Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org March 1, 2012
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On the Inside
TRANSPORTATION
Senate Moves Slowly on Transportation Bill While Path Forward in the House Remains Unclear
WATER
Hearing in House Committee Highlights Water Infrastructure Finance
ENVIRONMENT
Like EPA Mud Rules? Help AGC Tell EPA about Runoff Sampling Obstacles
AGC PAC
AGC PAC Wants You to Win a FREE iPAD 2
Romney Won This Tuesday; But Does He Win Super Tuesday?
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TRANSPORTATION
Senate Moves Slowly on Transportation Bill While Path Forward in the House Remains Unclear
 

This week, the Senate began debate on MAP-21, the two-year $109 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill. Following that vote Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-NV) offered an amendment that is a complete substitute for the entire bill.  This substitute contains the titles of the bill from the Environment & Public Works, Finance, Banking and Commerce committees that had been previously agreed to as well as 37 amendments that have been agreed on by both parties.  The next step for the bill is to either have the Reid amendment agreed to by unanimous consent or have it pass a cloture vote (60 votes) which would limit debate and prohibit any further non-transportation amendments from being voted on.  There is still the potential for a long list of other amendments addressing issues such as funding levels for transit and devolution of the federal program to states. AGC is reviewing the amendments to ensure none are adopted that would have a negative impact on the construction industry.

The House Republican leadership made it clear this week that they were considering all options necessary to pass a transportation reauthorization bill without any real support from Democrats.  One option included a condensed bill that maintained current funding levels and certain programmatic reforms found in H.R. 7, and also restored dedicated funding for transit from the Highway Trust Fund.  However, as recently as this afternoon, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) acknowledged that the best option for the program is a five-year transportation bill that shores up the trust fund.  In a meeting with industry stakeholders the Speaker said, “We ought to do this the right way. We’ve had five-year, six-year reauthorizations of the highway bill.  I think it’s important for the states and for those who want to invest in this arena to have a broad horizon so they know where they’re going and a five-year bill’s the best way to get there.” 

The House will not take up any transportation reauthorization bill next week.  Instead, they will continue to find a path forward to find the necessary votes – 218 – to pass a bill.  While the situation in the House remains very fluid, AGC continues to press for action on a reauthorization bill prior to the March 31 deadline.

 Thank you to all AGC members who have sent over 4,000 emails to their senators and representatives about this legislation. As this process inches forward, it is important to stay in contact with your congressional delegation.

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

WATER
Hearing in House Committee Highlights Water Infrastructure Finance
 

The Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, chaired by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), held a hearing to review innovative approaches for financing community water infrastructure projects. The subcommittee focused on potential financing tools, including many AGC priorities in the water infrastructure sector. The chairman’s opening statement acknowledged the substantial water infrastructure needs and the unfortunate results of deferred investment. Witnesses pointed out that local governments continue to be concerned about the impacts unfunded federal mandates have on their ability to meet compliance obligations, especially given municipalities' dwindling revenues in the current economic climate.

Much of the discussion centered on options for finance, and AGC’s statement outlined several. Many of the panelists discussed lifting the volume cap on tax-exempt private activity bonds for water and wastewater infrastructure. This would encourage public-private partnerships, which one panelist indicated were becoming increasingly attractive investments for pension and retirement funds. Others discussed the Water Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act (WIFIA), which the Committee Chair and ranking Democrat have both crafted legislation to implement. The program would create loans for water infrastructure projects and is modeled off of the, successful and popular, TIFIA program in the transportation sector funded through the Highway Trust Fund. The witness for the AGC-supported Water Infrastructure Network also discussed options for a Clean Water Trust Fund.

AGC, in its statement for the record, pushed an all-of-the-above approach, stressing that predictability and stability in the water and wastewater infrastructure construction markets would be best served by multiple financing mechanisms to ensure long-term funding. AGC will continue its multi-pronged approach to financing water infrastructure as it shepherds these ideas through the legislative process.

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

ENVIRONMENT
Like EPA Mud Rules? Help AGC Tell EPA about Runoff Sampling Obstacles
 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) remains committed to developing a first-time, nationwide requirement dictating how much dirt in stormwater can run across active construction sites and making construction site “operators” potentially liable for penalties under the Clean Water Act (up to $37,500 per day per violation) if the water leaving their sites is too “muddy.” Known as a numeric turbidity limit, the EPA is asking for public comments on issues concerning this lurking—but not finalized—mud rule by March 5.

Specifically, EPA is soliciting feedback on issues relating to collecting stormwater samples in the field and analyzing monitoring data. EPA is also looking for more information on the performance of stormwater treatment technologies in general. For a list of specific questions AGC needs contractor-members’ input on, click HERE.

You can help ensure that AGC has a well-informed and comprehensive response to EPA by sending your comments by clicking HERE.

For more information contact Leah Pilconis at pilconis@agc.org or Jimmy Christianson at christiansonj@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 ww.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 or visit www.agc.org/pac. Return to Top

Romney Won This Tuesday; But Does He Win Super Tuesday?
 

Gov. Mitt Romney swept Tuesday’s Arizona and Michigan Republican primaries. Romney took Arizona by more than 20 points and, with that, all 29 of its delegates. But, it wasn’t as easy in his home state of Michigan. The governor edged Senator Rick Santorum by just three points and split its 30 delegates evenly with Santorum. As previously noted here, Romney’s superior organization and financial backing played a significant factor in his come-from-behind victory.

Looking at the delegate count, Romney leads Santorum 167 to 87. Speaker Newt Gingrich has 32 and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, also a factor, has 19. A candidate needs 1,144 delegates to win the nomination, which makes next Tuesday, March 6 – known as Super Tuesday – so important.

On Super Tuesday, 466 delegates are up for grabs in ten states—Alaska (27 delegates), Georgia (76), Idaho (32), Massachusetts (41), North Dakota (28), Ohio (66), Oklahoma (43), Tennessee (58), Vermont (17), Virginia (49) and Wyoming (29). To date, only 307 delegates have been awarded, making this coming Tuesday pivotal for the race ahead. Nine of the Super Tuesday states will award delegates proportionally, that is, by winner of each congressional district—just as Michigan did with its 30 delegates. Who will win? Stay tuned.

AGC PAC will continue to monitor the field for construction-friendly candidates worthy of AGC members’ support in both the presidential and congressional races.

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

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