Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org May 23, 2013
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On the Inside
SMALL BUSINESS
AGC Testifies Before House Panel on Small Business Reforms
INFRASTRUCTURE
House Passes KeystoneXL Bill…Again
Infrastructure Bill Introduced in the House
IMMIGRATION
Senate Committee Passes Immigration Reform, Full Senate to Consider
ADMINISTRATION
Confirmation Hearing Held on Transportation Secretary Nominee
CONGRESS
Rep. Bonner to Resign
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SMALL BUSINESS
AGC Testifies Before House Panel on Small Business Reforms
 

On May 23, Smith Currie & Hancock Senior Partner Thomas J. Kelleher testified on behalf of AGC before the House Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce on four contracting issues: (1) counting lower tier small business subcontractors towards small business goals; (2) prohibiting reverse auction procurement for construction; (3) limiting federal agency use of single-step design build procurement; and (4) eliminating future instances where individual surety bonds are pledged with insufficient or illusory assets.

Under the leadership of House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Subcommittee Chairman Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), as well as AGC advocacy efforts, draft legislation on these issues has been generated and will be formally introduced during this session of Congress. When introduced, AGC will press for swift enactment of these bills in both the House and Senate.

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

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INFRASTRUCTURE
House Passes KeystoneXL Bill…Again
 

For the seventh time in two years, the House of Representatives passed legislation approving the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.  The bill, which passed by a vote of 241-175, has no chance of moving in the Democrat-controlled Senate.  House passage of the AGC-supported legislation is another attempt to force President Obama to approve a permit for construction of the pipeline since he put the project off prior to his 2012 reelection.  The legislation, which has broad support from the construction industry,would expedite the project resulting in over 9,000 new construction jobs and generating $20 billion for our economy.

AGC will continue to push for approval of the permit for the construction of Keystone XL pipeline.

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

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Infrastructure Bill Introduced in the House
 

This week, freshman Congressman John Delay (D-Md.)introduced bipartisan legislation that would attempt to finance transportation,energy, communications, water, and education infrastructure projects.   The bill known as “The Partnership to Build America Act” was introduced with a tremendous amount of bipartisan support with 13 Republicans joining 13 Democrats as original cosponsors. 

The legislation would create the American Infrastructure Fund (AIF) that would provide loans and loan guarantees to state or local governments to finance qualified infrastructure projects.  The AIF will be funded by the sale of $50 billion worth of Infrastructure Bonds. The bill does not require an appropriation; rather, it would generate the $50 billion by incentivizing U.S. corporations to purchase the bonds by allowing them to repatriate a certain amount of overseas earnings at a reduced tax rate. The legislation assumes the $50 billion would be leveraged at a 15:1 rate to provide up to $750 billion in loans or guarantees.   The AIF also requires the use of a public-private partnership for any of the projects it finances.  More information on “The Partnership to Build America“can be found here.

AGC is supportive of Congressman Delaney’s bill and is also currently working closely with Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) on a bonding proposal specific for transportation infrastructure.  Our number one goal is to ensure the long-term viability of traditional infrastructure funding mechanisms, such as the Highway Trust Fund, but AGC also welcomes innovative financing proposals that will help our nation address our growing infrastructure needs.

For more information, please contact SeanO’Neill at (202) 547-8892 or oneills@agc.org.
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IMMIGRATION
Senate Committee Passes Immigration Reform, Full Senate to Consider
 

On May 21, the Senate Judiciary Committee completed the markup of the Senate immigration bill, S. 744, Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.  The legislation remains largely intact from the Gang of Eight’s proposal and now awaits consideration by the full Senate. The bill received support from all the Democrats on the committee, along with two Republican members from the Gang of Eight, Flake (Ariz.) and Graham (S.C.), as well as Orrin Hatch (Utah).  The Senate is expected to consider the bill in early June with a final vote later in the month.

S. 744 mandates e-verify; requires photo identification as part of the documentation; eliminates the patchwork of local immigration laws; provides new avenues for legal immigration; and creates a legal status for undocumented workers currently in the United States. The bill also prohibits employers from “knowingly” hiring an undocumented worker.  In addition, the bill includes a temporary worker program.  However, the program places unique restrictions on the construction industry that prevent construction from fully utilizing the future temporary worker visa program. There was an effort during the Senate Judiciary Committee markup to eliminate the arbitrary cap on the construction industry’s use of what are known as “W” visas. This amendment by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) was not adopted by the Committee and may receive a vote by the full Senate when the bill is considered next month. 

AGC will continue to work with the Senate to improve the immigration bill throughout the process.  The group of eight in the House of Representatives is under growing pressure to finalize their efforts to agree to a comprehensive immigration bill.  However, there is still no clear path forward in the House, as Republicans seem torn between a comprehensive bill and a series of bills that deal with different aspects of immigration reform, such as an AGC-supported standalone employment verification bill.

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

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ADMINISTRATION
Confirmation Hearing Held on Transportation Secretary Nominee
 

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee held confirmation hearings this week on President Obama's Transportation Secretary Nominee, Anthony Foxx (D). Foxx, the mayor of Charlotte, N.C., was generally greeted with supportive comments from both Democrat and Republican members of the committee and is expected to be approved with little opposition. In his opening statement, Foxx stated, "If I am confirmed ... ensuring that our transportation system is the safest in the world will be my top priority."

In response to questions from the committee, Foxx did not delve too deeply into detail on policy positions, but did he did acknowledge that a top priority for the administration will be the reauthorization of MAP-21 and finding a way to address the revenue shortfall facing the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) after FY 2014. He pledged to bring in a "wide variety of stakeholders" to figure out how to address the HTF’s long term solvency. While he said that it was important to “build out infrastructure to meet the next generation's needs," Foxx also said he would focus on "improving efficiency and performance of our existing transportation system" before seeking money to build new projects.

Foxx expressed support for tolling, but said that it was not the ultimate solution to the transportation funding shortfall. He also said creation of an Infrastructure Bank, a long standing Administration objective, is a good idea but also said it is not the complete solution.

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

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CONGRESS
Rep. Bonner to Resign
 

Saying he was just presented "the opportunity of a lifetime", Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.-1) late this afternoon announced that he will resign his seat in Congress to become the Vice-Chancellor for Government Relations and Economic Development at the University of Alabama.  Recently, his sister, Judy Bonner, was named as president of the University.

Mr. Bonner will officially leave the House on August 15.  Gov. Robert Bentley (R) will then schedule a special election to replace the outgoing Congressman.  He also relinquishes a seat on the Appropriations Committee. 

Rep. Bonner was originally elected in 2002.  He is the former chairman of the House Ethics Committee.

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

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