Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org October 17, 2013
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On the Inside
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
Shutdown Over – Fiscal Fight Continues
IMMIGRATION
With Government Shutdown and Stalemate Over, is Immigration Overhaul Next?
WATER RESOURCES
House to Vote on WRRDA Next Week
SPECIAL ELECTIONS
Booker Wins in New Jersey
Clark and Addivinola Secure Their Party’s Nomination
AGC EVENTS
Registration is Open for the AGC Winter 2014 Financial Issues Forum
Last Chance to Attend the AGC/CFMA Construction Financial Management Conference
Don’t Miss the Highway and Utilities Contractors Issues Conference
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GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
Shutdown Over – Fiscal Fight Continues
 

It took an AGC-supported compromise between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to break the logjam and bring an end to the government shutdown and stalemate over the debt ceiling.  However, while the Reid-McConnell deal does not address spending or the debt ceiling in the long-term, it does inject a small amount of certainty into our economy and sets the groundwork for addressing our nation’s long-term fiscal challenges.

The bill was signed last night by President Obama after it passed the Senate by a vote of 81-18 and the House of Representatives by a vote of 285-144.  All Democrats and 27 Republicans in the Senate voted yes and, in the House, 87 Republicans joined all Democrats in supporting the bill with 144 Republicans voting no.

The bill – known as the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014 – will fund the government at Republican-supported post-sequester levels of $986 billion until Jan. 15, 2014, and will extend the debt ceiling until Feb. 7, 2014.  The only Obamacare-related provision that made it into the package will require the Health and Human Services secretary to certify to Congress that proper income-verification procedures are in place before any subsidies are given out to those who qualify for federal help while buying insurance on the new exchanges. 

The bill did not make any funding changes to federal construction accounts.  It did, however, contain three provisions impacting AGC members.  The first provision prohibits from starting in FY 2014. The first provision prohibits the start of new direct-federal construction FY 2014 projects that did not receive any funding in FY 2013. The second provision allows the Federal Highway Administration to allocate up to $450 million in Emergency Relief highway appropriations to Colorado for repair of 2013 flooding damage, despite the $100 million per state per incident. The third provision raised the cap on the amount that can be spent on the U.S. Army Corps Olmsted Locks and Dam Project in Illinois to $2.9 billion from $1.56 billion currently.  The measure does not appropriate funds, but allows work on the project to continue.   Without the cap increase, this major public works project would have been shutdown in November. 

A key component of the Reid-McConnell deal – but not included in the legislation passed last night – was a bipartisan agreement for the House and Senate to go to conference on their respective fiscal year 2014 budgets.  The committee will immediately begin debating top-line spending levels (there is a $90 billion difference between the House and Senate budgets) and then will seek to negotiate long-term solutions to the nation’s fiscal challenges, including ways to responsibly address across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration. The conference would be required to issue a report by Dec. 13, 2013 (the last scheduled day in the first session of the 113th Congress).

If the budget conference committee fails to find common ground on how deal with sequestration, discretionary spending, entitlement programs and revenue, there is the potential for a replay of the past 16 days, as short-term extensions of government funding and the debt limit expire on Jan. 15 and Feb.7, respectively. Unfortunately, precedent is not on the side of success as learned from the last similar panel – the so-called “super committee” of 2011 was deadlocked and adjourned in disagreement, while the Simpson-Bowles Commission on deficit reduction failed to win the support of a super majority of its members and was never embraced by the president.

AGC will work closely with the conferees and their staffs on matters that affect our members, including the tax outlook for AGC member companies, solvency of the Highway Trust Fund and increased infrastructure investments.

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

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IMMIGRATION
With Government Shutdown and Stalemate Over, is Immigration Overhaul Next?
 

The timeline for action and debate of immigration reform had been sidelined by the House of Representatives as they worked on the debt ceiling and government shutdown. With yesterday’s passage of a budget deal, there is a possibility that some members of Congress will turn their attention back to immigration. President Obama spoke about pivoting the discussion to immigration before he had even signed the budget deal bill.

Since the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration earlier in the summer, Republican leaders have reiterated that they would not simply debate and vote on the Senate’s version of overhauling the nation’s immigration laws. Instead, they outlined a process that includes debating smaller pieces of legislation addressing specific parts of reform and then have them progress through the committees of jurisdiction before the full house would act.

