Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org August 7, 2014
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On the Inside
TRANSPORTATION
Meet with Your Members of Congress While They’re Home
Missouri Voters Reject Highway Revenue Measure
LABOR / ENVIRONMENT
New EPA Proposed Rule Would Allow Agency to Garnish Wages for Alleged Environmental Violations
2014 ELECTIONS
Sen. Walsh Drops Election Bid
Tuesday’s Primary Results
TRANSPORTATION
Meet with Your Members of Congress While They’re Home
Tell Them to Fix the Highway Trust Fund When They Return to Capitol Hill in September
 

Congress is in recess and working in their home states for the month of August.  While they are home, they need to hear from you.  Please contact your Representative and Senator and urge them to fix the Highway Trust Fund before the end of the year. 

Although Congress passed a patch for the Highway Trust Fund last week, that money will run out next May.  We need to continue to press Congress to find a long-term solution to the funding problems our transportation infrastructure faces.  

Our work is not done.  Contact your Legislators Now!

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

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Missouri Voters Reject Highway Revenue Measure
 

On Tuesday, Missouri voters defeated a proposed statewide sales tax that would have raised billions of dollars for transportation improvements.  Constitutional Amendment 7, rejected by nearly 59 percent of voters, would have increased the sales tax by three-quarter percent for the next ten years and generated about $5.4 billion in revenue directed specifically for transportation.

The legislature voted earlier this year to allow for a referendum on the measure. It was originally scheduled to take place as part of the general election in November.  However, Governor Jay Nixon (D), opposed the measure and was successful in moving the vote to coincide with the primary election held this week. This significantly reduced the amount of time proponents of the measure – lead by the AGC of St. Louis and AGC of Missouri, along with AGC members in the state – had to garner the necessary support. Much of the opposition focused on a sales tax versus a gas tax. Exit polls showed that opponents believed that a gas and diesel fuel tax increase was the better way to fund transportation. However, in 2002, Missouri voters rejected a proposed gas tax increase.

Without the increased revenue, the Missouri Department of Transportation’s construction budget is projected to decline to $325 million in 2017, the lowest since 1992. It currently stands at about $700 million.

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

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LABOR / ENVIRONMENT
New EPA Proposed Rule Would Allow Agency to Garnish Wages for Alleged Environmental Violations
 

A newly proposed rule by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would give the agency the authority to cut into the paychecks of those who owe it a debt, such as a fine or penalty for an environmental violation.  EPA would be allowed to garnish up to 15 percent of the “disposable pay” of delinquent debtors who do not work for the federal government via a process known as administrative wage garnishment – all without a court order.

Environmental rules are complex and difficult to understand. With fines of up to $37,500 per day per violation, civil penalties can reach into the millions of dollars.  Under most programs, strict liability may impose daily penalties without regard to fault.  And the regulated community often faces a long lag time between the inspection date and the date of enforcement action, which can rack up huge fines and make interpretation of the data more difficult. This precipitous garnishment of wages by EPA could quickly bankrupt small businesses or individual landowners. In one month’s time, a landowner could be liable for millions in penalties.

Even more troubling, recent reports show that EPA’s wage garnishment proposal would do little to bring about a cleaner environment or solve delinquency problems.  According to the American Action Forum’s analysis of EPA’s enforcement data, a majority of EPA fines for individuals involve paperwork infractions – not environmental contamination – including fines for failing to file notifications or reports with EPA. 

EPA is accepting public comment until Sept. 2 on this controversial change to its debt collection procedures, AGC plans to voice its opposition to EPA’s proposal.  AGC will also be examining possibilities for Congressional action that would prohibit the EPA from implementing the wage garnishment rule.

Read more about this issue here.

Please share your perspectives on this matter with AGC’s Leah Pilconis at pilconisl@agc.org.

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2014 ELECTIONS
Sen. Walsh Drops Election Bid
 

Appointed Sen. John Walsh (D-MT), reeling from published reports that he plagiarized his War College thesis, said the effects upon his campaign from the revelation is causing him to end his effort to win election to the seat.  Walsh had been appointed in February to succeed Sen. Max Baucus (D), who resigned early to become U.S. Ambassador to China.  Walsh had been the state's sitting Lt. Governor.

Republican nominee Steve Daines, the state's at-large Congressman, now has the opportunity to expand his general election advantage while the Democrats scramble to find a replacement nominee.  The party now must hold a statewide nominating convention, and do so before August 20 in order to qualify a general election candidate.

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

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Tuesday’s Primary Results
 

Kansas

While Gov. Sam Brownback (R) looked to be the weakest Kansas Republican statewide official, it was Sen. Pat Roberts (R) who won re-nomination with the smallest vote percentage.

