Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org June 11, 2015
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On the Inside
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
Senate Considers Prohibiting Construction Reverse Auctions
TRANSPORTATION
Hardhats for Highways: Seven Weeks until Current Extension Expires
House Approves Transportation Funding Bill
Ways and Means Chairman Ryan Schedules Highway Trust Fund Hearing
LABOR
AGC Requests Clarification from IRS on Multiemployer Health Plans
AGC EVENTS
AGC Financial Issues Committee Summer Meeting Recap
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
Senate Considers Prohibiting Construction Reverse Auctions
Urge Your Senators to Oppose the Use of Reverse Auctions
 

Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) this week introduced the AGC-backed Construction Consensus Procurement Improvement Act, and included the legislation as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to prohibit federal agencies from procuring construction services through reverse auctions. Please urge your senators to co-sponsor the bill and support this amendment.

Both the bill and amendment are identical. In addition to addressing reverse auctions, this legislation would reform design-build procurement--reasonably limiting the second-step design-build shortlist and reasonably limiting one-step design-build procurements--and helping prevent individual sureties from using illusory assets--i.e., vacation homes, coal mine waste--to back their bonds.

As co-chair of the Construction Industry Procurement Coalition, AGC and its coalition allies sent members of the Senate a letter urging them to support the amendment to the Defense Act. The Senate could consider this amendment either this week or next. The House already passed its version of the Defense Act, which included provisions prohibiting construction reverse auctions and requiring individual sureties to use real assets to back their bonds. 

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

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TRANSPORTATION
Hardhats for Highways: Seven Weeks until Current Extension Expires
Use the Fourth of July Recess to Meet with Your Congressmen In-Person
 

With just seven weeks until the most-recent extension for highway & transit programs expires – on July 31 – the Fourth of July Congressional recess is the perfect opportunity for you to schedule an in-person meeting with your Senators and Representative.  Use this time to educate your members of Congress on the real impacts their inaction has had on your business and employees.  Spread the Hardhats for Highways message and tell them to fix the Highway Trust Fund and pass a long-term highway & transit bill.

Members of Congress will be in your home states June 29 – July 6. Use this opportunity to take a company hard hat with a Hardhats for Highways decal affixed, highlighting the number of employees in your company who are affected by Congress’ failure to find the money necessary to keep highway and transit programs running. If you would like assistance with scheduling meetings, please contact Brynn Huneke at brynn.huneke@agc.org.

If you are unable to schedule in-person meetings, please send the newly-updated “e-hardhat” letter to your Congressmen and urge your colleagues and employees to do the same.

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

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House Approves Transportation Funding Bill
 

This week, by a vote of 216-210, the House approved the FY 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill. The bill includes funding for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other related agencies. The legislation assumes that Congress will take action to provide the necessary revenue for the Highway Trust Fund to support the highway and transit funding levels, noted below.

Total transportation 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. 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.”  These transit capital grants were decreased 9.4 percent from the FY 2015 level of $2.12 billion. Additionally, the legislation funds TIGER grants at $100 million – $400 million below fiscal year 2015 and $1.15 billion below the president’s request.

An AGC-supported amendment was also included which requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to study the impact of its truck driver Hours-of-Service 34-hour reset provision (requiring a qualifying restart to include two consecutive off-duty periods between 1:00 A.M. and 5:00 A.M. and limiting its use to once per week). The bill requires that the study, “demonstrate statistically significant improvement in all outcomes related to safety, operator fatigue, and driver health and longevity” before reinstating the 34-hour restart limitations. Since the rulemaking, limited data has shown that the new restrictions on the use of the 34-hour restart provision resulted in increased daytime truck traffic.

During debate, an AGC-opposed amendment was approved that blocks the transit administration from prohibiting local hire requirements on FTA-funded projects. Last year, the Department of Transportation proposed a regulation that would allow local hire requirements on federally-assisted highway projects. AGC submitted comments earlier this year to the department opposing the regulation.

The Senate may take up its version of the legislation next week.

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

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Ways and Means Chairman Ryan Schedules Highway Trust Fund Hearing
AGC to Provide Suggestions for Increasing Transportation Revenue
 

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) announced that the committee will hold a hearing on long-term financing of the Highway Trust Fund. The hearing will take place Wednesday, June 17 and, according to the announcement, will explore the feasibility of various ideas to provide a sustainable long-term solution to the Highway Trust Fund shortfall. It was not announced who the witnesses will be. AGC will once again provide the committee with suggestions for increasing trust fund revenue while maintaining the user-fee concept.

The House Ways and Means and the Senate Finance Committees have the responsibility for providing the revenue needed to shore up the trust fund. In order to enact a six-year bill, an additional $100 billion in revenue must be identified to maintain current funding levels. To grow the program, additional revenue beyond $100 billion must be found. Chairman Ryan has been primarily focused on tax reform efforts.

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

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LABOR
AGC Requests Clarification from IRS on Multiemployer Health Plans
 

On June 9, AGC submitted a letter to the Internal Revenue Service asking for clarification on the reporting process for employers that contribute to multiemployer health plans and the requirements to provide detailed information on the health care coverage employers’ offer. Employers participating in multiemployer health plans are subject to additional complexity while trying to comply because many decisions and requirements are bound by the employer’s collective bargaining agreements. Under the multiemployer plan model, a plan administrator has access to the information required by the IRS and reports this information, despite the reporting obligation remaining with the employer.

Previous guidance from the IRS has recognized the unique nature of these plans but the IRS has been inconsistent on the requirements for these employers. The rules issued by the agency and the actual instructions on the form employers must complete differ and are ambiguous. AGC and similar stakeholders are asking the IRS to change the reporting form and eliminate the ambiguity between the reporting forms and its guidance in the regulation.

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

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AGC EVENTS
AGC Financial Issues Committee Summer Meeting Recap
 

 This week, over 40 member company CFOs and other senior accounting professionals attended the AGC Financial Issues Committee (FIC) Summer Meeting in Colorado Springs, Colo. Committee members were brought up to speed on FASB initiatives and tax matters, as well as provided an economic outlook by AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson. Additionally, AGC recognized John Armour with CBIZ MHM for his distinguished service and contribution to the construction industry.

The slides from the Summer Meeting are now available under the presentations tab on the meeting page – AGC FIC Summer Meeting. The next meeting of the FIC will be the Winter Meeting scheduled for Jan. 14-15, 2016 in Scottsdale, Ariz. Meeting and hotel information will be circulated in the coming weeks.

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

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