Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org July 26, 2012
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On the Inside
TAX
Senate Passes Partial Tax Package
WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
House Leadership Delays Consideration of Critical Flood Control Dam Funding
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
Looming Budget Cuts Could Impact Federal Acquisition Workforce
TRANSPORTATION
FHWA Releases Second Round of Every Day Counts Initiative
AGC EVENTS
Registration is Now OPEN for the Highway and Utilities Contractors Issues Conference
Register Now for the 16th Annual AGC/CFMA Construction Financial Management Conference
AGC PAC
AGC Welcomes a New PAC Director
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TAX
Senate Passes Partial Tax Package
 

Yesterday, the Senate voted 51 – 48 in favor of extending the Bush tax cuts on all but the highest two rates.  All but two Democrats (Webb of Virginia and Lieberman of Connecticut – who are both retiring at the end of the year) voted for the package and it attracted no Republican votes. The package did not address the estate tax – which increases from 35 to 55 percent at the end of this year – the 50-plus tax provisions that expired at the end of last year, the annual Alternative Minimum Tax patch, or the expiration of the payroll tax holiday.  The House is scheduled to take up a bill next week, and will signal their support for extending all the Bush tax cuts, setting the stage for comprehensive tax reform next year.  The message to the voters is this: don’t expect a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff before Election Day.

AGC of America and our coalition partners have urged Congress to avoid the negative fiscal impact of going over the fiscal cliff and instead extend all expired and expiring tax cuts for one year to give Congress a chance to address comprehensive tax reform after the election.

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

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WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
House Leadership Delays Consideration of Critical Flood Control Dam Funding
 

House Republican leadership continues to delay consideration of a farm bill, which includes $85 million a year through FY 2017 for the Small Watershed Rehabilitation (SWR) program, the nation’s only dam rehabilitation program. This program assists local communities with improving aging flood control dams, thereby helping to address public health and safety needs before a tragic dam failure occurs.  

The House Agriculture Committee approved the legislation for floor consideration on July 12.  Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) recently said the farm bill will be "done before we're out of the year," but noted that House members know very little about the bill's contents, raising concerns that it would not pass. Bringing the farm bill to the floor would put congressional members on both sides of the aisle in a difficult pre-election voting situation. Fiscal conservatives from rural districts would find themselves in a position of having to vote against federal subsidies for farmers and Democrats would have to vote for cuts to the federal food stamp program.

Watershed infrastructure is a vital component to the nation’s flood control efforts and this infrastructure sorely needs improvement.  Currently, $15 billion worth of 11,000 flood control dams and conservation practices in 2,000 watersheds provides $2 billion in annual benefits to over 47 million citizens. As it stands, nearly one-fifth of those 11,000 dams have reached the end of their 50-year planned service life. By 2016, almost two-thirds of the watershed dams will reach this milestone. In addition to these watershed protecting measures, the House version also cuts grants to the Rural Utilities Service’s Rural Water and Wastewater Facility Grants from $30 million annually to $15 million annually.

The Senate approved a farm bill in June that includes the same $85 million authorization level, but not additional funds for the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Rural Utilities Service Grants are held at $30 million annually. AGC continues to strongly advocate for sorely needed investment in our nation’s aging infrastructure, including its dams and water/wastewater facilities.

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at 703-837-5310 or christiansonj@agc.org. Return to Top

FEDERAL CONTRACTING
Looming Budget Cuts Could Impact Federal Acquisition Workforce
 

The federal government could lose approximately 270,000 employees, or about 13 percent of the federal workforce, if automatic budget cuts—called sequestration—occur, according to a recent industry group report.  Because federal contract officers’ positions are not protected from those cuts, the possibility of agency hiring freezes and layoffs of such essential staff is a distinct possibility. If this happens, agencies could see increased litigation and cost overruns and contractors could see more bundled federal contracts.

To avoid defaulting on the nation’s debt obligations and raise the debt ceiling, Congress enacted the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). That law provides for a sequestration process spending cuts of $1.2 trillion—half from defense and half non-defense spending—beginning in 2013. These across-the-board cuts could have been averted under the law, had the bipartisan Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction—the “super committee” consisting of 12 members of Congress—agreed on more calculated cuts. However, the super committee failed in its efforts and Congress has yet to present a legislative solution.

