Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org May 1, 2014
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On the Inside
TRANSPORTATION
Hardhats for Highways Webinar: How You Can Get Involved
President Submits MAP-21 Reauthorization Proposal
TAX
Selected Expired Tax Provisions Approved in House Committee
WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
House Reviews New, Potential Corps Civil Works Projects
AGC Presses for Increased Inland Waterways Construction Funding
LABOR
AGC Opposes NAVFAC-Mandated PLA
2014 ELECTION
McAllister Decides Against Re-election
A Grimm Situation
Supreme Court Strikes Down Federal Aggregate Contribution Limits
TRANSPORTATION
Hardhats for Highways Webinar: How You Can Get Involved
Monday, May 5, 2014 | 2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT
 

Hardhats for Highways invites you to attend a free webinar on Monday, May 5, 2014 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT.  During this webinar, we will discuss how you can get involved in the campaign, the tools available to help you be successful in your efforts, and real-life examples from a construction company on their Hardhats for Highways initiative. 

Tens of thousands of construction workers rely on federal transportation funding to keep working.  But unless Congress acts, the Highway Trust Fund will go broke as early as this summer, forcing states to cut highway bid lettings, putting thousands of construction jobs at risk.

The Hardhats for Highways campaign was created to provide you with the tools to educate your members of Congress on the importance federal highway funding has on your company and your job.

All individuals interested in learning more about the Hardhats for Highways grassroots campaign are invited to attend.  Register here.

For more information, please contact Brynn Huneke at (703) 837-5376 or brynn.huneke@agc.org Return to Top

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President Submits MAP-21 Reauthorization Proposal
 

This week, President Obama submitted the Grow America Act to Congress, which is the administration’s proposal for MAP-21 reauthorization. The four-year bill calls for transportation investment of $302 billion (as was outlined in Obama’s fiscal 2015 budget plan unveiled in March). The bill proposes “business tax reforms” as the means to provide the revenue needed for the Highway Trust Fund to support increased funding levels.

The following is the bill’s proposed funding levels (in billions):

FY 2014

FY 2015

FY 2016

FY 2017

FY 2018

Federal-aid Highways

$40.99

$48.56

$49.38

$50.21

$51.07

Transit Formula Grants

$8.7

$13.9

$14.14

$14.372

$14.61

Transit Capital Investment

$1.942

$2.5

$2.625

$2.756

$2.894

The average annual increase for highways is 21 percent and the average annual increase for transit is 69 percent.

Other features in the 350-page measure proposal include:

  • The Highway Trust Fund would be renamed the Transportation Trust Fund, with a new $19 billion rail account dedicated to rail programs. A second new account would be created for multi-modal projects. Both new accounts would be funded with transfers of general account revenue.
  • The legislation would create a $10 billion initiative to improve the freight transportation network.
  • The TIGER grant program would become permanent and funded at $1.25 billion per year.
  • Current restrictions on levying tolls on interstate highways would be eliminated.
  • An office within the U.S. Department of Transportation would be created to reduce permitting timelines for transportation project approval. A number of planning and permitting improvements are also included.

AGC’s CEO Stephen Sandherr issued a statement in support of the bill, which said, in part, “The administration’s proposed transportation bill should accelerate debate and action on a new highway and transit bill before the current legislation expires at the end of September.  This new proposal demonstrates the administration’s intent to play an active role in advocating for timely legislative action to ensure our continued economic vitality.  As important, the proposal sets a clear marker that any new legislation must span, at a minimum, four years and increase investment levels.

The proposal also firmly establishes the need to identify a dedicated way to pay for needed repairs to our aging network of roads, bridges and transit systems.  While there is likely to be debate as more details become available about the administration’s preferred funding option, Congress and the president need to work together to develop a timely funding solution before the federal Highway Trust Fund hits a zero balance this summer.”

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

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TAX
Selected Expired Tax Provisions Approved in House Committee
 

On Tuesday, the House Ways & Means Committee held a meeting to approve six expired business-related tax provisions that were included in the comprehensive tax reform bill introduced by Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.). AGC-supported legislation approved by the committee (largely along party-line votes) includes: permanently extending increased expensing limitations under section 179 and permanency in the reduced recognition period for built-in gains of S-corporations. The Joint Committee on Taxation’s analysis on making permanent the six business-related tax provisions in the “Tax Reform Act of 2014” can be viewed here. Chairman Camp has not yet indicated what the process going forward  will be for addressing the other 50 expired provisions.

At the beginning of April, the Senate Finance Committee voted to extend most of the 50 plus expired provisions through 2015 via the EXPIRE Act. House and Senate committee aides agreed to seek offsets only for expansions of tax breaks, not for simple extensions of current law. The EXPIRE Act is expected to cost $86 billion, and Chairman Camp’s six permanent extensions are estimated at $310 billion. Turning to floor action, a recent memo by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) outlining the legislative agenda lists making the research and development tax credit (HR 4438) permanent; Camp noted that this sole provision would be scheduled for the floor in the coming weeks. In the Senate, depending on the prolonged debate on energy bills scheduled and how Senate leaders will treat amendments to a tax extender package, the EXPIRE Act could see action by May 23. AGC will continue to monitor the dual tracks and advocate for the tax policies that allow construction firms to make consistent long-term business decisions.

