Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org February 12, 2015
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On the Inside
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC Testifies for Procurement Reform
AGC POLICY PRIORITIES
AGC Board of Directors Approves Policy Priorities for 2015-2016
LABOR
Legislation Introduced to Nullify NLRB Quickie Election Rule
Bipartisan Legislation to Simplify Compliance with the ACA Introduced
HARDHATS FOR HIGHWAYS
House Holds Transportation Reauthorization Hearing
INFRASTRUCTURE
Keystone Headed for Likely Veto
TAX
Senate Committee Moves Forward on Tax Reform
SAFETY
Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) Proposes to Increase Penalties
AGC EVENTS
Congress Needs to Hear from You Transportation Funding is Running Out!
Get Ahead of Your Competition at the AGC Federal Contractors Conference
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC Testifies for Procurement Reform
House Small Business Committee to Introduce Legislation Soon
 



Today, Randall  Gibson—AGC NAVFAC Committee chair and president of Whitesell-Green, a small general contractor based in Florida—testified on behalf of AGC before the House Small Business Committee ona host of procurement reform issues. In the testimony, AGC encouraged members of the committee and Congress to:

  • Prohibit all federal agencies from procuring construction services through reverse auctions;
  • Reform design-build contracting government-wide to reasonably limit one-step design-build solicitations and limit the teams allowed on the short list of the two-step design build process;
  • Encourage sensible consideration of past performance records in the joint venture and teaming context;
  • Prevent unintended consequences of misinterpretation of the nonmanufacturer rule; and
  • Help prevent individual surety fraud in the construction bond market.

Last year, AGC successfully pushed Congress to enact reverse auction restrictions and design build reform for Department of Defense agencies, i.e., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Naval Facilities Engineering Command. AGC worked with many members of Congress, including those on the House Small Business Committee, to help enact those reforms.  However, while a positive step forward, those reforms must be applied government-wide to civilian agencies like the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Interior and General Services Administration. The House Small Business Committee members will likely introduce legislation shortly that would support such government-wide reform.

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

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AGC POLICY PRIORITIES
AGC Board of Directors Approves Policy Priorities for 2015-2016
 

The AGC Board of Directors put the finishing touches on AGC's legislative and regulatory priorities for the 114th Congress, which spans 2015 and 2016.  The Board made the final changes to a list that was developed by the AGC Legislative Action Committee in December.

The top priorities are based upon:

  1. Impact on the industry (Does it specifically impact a large segment of the industry?)
  2. Timeliness (Is it likely to be considered in the 114th Congress?)
  3. Achievability (Does it stand a good chance of passing?)

AGC’s legislative and regulatory priorities can be viewed here.  Congress did swiftly act on Terrorism Risk Insurance, but other priorities will require a longer more concerted effort to pass.

For more information, please contact Jeff Shoaf at shoafj@agc.org or 202-547-3350. Return to Top

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LABOR
Legislation Introduced to Nullify NLRB Quickie Election Rule
 

Legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate to nullify the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rule on representation-case procedures. Visit AGC’s Legislative Action Center and write to your elected officials urging them to support this legislation.  The AGC-opposed rule will go into effect April 14 unless Congress acts or a litigation challenge is successful.

AGC opposes the rule because expediting the union representation election cycle to as little as 14 days denies employers due process and ample time to prepare. It also effectively limits workers’ access to information and provides an inadequate opportunity for them to consider whether they want to be represented by the union. This rule will be particularly difficult to apply and will have a detrimental impact on the construction industry due to the complexity of identifying the appropriate bargaining unit, determining voter eligibility in the industry, and the decentralized nature of construction workplaces operated by the same employer.

Additionally, in construction, the rule can directly affect employers with unionized workforces, as well as those whose workers are not yet organized, by putting their current pre-hire agreements in jeopardy. Historically, both union contractors and building trade unions have benefitted from the ease, convenience, and flexibility of 8(f), or pre-hire, agreements unique to the construction industry. The quickie election rule would enable unions to more readily convert their 8(f) relationships to 9(a) relationships in order to restrain a union contractor's flexibility or restrain a rival union from taking over its jurisdiction. In addition, a rival union might use the election process to take jurisdiction from a union with an 8(f) relationship.

AGC is concerned that the rule could have substantial unintended consequences and destabilize an industry that is struggling to recover from depression-like conditions. The rule is also a change in direction from over 50 years of U.S. labor law where the NLRB has almost never issued regulations and has frequently recognized the unique and complicated aspects of the employer-employee relationship in the construction industry. Visit AGC’s Legislative Action Center and write to your elected officials urging them to vote in favor of legislation blocking the NLRB’s rule.

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

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Bipartisan Legislation to Simplify Compliance with the ACA Introduced
 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has different definitions of what constitutes a seasonal employee or worker when determining the size of an employer and whether an employer must offer insurance to those employees.

This week, the House introduced bipartisan legislation, the Simplifying Technical Aspects Regarding Seasonality (STARS) Act, that will eliminate the seasonal worker exemption from the ACA regulations, and instead marry the “seasonal worker” and “seasonal employee” definitions into one, clear definition. It would also exclude workers from the “applicable large employer” calculation who work for less than six months, while also excluding them from the requirement to offer coverage. The bill would be helpful to certain construction employers that utilize seasonal workforces.

AGC joined employer associations in a letter to Congress supporting the legislation and will continue to monitor its progress.

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

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HARDHATS FOR HIGHWAYS
House Holds Transportation Reauthorization Hearing
Visit www.HardhatsforHighways.org and Tell Congress to Solve the Transportation Funding Problem
 

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure held their kickoff hearing on surface transportation reauthorization.  The current authorization expires on May 31.  The only witness was Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, who pitched the committee on the need for the administration’s reauthorization proposal, the GROW AMERICA Act.

