Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org January 24, 2013
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On the Inside
DEBT LIMIT
House Passes Debt Limit Bill
INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT
Nebraska Approves Keystone XL Pipeline Route
Sandy Aid Bill Stalls in Senate
TRANSPORTATION
States Look to Increase Transportation Funding
House T&I Committee Finalizes Chair Assignments
AGC EVENTS
Don't Miss the 94th AGC Annual Convention: March 6-9, 2013 in Palm Springs, Calif.
Free AGC Member Only Webinar on Multi-Employer Pension Plan Reform
AGC to Host Webinar on the Affordable Care Actís Impact on Business Operations
Registration for 2013 AGC Federal Contractors Conference is Now OPEN
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DEBT LIMIT
House Passes Debt Limit Bill
 

This bill (H.R. 325) suspends the current public debt limit until May 19, states that it cannot cover new spending and suspends the pay of members of the House and Senate if they do not pass a budget resolution before April 15, 2013.  The bill passed by a vote of 285 – 144 with 199 Republicans and 86 Democrats voting in favor of the legislation.  The Senate is expected to pass the bill and the President is expected to sign it.  The action then moves to sequestration, the funding of the federal government and the new May 19 deadline to once again act on the debt limit.

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

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INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT
Nebraska Approves Keystone XL Pipeline Route
 

After months of review and re-review in Nebraska, Gov. Heineman approved a new route for the Keystone XL Pipeline on Tuesday.  The news from Nebraska spawned an unusual bipartisan letter from 53 US Senators (44 GOP and 9 Dem).  The letter to President Obama urged swift presidential approval of the permit to build the pipeline from Canada. The letter citing energy independence and job creation benefits of the pipeline construction was lead by Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.).  The pipeline project was also discussed at the confirmation hearing of Secretary of State nominee John Kerry, as the state department is in charge of reviewing the plans for the pipeline and recommending an action to the president. Former Sen. Kerry said, “There is a statutory process with regards to the review and that is currently ongoing. It will not be long before that comes across my desk, and I will make the appropriate judgments about it.”

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

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Sandy Aid Bill Stalls in Senate
 

The Senate has yet to take up and pass the Hurricane Sandy emergency relief bill following the passage of the bill in the House of Representatives last week (link to last week's CLWIR).  The bill does not appear to be in trouble, however; the Senate is debating the rules changes for the 113th Congress. 

It is being reported that these rules changes as agreed upon by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will limit the use of the filibuster, while allowing the minority party in the Senate the opportunity to offer amendments on bills during floor debates. 

Once the Senate votes on the rules change it is unclear whether they will move to consideration of the Sandy bill or first take up the House-passed debt limit bill that passed earlier this week.

It is important that AGC members continue to contact their Senators and urge for immediate consideration of the Sandy emergency relief bill.  For more information, please visit the AGC legislative action center (link to LAC)


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

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TRANSPORTATION
States Look to Increase Transportation Funding
 

Several states are looking to increase their transportation investments by increasing revenue sources. AGC chapters are working in support of these efforts. Some of the more high profile initiatives include:

Wyoming:

On Jan. 18, the Wyoming House passed legislation by a vote of 35-24 to increase the state’s motor fuels tax by ten cents, from 14 to 24 cents per gallon. The increase would provide the Wyoming Department of Transportation and local governments an annual revenue increase of $71 million. The initiative was proposed and pushed by Gov. Matt Mead (R) who said that, “though $71 million won't entirely cover the $134 million annual funding gap for Wyoming's roads, it is a good start.” The Wyoming Senate is expected to take up the legislation next week. The last time Wyoming raised its motor fuels tax was in 1998.

AGC’s Wyoming Contractors Association (WCA) is a leading advocate for the increase. With an overwhelmingly strong fiscally conservative makeup in the legislature (52 Republicans out of a 60 member House and 26 Republicans out of a 30 member Senate), WCA used AGC’s publication, “The Conservative Case for Infrastructure Investment” in seeking support for the measure. 

TRIP, a national transportation research group, worked with WCA promoting the revenue increase, releasing a report on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at a news conference in the Wyoming State Capitol Rotunda. This is the third TRIP report in as many years in support of the effort.

Virginia Governor Proposes Replacing Gas Tax as Part of Transportation Funding Package:

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R) has offered an alternative proposal to address his state’s chronic transportation underinvestment. The proposal would eliminate the state gasoline tax of 17.5 cents per gallon and replace the lost revenue by increasing the state’s sales and use tax (SUT) by 0.8 cent and dedicating that portion for transportation; increasing the portion of the existing SUT for transportation; increasing the vehicle registration fee by $15; and imposing a $100 fee on alternatively fueled vehicles.