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

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WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
House Reviews New, Potential Corps Civil Works Projects
Final WRDA Bill Expected Soon
 

On April 29, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Major General John Peabody testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to review 11 new Chief of Engineers’ reports. These reports represent the final step necessary before Congress considers authorizing a civil works project for construction. Reports indicate that this hearing was the last obstacle before Congress passes a final Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) within several weeks.

The 11 new projects considered include:

  • Morganza to the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana
  • Walton County, Florida, Hurricane and Storm Reduction
  • Springfield, Missouri, Flood Risk Management
  • Orestimba Creek Flood Risk Management Project, West Stanislaus County, California
  • Boston Harbor Navigation Improvement Project, Massachusetts
  • Willamette River Floodplain Restoration Project, Lower Coast Fork and Middle Fork Oregon
  • Sutter Basin, California, Flood Risk Management Project
  • Truckee Meadows Flood Risks Management Project, Reno, Nevada
  • Lynnhaven River Basin, Ecosystem Restoration Project
  • Lake Worth Inlet, Palm Beach Harbor Navigation Improvements Project, Palm Beach County, Florida
  • Jacksonville Harbor Navigation Improvements, Duval County, Florida

For more on these projects, click here. Congress may consider authorizing these projects—whether in full, in part, or not at all—in its final WRDA bill. To view the 23 projects that will likely be included in a final WRDA bill, see pages 155 through 160 of the House WRDA bill.

A conference committee consisting of members of the House and Senate has been working to reconcile differences between their chambers versions of a WRDA bill since November 2013. AGC continues to press for prompt enactment of a final WRDA bill.

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

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AGC Presses for Increased Inland Waterways Construction Funding
 

On April 28, AGC joined with farm, labor inland waterway user organizations in sending the Senate Finance Committee a letter urging an increase in revenues for inland waterway construction projects.

The Inland Waterways Trust Fund—which finances lock, dam and other navigational projects—generates revenue through a 20-cents-per-gallon of fuel user fee on vessels operating on the inland waterway system. The 300 commercial barge companies that pay that fee support a 6 to 9 cents increase in that fee to support additional construction on the system.

The House Ways and Means Committee recently included a provision for a 6-cent increase in the inland waterway user fee as a part of its tax reform package. AGC has been pressing for such an increase throughout the Water Resources Development Act reauthorization and tax reform processes.

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

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LABOR
AGC Opposes NAVFAC-Mandated PLA
 

On Tuesday, AGC sent a letter opposing the possible use of a project labor agreement (PLA) mandate posted by Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest (NAVFAC) 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

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2014 ELECTION
McAllister Decides Against Re-election
 

Freshman Rep. Vance McAllister (R), who was elected in a November special election to replace former Rep. Rodney Alexander (R) but then quickly became embroiled in an extra-marital scandal, announced yesterday that he will not seek a full term this November.  He will serve the balance of the current term, however, against the wishes of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor who asked McAllister to immediately resign.  

Due to his short stint in Congress and his upset of the party establishment candidate, McAllister did not have the internal district support to withstand a scandal.  His announcement means that 45 seats will now be open in the 2014 election cycle, though one - the 19th District of Florida - will be filled in a June special election.

In the special election, McAllister defeated 11 other Republican candidates.  Some, such as former Rep. Clyde Holloway (R-LA-8) and Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, have already taken themselves out of another election, but others have been non-committal.  All eyes will be on state Sen. Neil Riser (R), who lost the run-off election to McAllister.  We can again expect a crowded field of candidates.  The seat is heavily Republican, and will likely remain in the GOP column.

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

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A Grimm Situation
 

The developing story surrounding a criminal indictment against two-term Rep. Michael Grimm (R) will most probably put a marginal seat in the Democratic column.  Since Rep. Grimm's legal proceedings will almost assuredly continue through the election, New York City Councilman Domenic Recchia now becomes a slight favorite to convert the seat in November.

Since the U.S. Attorney waited until the New York candidate filing deadline had passed to take formal action against Grimm, Republicans will be unable to replace him on the ballot.  The Congressman is also the Conservative and Independent parties' nominee.  Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long already issued a statement saying his organization will continue to support Grimm. 

Republicans on Capitol Hill did not waste any time in distancing themselves from Grimm.  The National Republican Congressional Committee removed the congressman from its "Patriot Program,” which raises money for vulnerable incumbents. 

For more information, please contact David Ashinoff at (202) 547-5013 or ashinoffd@agc.org Return to Top
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Supreme Court Strikes Down Federal Aggregate Contribution Limits
 

The Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission struck down the federal aggregate contribution limit.  Prior to the ruling, federal election regulations stated that an individual could only contribute $123,200 in a two-year election cycle.   If further stipulated, an individual’s contributions to candidates and all PACs/parties could not exceed $48,600 and $74,600 respectively. 

Following the ruling, an individual may now contribute to as many federal candidates, PACs and national political parties as he or she wishes, provided that the following limits are not exceeded:

  • Federal candidates: $2,600 per election
  • PAC: $5,000 per calendar year
  • National party committee: $32,400 per calendar year

Residents in Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming and the District of Columbia have some form of state aggregate contribution limit.  According to AGC PAC legal counsel, “The validity of the aggregate contribution limits in these jurisdictions is now doubtful.  We expect that these jurisdictions will review their aggregate contribution limit laws and determine whether they intend to continue enforcing these limits.”

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