According to Office of Management and Budget, spending on all federal contracts more than doubled between 2000 and 2008 – reaching over $500 billion in 2008. However, in that same time period, the number of contracting officers increased only about 10 percent to nearly 30,000, the Office of Personnel Management reports. Moreover, increased federal oversight and new contracting regulation each year lead to further strain on the existing contract officer workforce.

An inadequate contracting officer workforce could lead to more litigation and insufficient contract planning and oversight, likely amounting to cost overruns on projects.  Furthermore, as the most knowledgeable federal employees retire, a smaller, less experienced workforce may also face problems defining requirements clearly and overseeing contract administration.  Some agencies already cite inadequate staffing as a reason for bundling contracts. Further personnel cuts could lead to agencies bundling even more contracts, thereby inhibiting full and open competition, for which AGC consistently advocates.

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at 703-837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org. Return to Top

TRANSPORTATION
FHWA Releases Second Round of Every Day Counts Initiative
 

In a conference call with state Departments of Transportation today, Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez announced the 15 priorities that will be pursued by FHWA as round two of its Every Day Counts Initiative (EDC).  Seven of these priorities are continuations from the original EDC initiative, which was started two years ago. The core focus of EDC is shortening project delivery. Therefore, all of the initiatives –with the exception of the two safety initiatives – have time saving as a significant benefit. 

The new initiatives are clustered into four broad categories according to the primary benefits anticipated when implemented.  The four categories are project delivery, safety, environment, and mobility. For more information about these categories and the new EDC initiative, please click here.

FHWA announced that it will be holding a series of eight EDC summits this fall and will encourage participation by construction industry groups. The fall summits will emphasize the project delivery initiatives. FHWA reported that its emphasis on the use of Design-Build has resulted in 27 states now using this contracting method and 19 states have now used Construction Manager General Contractor (CMGC). These fall summits will also emphasize the new project acceleration provisions in the new MAP-21 transportation authorization legislation. AGC members and chapters took part in the EDC summits two years ago and will participate in these new summits as well. 

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

AGC EVENTS
Registration is Now OPEN for the Highway and Utilities Contractors Issues Conference
 

The 2012 Highway and Utilities Contractors Issues Conference is scheduled for Nov. 1-3, 2012, at the Miramonte Resort and Spa in Indian Wells, Calif.

The conference will focus on new technologies, the elections and their impact on the construction industry, Congress and its impact on utility and transportation funding, and environmental and other regulatory developments.

For more information and to register for the conference, please click here.

For more information please contact Brian Deery at (703) 837-5319 or deeryb@agc.org or Scott Berry at (703) 837-5321 or berrys@agc.org. Return to Top

Register Now for the 16th Annual AGC/CFMA Construction Financial Management Conference
October 24-26, 2012 | Las Vegas, Nev.
 

Jointly sponsored by AGC and the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA), the 16th Annual AGC/CFMA Construction Financial Management Conference, held Oct. 24-26, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nev., offers programs and workshops designed specifically for financial professionals in the construction industry. 

Register by Friday, Sept. 7, 2012, for special “Early Bird” discounts.  Additional discounts are available for subsequent registrations from the same firm.  Register now and save up to $210 – or 25 percent – off the standard registration fee.

The three-day conference features 36 interactive sessions covering the latest industry issues and their financial implications.  Participants may earn up to 19 continuing professional education (CPE) credits.  This year’s sessions include:

  • Fraud
  • Ethics
  • Cloud Computing
  • Risk Management
  • Construction Taxes
  • IT Strategic Planning
  • Construction Market Trends
  • Financial Accounting Standards
  • Business Real Estate Management
  • Strategies for Economic Conditions
  • Change Order and Claims Management

Owners, chief financial officers, controllers, treasurers, certified public accountants, auditors, consultants, bankers, sureties, and others interested in the construction financial management will greatly benefit from this conference.

For more information, and to register online, visit www.agc.org/AGC_CFMA. Return to Top

AGC PAC
AGC Welcomes a New PAC Director
 

David Ashinoff is AGC’s new Director of PAC and Advocacy, where he works on political fundraising and grassroots advocacy.  His efforts will focus on growing the federal PAC, encouraging member activism and helping the Association to maximize its political influence in Washington, D.C., and around the country. Prior to joining AGC, Ashinoff worked at the Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC), managing ABC PAC and the Free Enterprise Alliance (issue advocacy fund), and also at the Republican Governors Association.  David graduated from the College of William & Mary with a degree in Government.

For questions about the AGC PAC or to welcome David to AGC, please contact him at (202) 547-5013 or ashinoffd@agc.org. Return to Top

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