Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org November 21, 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
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC-Supported Small Business Amendment Introduced
WATER RESOURCES
WRDA Conference Committee Begins
AGC-Supported Water Infrastructure Trust Fund Legislation Introduced
ENVIRONMENT
AGC Briefs Congressional Staff about Federal Clean Water Act Issues
TRANSPORTATION
Push Continues for HTF Fix
AGC-Supported Legislation to Increase Federal Gas Tax under Consideration
BUDGET
Budget Conference Update
EDUCATION
House Committee Holds Hearing on Career and Technical Education Act
TAX
Tax Reform Advances Slowly
LABOR
AGC Responds to USACE PLA Inquiry
AGC Asks Congress to Ease Truck Driver Hour Limits
ELECTIONS
A Louisiana Upset
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC-Supported Small Business Amendment Introduced
TAKE ACTION: Urge Your Senators to Support Counting Lower-Tier Small Businesses
 

This week, Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) introduced an AGC-supported small business reform amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2014, S. 1197.  Please take action now and urge your U.S. Senators to support the Coons/Wicker Amendment #2286 to S. 1197.

If enacted, the amendment would allow prime contractors to count lower-tier small business subcontractors towards their small business goals. The current law only allows prime contractors to count first-tier small business subcontractors towards the goals. This simple change will encourage prime contractors to make sure small businesses have opportunities to compete for subcontracts at every tier, thereby allowing more opportunities for small business growth.

The House of Representatives previously approved by unanimous consent a similar amendment to its version of the NDAA bill in June.  Again, please take action now and urge your U.S. Senators to support the Coons/Wicker Amendment #2286 to S. 1197.

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

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Advertisement
WATER RESOURCES
WRDA Conference Committee Begins
AGC Continues to Advocate for the Construction Industry’s Priorities
 

On Nov. 20, select members of the House and Senate—called conferees—gathered to begin work on resolving the discrepancies between the two chambers respective Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bills in a conference committee. AGC has been active throughout the WRDA legislative process and advocated for the construction industry’s WRDA priorities in a letter to all conferees, detailing which provisions and policies in both bills should be included in a final WRDA bill.

In both its letter and continuing lobbying efforts, AGC articulates the need for:

  1. An adequate and efficient project authorization process;
  2. Spending harbor maintenance tax revenues on harbor maintenance, addressing the Olmsted Locks and Dam project in a way that allows other necessary inland waterways projects to proceed;
  3. Environmental streamlining and project delivery acceleration through limiting the time to file lawsuits on projects under the National Environmental Policy Act and setting firm deadlines for pre-construction project studies; and
  4. Innovative financing methods—including a public private partnership pilot program and Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority—that supplement, not replace, traditional government funding for water resources infrastructure.

The House passed its WRDA bill in October by an overwhelming 417-3 vote. The Senate also passed its version of the bill in May on an equally impressive, bipartisan 83-14 vote. During their conference meeting, the only legislative issue of some controversy was the environmental streamlining provisions.  The conference committee is expected to last a number of weeks. Reports indicate that final passage on a WRDA bill could come as early as mid-December. AGC will continue to advocate for the construction industry’s legislative priorities as conferees continue their discussions.

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at (703) 837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org Return to Top
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
AGC-Supported Water Infrastructure Trust Fund Legislation Introduced
 

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) has introduced the Water Infrastructure Investment Act with the support of senior Republicans on the water infrastructure authorizing Committees - Rep. Duncan (R-Tenn.), Rep. Whitfield (R-Ky.), Rep. Hanna (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Petri (R-Wis.).  The introduction of the bipartisan Water Infrastructure Financing Act is both important and timely as we look to potentially address shortfalls in our nation's infrastructure funding through ongoing Budget negotiations.

Blumenauer’s legislation would establish the trust fund and then create a voluntary fee program where manufacturers of products that use significant amounts of water in production or produce materials that require special filtration from wastewater could choose to add a 3 cent surcharge per unit to their product to be deposited in the trust fund. In exchange, manufacturers would be allowed to display on the product a medallion or label indicating that purchase of the product helps contribute to America’s clean water infrastructure. It is unknown at this time how much money this voluntary approach will collect.

