Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org March 27, 2014
Spacer
AGC Home Page
Email our Editor
Search Back Issues
Forward to a Friend
Subscribe
Printer Friendly
AGC Political Toolkit
RSS
Take Action!
On the Inside
ENVIRONMENT
EPA and the Corps of Engineers Release Proposed Rule Expanding Clean Water Act Jurisdiction
WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
EPA Releases Guidance on ‘Buy American’ Provisions for SRF projects
AGC-Supported Private Activity Bonds Legislation Re-Introduced
HEALTHCARE
U.S. House to Vote on “ObamaCare” Employer Mandate Change
Legislation Introduced on Affordable Care Act’s Large Employer Definition
HARDHATS FOR HIGHWAYS
Did You Meet with Your Reps Last Week? Hardhats for Highways Wants to Know!
AGC and TCC Launch Survey of Highway Contractors
TRANSPORTATION
2014 National Work Zone Awareness Survey
LABOR
Legislation Introduced in Response to NLRB Ambush Election Rule
AGC Opposes VA-Mandated PLA
TAX
Expired Tax Provisions Begin Renewal Process
ENVIRONMENT
EPA and the Corps of Engineers Release Proposed Rule Expanding Clean Water Act Jurisdiction
AGC believes it is a massive – and unnecessary – expansion in Clean Water Act jurisdiction
 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) proposed their new rule aimed at clarifying the definition of “waters of the U.S.” and which bodies of water fall under federal jurisdiction. This definition is critical to many of the Clean Water Act programs affecting how contractors perform their work, such as the Section 404 Dredge and Fill Permits, Section 402 Stormwater programs, and Section 311 Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures plans.

AGC is still working to evaluate the effects of the rule and compare it to an earlier version that was leaked last fall. After the leaked rule came out, AGC and its industry partners in the Waters Advocacy Coalition held briefings for House and Senate staff and met with regulators at the Office of Management and Budget, discussing the impact of expanded jurisdiction on construction, the flaws in EPA’s cost-benefit economic analysis, and the serious problems in the process that EPA has gone through with this rulemaking. At this point, the proposed rule appears substantially similar to the leaked version, which AGC believes is a massive – and unnecessary – expansion in Clean Water Act jurisdiction. Ditches, ephemeral and intermittent streams, tributaries, and isolated waters located in a floodplain or riparian area (which have no defined limit in the rule) are all now potentially jurisdictional.

The rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register next week, with a 90-day comment period in effect after publication. The coalition will be submitting full comments and AGC will be submitting comments of its own. The AGC Regulatory Action Center will also have a template letter available shortly to help AGC members submit comments of their own.

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

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
EPA Releases Guidance on ‘Buy American’ Provisions for SRF projects
 

EPA has released its guidance document for contractors and owners related to projects funded with Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) dollars to use American iron and steel products. You can read the guidance here.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-76) includes an "American Iron and Steel " requirement that CWSRF and DWSRF assistance recipients use iron and steel products that are produced in the United States for the construction, alteration, maintenance, or repair of a public water system or treatment works project, if funded through an assistance agreement executed beginning Jan. 17, 2014 (enactment of the act), through the end of fiscal year 2014 (Sept. 30). The appropriation language sets forth certain circumstances under which EPA may waive American Iron and Steel requirements.  Furthermore, the act exempts projects where engineering specifications and plans were approved by a state agency prior to Jan. 17, 2014.

This guidance answers several questions about which products are meant to be covered by this provision and how EPA determines if something is “produced in the United States.” Notably, this applies to certain products composed “primarily” (meaning 50 percent by cost) of iron or steel, while a product to be considered as “produced in the US” requires all manufacturing processes must have taken place in the United States. All manufacturing processes include melting, refining, forming, rolling, drawing, finishing, fabricating and coating.

AGC has been involved throughout this process, meeting with EPA officials to offer the contractors’ perspective on the Recovery Act Buy American provisions and advise on how they should proceed. A draft copy of some of the guidance was also shared with members of the Utility Infrastructure Division Leadership at the AGC Convention in March for their reaction and comment. AGC submitted comments in response to this draft. Nearly all of the contractors’ concerns with EPA’s proposed implementation setup were ignored.

