Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org August 1, 2013
Spacer
AGC Home Page
Email our Editor
Search Back Issues
Forward to a Friend
Subscribe
Printer Friendly
AGC Political Toolkit
RSS
Advertisement
Take Action!
On the Inside
IMMIGRATION
AGC Chapters and Members Urge Action on Guest Worker Bill in House
LABOR
OFCCP Moves Forward With Persons with Disabilities and Veterans Rules
NLRB Returns to Full Slate of Confirmed Members
TRANSPORTATION
TCC Weighs In on Highway Trust Fund
Republican and Democratic Plans for Transportation Funding Stumble in Both Chambers
AGC Comments on FHWA’s Buy America Waivers
TAX
President Repackages Tax Plan
Update: Finance’s Blank Slate Approach
Camp Courts House Moderates
Upcoming Committee Action
AGC SURVEY
Tell Us About the Current Supply of Skilled Workers in Your Area
AGC EVENTS
Register and Save Now for the 17th Annual AGC/CFMA Construction Financial Management Conference
CONGRESS
Camp Weighing Potential Senate Bid
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
IMMIGRATION
AGC Chapters and Members Urge Action on Guest Worker Bill in House
 

This week, AGC chapters and members in Texas and Arizona signed onto letters delivered to certain members of the House urging support for the Poe-Labrador guest worker bill. The House may consider the bill sometime this fall.  The letters were also signed by companies, associations and individuals from agriculture, education and the broader business community.

AGC is encouraging its members to take the upcoming congressional recess to meet and speak with their Representatives on the need to pass immigration reform. The five-week break is the perfect opportunity to use AGC’s Legislative Action center, attend town hall meetings or make in person visits. In conjunction with the annual recess AGC will be providing grassroots toolkits for members to be effective advocates of immigration reform.

For more information, please contact Jeff Shoaf at (202) 547-3350 or shoafj@agc.org
Return to Top
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Advertisement
LABOR
OFCCP Moves Forward With Persons with Disabilities and Veterans Rules
 

This week, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) sent two final rules to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on revising the regulations implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act. This marks the last step in the regulatory rulemaking process. Typically, final rules are under OMB review for 30 to 90 days and after that allotted period of time, the far reaching rules could be finalized and published.

The two rules would apply to companies with a direct contract (as opposed to federally-assisted contracts) or subcontract with the federal government. The rules would expand the obligations of federal contractors toward veterans and individuals with disabilities.  Under the rules, direct federal contractors will be required to track the veteran status and disability status of applicants (in addition to new hires) and establish hiring goals.  Federal contractors would be required to document employment decisions affecting these individuals thoroughly and to retain such records for an expanded period of time. In addition, covered federal contractors will be required to establish “linkage agreements” with certain organizations (which has been a focus of the OFCCP in recent audits).  The regulations also implement mandatory obligations for internal communications about the contractor’s affirmative action policy.  Each of these proposed changes will increase the affirmative action burdens of federal contractors and the cost of doing business with the federal government.

Previous AGC analysis shows that OFCCP has grossly underestimated the financial and administrative burdens that these rules will impose on construction contractors, particularly on small businesses.  AGC also participated in a report that demonstrates OFCCP’s own enforcement data, which states that "discrimination against protected veterans and individuals with disabilities, especially with regard to hiring, is not a frequent finding that OFCCP finds and may not support the major shift in policy that the proposed regulations would necessitate."  As a result, the report concludes that OFCCP's enforcement "results fail to provide the evidence needed to make an evidence-based policy decision such as those proposed in the regulations."

AGC will continue to work with OMB and highlight that the real costs of these two proposed rules are too significant to ignore in order to fix a non-existent problem.

For more information, please contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org
Return to Top
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
NLRB Returns to Full Slate of Confirmed Members
 

As expected, on July 30 the Senate confirmed four new appointees to be members of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) and reconfirmed the current chairman for a new term.  This brings the Board to a full complement of confirmed members for the first time in a decade.  The Board had been operating with only one confirmed member (Chairman Mark Pearce) and two arguably invalid recess appointees – all three Democrats – since December.