AGC and its industry partners in the Water Infrastructure Network have been active and strong supporters of Congressman Blumenauer's Clean Water Trust Fund approach and strongly support the Water Infrastructure Investment Act. AGC will continue to recruit additional co-sponsors and build support for this measure.

For more information, please contact Scott Berry at (703) 837-5321 or berrys@agc.org. Return to Top
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
ENVIRONMENT
AGC Briefs Congressional Staff about Federal Clean Water Act Issues
 

AGC, along with other industry allies in the construction, materials, mining, and agriculture sectors, briefed several House of Representatives staff members as part of a panel discussion focused on Clean Water Act permitting issues facing the industry.

AGC described the impact of expanded federal jurisdiction as part of the ongoing struggle to define “Waters of the U.S.” There were several questions from the audience about the time and resources required to obtain a Section 404 permit. AGC also spoke about the impact that expanding the definition of Waters of the U.S. would have on other parts of the Clean Water Act that affect contractors, such as Section 402 (Stormwater) permits and Section 311 (Oil Spill Prevention). EPA is currently going through a rulemaking and scientific evaluation on this issue. Moreover, AGC spoke about the effect of recent court decisions ruling that EPA has the authority to retroactively veto permits years after they have been issued and where the requirements of the permit were being fulfilled.

For more information on these issues, please visit http://www.agc.org/cs/environment or contact Scott Berry at (703) 837-5321 or berrys@agc.org Return to Top

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
TRANSPORTATION
Push Continues for HTF Fix
 

As the conference committee on the budget continues to debate a path forward for fiscal year 2014 and possibly 2015, AGC and other transportation stakeholders continue advocate for addressing the pending insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund in our outreach to the members of the House and Senate serving on the budget conference committee.

This week, an AGC-led multi-industry letter was sent to the budget conferees asking them to take into consideration the pending trust fund insolvency as they work to craft a fiscal path for the next year or two.

AGC continues to urge contractors to contact their members of Congress to make them aware of the pending insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund in 2015 and encourage them to work together in a bipartisan manner to find a reasonable solution to the revenue problem facing the trust fund.

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

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
AGC-Supported Legislation to Increase Federal Gas Tax under Consideration
 

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) announced his intention to sponsor legislation to raise the federal gasoline tax by 15 cents per gallon. The increases would be phased in over three years and would be indexed for inflation. The increase would be in place until 2024, at which time it would revert back to current levels. During this ten-year period, the intent would be to transition to a mileage-based user fee.

In discussing his proposal, Rep. Blumenauer pointed out the problem facing the country at the end of this fiscal year: the Highway trust Fund will no longer have sufficient revenue to allow for any new federally supported transportation contracts starting in FY 2015. The temporary gas tax increase will provide the revenue necessary to keep the Federal-aid highway and transit programs operating while a new fee collection system is put in place.  Rep. Blumenauer referred to several national commissions that have recommended raising the federal gas tax to help address growing transportation infrastructure needs.

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

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
BUDGET
Budget Conference Update
 

No public meetings are currently scheduled for the budget conference committee, but informal talks continue between House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on a top-line number for a 2014 budget. There are indications that the two leaders are close to a short-term deal, as the panel seeks to come up with an accord on FY 2014 spending between the two parties’ figures of $967 billion and $1.058 trillion. The conferees will have 10 legislative days remaining when they return from Thanksgiving recess to formalize an agreement before a Dec. 13 deadline.

Outside the fray, Democrats continue to insist that tax increases be part of what they call a “balanced package” that would include spending cuts. Meanwhile, Republicans refuse to consider the closure of tax expenditures outside of a comprehensive tax overhaul and want any new revenue to come through cuts in mandatory spending programs. The consensus remains that the most likely outcome may be a short-term agreement such as a one- or two-year government funding deal that includes some relief from the next round of sequestration for 2014 and budget parameters for 2015. If the two conference leaders do not succeed on a proposal to advance a budget, a government shutdown could become more likely by mid-January.

