Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org February 9, 2012
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On the Inside
TRANSPORTATION
Senate and House Take Up Transportation Bills- Action Needed
WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
Amendment to Senate Version of Highway Bill Contains Water Infrastructure Bonding Provision
LABOR
OFCCP Extends Comment Deadline on Proposed Section 503 Disabilities Regulations to Feb. 21
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC Provides Congressional Testimony on Improving Federal Contracting
AGC PAC
AGC PAC Wants You to Win a FREE iPAD 2
By the Numbers: Santorum Wins This Week’s Battles While Romney Continues to Lead
AGC EVENTS
AGC’s 93rd Annual Convention is Only Five Weeks Away
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TRANSPORTATION
Senate and House Take Up Transportation Bills- Action Needed
 

Today the Senate began consideration of MAP-21, a two year surface transportation reauthorization bill. The first order of business was to approve a “motion to proceed” which passed by a vote of 85-11, demonstrating strong bipartisan support. The bill is now open for debate and amendment. It is anticipated that the bill will be on the floor for several days.

Earlier this week the Senate Finance Committee approved a list of revenue enhancers to provide the $10.5 billion necessary to fund the legislation. A significant portion of the revenue comes from a transfer of $3 billion from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) fund to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and directs future revenue from the gas tax currently going to the LUST fund to the HTF.  LUST is funded from one tenth of one cent of the federal gas and diesel tax. Other funds credited to the HTF include transfers of revenue from the gas guzzler tax and from future imported car tariffs. The legislation also adds another $2.618 billion in general fund transfers to the Highway Trust Fund which are offset by changes in the tax treatment of inherited IRAs and from other tax code changes. The latest projection by the Congressional Budget Office on Highway Trust Fund revenue and outlays lowered the amount of funds needed to maintain current funding levels as is called for in MAP-21.

In the House, the committees of jurisdiction have completed work on their portions of H.R. 7, a five year surface transportation reauthorization bill. The House rules Committee is scheduled to take final action on the bill next Tuesday and the bill will be open for debate on Wednesday, Feb. 15. The Rules Committee is expected to approve an “open rule” which puts few limits on the number of amendments that can be offered. As many as 100 amendments are likely to be offered. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) intends to complete action on the bill by Friday, Feb. 17.

There is no certainty that either of these bills will be approved. On-going contact with your Senators and Representatives is vital. AGC has letters on the Legislative Action Center that make it easy for you to contact your elected officials. Please contact them this week. An AGC action alert went out last night asking for contact with Senators on the Motion to Proceed. Almost 1000 emails were sent. AGC would like to thank all of you who reached out to your Senators. It is exactly the type of action that is needed to get this vital funding bill passed. If you haven’t already, please reach out to your members of Congress.

For more information, please contact Brian Deery at (703) 837-5319 or deeryb@agc.org or Sean O’Neill at (202) 547-8892 or oneills@agc.org. Return to Top

WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
Amendment to Senate Version of Highway Bill Contains Water Infrastructure Bonding Provision
 

During the markup of the Senate Finance Committee’s portion of the Surface Transportation bill, Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) offered a version of the AGC-supported legislation exempting water and wastewater infrastructure from the private activity bond volume cap as an amendment. The amendment was accepted on a voice vote, because it wasn’t controversial enough to require a roll call vote and AGC is hopeful that the bill will pass.  The Menendez amendment lifts the volume cap – the amount of tax-exempt financing available for certain projects – on private activity bonds for water and wastewater projects and permits Indian tribes to issue tax-exempt private activity bonds for water infrastructure.  This move is projected to open up $2-5 billion annually in private capital for water infrastructure projects, often in the form of public-private partnerships. AGC supports this policy as a critical element in securing access to all available funding for water infrastructure.

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

LABOR
OFCCP Extends Comment Deadline on Proposed Section 503 Disabilities Regulations to Feb. 21
 

On Feb. 7, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) extended the deadline for interested parties to comment on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to revise the regulations implementing the non-discrimination and affirmative action regulations of section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.  The original comment deadline was Feb. 7.  In a press release about the extension, OFCCP stated that “after receiving several requests for extensions, OFCCP is extending the comment period for this NPRM for 14 days until Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012.”

The changes proposed in the NPRM are significant, and if implemented, would increase the obligations of direct federal contractors and their subcontractors regarding individuals with disabilities.  This regulation would not affect federally-assisted contractors.  While AGC agrees that individuals with disabilities must not be discriminated against, these changes would place significant administrative and cost burdens on federal construction contractors.