According to the Tax Foundation, the proposal would provide an additional $1.221 billion in revenue for transportation over the next five years. If a federal law is enacted to allow states to collect sales taxes on internet sales at the time of purchase, the proposal would generate an additional $1.6 billion in revenue over the next five years. If adopted Virginia would be the only state in the country without a gas tax. The proposal would retain the tax on diesel fuel.

In making the announcement, Gov. McDonnell pointed out that it is intended to address problems with reliance on the gas tax for future transportation investments because the gas tax: is a cents per gallon fee and therefore looses buying power over time due to inflation, is difficult to get political support for increasing and more fuel efficient vehicles and vehicles that rely on alternative fuels decrease the amount of revenue that is generated.

 Virginia’s legislature is currently in session and the Senate is expected to consider the proposal next week.

Minnesota:

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) appointed a task force last year to make recommendations on new sources of revenue to fund the state’s highway and transit needs in response to a Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) warning that the state faces funding shortfalls of tens of billions of dollars. The task force recently delivered its report which called for increases in local sales taxes, gas taxes and vehicle registration fees. The draft recommendations call for raising taxes by $20 billion over 20 years and for shifting transit funding from the state to metro governments. The task force recommended a 2 cent per year increase in the gas tax every year for 10 years. Leaders of the transportation committees in both houses of the legislature indicate they will be developing large scale multi-modal funding packages this year. AGC of Minnesota scheduled a news conference this week to highlight the scope and breadth of the needs where TRIP released a report titled, “Minnesota’s Transportation Challenges and the Improvements Needed to Address Them.”

Iowa:

AGC of Iowa is gearing up to push a gas tax increase in its state legislature this year. The House Transportation chair has said he plans on debating a gas tax bill in his committee.  The Senate transportation committee chair has similar plans.  The chapter is promoting a 10 cents per gallon increase that would generate an additional $230 million per year for road improvements.

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

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House T&I Committee Finalizes Chair Assignments
 

Yesterday, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) held their organizational meeting where they approved subcommittee chairman and ranking members, provided subcommittee assignments for the 113th Congress, and adopted the Committee rules and oversight plan.  The subcommittee chairman and ranking Democrat members are as follows: Aviation – Chairman, Frank LoBiondo (N.J.) and Ranking Member, Rick Larsen (Wash.);  Highways and Transit – Chairman, Tom Petri (Wis.) and Ranking Member, Peter DeFazio (Ore.); Railroads, Pipelines & Hazmat – Chairman, Jeff Denham (Calif.) and Ranking Member, Corrine Brown (Fla.); Water Resources and Environment –  Chairman, Bob Gibbs (Ohio)and Ranking Member, Tim Bishop (N.Y.);  Coast Guard and Maritime – Chairman, Duncan Hunter (Calif.) and Ranking Member, John Garamendi (Calif.); and  Economic Development & Public Buildings – Chairman, Lou Barletta (Pa.) and Ranking Member, Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.).  A full list of committee assignments can be found here.

Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) briefly outlined a very busy agenda that includes tackling a Water Resources Development Act authorization, a rail reauthorization and starting the process of reauthorizing and funding a new surface transportation authorization bill.  Ranking Democrat, Nick Rahall (W.Va.) pledged to work together with Chairman Shuster and all of the committee members on the critical agenda before the committee.

AGC looks forward to working with all members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the 113th Congress to advance legislation that will positively impact the construction industry.

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

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AGC EVENTS
Don't Miss the 94th AGC Annual Convention: March 6-9, 2013 in Palm Springs, Calif.
Early-Bird Rates Expire Soon!
 

The AGC Annual Convention and Constructor Expo is the ideal opportunity to see everything that AGC can do for you and your business, as well as to learn from industry peers and experts on how they are overcoming today’s challenges.

Municipal & Utilities Division

There are several events Municipal & Utilities Contractors should be sure to catch. The Division Leadership meets on Tuesday, March 5, and is open to all AGC members. Interested in becoming more active in the Division, or getting to know your fellow contractors focused on the utility infrastructure markets? Now is the perfect time to join us!

Furthermore, as part of the Division’s plan to spearhead action on issues that are affecting your business today, we are sponsoring a plenary session Wednesday, March 6 called “Into the Future: Engaging All Generations” with Amy Lynch and Seth Mattison from the BridgeWorks organization (www.generations.com) to help contractors attract the employee of tomorrow, keep the employees of today, and identify/solve points of inter-generational conflict and communication failure. This theme will continue with the Municipal & Utilities Division Session Friday, March 9, where Division Leadership will unveil the new Division Strategic Plan, which was approved at their recent meeting in November. Amy Lynch will also be speaking to the group, continuing the conversation from the plenary session and working directly with members in the audience to work through the tough issues with real solutions to workplace problems.