Brownback defeated Republican challenger Jennifer Winn, 63-37 percent, to claim re-nomination. Sen. Roberts, running for a fourth consecutive term, won his primary with just 48 percent of the vote. Physician Milton Wolf placed second with 41 percent. Two other candidates combined to score 11 percent. For the Democrats, Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor won a relatively close nomination battle, 53-47 percent, over attorney Patrick Wiesner.

In the 1st Congressional District, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R) survived a scare from former school superintendent Alan LaPolice. The Congressman garnered only 54 percent of the vote within his own party.

Fourth District Rep. Mike Pompeo (R) fared considerably better in his challenge battle from a much tougher opponent. The two-term Congressman won re-nomination over former 16-year congressional veteran Todd Tiahrt (R), 63-37 percent. Rep. Pompeo will now cruise to re-election in November.

Michigan

Freshman Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R), a Tea Party favorite tabbed as an "accidental Congressman" when he was elected in 2012 – after then-Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Livonia) was disqualified from the ballot – lost his bid for re-nomination, as predicted. Attorney David Trott, brandishing endorsements from virtually all key state Republican leaders and overwhelming the incumbent in fundraising, won a huge 66-34 percent win in the 11th District. Trott now faces former State Department official Bobby McKenzie, who barely won (by a 671 vote margin) the Democratic primary against three opponents. Trott is the clear favorite to carry the open seat in November.

In the other incumbent challenge, controversial Tea Party-backed Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI-3) turned back a tough and well organized campaign effort from businessman Brian Ellis. Amash notched a 57-43 percent margin to win the party nomination for a third term in office.

In what was thought to be the closest race going into the primary vote, state Sen. John Moolenaar (R) rather easily defeated businessmen Paul Mitchell and Peter Konetchy, 52-37-11 percent. For most of the campaign Mitchell was either running ahead or tied with Moolenaar, a veteran office holder, in political polling. Mr. Moolenaar will now skate through the general election and succeed retiring House Ways & Means Committee chairman Dave Camp (R-MI-4).

In the open 8th Congressional District, with Rep. Mike Rogers (R) leaving Congress to host a new national radio program, former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop easily won the Republican nomination, 60-40 percent, against state Rep. Tom McMillin. Also as forecasted for the Democratic side, Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing defeated three opponents with 43 percent of the vote after trailing most of election night. Bishop now becomes a big favorite for the general election.

In the uncertain 14th District, Rep. Gary Peters (D-Bloomington Township) is vacating his seat to run for Senate and state Rep. Rudy Hobbs and Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence are still in a race that is too close to call with all of the precincts reporting. Absentee and provisional ballots will likely decide the final outcome. Only 2,393 votes separate the two, with Lawrence leading. Former U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI-13) finished third. The eventual winner will claim the seat in November.

Other victors were Debbie Dingell (D) in the open 12th District, vying to succeed her retiring husband, 59-year congressional veteran John Dingell (D). She will cruise in the general election. Incumbents Dan Benishek (R-MI-1), Fred Upton (R-MI-6), Tim Walberg (R-MI-7), and John Conyers (D-MI-13) all easily outpaced intra-party challengers.

Rep. Peters and former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) were unopposed in their respective primaries for the open U.S. Senate contest, as were Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and former Rep. Mark Schauer (D-MI-7) in the gubernatorial race.

Missouri

Unlike several incumbents in other states with primaries, Missouri members faced little to no opposition for re-nomination.  While Reps. Lacy Clay (D-MO-1), Ann Wagner (R-MO-02) and Jason Smith (R-MO-08) ran uncontested, the rest of the delegation posted wins between 62 and 82 percent.

Washington

The Washington primary will take awhile to completely count because of their vote-by-mail system that allows ballots to be accepted if postmarked on Election Day. The nine House incumbents seeking re-election – Washington does not host either a Senate or a gubernatorial race in 2014 – advanced to the general election in the state's top-two jungle primary format.

Despite tabulation totals only reaching about half of the number of ballots cast, enough of a statistical pattern exists to project general election qualifiers in most races. All of the incumbents placed first and garnered between a low of 48 percent (Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler-R-WA-3) and a high of 76 percent (Rep. Jim McDermott-D-WA-7).

But the big news was in the open central Washington 4th District, where veteran Rep. Doc Hastings (R), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, is retiring. There, two Republican candidates have already been projected as advancing to the general election. Eight Republicans, two Democrats, and two Independents were on the ballot, and simple mathematics would indicate that the Democrats, despite being the minority party in this district, would have a strong chance of qualifying one contender. But, they failed to garner enough votes.

Former NFL football player and ex-statewide candidate Clint Didier appears to be placing first in the primary followed closely by former state Agriculture Director Dan Newhouse. By qualifying two Republicans in the general election, the GOP has secured the open seat for the next term regardless of which man wins in November.

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

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