Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org April 16, 2015
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On the Inside
ENVIRONMENT
House Committee Passes Bill Restricting EPA Clean Water Act Rule
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC Meets with Secretary of Department of Veterans Affairs
TRANSPORTATION
Plans Emerge on Highway Trust Fund
TCC Fly-In Presses for Long-Term Transportation Legislation
TAX
AGC Provides Construction Industry Insight to Tax Reformers
Death Tax Repeal Advances in House
Register for the AGC Financial Issues Summer Meeting
Budget Conferees Named, Negotiations to Begin Next Week
2016 ELECTIONS
Two More Candidates Take the Presidential Plunge
ENVIRONMENT
House Committee Passes Bill Restricting EPA Clean Water Act Rule
 

By a vote of 36-22, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved legislation that would send the administration’s proposed rule redefining federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act back to the drawing board.

With the proposed rule now moving into the final stages of the interagency review before finalization, the Transportation Committee Republican leadership is working to halt the rule before it goes into effect. This bill would stop the proposed rule (or final rule, if it’s finalized before bill passage) and force EPA and the Corps to re- consult with state and local governments, as well as industry, before issuing a new proposed rule. This legislation is similar to a bill that passed the House last year with strong bipartisan support.

AGCsent a letter in support of the legislation and signed on to a coalition letter in support as well. AGC will continue to fight for a rule that is fair and predictable for the construction industry, and to educate members of Congress about the construction impacts of the agencies’ efforts.

For more information, please contact Scott Berry at berrys@agc.org or (703) 837-5321. Return to Top

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FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC Meets with Secretary of Department of Veterans Affairs
VA Admits to Problems; Seeks AGC Partnership
 

This week, AGC met with Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald, at his request, to discuss the agency’s construction program and our concerns for its future. Secretary McDonald admitted to the agency’s difficulties and expressed his sincere interest in working with AGC and its members to improve its construction program.  AGC graciously accepted his offer to work with him and the agency to do so.

This meeting comes after AGC called on Congress to remove and replace VA’s Office of Construction and Facilities Management as construction manager of the agency's major construction program (projects above $10 million) with the best-qualified federal owner through a thoughtful transition process. The secretary noted his disagreement with AGC’s position, but willingness to partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to a greater extent.

TheWashington Post issued a front page story this week on the problems at the Denver VA Hospital Project, noting AGC’s position. AGC is the first and only national construction trade association to date to call for dramatic and real reforms to the VA construction program.

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

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TRANSPORTATION
Plans Emerge on Highway Trust Fund
 

As the House and Senate begin discussions on how to deal with the May 31 expiration of the current transportation authorization, two bipartisan bills are emerging that seek to end the cycle of short-term bailouts of the Highway Trust Fund and set a path for a multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill.

In the House, Representatives Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), Reid Ribble (R-Wisc.) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), along with ten of their colleagues, introduced the Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act.  The AGC-supported bill calls for an immediate indexation of the gas and diesel user fees - providing level funding for federal highway and transit investments for nearly two years.  In order to address the long-term Highway Trust Fund challenges, the bill establishes a bipartisan, bicameral “Transportation Commission” that would be charged with determining a path towards sustainable trust fund revenue.  If the commission fails to make any recommendations or Congress fails to act on their recommendation, the gas and diesel user fees will be increased to a level that would sustain the trust fund for a three-year period.  Following this three-year funding period, if Congress fails to once again fix the Highway Trust Fund, then the gas and diesel users fees would increase to meet the next five-year Highway Trust Fund shortfall, guaranteeing ten years of funding.

In the Senate, Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) are planning to introduce a bill that would establish a 6.5 percent tax rate on repatriated offshore earnings, which could be a funding mechanism for a long-term highway bill.  The repatriation “holiday” is essentially a temporary reduced repatriation tax rate that creates an incentive for corporations to bring their overseas income back to the United States.  The proposal requires the tax to be paid into the Highway Trust Fund, but it has some limitations.  It would only apply to repatriations above the companies repatriations in recent years, and it would prohibit the repatriated income from funding increased dividends, share buybacks, or increased executive compensation. In addition, companies that make use of the “holiday” and invert within the next ten years would have to repay the tax incentive from the “holiday” with interest.