The new members include two Democrats and two Republicans.  The Democrats are Nancy Schiffer, recently retired associate general counsel of the AFL-CIO, and Kent Hirowaza, chief counsel to NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce.  The Republicans are Philip Miscimarra and Harry Johnson, III, both management-side labor lawyers with large law firms.  Along with Pearce, a Democrat, this gives the President’s party a three-to-two majority, as is traditional with a full Board.

Accordingly, and as reported earlier, the new Board is likely to continue the pattern of issuing decisions favoring organized labor and curtailing management rights that has developed throughout the Obama Administration.  With two Republicans in place for the first time in a year, though, we are likely to again see dissenting opinions that are useful in court challenges to Board decisions.  The new Board will also have the opportunity to advance its stalled “quickie election rule,” a regulation that would expedite the election process in union representation cases.

AGC will continue to keep members apprised of significant developments relevant to construction-industry employers.

For more information, please contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org.
Return to Top
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
TRANSPORTATION
TCC Weighs In on Highway Trust Fund
 

Last week, the AGC-led Transportation Construction Coalition(TCC) sent a letterto Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) urging them to address the pending Highway Trust Fund (HTF) revenue shortfall as they work to finalize a comprehensive tax reform package.

It has been estimated by the Congressional Budget Office that, in fiscal year 2015, the Highway Trust Fund will be unable to meet its obligations, which will result in a 100 percent cut to federal highway and transit programs for that fiscal year. The HTF will need an additional $15 billion to avoid the programs being zeroed out in 2015.

AGC and our other transportation stakeholders are continuing to educate members of Congress  about the fiscal cliff that the Highway Trust Fund is facing and urging them to address the revenue shortfall sooner rather than later. All AGC chapters and members are encouraged to contact their Representative or Senator today – for more information on this issue, visit AGC’s Legislative Action Center.

Please contact Sean O’Neill at (202) 547-8892 or oneills@agc.org with any questions or comments. Return to Top

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Republican and Democratic Plans for Transportation Funding Stumble in Both Chambers
 

The FY 2015 Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill failed to move forward in both the House and Senate this week.   Both bills provided AGC-supported funding levels for federal highway and transit programs and the Airport Improvement Program, but differed in their overall funding levels, with the Senate bill’s estimated funding nearly $10 billion more than the House bill.

The House bill’s fate was sealed when Republican leadership decided to postpone its consideration as it became clear they did not have the votes to pass the bill, despite the fact that it was written at budget levels provided in the Ryan Budget – which was supported by the majority of the Republican Conference.   The bill was not expected to be supported by any Democrats because of cuts to Amtrak and HUD community development block grants, among others.  In the Senate, the bill did not get the necessary 60 votes to move forward falling six votes short – 54-43

What all this means is that the THUD bill will likely not pass the House or the Senate before the end of the fiscal year, requiring passage of a continuing resolution in order to keep the government running.   THUD is not alone; none of the other 11 appropriations bills will pass both chambers before September 30, hence the need for a continuing resolution.

AGC will continue to advocate for the prioritization of federal construction spending throughout the appropriations process and a return to regular order to avoid future continuing resolutions. 

For more information, please contact Sean O’Neill at (202) 547-8892 or oneills@agc.org.
Return to Top
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
AGC Comments on FHWA’s Buy America Waivers
 

AGC has prepared draft comments to submit to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) concerning the continuation of waivers from Buy America requirements for manufactured products that are not substantially made of steel or iron and for the minimal use of foreign steel products. Comments are due Friday, Aug. 9 and AGC chapters and members are urged to submit comments. The Federal Register Notice can be viewed here.

Current FHWA regulations require that steel and iron products permanently incorporated into Federal-aid highway construction projects must be domestically produced. Starting in 1983, FHWA waived this requirement for manufactured products that are not substantially steel (traffic signals, its equipment, etc.), even if some components of the manufactured product are made of steel. In December 2012, FHWA issued a clarification, indicating that “substantially” means that a manufactured product must be 90 percent steel or iron. FHWA has been challenged in court on this interpretation and is seeking support for the clarification.

