Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org February 27, 2014
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On the Inside
PROCUREMENT REFORM
House Panel to Vote on Prohibiting Reverse Auctions for Construction
TAX
Chairman Camp Releases Tax Proposal
HEALTHCARE
House to Consider Legislation Revising the ACA’s Full-Time Employee Definition
ENVIRONMENT
Coalition Briefs House and Senate Staff on Upcoming Waters of the U.S. Rulemaking
IMMIGRATION
Multi-Industry Letter to House Republicans Supports Immigration Reform
INFRASTRUCTURE
Highway Trust Fund Revenue Addressed In Two Proposals
The House Tax Reform Proposal Also Endorsed an Increase in the User Fee
AGC Sends Letter, Recommendations to P3 Panel
LABOR
AGC Responds to USACE PLA Inquiry
CONGRESS
Congressman Cory Gardner to Run for Colorado Senate Seat
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PROCUREMENT REFORM
House Panel to Vote on Prohibiting Reverse Auctions for Construction
Take Action: Urge Your U.S. Senators and Representative to Support H.R. 2751
 

On March 5, the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee will mark up and vote on the Common Sense Construction Contracting Act of 2013, H.R. 2751, introduced by Representative Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.).  This legislation would essentially prohibit federal agencies from procuring construction services through reverse auctions.  Please take action and urge your U.S. Senators and Representative to support H.R. 2751.

The bill was introduced shortly after AGC’s May 2013 testimony before the House Small Business Committee on the need for this legislation. AGC also testified before a joint House Veterans Affairs and House Small Business Committee hearing on the need to prohibit procurement of construction services through reverse auctions in December 2013.  Several agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of the Interior, are using reverse auctions to procure construction services for full-range construction projects, including million dollar building renovations, national park road construction, and material supply and delivery. In addition, the General Services Administration launched its own web-based reverse auction platform—which includes the option of procuring construction services—for federal agency use last year.

Again, please, take action and urge your U.S. Senators and Representative to support H.R. 2751. For more information, please see AGC of America’s summary on this issue and bill here.

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

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TAX
Chairman Camp Releases Tax Proposal
 

On Wednesday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) released his long-awaited statutory language for comprehensive tax reform. The 979-page “Tax Reform Act of 2014,” which is deemed a “discussion draft,” is the beginning of a conversation with stakeholders, according to committee staff. 

While the likelihood of approval on the House floor is dim this year, the bill is considered a starting point for future reform efforts as evidenced by remarks from the potential next chairman of the tax writing committee, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.).  Rep. Ryan could work on rewriting the code with Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) as early as next year. House and Senate leadership also lauded Chairman Camp’s efforts to move forward with reforming the code, but stopped short of endorsing any of the particulars in the draft.

The bill eliminates major tax provisions, such as the deduction for state and local taxes, scales back the mortgage interest deduction ($500,000 cap), and requires banks and insurance companies to pay a quarterly 3.5 basis-point tax on assets over $500 billion. The Ways and Means Committee has also released a section-by-section description of the bill.  In addition, AGC has put together a preliminary list of selected provision affecting the construction industry

Keeping in mind this is a discussion draft, AGC will continue to consult with the committee to identify our priorities and work on potential changes that will address the concerns of small and large construction companies. You can view materials from the committee regarding the tax draft here: http://tax.house.gov/.

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

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HEALTHCARE
House to Consider Legislation Revising the ACA’s Full-Time Employee Definition
Take Action: Encourage Your Elected Officials to Support the Save American Workers Act
 

The House could vote as early as next week on H.R. 2575, the Save American Workers Act, which would repeal the 30-hour definition of "full-time employment" in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by replacing it with the more traditional 40-hour definition. AGC is encouraging Congress to pass H.R. 2575 and urges members to use the Legislative Action Center to send a letter to their elected officials in support of the legislation.