For more information, please contact Brian Lenihan at (202) 547-4733 or lenihanb@agc.org Return to Top

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
EDUCATION
House Committee Holds Hearing on Career and Technical Education Act
 

On Nov. 19 the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing on reauthorizing the Perkins Act, the primary federal funding vehicle for career and technical education programs. The panelist highlighted that CTE programs should not be viewed as a second-tier pathway for students and explored ways for programs to actually prepare students for the workforce now and in the future.

AGC sent a letter on reforming and reinvigorating the Perkins Act to meet the current workforce needs. AGC highlighted that the states should have greater flexibility in selecting and funding programs to meet labor market needs. AGC also highlighted the recent federal funding cuts to the program and asked that the funding be restored to allow for the expansion of career and technical program offerings.

It is possible that the Perkins Act reauthorization could move through the house in a bipartisan manner before the end of the year.

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

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
TAX
Tax Reform Advances Slowly
 

This week, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) released three “staff discussion” drafts for reforming the international tax system, administering the tax code, and cost recovery provisions. Chairman Baucus suggested that the outlines were intended to be a starting point rather than a final draft. The changes proposed in the cost recovery draft would generate about as much money during the next decade as repealing accelerated depreciation, according to Finance Committee staff.

A 2011 estimate from the Joint Committee on Taxation said that such a change would generate $724 billion over a decade. Some of the significant proposals in the staff discussion draft focusing on reforms to the cost recovery and tax accounting rules include:

Depreciation of Tangible Assets

  • Replace the current rules with a system that better approximates economic depreciation based on estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.
  • Reduce the number of major depreciation rates from more than 40 to 5.
  • Eliminate the need for businesses to calculate depreciation separately for each of their assets, other than real property.
Amortization of Intangible Assets
  • Require businesses to deduct the cost of R&D, natural resource extraction, and 50 percent of advertising expenses over 5 years.

Tax Accounting

  • Repeal LIFO accounting and the like-kind exchange rules.
  • Repeal the completed contract method of accounting, except for small construction contracts (less than $10m).

Simplify and Reduce Tax Burdens for Small Businesses

  • Permanently increase Section 179 expensing to $1 million and expand the definition of qualifying expenses.
  • Allow all companies with gross receipts under $10 million to use cash accounting and expense inventory costs.

Comments are requested by the committee staff on all aspects of the discussion drafts as well as other areas of tax reform by Jan. 17, 2014. AGC will be reviewing the potential impacts of the drafts on the industry and replying in kind to the Finance Committee’s policy option papers earlier this year.

On the House side, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) spoke with a number of business groups and coalitions this week about the status of his draft proposals and timing on moving a tax reform package through his committee. During his first presentation on Monday, speaking to the Coalition for Fair Effective Tax Rates (CFETR) and S-Corp Association, both of which AGC is a member, Chairman Camp asked the group to redouble efforts to publicize their support of tax reform and meet with lawmakers off the tax-writing committees to make an education outreach. Throughout the week, Chairman Camp made the same request to members of the RATE (Reforming America's Taxes Equitably) Coalition, Let’s Invest for Tomorrow (LIFT) America, and Alliance for Competitive Taxation (ACT). AGC will continue its advocacy and education to targeted members of Congress on the tax provisions significant to construction companies as reform efforts progress.

For more information, please contact Brian Lenihan at (202) 547-4733 lenihanb@agc.org. Return to Top

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
LABOR
AGC Responds to USACE PLA Inquiry
 

On Nov. 13, AGC sent a letter opposing the possible use of a project labor agreement (PLA) mandate posted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District for ”) for the Distributed Common Ground Station Operations Facility construction project at Beale Air Force Base, California.

AGC has sent over 80 letters to federal agencies opposing PLA mandates and bid preferences during the Obama Administration, most in response to agency announcements that a PLA mandate or preference was under consideration for a particular project or an anticipated set of projects in a particular area. Of those, only one PLA mandate has been issued to date.

AGC neither supports nor opposes contractors’ voluntary use of PLAs on government projects, but strongly opposes any government mandate for contractors’ use of PLAs. AGC is committed to free and open competition for publicly funded work, and believes that the lawful labor relations policies and practices of private construction contractors should not be a factor in a government agency’s selection process. To view AGC efforts opposing government mandated PLAs, click here.

