Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org April 30, 2015
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On the Inside
ENVIRONMENT
Stop the EPA and the Corps’ Proposed Rule Redefining "Waters of the U.S."
LABOR
AGC Testifies in Support of New Plan Design during House Multiemployer Pension Hearing
BUDGET
Budget Conference Agreement Reached
TRANSPORTATION
AGC Weighs in Hours of Service
House Subcommittee Moves Transportation Funding Bill
AGC EVENTS
Register for the AGC Financial Issues Summer Meeting
ENVIRONMENT
Stop the EPA and the Corps’ Proposed Rule Redefining "Waters of the U.S."
Action Needed Now – House Vote as Early as Tomorrow, Rule Expected to be Finalized Soon
 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) are close to finalizing their proposed rule redefining "waters of the U.S." and making many more areas subject to federal control. More federal control would require nearly all construction sites to obtain often unnecessary Clean Water Act permits. The vast majority of new areas covered by these rules are currently protected by state and local governments so any increase to overall water quality are questionable.

As early as Friday, the House is expected to vote on H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act.  This legislation would send the federal rule back to the drawing board and would require EPA and the Corps to respond to industry’s observations and concerns filed on the April 2014 proposed rule and describe how the agencies are addressing such comments (more than a million comments were filed). In addition, any new proposed rule would have to include a comprehensive analysis of its impact to small business stakeholders, as required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act, as well as an accurate and statistically valid cost-benefit analysis.

Urge your representative to vote "yes" on H.R. 1732, The Regulatory Integrity Protection Act to help protect your construction projects from needless permit costs and delays.

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

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LABOR
AGC Testifies in Support of New Plan Design during House Multiemployer Pension Hearing
 

 On April 29, AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr testified during a hearing held by the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions on ways to further strengthen the multiemployer pension system. The bipartisan, noncontroversial hearing focused on the recommendations outlined in the joint labor-management proposal, Solutions Not Bailouts, to create a new “composite” type of multiemployer benefit plan that is distinct from either defined-benefit or defined-contribution plans. The new plan design was not included in last year’s bill that overhauled much of the multiemployer system, the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014, which tracked other policy recommendations from Solutions Not Bailouts.

Sandherr’stestimony urged Congress to allow collective bargaining parties or plan trustees the option to decide whether to adopt the composite plan model, which more equally distributes some of the risks associated with retirement plans so employers don’t have to shoulder the entire burden. He also stated the new plan design is essential to the shared goal of protecting both those who earn benefits and those employers that contribute retirement benefits to them. The “composite” plan design concept would be conservatively funded; have rules for adjusting benefits (either up or down), based on funding levels; include no withdrawal liability, ensuring that accrued benefits will always remain fully funded; continue legacy liabilities in original plan, but include options to realistically pay off the liabilities; and, the plan design would apply only to future benefit accruals.

AGC views last year’s bill as a step in the right direction and provides many needed reforms to the multiemployer system. But, Congress needs to enact additional reforms to the pension system that allow multiemployer plans to modernize by choosing from additional retirement plan models, including the composite plan concept. The proposed amendments to the law are not a union bailout. They would remain completely voluntary and ensure that both employers and the pension system are fiscally viable in the future. Finally, the design change further alleviates future financial strains on the PBGC.

AGC will continue to advocate for adoption of the new plan design concept and remains hopeful for legislative action in the current Congress.

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

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BUDGET
Budget Conference Agreement Reached
House Expected to Vote Today, Senate Next Week
 

For the first time since 2010, the House and Senate have reached agreement on a joint budget resolution. The resolution would cut $5.3 trillion from the budget to balance federal receipts and expenditures over nine years.  The majority of those cuts would come from mandatory entitlement programs such as Medicare. As expected, the discretionary spending in 2016 will be at the current budget cap levels of $1.016 trillion.

Of particular interest, the budget agreement includes a provision that would allow the House and Senate Committees to write a surface transportation reauthorization bill at levels higher than incoming Highway Trust Fund revenue.  In addition, the bill includes language that will allow for deficit-neutral spending on the construction of infrastructure projects that are of national and regional significance.

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

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TRANSPORTATION
AGC Weighs in Hours of Service
 

This week, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit held a hearing that looked at the role of federal regulations as it pertains to Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety, including Hours of Service regulations.  AGC submitted a statement outlining our transportation reauthorization priorities on issues affecting the construction industry under the jurisdiction of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

These priorities include, expanding the current construction industry exemption from Federal Hours of Service Regulations (HOS), extending the HOS exemption for construction transportation in emergency circumstances, expanding the construction industry exclusion to eliminate the 30-minute rest period requirement, deferring the implementation of the new restart provisions in the new truck driver HOS regulations that became effective July 1, 2013, and applying a construction exemption to the requirement that all motor carriers who maintain Record of Duty status for HOS recordkeeping use electronic logging devices.

AGC will continue to push for the inclusion of these priorities as Congress works on completing a surface transportation reauthorization bill.

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

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House Subcommittee Moves Transportation Funding Bill
 

This week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) passed their fiscal year 2016 funding bill.  The bill includes funding for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other related agencies.

Total spending in the bill is $55.3 billion – an increase of $1.5 billion above fiscal year 2015 and $9.7 billion below the president’s budget request.  It should be noted that the president’s request is significantly higher due to his proposal to levy a 14 percent tax on every U.S. corporation’s past foreign earnings (deemed repatriation).  The bill provides $40.25 billion from the Highway Trust Fund for the Federal-aid Highway Program and $10.7 billion for the Federal Transit Administration, including $8.6 billion for formula grants and $1.9 billion for Capital Investments Grants, known as “New Starts.”  Additionally, the legislation funds TIGER grants at $100 million – $400 million below fiscal year 2015 and $1.15 billion below the president’s request.

The bill is expected to be considered by the full Appropriations Committee the week of May 16.

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

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

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.

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

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