Earlier this month, AGC sent a letter prior to consideration by the Ways and Means Committee in support of the legislation and highlighted the fact that the construction industry is typically project-based, transitory and seasonal, which distinguishes it from other professional industries with more predictable hours. As a result, many construction employers rely on part-time, seasonal and variable-hour employees. The construction industry also consists of many smaller employers with limited human resource and administrative staff. These two issues alone add layers of difficulty for a construction firm that is required to use the complex formulas in the ACA to determine whether or not it is considered a large employer under the law.

AGC also stressed that, despite the one-year delay of the reporting and enforcement provisions of the ACA, the law continues to add layers of administrative burdens for employers, while some regulations have still yet to be issued. Replacing the definition of a full-time employee to the more commonly accepted 40 hours per week will, at the very least, reduce some of the complexity associated with the ACA.

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

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ENVIRONMENT
Coalition Briefs House and Senate Staff on Upcoming Waters of the U.S. Rulemaking
 

AGC – as part of the Waters Advocacy Coalition – hosted a set of briefings today for House and Senate staff to update them on the implications of the EPA’s upcoming rulemaking redefining jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, which was leaked last November.

First, Deidre Duncan of Hunton & Williams (counsel to the coalition) discussed the new types of waters that would be jurisdictional under the rule and explained the far reaching scope that EPA intends to assert. She then handed it off to Dr. David Sunding, an environmental economist and professor at UC Berkeley, who went into detail about EPA’s cost-benefit analysis. This is similar to a briefing the Waters Advocacy Coalition gave to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) late last year, but with greater detail. He walked congressional staff through each of the errors in the analysis and explained how each one affected the overall results, concluding that OMB should send the rule back to EPA so it can prepare a proper analysis.

AGC will continue to educate members of Congress and their staff on the implications of the rule and the flaws in the process the rule has gone through and the errors in the cost-benefit analysis

For more information, please contact Scott Berry at (703) 837-5321 or berrys@agc.org Return to Top

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IMMIGRATION
Multi-Industry Letter to House Republicans Supports Immigration Reform
 

AGC joined 636 signatories on a letter to Republican House leaders in support of the House principles under consideration outlining meaningful immigration reform. The letter included 246 businesses of every size and sector across the country and 390 business associations, including several AGC chapters, representing a wide cross-section of industries and commercial interests.

The principles were released last month and specify that border security is the top priority. It also calls for implementation of an entry-exit visa tracking system; employment verification in the workplace; reforms to the legal immigration system including language for a temporary visa program that meets economic needs but does not displace American workers; opportunities for youths that entered the country as a child; and the ability for the undocumented to meet criteria that would allow them to continue to live and work in the U.S.

While the House continues to strategize how to consider meaningful immigration reform this year, AGC remains hopeful that Congress will find a path forward to enact legislation and encourages members to send their own letters to the elected officials by using the AGC Legislative Action Center.

For more information, please contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org Return to Top
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INFRASTRUCTURE
Highway Trust Fund Revenue Addressed In Two Proposals
 

Yesterday, two separate bipartisan plans were released that included provision focusing on the looming bankruptcy of the Highway Trust Fund.  President Obama and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) both outlined plans to use revenue from tax savings to finance the trust fund.  Unfortunately, both proposals require an unlikely scenario – the passage of major corporate tax reform this year. 

The Obama plan, which will be further detailed in the administration’s FY 2015 Budget, calls for a $302 billion four-year transportation reauthorization bill.  The president’s proposal would provide $206 billion for highways (a 22 percent increase) and $72 billion for transit (a 70 percent increase) over four years.  In addition, it allocates $19 billion for rail programs and $9 billion in competitive funding – including TIGER grants.  Further details on the plan can be found here.

Chairman Camp – as part of his massive tax reform discussion draft – proposes to provide $126.5 billion over the next 10 years for the Highway Trust Fund, paid for with the proceeds from the repatriation of overseas tax income.  This money would fill about half of the revenue gap needed to pay for a four-year transportation bill.  The Congressional Budget Office projects that approximately $65 billion would be needed to keep the trust fund solvent through the end of FY 2018, while the Camp proposal is estimated to deposit only $35.4 billion over four years. 

