Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org April 2, 2015
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On the Inside
TRANSPORTATION
Your Comments Needed on DOT Proposal to Allow Local Hire Preferences
Administration Releases Latest Transportation Reauthorization Proposal
TCC Fly-In – Meetings with FHWA – Make Your Voice Heard
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC Calls for Removal of Department of Veterans Affairs as Construction Manager
Bill to Replace Department of Veterans Affairs as Construction Manager Introduced
Congressman Introduces Anti-Government Mandated PLA Bill
USACE Releases New Safety and Health Manual
Don’t Miss Out: AGC Federal Contractors Conference Early Bird Deadline Extended
TAX
AGC Financial Issues Summer Meeting Early-Bird Ends in 12 Days
2016 ELECTIONS
Reid Calls it Quits
TRANSPORTATION
Your Comments Needed on DOT Proposal to Allow Local Hire Preferences
 

On March 5, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) established a pilot program that will allow state and local governments to use local geographic hiring preferences on their federal-aid highway and federal transit assisted contracts. The pilot program is effective immediately and will last one year. DOT also issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to make these changes permanent by altering existing Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) regulations. Read the pilot program proposal here and the Notice of Proposed Rule Making here

FHWA and FTA regulations have traditionally prohibited the use of local hire preferences because of their impact on competition; however, some in Congress are urging DOT to allow the use of local preferences. A provision in last year’s transportation appropriations legislation allowed transit agencies to use local hiring requirements on FTA-funded projects for FY 2015.

AGC urges members and chapters to submit comments on this proposal. The comment period is very short, ending on April 6, 2015. While AGC has requested that the time be extended there is no assurance that this will happen. 

You can submit comments directly to DOT or use AGC’s Action Center.

For more information, please contact Brian Deery at deeryb@agc.org or (703) 837-5219.  Return to Top

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Administration Releases Latest Transportation Reauthorization Proposal
 

This week, the U.S. Department of Transportation transmitted to Congress the 2015 version of the GROW AMERICA Act – their surface transportation reauthorization proposal.  The bill is very similar to the one that was sent to Congress last year, with the major exception being the length and levels of funding.

The new GROW AMERICA Act 2.0 is a six-year, $478 billion bill which includes $317 billion for highways – a 29 percent increase above current levels and $116 billion for transit - an increase of 76 percent.   The proposal would fund highways and transit with $240 billion of fuel tax revenues and $238 billion from a new mandatory 14 percent transition tax on corporate foreign earnings.  Like the previous bill, it would remove the current prohibition on tolls on exiting interstate highways and allow state and other public agencies to implement variable priced tolls on existing roads, bridges and tunnels for congestion management.

Other highlights include continued funding for the TIFIA program, increasing the volume cap on Private Activity Bonds from $15 billion to $19 billion, and continuing efforts to improve project delivery and the federal permitting and regulatory review process.  The bill also includes proposals opposed by AGC, including allowing local-hiring preferences on feral-aid highway and federal transit construction projects.

AGC is pleased that the administration has recognized the need for increasing investment in our transportation network. We look forward to working with Congress and the administration to pass a well-funded multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill that reflects the best interests of the country and the construction industry.

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

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TCC Fly-In – Meetings with FHWA – Make Your Voice Heard
Registration Closes Monday, April 6
 

With the May 31 deadline for MAP-21 highway and transit authorization fast approaching, now is the time for Congress to act. Join your construction peers at the Transportation Construction Coalition’s (TCC) 2015 Legislative Fly-In and make your voice heard. The meeting is scheduled for April 14-15 at the Capitol Hill Hyatt Regency located conveniently to Congressional offices to facilitate your visits.  The hotel is now sold out, but several options are still available.

In addition to the TCC legislative briefing, AGC has scheduled meetings with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and a Washington briefing luncheon to get you up to speed on other key legislative and regulatory issues that could impact your businesses.

Registration closes Monday, April 6 so please register today.

For more information, please contact Brian Deery at deeryb@agc.org or (703) 837-5219.  Return to Top

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FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC Calls for Removal of Department of Veterans Affairs as Construction Manager
Best Qualified Federal Owner Should Execute VA Construction Program
 

This week, AGC met with the Executive Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Office of Construction & Facilities Management (CFM) Stella Fiotes to inform her that the association will urge Congress to remove her office from executing major VA construction projects.  AGC let Ms. Fiotes know that it will ask Congress to: (1) remove and replace CFM as construction manager of the agency’s major construction program (projects above $10 million) with the best-qualified federal owner through thoughtful transition process; (2) reform VA’s construction planning and design decision processes; and (3) conduct additional oversight of the VA’s minor construction program (projects $10 million and below).  

