Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org March 19, 2015
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On the Inside
TRANSPORTATION
#DriveBetterRoads: AGC Launches New Education, Advertising and Social Media Campaign to Boost Federal Highway Funding
Hardhats for Highways Launches Ten-Week Grassroots Blitz – Contact Your Members of Congress!
Push Back Continues Against “Devolution”
LABOR
Congress Passes Legislation to Stop the NLRB's “Ambush” Election Rule
AGC Opposes USACE-Mandated PLA
BUDGET
House and Senate Budgets Provide Reserve Fund for Highway Trust Fund
WATER RESOURCES
House Members Urge Support for Harbor Maintenance Funding
TAX
Congressional Tax Hearings Address Reform and Estate Tax
Early-Bird Registration Open for AGC Financial Issues Summer Meeting
TRANSPORTATION
#DriveBetterRoads: AGC Launches New Education, Advertising and Social Media Campaign to Boost Federal Highway Funding
Visit www.DriveBetterRoads.org Today!
 

On Tuesday, AGC launched a new nationwide advertising and education campaign to push for a boost in federal transportation spending called #DriveBetterRoads.  The new effort is designed to help commuters and shippers understand how much they benefit from federal highway investments.  The campaign is also focused on making sure these commuters and shippers understand that they can and should play a key role in pushing Washington to find a way to pay for road and bridge repairs for the long term.  Congress and the Obama administration must figure out a way to fund needed highway and transit repairs before current legislation, and the federal funding that comes with it, expires on May 31.

Dale Stubblefield, vice president of Arlington, Texas-based Austin Bridge & Road announced the new campaign while hosting former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood at a local highway construction project his firm is performing, saying the economic benefits of investing in infrastructure are significant.  He noted that the I-30 managed toll lanes project that he and former Secretary LaHood visited employs dozens of workers and relies on suppliers from throughout Texas and the country.  He added that highway projects do much more than support jobs, but that improving roads and bridges cuts commuting times so families can spend less money on gas and time in traffic.  Stubblefield also noted that fixing transportation infrastructure can help lower shipping costs and, in turn, lower the cost of the goods and services people purchase.

In addition, AGC is urging people to share pictures of bad traffic, poor road conditions and aging bridges by Tweeting them out with the common hashtag #DriveBetterRoads.  AGC is also urging commuters and shippers to visit www.DriveBetterRoads.org to learn more about the value of the highway program and send a letter to their members of Congress urging them to support federal highway investments. 

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

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Hardhats for Highways Launches Ten-Week Grassroots Blitz – Contact Your Members of Congress!
New “e-Hardhat” Letters Available at www.HardhatsforHighways.org
 

Congress needs to understand the dire need to fix the Highway Trust Fund before the current extension expires.  Hardhats for Highways has developed five letters that we are asking you and your employees to send to your Senators and Representative one-by-one, every two weeks over the next ten-week period.  

The current short-term funding patch for transportation programs is set to expire May 31 unless Congress works to provide a long-term funding solution and a multi-year transportation bill to keep these programs afloat. Your senators and representatives need to hear from you - please send them an email urging them to fix the Highway Trust Fund before it goes broke.

Please take the time (and encourage your employees to do the same) to not only send an email today, but several over the next 10 weeks. Congress needs to hear from you.

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

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Push Back Continues Against “Devolution”
 

This week, AGC continued to push back on outside groups like Heritage Action and Club for Growth, who have been pushing a legislative proposal that would severely cut federal funding for state highway capital investments. The proposal known as the Transportation Empowerment Act (TEA Act) would decrease the federal gas tax from 18.4 cents per gallon to 3.7 cents per gallon over five years and result in states either raising their gas taxes or face steep cuts in their transportation programs.

In response to the proposal, the AGC co-chaired Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) released an analysis illustrating how much states rely on federal funding for the highway capital programs.  The analysis, on average, shows states rely on the federal funding for 52 percent of these investments.   In addition to the TCC release, AGC joined with the American Trucking Association and 36 other national organizations in sending a letter opposing any efforts in Congress to reintroduce the TEA Act.  The bill was sponsored in the last Congress by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Tom Graves (R-Ga.), but has yet to be introduced in the 114th Congress.

“Devolution” was also a topic at Tuesday’s House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee hearing.  Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and ranking member Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) heard from representatives of the National Governors Association, National League of Cities, and the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO).  All three witnesses, including the Republican Governor of North Carolina, expressed their opposition to a devolution proposal, such as the TEA Act.

AGC will continue to focus on preventing the TEA Act or any other “devolution” proposals from gaining support in the House and Senate.  

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

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LABOR
Congress Passes Legislation to Stop the NLRB's “Ambush” Election Rule
President Obama Expected to Veto
 

Today, the House passed an AGC-supported resolution that would nullify the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) rule on representation-case procedures, which will go into effect on April 14, 2015. The vote fell mostly along party lines with Republicans supporting and Democrats opposing. The resolution passed the Senate earlier this month and will now be sent to the president’s desk. However, President Obama has indicated his intention to veto the legislation, which Congress will be unlikely to overturn. Therefore, a lawsuit making its way through the court system may be the best and last chance at blocking the rule before the implementation date.