There was consensus among Secretary Foxx, Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and the rest of the committee members that it is imperative that Congress pass a well-funded, multi-year reauthorization bill.  However, there were some differences in opinion on how to achieve that mutual goal.  Chairman Shuster said that any long-term bill needs to be fiscally responsible to pass this Congress, while Ranking Member DeFazio was skeptical of a funding source for a multi-year authorization being put in place before the end of May.  While several Republicans raised issues with the administration’s proposal to increase investments in mass transit, both Foxx and Chairman Shuster have defended transit continuing be a part of the Highway Trust Fund.

The hearing highlighted the urgent need for Congress and the administration to come together and pass a well-funded multi-year surface transportation bill.  Failure to do so, as Secretary Foxx warned, will result in states cancelling or deferring projects due to the lack of funding predictability.  Further, Foxx said if a bill isn’t passed by the end of May, the U.S. Department of Transportation is planning on notifying states that the agency could begin rationing funds as early as July.  This rationing would result in delayed payments to contractors.

AGC and our members continue to press Congress on the need to pass a bill and fix the Highway Trust Fund this spring.  Our most recent effort, a bipartisan House letter calling for an end to short-term extensions and supporting identifying revenue for a multi-year bill, has received support from nearly 300 members of Congress.  Please visit Hardhats for Highways and send a letter to your legislators telling them to fix the highway trust fund and save construction industry jobs.

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

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INFRASTRUCTURE
Keystone Headed for Likely Veto
 

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a bill to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline by a vote of 270-152.  Twenty-nine Democrats voted to support the measure, which passed the Senate on Jan. 29.  The bill faces an expected veto by President Obama, who says he wants the State Department to finish an ongoing review process before deciding to approve the project.

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

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TAX
Senate Committee Moves Forward on Tax Reform
 

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee held a markup to approve 17 tax measures with a combined cost of about $312 million. Among the measures was a change to the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA). The legislation offered by Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) would increase the ownership stake that a foreign investor can take in a U.S. publicly traded real-estate investment trust (REIT) without triggering FIRPTA liability and extend the provision to certain collective investment vehicles. Specifically, it increases the FIRPTA exemption for “portfolio investors” in a U.S. publicly traded REIT from 5 to 10 percent for purposes of capital gains dividends and sales of REIT shares. The committee approved all the measures by a voice vote.

On Thursday, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a series of bills to make permanent important tax provisions. The committee approved H.R. 880, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), by a 23-12 vote. The bill would simplify and make permanent the research and development credit. The Joint Committee on Taxation said the bill is estimated to reduce federal revenue by $181.6 billion.

On Friday, the House plans to vote on seven bills that are being consolidated into two packages. AGC supports H.R. 636, the America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2015 which includes two proposals, one sponsored by Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) to continue increased expensing allowances for small businesses under Section 179 of the Internal Revenue Code, and another sponsored by Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) to make permanent the reduced recognition period for built-in gains of S-corporations.  AGC sent a letter of support for the pro-business measures earlier this week, and joined a broader coalition letter on Wednesday led by NFIB. The White House has issued a veto threat on the bills.

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

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SAFETY
Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) Proposes to Increase Penalties
 

On July 31, 2014, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued a proposed rule on Criteria and Procedures for Assessment of Civil Penalties under 30 CFR Part 100.  The proposal seeks to make several significant changes to the existing Part 100.

MSHA states that the proposal is designed to address the Federal MSHA Review Commission’s alleged inconsistencies in assessing penalties independent of the Secretary’s penalty regulations.  MSHA believes its authority is being undermined by the inconsistencies, and that it encourages mine operators to file penalty contests in the hopes of obtaining lower penalties.  Additionally, MSHA states that the Review Commission lacks the authority to assess new penalties according to established statutory criteria and that it interferes with the Secretary’s ability to establish a penalty policy that serves as a deterrent to mine operators. 

Based on member feedback, AGC of America will retain outside counsel to submit comments highlighting industry concerns with the proposed changes.  The deadline for submitting comments has been extended to Tuesday, March 31, 2015.

For more information, please contact Kevin Cannon at cannonk@agc.org or (703) 837-5410.  Return to Top

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AGC EVENTS
Congress Needs to Hear from You Transportation Funding is Running Out!
Participate in the TCC Fly-In, April 14-15
 

This spring, without help from Congress, funding for highway, bridge & transit construction projects is projected to once again run out.  Your company’s future is reliant on Congress finding a solution to the insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund.  Face-to-face visits with your senators and representative are critical to affecting change.   

The Transportation Construction Coalition’s (TCC) Fly-In will take place April 14-15 in Washington, D.C., just weeks before the current funding bill is set to expire and the Highway Trust Fund runs out of money. It is important that Congress hear from our industry at this critical period. Please plan to be part of the Fly-In and visit with your Congressional delegation.

AGC has also scheduled a meeting with Federal Highway Administration and a Washington briefing to update you on all of the issues that will impact your business. Please read more details and register for the meetings at www.agc.org/tcc_fly-in.

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

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Get Ahead of Your Competition at the AGC Federal Contractors Conference
Register Now & Save $100!
 

Want to learn about the latest federal agency projects set to hit the street in your market? Need to brush up on the latest barrage of federal regulations your business must follow?  Attend the AGC Federal Contractors Conference May 12-14, 2015, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. to learn all this information and more to help ensure you stay ahead of your competition.

Top agency headquarters’ representatives scheduled to attend include those from the:

  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Military Construction & Civil Works Programs)
  • Naval Facilities Engineering Command
  • Air Force Civil Engineer Center
  • General Services Administration
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Department of State
  • National Nuclear Security Administration
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Bureau of Reclamation

For more information, please visit meetings.agc.org/fedcon.    Return to Top

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