Federal & Heavy Construction Division

Representatives from the headquarters of both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Naval Facilities Engineering Command will meet with division members on Wednesday, March 6 to discuss their portfolios for the year and ongoing contracting issues. In addition, members will have an opportunity to shape the division’s 2013 Federal Contractors Conference agency meeting agendas to ensure that agency representatives hear the most pressing issues facing contractors who work with federal owners.

Highway & Transportation Division

The Highway and Transportation Division and the Environmental Forum are sponsoring, “Stormwater as the New Epicenter of Environmental Action” which will provide updates on two national stormwater rulemakings and three precedent-setting lawsuits that have bearing on the entire construction industry. Participants also will learn how a federal priority for stormwater enforcement is impacting job sites nationwide.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to build your connections, grow your business, and get involved – register for AGC’s 94th Annual Convention today. Early Bird Rates expire soon!

For more information, please visit https://convention.agc.org/. Return to Top

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Free AGC Member Only Webinar on Multi-Employer Pension Plan Reform
Learn About Recommendations for Legislative and Regulatory Changes to System
 

For over a year, AGC has participated in the National Coordinating Committee of Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP) Retirement Review Security Commission to develop draft recommendations for legislative and other changes to the current multi-employer pension plan system. The Commission has worked to develop these recommendations to ensure that the system provides reliable retirement income to workers while reducing financial risks to contributing employers.

The Commission was a labor-management, cross-industry group of stakeholders. Specific recommendations were put forth in the following areas:

  1. Technical corrections and other changes to the Pension Protection Act;
  2. New tools for plans near insolvency;
  3. Facilitation of new, more flexible plan designs; and
  4. Other new tools and changes to the law.

On Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, at 2:00 p.m. EST, AGC will host a free webinar with presenters involved in the Commission, including AGC of America’s Commission representative and NCCMP staff, all of whom will review the Commission’s proposal and its potential impact on the construction industry.  By participating in this webinar, union contractor members will learn about the proposal and potential legislative changes after the Pension Protection Act sunsets in 2014, and how to help advance reform efforts. 

For more information or to register for the free AGC member-only webinar, please click here. Return to Top

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AGC to Host Webinar on the Affordable Care Actís Impact on Business Operations
 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will impact the bottom line of EVERY construction company. As a result, many construction company owners and executives are faced with making some tough choices to help minimize the impact of the new law on business operations.  AGC’s upcoming webinar series, The Affordable Care Act: The Impact of Health Care Reform on Your Construction Business, will provide those with a seat at the table the information necessary to make critical business decisions that will affect the company for years to come.  The webinars will be held on Feb. 5, 7 and 12.  Each webinar will be held from 2:00-3:30 p.m. ET.  Registration for all three days is just $99 for AGC members.

On day one of the webinar, AGC’s chief economist will give his prediction as to what areas of construction will see growth as a result of the new law and where marketing and business development efforts should be expanded. In addition, there will be an overview all of the key implementation dates of the ACA, the overall impact of the law on health plans, and the impact of the individual mandate on business – an often disregarded issue for employers.

Day two will cover “Play or Pay” – the employer mandate provision that raises the most questions for employers. Small businesses and those with seasonal employees will especially benefit from learning the process for determining if a company must comply with the mandate. Vital tax and payroll issues will also be discussed.

For those who decide to “play”, on day three, participants will get an inside look at the future of the insurance marketplace, including how insurance providers are adapting their plans and cost structures as a result of the new requirements, as well as techniques to use when shopping around for health insurance plans.

Now is the time to take action by creating a strategy to address these critical issues.  In addition, On December 28, 2012 the IRS released a document titled Questions and Answers on Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions under the Affordable Care Act. To view a copy of this document, please click here.

For more information or to register, please visit the AGC website. Return to Top

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Registration for 2013 AGC Federal Contractors Conference is Now OPEN
 

The 2013 AGC Federal Contractors Conference will be held April 23-25, 2013, at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. This meeting is the only national event where contractors and federal agency personnel can meet in a collaborative forum to review federal construction contracting issues and trends from around the United States. These insightful and highly productive exchanges have solidified the need for both federal construction contractors and the federal construction agencies to share information on a wide variety of issues, foster better communication, and create real solutions.

If you are engaged in any aspect of constructing, designing, or planning a federal project and you are a general contractor, specialty contractor, service/supplier, attorney or any other important stakeholder already engaged in the Federal or Federally-assisted market, this conference has a place for you. If you are interested in learning more about Federal contracting opportunities and how to get started, this conference is a great place to begin your learning experience.

The conference is geared for AGC members who perform a diverse range of projects including building construction for agencies such as the General Services Administration, military construction projects for our Armed Services, highway and transportation projects for our nation, and water resources projects that benefit our nation's navigation and flood control. AGC continues to inform members from specific industry segments about emerging issues and trends that are relevant to their work.

To learn more about the conference, download the conference brochure and register, please visit www.agc.org/fedcon.

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

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