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at (703) 837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org. Return to Top
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
AGC Asks Congress to Ease Truck Driver Hour Limits
 

This week, AGC submitted a statement to the House Small Business Subcommittee asking for construction industry drivers to be exempted from new hours of service restrictions that require a 30-minute break during an eight-hour on-duty period and a requirement that those who do not meet the construction driver definition can only restart the weekly on-duty clock following a 34-hour off duty period that includes at least two periods between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. The new regulations went into effect on July 1, 2013, and have caused problems for certain segments of the industry. New Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules continue the construction exemption which allows a reset of the on-duty clock after a 24-hour off duty period for drivers delivering construction materials within a 50 air mile radius of their work reporting office. However, in circumstances where drivers travel greater distances or are required to work 12-hour shifts, more stringent rules apply.

AGC also called for enactment of H.R. 3413, the ‘‘True Understanding of the Economy and Safety Act,’’ sponsored by Representatives Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), Michael Michaud (D-Maine), and Tom Rice (R-S.C.), which directs the FMCSA to defer implementation of the new restart provisions pending completion of Government Accountability Office (GAO) study of the new rules and a field study required by the MAP-21 transportation authorization legislation. AGC is also part of a coalition supporting enactment of H.R. 3413 and will continue to work with Congress and FMCSA to ensure that the unique aspects of delivering construction materials are not negatively impacted by these new restrictions.

For more information, please contact Brian Deery at (703) 837-5319 or deeryb@agc.org Return to Top
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
ELECTIONS
A Louisiana Upset
 

A new national political paradigm may have begun this weekend in northeast Louisiana.  There, businessman Vance McAllister (R), who ran as a political outsider but not an overt Tea Party Republican, easily overcame and defeated the GOP establishment candidate, state Sen. Neil Riser.  

From the beginning of this special election campaign, the state legislator was viewed as the front runner.  He had strong regular Republican financial assistance, the official endorsement of resigned Rep. Rodney Alexander (R), and some unofficial backing from Gov. Bobby Jindal (R).  This type of support might have been enough for him to claim 32 percent and first place in the primary election, but it did little to propel him in the special general election.

On Saturday, McAllister scored a 59.6 - 40.4 percent victory over Sen. Riser to win the open 5th District and will now serve the remainder of Rep. Alexander's final congressional term.  The six-term representative left office in September to accept a state appointment from Gov. Jindal.  It was clear from the outset that Riser was the heir apparent for the seat, but McAllister's strong, largely self-funded campaign was able to overcome any establishment advantage that aided Riser.

The heart of McAllister's victory came from the most populous area of the district, the northeast sector anchored by the region's biggest regional metropolitan area, Monroe and West Monroe.  McAllister racked up between 69 and 82 percent of the vote in the eight northeastern parishes, giving the conservative businessman an insurmountable lead.  

McAllister's strategy was to become a symbol for those people frustrated with Washington and, as a person never before holding political office, was able to sell the image.  Endorsement ads from Willie and Jep Robertson of Duck Dynasty television fame – a program filmed in the district – possibly helped sell McAllister as a bona fide non-politician despite his opponent's claim to the contrary.

Riser echoed a lot of that same anti-Washington sentiment in his ads but, as a longtime state politician, wasn't able to sell that he would be the person to best change the national political system.  Riser also spent advertising dollars on attack ads against McAllister, using a live chameleon to suggest that his opponent flip-flopped on certain issues such as Obamacare.  

The key to McAllister winning the seat may not have been his special general election campaign, but his strategy allowed him to secure a run-off position in the Oct. 19 primary.  Though he finished 14 points behind Riser, his ability to establish himself as the symbol of a non-politician in a field of six other current or former elected office holders allowed him to forge a clear constituency.  The result proved his strategy worked to the point of catapulting above every other candidate but Riser.  

Now as a congressman-elect and short-term representative, McAllister will have the opportunity to lock down the seat and have a long tenure in the House.  Louisiana rarely defeats an incumbent federal office holder of either party, so McAllister's forecast for a long congressional career is bright.

For more information, please contact David Ashinoff at (202) 547-5013 or ashinoffd@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.