Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org April 4, 2013
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On the Inside
IMMIGRATION
AGC Comments on Senate Immigration Negotiations
INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT
President Unveils Infrastructure Plan
AGC EVENTS
AGCís 2013 Federal Contractors Conference is Less than a Month Away Ė Donít Miss Out!
CONGRESS
Former Gov. Mark Sanford Continues His Political Comeback
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IMMIGRATION
AGC Comments on Senate Immigration Negotiations
 

In light of recent press reports – some conflicting and premature – on a bipartisan “deal” on immigration reform from the Senate “Gang of Eight,” AGC joined with other construction industry groups to comment on the industry’s view of the negotiations thus far. The eight senators – Schumer (D-N.Y.), McCain (R-Ariz.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Graham (R-S.C.), Menendez (D-N.J.), Rubio (R-Fla.), Bennet (D-Colo.), and Flake (R-Ariz.) – continue  to work on many elements of immigration reform, with the bulk of the discussions and the source of much consternation, so far, is centered on a future temporary worker visa program. Other important parts of immigration reform that AGC continues to lobby on include the employment eligibility verification provisions, the legalization provisions, and the conversion to permanent residence provisions from the temporary worker program. These areas still need to be agreed upon by both the Gang of Eight and the committee before any reform bill can be put to a vote on the Senate floor. Thus, the reports of a “done deal” are extremely premature.

Because the temporary guest worker program is the closest to completion, the construction groups commented on the current status of that component. The principles that have been agreed to by the Gang of Eight leave the construction industry as the only industry severely limited from making use of the planned temporary worker visa program. The construction industry would have its own program within the system with different available occupations, triggers and limits on visas compared to all other industries. The building trades unions have tried to use their influence with certain Senators to significantly limit the opportunity for construction firms to utilize a guest worker program. They initially tried to block any visas for construction occupations, but such efforts to completely exclude construction from the program have been rejected.

However, the number of visas for construction occupations would be severely restricted, limited to just the lowest skilled occupations. AGC is concerned that the attractiveness of work in the construction industry for many immigrants will be severely limited, even in the strongest of economic cycles. AGC is also worried that the new government bureau created by this legislation could restrict the construction industry use of the program even further. AGC believes the construction industry should not be singled out for these kinds of restrictions, which is why these six national trade associations – representing all aspects of the commercial and residential construction industries – released a statement Wednesday, April 3, highlighting the fact that Senate negotiators are in the process of repeating the same mistakes of previous immigration reform attempts. While this is only one item in a multi-faceted comprehensive reform proposal, it is an extremely important issue for our industry. AGC hopes to be able to work with the Senate on a workable future temporary worker visa program along with the other comprehensive immigration priorities for the construction industry, penalties for violations, path to legal status, preemption of state and local laws and employee verification.

Please visit AGC’s Legislative Action Center to send a letter to your Senators on opposing any effort to restrict construction from the temporary guest worker visa program.

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

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INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT
President Unveils Infrastructure Plan
 

On Friday, March 29, President Obama highlighted his proposals to create jobs through investing in infrastructure.   The plan – which will be laid out further in the president’s budget – is a combination of proposals laid out in the State of the Union and a new plan to attract private infrastructure investment.

The first part of the plan once again calls for a $50 billion front-loaded transportation infrastructure investment, with $40 billion directed towards reducing the backlog on deferred maintenance on highways, bridges, transit systems, and airports.  Similar to his State of the Union address, the president refers to this as his “Fix-it-First” Policy and does not offer any solid suggestion as to how to pay for such a plan.  The second part of the plan is the creation of a “Rebuild America Partnership” intended to enhance the role of private capital in U.S. infrastructure.  This new partnership includes many policies supported by AGC, including eliminating the volume cap on Private Activity Bonds (PABs) for water infrastructure and increasing the national limitation for highway PABs.  The president proposes to create a new and permanent program known as America Fast Forward bonds modeled after Build America Bonds.  In addition, the administration proposes that the third part of the plan would continue to allow the administration to pick individual projects to cut the federal review and permitting process, as opposed to moving forward in implementing the streamlining provisions in the transportation authorization bill, MAP-21.

AGC commends the president for recognizing the need for increased investment in our nation’s infrastructure. However, the president’s plan is silent on addressing the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund and how to restore the approximately $4 billion in cuts to federal construction programs as a result of sequestration.  

AGC looks forward to working in a bipartisan manner to tackle the funding problems facing our nation’s critical infrastructure.

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

AGC EVENTS
AGCís 2013 Federal Contractors Conference is Less than a Month Away Ė Donít Miss Out!
Limited Space Available
 

The 2013 AGC Federal Contractors Conference will be held April 23-25, 2013, at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.  With many of the federal budget battles scheduled before April, the dust will likely settle to allow federal agencies to plan for construction projects over the next year. Want to know what projects survived those battles? Which ones did not? How will the procurement process adjust? More multiple award contracts?

At the 2013 AGC Federal Contractors Conference, attendees will hear the answers to these questions and more directly from over 20 federal agencies. In addition, congressional staffers will provide attendees with an inside look on the re-authorization of the highway bill and water resources development act.

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, begin your learning experience here.

For more information or to register, please visit www.agc.org/fedcon.
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CONGRESS
Former Gov. Mark Sanford Continues His Political Comeback
 

When scandal-ridden former Gov. Mark Sanford (R) first announced he was attempting a political comeback by running in the current special congressional election cycle, many voters and political observers scoffed at his chances of victory. On Tuesday, Sanford overcame the critics and quite possibly the odds as he won his Republican nomination with a rather impressive 57-43 percent victory over former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic.

This sets up what promises to be a competitive special general election campaign with Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch – sister of Comedy Central comedian Stephen Colbert – although, historically speaking, South Carolina's 1st Congressional District should be safely Republican.

It is now obvious that the international extra-marital affair that cost him his marriage and tainted his time as Governor is not a killer issue for Sanford among Republican voters. According to the previous Public Policy Polling survey released just before the run-off, the ex-state chief executive's favorability rating was projected at 55-40 percent positive to negative, almost exactly the percentage breakdown of last night's run-off vote.

Now we turn our attention to the special general election scheduled for May 7. Can Ms. Busch take advantage of Sanford's poor image within the electorate as a whole? Though he may be viewed more favorably by Republicans, among the overall electorate he registers only 34-58 percent according to the same poll.

As in all special elections, the turnout will determine the outcome. While 53,000+ Republicans participated in the primary, only 16,484 Democrats voted. Obviously, the Democratic number will have to improve if Busch has any hope of beating Sanford. Also, where do the disaffected Republicans, or those voting against Sanford, go? Do they vote Busch, reluctantly back Sanford, or simply stay home? It is this latter group that will likely write the final general election script.

The Public Policy Polling survey and one commissioned by the Busch campaign both projected the Democrat to have a slight two-point pre-run-off advantage over Sanford. Now, both parties will spend heavily to win this seat, much more than was originally forecast. Mr. Sanford's nomination guarantees us a wildly competitive special general election, making it difficult to predict exactly how the race will ultimately unfold.

For more information, please contact David Ashinoff at (202) 547-5013 or ashinoffd@agc.org. Return to Top

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