AGC Division Leadership will be working to craft a white paper in the near future explaining how contractors can comply with all of the various Buy American provisions.

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

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
AGC-Supported Private Activity Bonds Legislation Re-Introduced
 

After a great deal of effort this Congress, legislation removing the volume cap on private activity bonds for water and sewer infrastructure was re-introduced in the House. Sponsoring the legislation this time around, in the wake of the retirement of our previous Republican champion Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.), is Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R-Tenn.) with lead Democrat Rep. Bill Pacrell (D-N.J.).

Private activity bonds are a form of tax-exempt financing used to attract private investment for projects that have public benefit, usually in the form of a public-private partnership arrangement. Each state has a cap on the volume of these bonds in can issue in a given year, set by Congress. This legislation would exempt water and sewer projects from the annual state volume cap. This is expected to unlock two to five billion dollars for private investment in water and sewer infrastructure projects.

AGC will be working to secure co-sponsors for this legislation and will be advocating for its inclusion in future infrastructure and/or tax legislation.

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

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
HEALTHCARE
U.S. House to Vote on “ObamaCare” Employer Mandate Change
Contact Your Elected Officials Today
 

Next week, the House could vote on an important modification to the Affordable Care Act’s (also known as “ObamaCare”) definition of a full-time employee. The law defines full-time employees as those with 30 hours of service per week, which is below the 40-hour standard many employers use today.

AGC supports H.R. 2575, the Save American Workers Act, which would replace the definition with a higher standard more in line with current practices – 40 hours of service per week. If the change in the law is adopted, disruptions in the labor markets can be avoided and compliance with the Affordable Care Act will become less complex.

Please use AGC’s Legislative Action Center and send a letter to your members of Congress today.  

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

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Legislation Introduced on Affordable Care Act’s Large Employer Definition
 

Today, a group of Democrat Senators, led by Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) introduced legislation that would ease the transition for small businesses complying with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This legislation, the Small Business Stability Act, would modify the large employer definition under the ACA for purposes of the employer mandate from 50 full-time equivalents to 100 full-time equivalents.

AGC sent a letter in support of the Small Business Stability Act. The bill is among a number of changes AGC has been advocating for that would provide greater certainty and flexibility to small employers. This bill would help ensure that employer-sponsored coverage remains a competitive and affordable option for both employers and employees, especially for employers with unique and variable work hour workforces.

AGC will continue to look for ways to ease the burden and compliance obstacles for employers, with the hope of making the transition to the complex law smoother for employers nationwide.

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

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
HARDHATS FOR HIGHWAYS
Did You Meet with Your Reps Last Week? Hardhats for Highways Wants to Know!
Report Meetings and Share Pictures at www.HardhatsforHighways.org
 

With your Senators and Representatives working in their home states last week, it was the perfect opportunity to get involved in the Hardhats for Highways campaign and meet with your members of Congress.  Did you met with your local member of Congress in support of Hardhats for Highways? We want to hear about it – report your meetings on the Hardhats for Highways website.

If you didn’t have a chance to meet with your Senators and Representatives last week, mark your calendars. Your elected officials will be back in your state April 14-25.  Request hardhat decals and begin setting up meetings now! 

To date, Hardhats for Highways has already distributed almost 10,000 hardhat decals to companies in the construction industry.  In addition, more than 1,100 “e-Hardhat” messages have been delivered to 230 separate congressional offices from 39 states.  Send an e-Hardhat letter to your members of Congress, and gather information for your April district meetings at www.hardhatsforhighways.org.

For more information, please contact Brynn Huneke at (703) 837-5376 or brynn.huneke@agc.org. Return to Top
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
AGC and TCC Launch Survey of Highway Contractors
 

This week, AGC and the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) are seeking input on how the looming Highway Trust Fund shortfall is impacting business decisions and state transportation programs.   This survey, along with the recently launched Highways for Hardhats campaign, is part of AGC’s continued efforts to raise awareness of the impacts of Highway Trust Fund’s revenue crisis.