Even though both of these plans face their challenges, AGC is encouraged that members of both parties are putting forth ideas on how to solve the Highway Trust Fund’s revenue problem.  In response to yesterday’s news, AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr released a statement saying, “The most significant impact of these announcements should be to motivate Congress and the president to fix the Highway Trust Fund before this summer and to enact a new, fully funded, long-term measure before Sept. 30.” 

AGC will continue to push Congress and the president to act sooner rather than later.  A key component of this effort is for AGC members to contact their members of Congress and make sure they are aware of the crisis facing the Highway Trust Fund and urge them to take action.  For more information, please visit AGC’s Legislation Action Center.

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

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The House Tax Reform Proposal Also Endorsed an Increase in the User Fee
 

Chairman Camp’s proposal also recommends a 6-cent increase to the current 20-cent-per-gallon user fee paid into the Inland Waterways Trust Fund by users of the system.  The users have been lobbying for an increase in the user fee to fund maintenance and reconstruction of elements of the system. 

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

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AGC Sends Letter, Recommendations to P3 Panel
 

This week, AGC sent a letter to the House Transportation & Infrastructure’s Committee Special Panel on Public Private Partnerships (P3) outlining our members views on P3s and providing recommendations for the panel to consider. 

In addition to sending the letter and meeting with all members of the members of the P3 Panel, AGC will be testifying on March 5 before the Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit on the use of P3s on highway and transit projects.  The hearing is being held in conjunction with the P3 Panel.

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

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LABOR
AGC Responds to USACE PLA Inquiry
 

On Feb. 24, AGC sent a letter opposing the possible use of a project labor agreement (PLA) mandate posted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District for construction services primarily for use by Edwards Air Force Base in 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.

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

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CONGRESS
Congressman Cory Gardner to Run for Colorado Senate Seat
 

A budding competitive U.S. Senate race just became hotly contested yesterday, as sophomore Rep. Cory Gardner (R) let it be known that he will now challenge first-term Sen. Mark Udall (D).  Rep. Gardner was a top national Republican Party recruitment target at the beginning of the election cycle.  Until now, there wasn't much of a suggestion that he would actually run statewide, at least not in 2014.  

Mr. Gardner was elected to the House in 2010, defeating one-term Rep. Betsy Markey (D) by a whopping 52-41 percent margin.  Just two years earlier, Ms. Markey had unseated then-Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R) by an equivalent 56-44 percent spread.  Prior to winning election to Congress, Mr. Gardner, 39, served two full terms and part of a third in the Colorado House of Representatives.

Though there is not yet an official announcement of candidacy coming from the Congressman, Politico ran the story yesterday quoting sources close to Mr. Gardner as saying that he has made the decision to run.

Clearly, the latest two public polls are undoubtedly providing us a glimpse into what the Gardner political team must be seeing in private polls – a vulnerable Sen. Udall.  Possibly as backlash against Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) and the Democratic legislature for enacting restrictive new gun control and energy laws, the state appears to be rebounding in favor of Republicans, or at the very least treading back toward the political center.

The last two public polls both showed a similar configuration of this race.  A mid-November Quinnipiac University survey (1/15-18; 1,206 Colo. registered voters) and a Public Policy Polling study (12/3-4; 928 Colo. registered voters) reported almost identical results.  The Q-Poll forecasted Sen. Udall as holding only a 45-42 percent lead over 2010 US Senate nominee and Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck (R); PPP found a 46-42 percent spread.

When Sen. Udall's numbers began to sour, the party leaders made further recruitment pitches to Rep. Gardner, knowing they would need a strong candidate to oppose the incumbent in what promises to be a tough and close campaign.  Once news of the Gardner decision became public, Mr. Buck immediately said he would run in the Congressman's open 4th District seat.  The Gardner recruitment is a major victory for the GOP leadership, and the Colorado Senate campaign now moves from second-tier status into a race that will likely evolve into a toss-up. 

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

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