Since its founding in 1918, AGC of America has never called for the removal of a federal construction agency from managing its own construction program. However, AGC has continuously and vociferously advocated for well-trained federal construction and design professionals to execute agency construction programs. This association comes to this conclusion after much thought, debate and many years of consideration. This consideration is underscored by decades of difficult contractor experience with the agency and numerous Government Accountability Office reports issued over 40 years noting persistent project cost overruns and delays that CFM still grapples with today.

While not every AGC member agrees with this position, this position reflects the opinion of a majority of AGC’s membership. During our meeting with the VA, AGC was sure to note that, while it has over 26,000 members, not all of our membership agrees with the position. To view AGC’s complete position on the VA construction program, click here.

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

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Bill to Replace Department of Veterans Affairs as Construction Manager Introduced
USACE Would Take Over Major VA Construction Management
 

Late last week, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) introduced legislation that would remove the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Office of Construction & Facilities Management (CFM) from construction management of the agency’s major construction program as mentioned in the above article. The legislation would immediately remove CFM as construction manager over the VA Aurora Hospital project outside of Denver and replace it with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).  The bill would also replace CFM with USACE on existing and future VA projects after the agencies reach a mutual agreement on a transition.

While this legislation is a positive step forward in addressing the VA’s construction program, the legislation needs additional modification to help ensure a smooth transition for the VA’s major construction program to USACE. The bill does not sufficiently address: (1) how existing major VA construction projects—other than Aurora—would be handled; and (2) necessary reforms to VA planning and design processes for when it acts as a client of USACE, among other things. AGC will work with members of the House and Senate on this legislation to address its concerns, as any major alteration to the VA construction program should be comprehensive and fully vetted.

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

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Congressman Introduces Anti-Government Mandated PLA Bill
Contact Your Members of Congress to Support H.R. 1671
 

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) recently introduced the “Government Neutrality in Contracting Act” (H.R. 1671) in the House. This legislation—like its companion bill, S. 71, in the Senate introduced by Sen. David Vitter in January—would prohibit federal contracting agencies from mandating that contractors and unions enter project labor agreements (PLAs) on direct federal projects.  In addition, the bill would preserve the right of contractors and unions to voluntarily negotiate and execute project labor agreements on federal projects, if they so choose.

This AGC-supported legislation falls directly in line with the association’s position on such government mandated PLAs. Specifically, 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 Legislative Action Center to write to your members of Congress urging their support of this legislation.

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

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USACE Releases New Safety and Health Manual
EM 385-1-1, 2014 Version
 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently released a new version of its safety and health manual. The new manual—EM 385-1-1, 2014 Version—includes a host of changes to safety and health requirements that USACE, and other federal agencies that use the manual, will require on its projects. AGC and its members provided significant input during the revision process, especially concerning crane safety. Bound, print copies of the manual are in production and will be available through the AGC Store for purchase shortly.

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

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Don’t Miss Out: AGC Federal Contractors Conference Early Bird Deadline Extended
Register by Tuesday, April 7 to Save $100!
 

The latest project forecasts, expert insight on upcoming regulatory hurdles, and ample networking opportunities with agency decision makers are critical to being competitive in the federal construction market. Join construction industry leaders and their federal agency counterparts at the Federal Contractors Conference on May 12 -14 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., to take advantage of such essential information and the many networking opportunities. Register before April 7 to save $100 off your registration.

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
  • Architect of the Capitol
  • The Smithsonian Institute
  • Department of State
  • National Nuclear Security Administration
  • Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Bureau of Reclamation

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

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TAX
AGC Financial Issues Summer Meeting Early-Bird Ends in 12 Days
June 8-9, 2015 | Colorado Springs, Colo.
 

The AGC Financial Issues Committee (FIC) Summer Meeting will be held June 8-9, 2015, at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo. Early-bird registration ends Monday, April 13. Meetings and discussions with FASB reps, congressional representatives, practitioners, and financial officer breakout groups will focus 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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2016 ELECTIONS
Reid Calls it Quits
 

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) surprised Capitol Hill and the state of Nevada last Friday when he announced that he would retire at the end of the 114th Congress.  Mr. Reid quickly expressed support for former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto as his successor. This, even before Ms. Cortez Masto issued a statement of candidacy.

Presumably, it has been worked out behind the scenes that Cortez Masto is the preferred Democratic candidate.  Rep. Dina Titus (D-N.V.-1) may enter the race as she described herself as “seriously considering” a bid for the Senate. Former Secretary of State Ross Miller (D), who lost the race for Attorney General last November to Republican Adam Laxalt, is yet another potential Democratic candidate.
  
With Mr. Reid off the 2016 ballot, this race is now a toss-up. Expect a renewed GOP push to recruit Gov. Brian Sandoval (who has expressed no interest in running), or Reps. Heck or Mark Amodei (R-N.V.-2) into the race. 

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

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