To date, the House Judiciary Committee has approved the following legislation: making E-Verify mandatory for employers; a bill that would raise the number of visas for high-skilled workers; a new agricultural guest worker program; and an interior enforcement bill. The House Homeland Security Committee also passed a bipartisan border security bill.  Missing from the work of the committees so far is a bill creating a guestworker program for low skilled workers – especially important for industries such as construction – and legislation addressing the current undocumented individuals already in the country, which is among the more controversial components of reform.

AGC is hopeful that attention may again be placed on immigration reform. The current system is broken and provides little opportunity for legal immigration. The Senate bill met many of AGC’s priorities for reform, including strengthening national security, creating a fair and efficient employment verification system, addressing the current undocumented population along with the patchwork of state and local laws and a new visa system for temporary workers to meet future workforce shortages. With the exception of the new visa system for temporary workers including a restriction for construction employers from fully utilizing the system, the bill sets a good framework for reform. 

With immigration reform looking to heat up again, it is important that AGC members take the time to meet and speak with their Representatives on the need to pass immigration reform. Go to AGC’s Legislative Action Center to write a letter to your members, attend town hall meetings or make in person visits.

For more information, please contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org. Return to Top
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WATER RESOURCES
House to Vote on WRRDA Next Week
TAKE ACTION: Urge Your Congressman to Support WRRDA
 

The House of Representatives is slated to vote on the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), H.R. 3080, next week. Please take action and urge your U.S. Representative to vote “yes” on H.R. 3080.

Prior to the government shutdown, the WRRDA bill passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on a unanimous, bipartisan voice vote. The WRRDA bill authorizes approximately $10 billion for new construction projects—navigation, flood control, locks, dams, and environment restoration--through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Civil Works program.  To view the potential new projects, see pages 155 through 160 of the bill. Aside from authorizing new projects, the bill includes a host of other AGC contractor priorities, including project delivery and environmental streamlining, improving the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and Inland Waterways Trust Fund, a public-private partnership pilot program that leverages, but does not replace, government funding for water resources projects. You can also find a detailed, side-by-side analysis of the House and Senate bills by clicking here.

As with Senate passage of its WRRDA bill S. 601 in May, AGC has actively pressed for its WRRDA priorities in the House. AGC has met with over 60 House offices, coordinated the signatures of 56 AGC chapters on a business community WRRDA support letter in anticipation of House action, sent letters of support through two AGC-co-chaired multi-industry coalitions—the Transportation Construction Coalition and the Water Resources Coalition—as well as AGC's own letter of support. AGC continues to advocate and coordinate concerted support for passage of a pro-reform and pro-water resources infrastructure investment WRRDA bill.

If the House passes the bill, a conference committee comprised of members from both chambers will commence to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate WRRDA bills before final passage. AGC will continue to press for enactment of a WRRDA bill that includes the construction industry’s priorities. Again, please take action and urge your U.S. Representative to support H.R. 3080.

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at 703-837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org. Return to Top
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SPECIAL ELECTIONS
Booker Wins in New Jersey
 

For the last three weeks, virtually all the pollsters surveying the special New Jersey Senate campaign projected an eleven point victory for Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) – and that's exactly what happened.

Last night, Mr. Booker defeated former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan (R) by a 55-44 percent margin.  The electoral result allows him to fill the remaining portion of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg's (D) final term in office.  He will be eligible to run for a full six-year term in November 2014.  

Mr. Booker began the special election as the heir apparent to this seat, and commanded early polling leads that exceeded 20 points.  His advantage then decreased to low double-digits, and that's where it stood until the end of the campaign.  Republicans never put up much of a fight for the seat, virtually conceding the race to Booker from the time Gov. Chris Christie (R) decided to call a special election to fill the remainder of the term.  He could have made an interim appointment that would have lasted through the 113th Congress, but decided to allow the people to choose Mr. Lautenberg's successor.

Christie did appoint then-state Attorney General Jeff Chiesa (R) to serve in the Senate on an interim basis.  He will depart upon Mr. Booker being officially sworn into office.  Last night's election results return the Senate Democrats to a 55-45 advantage.  

More than 1.3 million individuals cast ballots in the special general election, which is just about 24 percent of the registered voter base.  Turnout was about average considering there was little suspense or competitive excitement associated with the campaign.

For more information, please contact David Ashinoff at (202) 547-5013 or ashinoffd@agc.org. Return to Top
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Clark and Addivinola Secure Their Party’s Nomination
 

The race for the Democratic nomination on Tuesday, tantamount to a special election victory in the Boston suburban 5th Congressional District, was projected to finish within a razor-thin margin.  It didn't.