Although neither of these proposals are not perfect, AGC appreciates the leadership and looks forward to working with Congress to pass a well-funded multi-year surface transportation bill.

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 Presses for Long-Term Transportation Legislation
 

Over 500 contractors, material suppliers, equipment distributors and manufacturers, and other construction industry businesses participated in the 2015 Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) Legislative Fly-In, held this week in Washington, D.C. The groups heard from House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wisc.), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx about the prospects for passage of a long-term transportation reauthorization bill and a fix for the Highway Trust Fund. TCC members then spent a day visiting with their Congressional delegations pointing out that the uncertainty of not having a long-term reauthorization bill in place has caused states to reduce lettings going into the construction season and undermines contractor hiring and training of new employees and making investments in equipment. AGC’s Highway and Transportation Division Chair Tom Foss participated in a press conference with Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and ranking Democrat Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) called to highlight the need for Congress to act.

Highway and transit program authorization ends on May 31 and the Highway Trust Fund will have insufficient revenue to support ongoing obligations sometime this summer. Feedback from the speakers and Hill visits indicate that it is unlikely that Congress will be able to pass legislation before the deadline and yet another short-term extension will be necessary. This highlights the need to continue to press your senators and representative through Hardhats for Highways, asking them to fix the Highway Trust Fund.

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

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TAX
AGC Provides Construction Industry Insight to Tax Reformers
 

On Wednesday, AGC submitted three formal comment letters to the Business Income Tax Working Group, Savings & Investment Working Group, and the Community Development & Infrastructure Working Group in response to the Senate Finance Committee’s request for input from stakeholders on how to revamp the tax code. Submissions from stakeholders will be reviewed by the working groups and ideas can be incorporated into the each working group’s final recommendations.  The five working group recommendations will be delivered to Chairman Hatch and Ranking Member Wyden, and will be considered in developing bipartisan tax reform legislation this summer.

The next phase for the committee includes a series of roundtable discussions through the remainder of April. Each of the five bipartisan working groups is currently working to produce findings on current tax policy and legislative recommendations within its area, with the goal of having recommendations from each of the five working groups completed by May 25. 

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

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Death Tax Repeal Advances in House
 

On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1105, the Death Tax Repeal Act, by a 240-179 vote. This attempt to repeal the federal estate tax was the first vote of its kind in a decade and the likelihood for Senate consideration is low. During the fiscal year 2016 Budget vote-a-rama in the Senate late last month, an amendment (No. 607) was offered by Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) that would permanently repeal the estate tax passed on a party-line vote 54 to 46. That vote, mostly symbolic because of its non-binding nature, was more of a policy statement that provided a gauge of what might happen if a repeal bill is brought to the floor.

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

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Register for the AGC Financial Issues Summer Meeting
June 8-9, 2015 | Colorado Springs, CO
 

TheAGC Financial Issues Committee (FIC) Summer Meeting will be held June 8-9, 2015 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, CO. 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.

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

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Budget Conferees Named, Negotiations to Begin Next Week
 

This week, House leadership named five Republicans and three Democrats to the budget conference panel. Senate leaders appointed the entire membership of the Senate Budget Committee as conferees on the FY 2016 budget resolution, 12 Republicans, eight Democrats and two Independents.

Chairman Price and Senate Budget Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) have been meeting since last week to try to lay the foundation for a conference agreement. The official start of the conference negotiating will begin next week.

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

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2016 ELECTIONS
Two More Candidates Take the Presidential Plunge
 

Hillary’s Low-key Announcement

 

Last Sunday, former First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) announced via social media her presidential candidacy, saying “Everyday Americans need a champion. And I want to be that champion.”

She then set out on a 1,000 mile road trip from Chappaqua, NY to Monticello, IA. The “no-frills” trip was Mrs. Clinton’s idea to help connect her to her voters.

Marco Makes it Official

A day after the Clinton announcement, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) declared at Miami’s Freedom Tower his intention to seek the presidency. It did not take long for Sen. Rubio to set up a comparison between himself and Mrs. Clinton, as he said, “Just yesterday, a leader from yesterday began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday. Yesterday’s over, and we’re never going back.”

His entrance into the presidential race sets up what is expected to be an interesting primary battle between himself and his political mentor former Governor Jeb Bush (R-Fla.).

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

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