FHWA currently allows the minimal use of foreign steel products as their cost does not exceed $2,500 or .01 percent of the project cost, whichever is greater. The agency is also seeking comments on this waiver.

AGC’s comments support FHWA, indicating that these are reasonable interpretations and should continue to be implemented.

For more information, please contact Brian Deery at (703) 837-5319 or deeryb@agc.org
Return to Top
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
TAX
President Repackages Tax Plan
 

On July 30, President Obama gave a speech in Chattanooga, Tenn., where he laid out more of his “middle-out” economic plan to create jobs as a “grand bargain for the middle class.” The speech focused on his tax reform plan – an exact likeness of the framework for corporate tax reform released in February 2012 – with the caveat that new revenues from the elimination of tax “loopholes” would be spent on infrastructure,  job training programs, and manufacturing innovation institutes.

The president’s plan was met with a strong rebuke from Republicans in Congress as they expressed frustration that it did not address tax changes for individuals, which must be paired with a corporate tax overhaul. Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said the White House was “undermining” tax reform efforts on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) issued a measured response in a joint statement, stating that they would like to address individual and corporate taxes together.

Chairman Baucus predicted two weeks ago that an effort by President Obama to start “beating the drums for tax reform” might backfire with Republicans, but said the addition of infrastructure was favorable because the issue was less partisan.

Specific to infrastructure investments, the president’s plan would allocate funds to the following:

  • Immediate Investments With a “Fix It First” Focus: The plan would invest immediately in our nation’s infrastructure, with an emphasis on reducing the backlog of deferred maintenance on highways, bridges, transit systems, and airports nationwide.
  • A “Rebuild America Partnership” to Leverage Private Sector Investment: Combined with his plan for immediate investments, President Obama has called for new efforts to leverage private funds to rebuild our infrastructure. The president has proposed a National Infrastructure Bank, expanding the successful TIFIA program and changes to tax rules to encourage greater private investment.
  • Encouraging Private Investment Through “America Fast Forward” Bonds – Including for Modernized Schools: The president’s new America Fast Forward (AFF) bonds program would build upon and expand a successful program created in the Recovery Act to attract private capital for infrastructure investments – including additional support for bonds that finance school construction and modernization.

To recap the 2012 framework, the president proposed to: 

  • Cut the C-corporation top tax rate to 28 percent;
  • Reduce the top rate on C corporation manufacturers to 25 percent;
  • Eliminate tax deductions, preferences and credits used by C-corporations and pass-through businesses alike to offset the lower C corporation rates; and
  • Increase expensing limits to $1 million.

For more information, please contact Brian Lenihan at (202) 547-4733 or lenihanb@agc.org
Return to Top
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Update: Finance’s Blank Slate Approach
 

A joint statement from Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) declared that they received “substantial feedback” from fellow senators before the July 26 deadline for “blank slate” submissions. Chairman Baucus pledged to keep the written submissions private, and a committee staff memo promised confidentiality through 2064. According to Chairman Baucus’ staff, the panel received proposals spanning more than 1,000 pages from at least 60 senators. According to news reports, 33 senators have provided highlights of their submissions to the public. Many senators ended up submitting vague proposals long on platitudes and short on specifics — or ignored it altogether.

The blank slate plan was designed to force senators to wrestle with the tough choices that would come with eliminating or paring back individual tax preferences in order to bring down tax rates and the deficit (e.g. mortgage-interest deduction, R&D tax credit, etc.). The Finance Committee exercise required that tax provisions be justified based on a three-part test (i.e. grow the economy, make the tax code fairer, and/or effectively promote other important policy objectives) before they would be incorporated into a bill to reform the tax code.