State Sen. Katherine Clark, riding a large turnout from her Malden-Melrose political base, pulled away from Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian when the last quarter of the vote was counted to clinch the Democratic nomination with 32 percent of the vote.  Koutoujian finished ten points behind at 22 percent.  In third, exceeding his polling expectations, was state Rep. Carl Sciortino notching 16 percent.  State Sens. Will Brownsberger and Karen Spilka brought up the rear with 15 and 13 percents, respectively.  Spilka was the most disappointing performer based upon previous polling releases.  Her own two Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Group surveys both showed her in second place, just a single point behind the leader.

On the Republican side, attorney Frank Addivinola easily claimed his party's nomination, securing 49 percent of the vote as compared to physicist Mike Stopa's 26 percent, and former U.S. Marine Tom Tierney's 25 percent.  Sen. Clark and Mr. Addivinola now advance to the Dec. 10 special general election, but that vote will not likely be much of a contest as Clark is now the prohibitive favorite to win the seat.  

Democratic turnout dwarfed that of Republicans, as 69,525 members of their party cast ballots within the crowded field of candidates.  The GOP turnout only reached 9,692 voters, a testament more to the low number of registered Republicans as opposed to an abnormally low participation rate.

The 5th District is vacant because 37-year congressional veteran Ed Markey (D) was elected to the Senate back in June.

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

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AGC EVENTS
Registration is Open for the AGC Winter 2014 Financial Issues Forum
 

Join AGC Member Company CFOs, CEOs and other senior accounting professionals Jan. 9-10, 2014, in Miami, Fla. for the AGC Financial Issues Forum (formerly the Tax and Fiscal Affairs Committee Meeting). Be sure to make your hotel arrangements by Wednesday, Dec. 18 to take advantage of group rates.

The conference will feature in-depth discussions with fellow contractors, legislative representatives and AGC staff, and delve deep into the latest financial and accounting issues impacting the construction industry. 

To register online, please visit www.agc.org/fif.

For more information, please contact Brian Lenihan at (202) 547-4733 or lenihanb@agc.org. Return to Top
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Last Chance to Attend the AGC/CFMA Construction Financial Management Conference
Oct. 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. 

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. 

Wednesday’s session will feature a panel of financial experts and a construction industry CFO who will provide real-world examples of the options available for transferring ownership of a construction business to employees or family members. Specifics covered will include: stock transfer techniques including ESOP and transfer to select managers, deal structuring, planning tips for undertaking an internal transfer, and lessons learned.  This session will provide an introduction to plan mechanics but, more importantly, offer perspectives from seasoned stock transfer veterans on the pluses and minuses of the various stock transfer techniques, including ESOPs, which can be utilized by construction companies of all sizes. Speakers of this panel include Larry Mackiowak & Hugh Reynolds from Crowe Horwath LLP, Tim Sznewajs from FMI Capital Advisors, and Dan Murphy from Shiel Sexton.

To register online, please visit www.agc.org/AGC_CFMA.

For more information, please contact Brynn Tupper at (703) 837-5376 or tupperb@agc.org. Return to Top
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Don’t Miss the Highway and Utilities Contractors Issues Conference
 

The 2013 Highway and Utilities Contractors Issues Conference will be held Nov. 7-9, 2013, at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Ariz.  Industry professionals from companies involved in building highway, bridge, utility and underground construction, transit, airport runway and rail projects will benefit from this conference.  Presentation and discussions on major trends in highway and utility construction will be featured, including:

  • Project Risk Analysis: Evaluating the Costs and Coverage
    • Caryn Maxfield, Walsh Construction Company
  • Technology Solutions for DBE Compliance
    • Chris Caron, Kiewit
  • A Commitment to Worker Safety
    • Jim Lastowka, U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission
  • Use of Tablet Technology for Project Management and Inspection
    • John Obr, Construction Division, TXDOT
    • Clark Prothero, Raba Kistner Infrastructure
  • Getting Cooperation on Sharing Electronic Design Files
    • Arizona DOT
  • Washington Update: Immigration Reform, Infrastructure Funding, Sequestration, Grand Bargain, Mid-Term Elections
    • Stephen Sandherr, AGC of America
  • Equipment Valuation in the World Market
    • Peter Blake, Ritchie Brothers
  • High-Tech and Low-Tech Project Management Solutions
    • Jason Dennis, Griffith Company
    • Dragan Stojanovic, Norair Engineering Corp.
  • Legal Developments that Will Impact the Construction Industry
    • Doug Hibshman, Fox Rothschild LLP

To register for the conference, please visit www.agc.org/highway_utilities.

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

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