AGC and the TCC plan on sending the survey to members on multiple occasions over the coming months as the U.S. Department of Transportation starts to take measures to deal with the projected July insolvency of the trust fund.  These measures – including delaying payments to states – will have a direct impact on the ability of states to pay contractors.  The information received from the survey will be shared with members of Congress as they debate how to avoid the looming shortfall.

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

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
TRANSPORTATION
2014 National Work Zone Awareness Survey
 

AGC annually participates in National Work Zone Awareness Week to highlight the dangers motorists not obeying speed limits or not staying alert in highway construction work zones pose for construction workers. This year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week will take place April 6-12, 2014, with the theme "Work Zone Speeding - A Costly Mistake."

To get a better handle on the impact of vehicle crashes at AGC member work sites, we have prepared the attached survey. Please take a few minutes to complete this brief survey today. AGC will be releasing the survey results as part of Work Zone Awareness Week events.

Survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PRHKJLL

The deadline to complete this survey is Monday, March 31.  Return to Top

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
LABOR
Legislation Introduced in Response to NLRB Ambush Election Rule
 

Today, the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act was introduced, which would roll back the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) controversial ambush election rule. The rule would undermine long-standing rights of workers, employers, and unions. This rule mirrors a rule that was first proposed in 2011To read more about the rule, please see the legal challenge and comments AGC submitted in 2011.

AGC sent a letter to the Education and Workforce Committee for a hearing earlier this month highlighting how the rule would be particularly difficult to apply in the construction industry due to a number of unique aspects of the industry, including the complexity of bargaining unit and voter eligibility determination, and the decentralized nature of the workplace.  AGC is presently preparing comments on the latest regulatory proposal as is the AGC-supported Coalition for a Democratic Workplace.  Comments are due by Monday, April 7, 2014.

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

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
AGC Opposes VA-Mandated PLA
 

This week, AGC sent a letter opposing the possible use of a project labor agreement (PLA) mandate posted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for construction of a new hospital bed tower at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, Department of Veterans Affairs, in Tampa, Fla.

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
TAX
Expired Tax Provisions Begin Renewal Process
 

Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is planning to mark up a package of recently expired business tax provisions known as “extenders” on April 2. Chairman Wyden has said he would like to move the package as a whole, while Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said he may want to cull the package down. A one-year extension is reportedly projected to cost $45–$50 billion in federal revenue.

It is unclear at this point whether the list of 55 now-expired tax extenders will mirror S.1859, which included all the expiring provisions when introduced by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) last December.  Finance Committee staff is still negotiating what will be included in the Wyden/Hatch package, which is expected to be released on Monday morning.  Expired provisions included will not require offsets; however, provisions that are left outside of the Chairman’s mark may face up-or-down amendment votes in committee and will likely require payfors to be identified.

AGC continues to advocate for a number of provisions including: an increased expensing allowance for business property (Section 179), bonus depreciation; 15-year straight-line recovery for qualified leasehold improvements; a credit for the development of renewable energy facilities; Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC); as well as a credit for investments in businesses or real estate in low-income communities known as the New Markets Tax Credit.

Even if an extenders bill is moved out of the Finance committee, it still is not likely to move as a free-standing bill, but it could be attached to “must pass” legislation.  With the House poring over the details of Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp’s (R-Mich.) sweeping rewrite of the tax code and Chairman Camp signaling that he will not do a short-term extenders package — the path forward for Wyden’s upcoming tax extenders bill remains unclear. 

Chairman Camp plans to hold a series of hearings on the package of tax extenders in April.  He also plans to hold additional bipartisan meetings with the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) and public hearings on specifics portions of the tax reform draft released last month.

Current efforts to renew the tax provisions could signal the direction of a possible broad tax overhaul next Congress. Despite the committees’ activity in April and coming months, a bicameral negotiation and subsequent agreement on expired tax policies is still not expected until late this year.

For more information, please 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.