The rule is known as the “quickie election” or “ambush election” rule, and it would expedite the union representation election cycle to as few as 14 days from the union’s filing of a petition for an election. It is bad for both employers and employees. It would deny employers due process by limiting review of critical issues such as identifying the appropriate bargaining unit and voter eligibility potentially until after the vote is held. It would also limit workers’ access to information and provide inadequate time for workers to consider information about joining the union.

The rule would have a particularly difficult application in the construction industry due to the complexity of identifying the appropriate bargaining unit and determining voter eligibility in the industry due to the decentralized nature of construction workplaces operated by the same employer.

AGC believes this issue to be of such importance to the construction industry that AGC designated the House and Senate votes as “key votes” in its scorecard of congressional votes.

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

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AGC Opposes USACE-Mandated PLA
 

Recently, AGC sent a letter opposing the possible use of a project labor agreement (PLA) mandate posted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The letter addressed concerns about a possible PLA mandate for a command and control facility project at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.

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. Visit AGC’s Action Center to write to your Senators urging their support of legislation opposing government mandated PLAs. AGC is working with members of the House to introduce the same bill in that chamber. 

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

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BUDGET
House and Senate Budgets Provide Reserve Fund for Highway Trust Fund
 

This week, the chairmen of the House and Senate Budget Committees released their 2016 budgets with the House panel passing their bill on a party line vote.  The Senate Budget Committee is expected to pass their bill later today.

In terms of transportation and the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), both budgets establish “reserve funds” that would allow Congress to identify additional revenue streams and increase investment levels beyond what the HTF can currently support.  The House budget once again requires that any transfers from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund be fully offset, while the Senate bill would allow any General Fund transfers to the HTF to be offset over ten fiscal years, instead of the year the transfer occurs.  In addition, the Senate bill prohibits all transfers from other federal trust funds to the HTF.  Both the House and Senate budgets require any HTF revenue package be deficit-neutral.

The House and Senate budget resolutions further emphasizes the fact that Congress needs to act immediately to ensure the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund and to allow for a full reauthorization of MAP-21.

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

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WATER RESOURCES
House Members Urge Support for Harbor Maintenance Funding
AGC Members Take Action; Help Drive Forward Progress
 

After a concerted advocacy effort by AGC and its members, a bipartisan group of 85 members of the House of Representatives this week sent an AGC-supported letter urging appropriators to utilize Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) revenues at the levels set by the Water Resources Reform & Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA). WRRDA authorizes Congress to spend up to $1.25 billion—69 percent of HMTF revenues—on harbor maintenance activities in fiscal year (FY) 2016. However, the House Appropriations Committee must agree to actually spend that level of funding in FY 2016 for the promise in WRRDA to be realized.

The HMTF funds port and harbor dredging maintenance activities throughout the nation through revenues generated from a tax on shippers based on the value of the goods being shipped through ports. For many years, Congress has spent about half of the HMTF revenues on things other than harbor maintenance. WRRDA, which passed the House by a 412-4 vote last year, increased authorized funding of HMTF revenues for actual harbor maintenance through FY 2020 when all HMTF revenues are authorized for harbor maintenance activities.

Many AGC members contacted their representatives and urged them to sign the letter using AGC’s Action Center. And many of those representatives signed this letter. AGC will continue its efforts to work with House and Senate appropriators to meet the FY 2016 HMTF funding levels.

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

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TAX
Congressional Tax Hearings Address Reform and Estate Tax
 

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee held a fourth in a series of recent tax reform hearings on international taxation with four witnesses on the panel including: Pam Olson, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP; Anthony Smith, Vice President of Tax & Treasurer, Thermo Fisher Scientific; Dr. Rosanne Altshule, Professor, Rutgers University; Stephen Shay, Professor, Harvard Law School. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), a co-chairman of the Business Tax Working Group, did not think that a broad-based tax code overhaul and revamp of the international tax system were mutually exclusive, but left the door open. Senator Thune noted that the working groups for both corporate businesses and international tax issues would have to come to a consensus before the May deadline for work to be completed and delivered to the chairman and ranking member.

On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures held a hearing on the burden of the estate tax on family businesses. The full House Ways and Means Committee will vote to mark up H.R. 1105, the Death Tax Repeal Act next week, the first vote of its kind in a decade. The administration’s FY 2016 Budget sought to expand the estate tax by modifying the step-up basis of assets with a few exceptions. The GOP proposal has little chance of becoming law and would be the subject of  an immediate presidential veto threat if passed by either chamber of Congress.

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

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Early-Bird Registration Open for AGC Financial Issues Summer Meeting
June 8-9, 2015 | Colorado Springs, Colorado
 

The AGC Financial Issues Committee (FIC) Summer Meeting will be held June 8-9, 2015, at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. The link to the meeting’s registration page is here. The meeting is geared toward member company AGC member company CFOs, Treasurers, Finance Directors, Controllers, Tax Directors and other senior accounting professionals. Members have an opportunity to learn as well as formulate positions on tax and accounting matters that directly affect the bottom line and operations of AGC member companies of all sizes and specialties. Current FIF projects include helping construction companies to prepare for the new Revenue Recognition Accounting Standard Update that goes into effect in 2017.

Meetings center around discussions with FASB reps, congressional representatives, practitioners, and financial officer breakout groups on topics including internal controls, project performance reviews and using technology like Box.com in operations or accounting functions. Attendees also have an opportunity to network and discuss a wide variety of topics, including: audit issues faced by construction companies; congressional action on tax policy; and an economic outlook for the industry.

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

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