGC Townhouse, 53 D Street SE • Washington, DC 20003 • 202.547.1625 (phone) • 202.547.1635 (fax)• www.agc.org
AGC Home | About AGC | Advocacy | Industry Topics | Construction Markets | Programs & Events | Career Development | News & Media

To ensure delivery of AGC’s Construction Legislative Week in Review, please add 'communications@agc.org' to your email address book or Safe Sender List. If you are still having problems receiving our communications, visit our white-listing page for more details.

© Copyright The Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America. All Rights Reserved.