Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org May 8, 2014
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On the Inside
TRANSPORTATION
Senate Committee Plans to Move Highway Bill Next Week
Senate Hearing Focuses on Highway Trust Fund
Hardhats for Highways Webinar: How You Can Get Involved
TAX
Renewal of Tax Provisions on Congressional Agenda
2014 ELECTIONS
Upsets Foiled in Tuesday’s Primaries
TRANSPORTATION
Senate Committee Plans to Move Highway Bill Next Week
 

This afternoon, the Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee announced that they will mark up their reauthorization of MAP-21 on May 15 and will release the draft text of the bill on May 12. 

The “Big Four” bill has been agreed upon by Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and Senators David Vitter (R-La.), Ranking Member of the Committee; Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee; and John Barrasso (R-Wy.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee.  According to the committee, the bill will fund and improve the nation’s federal-aid highway programs for six years at current funding plus inflation.  Before a full reauthorization bill moves forward three other Senate committees must act (Banking, Commerce and Finance), the most important of the three being the Senate Finance Committee who will ultimately determine the future of the highway and transit program by identifying the future source of funding for the Highway Trust Fund.

AGC supports the committee moving the reauthorization process forward and looks forward to working with Congress to pass legislation that provides stable and predictable funding for the Highway Trust Fund over multiple years.

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

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Senate Hearing Focuses on Highway Trust Fund
 

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing examining the pending insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund.  At the hearing, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reaffirmed previous projections that the Highway Trust Fund will face insolvency this summer and will be in need of nearly $100 billion over the next six years.  The committee is currently looking at both short- and long-term transportation funding options to fill the CBO projected revenue gaps in the Highway Trust Fund.

Both Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Ranking Republican Member Orrin Hatch (Utah) acknowledged that that the impending shortfall of the Highway Trust Fund must be addressed soon.  However, the question of how large a funding patch and where the additional revenue would be found remain to be answered.  Chairman Wyden said that just to maintain solvency this calendar year Congress will have to find an additional $10 billion in funding, with another $8 billion needed to fund the remainder of fiscal year 2015. However, he did not offer any suggestions as to how he would recommend the committee fill that short-term hole. 

Beyond the need for the cash infusion, the committee is looking for a longer-term funding agreement that would allow for a multi-year reauthorization of MAP-21.  At Tuesday’s hearing, Wyden said it would likely take a combination of different funding and financing measures.
AGC is encouraged that the Republicans and Democrats on the Finance Committee have acknowledged that something needs to be done to address the revenue gaps in the Highway Trust Fund – AGC will continue to advocate for a long-term funding solution that would allow for a multi-year reauthorization of MAP-21 through our Hardhats for Highways grassroots campaign.

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

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Hardhats for Highways Webinar: How You Can Get Involved
Tuesday, May 20, 2014 | 2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT
 

Hardhats for Highways invites you to attend a free webinar on Tuesday, May 20, 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.  Pleaseclick here to register.

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

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TAX
Renewal of Tax Provisions on Congressional Agenda
 

Congress is quietly bustling with activity on tax policy, with each chamber working on a separate track.   The House is scheduled to vote on the first of six expired tax provisions on May 9, which would permanently extend tax credits for research and development activities. 

These six business-related tax provisions were first passed by the House Ways and Means Committee, largely along party lines on April 29.  Committee-passed legislation supported by AGC includesH.R. 4457, America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2014, and H.R. 4453, the Permanent S Corporation Built-in Gains Recognition Period Act of 2014. The Joint Committee on Taxation’s analysis on making these business-related tax provisions permanent in the “Tax Reform Act of 2014” can be viewed here

H.R. 4457, sponsored by Congressmen Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.) would retroactively restore the 2013 expensing and phase-out levels for Section 179 to $500,000 and $2 million respectively. The bill also would make these provisions permanent and index those levels for inflation.  In 2013, the Section 179 expensing levels were set at $500,000 for direct expensing of purchases of qualified equipment. The $500,000 limit applied to firms investing less than $2 million in qualified equipment. Investments above the $2 million level reduced the $500,000 expensing limit dollar-for-dollar until it reached zero at purchases of $2.5 million or more. These provisions expired on December 31, 2013, and the limits reverted to those in the underlying statute, which are set at $25,000 for expensing and $200,000 as the phase-out limit.

The drastic reduction in both the expensing limit and phase-out level meant that many AGC members who have been able to use Section 179 over the past decade were suddenly ineligible because their purchases would exceed $200,000 annually. In addition, they faced a significant tax liability for 2014 because they would have little or no expenses from equipment purchases to write-off in 2014.

The Senate is moving more slowly than the House to retroactively reinstate a broader package of more than 50 expired tax provisions.  However, the Senate's immediate agenda is on energy legislation, not tax provisions. Once a tax bill passes the House (as required under the Constitution), Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is poised to take up the two-year extension package by inserting the EXPIRE Act language and sending it back to the House to await approval. AGC sent a letter to the Senate Finance Committee outlining policies important to the construction industry, including adequate financing for the Highway Trust Fund and Inland Waterways Trust Fund, as well as addressing multiemployer pension plans.

AGC will continue to monitor 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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2014 ELECTIONS
Upsets Foiled in Tuesday’s Primaries
 

The first in a series of consecutive May primary weeks went solidly for the incumbents on Tuesday, as all U.S. House members facing intra-party challengers, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), rode to victory.  In only three instances did the incumbents fail to break 60 percent of the vote – Reps. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), Walter Jones Jr. (R-N.C.) and David Joyce (R-Ohio).  

The best news of the evening for Republicans came in North Carolina, where state House Speaker Thom Tillis exceeded the 40 percent threshold to win the party's U.S. Senate nomination outright. Late polling clearly suggested that Tillis would place first in the field of eight candidates, but questions remained as to whether he would be forced to a run-off. Last night, the state legislative leader attracted 46 percent followed by physician Greg Brannon with 27 percent, while Charlotte pastor Mark Harris took 18 percent.

Tillis has won the right to face first-term Sen. Kay Hagan (D), who easily won her own primary. Possibly the biggest surprise of the evening was the turnout complexion. Despite all the significant action being on the GOP side of the North Carolina political ledger, only 10,000 less Democrats voted statewide than Republicans.

Voters in two of the three open seats elected new House members last night. In the Wilmington, North Carolina area, 2012 GOP nominee and former state Sen. David Rouzer won a 53-40 percent victory over New Hanover Commissioner Woody White, and is now poised to clinch the seat in the upcoming November election. With Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) retiring, the seat is now Mr. Rouzer's to lose.

Turning to the Charlotte-Greensboro region, in the battle to replace former Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), who left the House to accept a federal appointment from President Obama, Greensboro state Rep. Alma Adams won her Democratic primary battle against six opponents. She claimed both the nomination for the regular election and the concurrent special to fill the balance of Watt's term. She will win the November vote in this heavily Democratic district, and assumes office immediately upon her election.

In the other open seat that touches the Greensboro area, Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger Jr., the son of the state Senate president, placed first in his drive to replace retiring Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.) but failed to reach the 40 percent plateau. He will now face Baptist pastor Mark Walker in a July 15 Republican run-off. Last night, Berger scored 34 percent to Walker's 25 percent. The winner becomes the general election prohibitive favorite in the solidly Republican seat.

Indiana voters also went to the polls, though no upsets were expected. None occurred, as the six House incumbents with primary challenges all won in landslides.

This primary night clearly went to the incumbents, across the board.

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

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