For more information, please contact Brian Lenihan at (202) 547-4733 or lenihanb@agc.org.
Return to Top
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Camp Courts House Moderates
 

On July 31, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) held a closed-door meeting with the New Democrats, a coalition of moderate House Democratic members supportive of pro-growth tax policies, in order to prepare them for an active role in tax reform debate. According to congressional staff, lawmakers and Chairman Camp discussed a range of tax topics normally controversial for Democrats, including dynamic scoring and revenue. Unlike some of the New Democrats more liberal counterparts, they signaled support for a revenue-neutral tax bill that uses both static and dynamic scoring to judge economic benefit and cost.

For more information, please contact Brian Lenihan at (202) 547-4733 or lenihanb@agc.org.
Return to Top
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Upcoming Committee Action
 

According to Ways and Means Committee staff, Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) plans to draft legislation during the August congressional recess (which begins August 2) and hopes to have a committee markup in October before a November showdown over raising the debt limit. The House reconvenes on September 9. Assuming Congress agrees to keep the government funded after September 30, the timeline places a tax reform markup directly between two of the most anticipated political battles of the year. Camp said after a meeting with House Democrats that there is no set schedule for Ways and Means members to meet over recess, but he is expecting feedback from committee Democrats in the coming weeks.

Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) stands by a statement he made last month that his panel will move a tax reform bill before December. Chairman Baucus’ staff has said that they will use the summer recess to draft a committee tax bill. AGC will continue to identify and meet with congressional offices during the August congressional recess as committee staff begins to draft preliminary language for a tax reform bill.

To learn more about the work that Chairmen Camp and Baucus are accomplishing in committee, visit http://taxreform.gov.

For more information, please contact Brian Lenihan at (202) 547-4733 or lenihanb@agc.org.
Return to Top
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
AGC SURVEY
Tell Us About the Current Supply of Skilled Workers in Your Area
Is Your Construction Company Facing Worker Shortages?
 

Over the past several months, we have received a number of reports, most of which were anecdotal, about sporadic shortages of skilled construction workers in certain parts of the country.  At the same time, overall construction employment, while rising steadily, remains well below peak employment levels.  As a result, we are having a hard time gauging the extent of worker shortages and if and where those shortages may be impacting construction projects.  Please take a few brief minutes to complete the following survey so we can conduct a more complete and accurate assessment of if, where and to what extent there are actual shortages of skilled craft workers and/or qualified construction professionals.  Your input will help us correctly calibrate our messaging to elected officials and the media and will also guide our efforts to support workforce development. Thank you in advance for your time and support. Take the survey here. Return to Top

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
AGC EVENTS
Register and Save Now for the 17th Annual AGC/CFMA Construction Financial Management Conference
October 23-25, 2013 | Las Vegas, Nev.
 

Jointly sponsored by AGC and the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA), the 17th Annual AGC/CFMA Construction Financial Management Conference offers programs and workshops designed specifically for financial professionals in the construction industry. 

Register by Friday, Sept. 6 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 19.5 continuing professional education (CPE) credits. 

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
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
CONGRESS
Camp Weighing Potential Senate Bid
 

According to reports, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) “is considering” running for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Senator Carl Levin and “has met with” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Chairman Camp noted, “It’s a big decision, and I’m going to look at it very carefully and thoughtfully.” There are no indications that this preliminary development has retracted his attention from comprehensive tax reform. As for background, Chairman Camp has more than $3 million the bank as of June 30, according to his most recent campaign disclosure report; and the filing deadline for Senate candidates in Michigan is April 22, 2014.

For more information, contact Brian Lenihan at (202) 547-4733 or lenihanb@agc.org.
Return to Top
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

AGC Townhouse, 53 D Street SE • Washington, DC 20003 • 202.547.1625 (phone) • 202.547.1635 (fax)• www.agc.org
AGC Home | About AGC | Advocacy | Industry Topics | Construction Markets | Programs & Events | Career Development | News & Media

To ensure delivery of AGC’s Construction Legislative Week in Review, please add 'communications@agc.org' to your email address book or Safe Sender List. If you are still having problems receiving our communications, visit our white-listing page for more details.

© Copyright The Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America. All Rights Reserved.