AGC is preparing comments on behalf of the industry.  However, AGC members and chapters are encouraged to submit comment letters independently opposing the implementation of these proposed regulations, specifically asking OFCCP to exempt the construction industry from the requirements of the proposed rule through the AGC Legislative Action Center.  A sample editable letter is provided for convenience.  All comments must be submitted by Feb. 21, 2012.

For a summary of the proposed rule, click here.

For more information, please contact Tamika Carter at (703) 837-5382 orcartert@agc.org. Return to Top

FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC Provides Congressional Testimony on Improving Federal Contracting
 

On Feb. 9, 2012, the House Small Business Subcommittee on Subcontracting and Workforce held a hearing on the barriers small businesses face in federal contracting.  AGC’s FAR Committee Chair Dirk Haire testified on behalf of AGC, along with witnesses from the National Association of Surety Bond Producers, Women Construction Owners and Executives, and Yerba Buena Engineering & Construction.  The Small Business Administration, Army Corps of Engineers and General Services Administration also testified on a second panel during the hearing.

The hearing specifically addressed the following areas that often limit small businesses’ ability to effectively compete for federal government construction projects, including: 1) the exclusion of construction from the contract bundling definition; 2) the manner in which SBA calculates the prime contractors credit for subcontracting goals; 3) the desirability of a locality preference for construction contracts, and 4) the effectiveness of SBA’s surety bond program.

AGC strongly recommended that  Congress reform the federal procurement process to: (1) create safe harbor standards that do not penalize contractors for making good faith efforts to abide by SBA rules and regulations, (2) limit overreliance on construction to achieve overall agency small business contracting goals, (3) ensure that small business goals take into consideration actual small business capacity in relevant specialty markets, (4) count all small business participation at all contracting tiers, and (5) revise the bundling definition to clarify that contract bundling rules apply to construction procurements.  AGC believes these reforms will encourage the development of successful and enduring small construction businesses and will continue working with Congressional Small Business leaders to ensure enactment of these recommendations. 

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

AGC PAC
AGC PAC Wants You to Win a FREE iPAD 2
 

Want to be entered to win a free iPAD2? You can by simply completing AGC PAC’s prior approval form at www.agc.org/pac.

Before AGC PAC can ask you to support its cause, it must have prior approval to do so. Completing the form does not obligate you to support the PAC. Rather, it merely allows AGC PAC to fully communicate with you.

For each year you grant the PAC prior approval, you will have a chance to win an iPAD 2 during the PAC Raffle held Thursday March 15 during the AGC Legislative Luncheon at the AGC Annual Convention in Hawaii. You don’t need to be present to win!

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

By the Numbers: Santorum Wins This Week’s Battles While Romney Continues to Lead
 

Sen. Rick Santorum won contests in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri on Tuesday. Two of the three—the Colorado and Minnesota Caucuses—were delegate-awarding wins where the senator picked up at least 52 delegates—15 in Colorado and 37 in Minnesota.  Santorum also won the Missouri primary, but did not win delegates based on the results. Instead, Missouri awards its 52 delegates through a system of caucuses and conventions beginning March 17.

Gov. Mitt Romney still leads the overall delegate race with 107, while Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul have 69, 32 and 9 delegates, respectively. To win the Republican presidential nomination, a candidate needs 1,144 delegates. For more information on the delegate race, visit http://projects.wsj.com/campaign2012/delegates.

The question for voters throughout this race remains: Who is the true conservative? Many states have shown us different answers to date. New Hampshire, Nevada, and Florida voted for Romney; Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri voted for Santorum; while South Carolina voted for Gingrich. However, the question many Washington insiders have is: Will the Republicans nominate someone who actually has a possibility of defeating President Obama? For the answer, stay tuned. Next up: the Maine Caucuses beginning this Saturday.

AGC PAC continues to monitor this race as well as the congressional races for construction friendly candidates.

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

AGC EVENTS
AGC’s 93rd Annual Convention is Only Five Weeks Away
Invest in your Business, Invest in Yourself, March 13-17, 2012
 

Attending AGC’s 93rd Annual Convention is more than just an opportunity to learn about the latest construction industry best practices or gain insight into new legislative regulations, it’s an investment in the future of your company, career and the construction industry overall.

From sessions on management and financial best practices to the impact technology and energy trends will have on the construction industry, to expert speakers on risk mitigation techniques, you’ll gain practical knowledge and know-how to improve your company’s bottom-line performance and as well as your own. 

Nowhere is the return on your investment in AGC or the construction industry greater than at the AGC Annual Convention. What takes place here helps to shape our industry.

Play a part by registering for the convention here. Return to Top

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