Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org December 10, 2015
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On the Inside
TRANSPORTATION
FAST Act Now Law of the Land
FMCSA Issues Rule Requiring Electronic Compliance for Hours of Service
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
Government Funding Ends December 16
TAX
Tax Extenders Package on Verge of Compromise
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
SBA and FAR Council Propose Rules Impacting Federal Contractors
AGC EVENTS
Register Now for the 2016 Federal Contractors Conference
TRANSPORTATION
FAST Act Now Law of the Land
 

For the first time in over a decade there is a long-term authorization of federal highway and transit programs in place following  President Obama signing the five-year $302 billion Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act into law last Friday, December 4th.  The FAST Act had previously passed both the House and the Senate by overwhelmingly bipartisan majorities.

This week, AGC CEO Steven Sandherr and staff held a webinar for our members outlining key provisions of the legislation.   During the webinar, Sandherr made it clear that the FAST Act was a direct result of the years of effort AGC members and their employees spent convincing their representatives and Senators about the importance of a long-term and well-funded transportation bill.  He highlighted the success of the Hardhats for Highways grassroots program as an integral part of our industry’s collective efforts on the bill.  A recording of the webinar will soon be available to all members via Hardhats for Highways.

Now that FAST Act is the law of the land, we encourage you to continue to visit Hardhats for Highways to send thank you letters to your member of Congress for supporting the bill and if they didn’t support it,  you can express your displeasure with their vote.  In addition, Hardhats for Highways has been updated to provide an AGC overviewof the FAST Act along with other FAST Act resources.   Return to Top

FMCSA Issues Rule Requiring Electronic Compliance for Hours of Service
 

On Dec 10, he Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a final rule requiring the installation and use of electronic logging devices (ELD) on commercial motor vehicles used in interstate commerce. The rule mandates the use of ELDs for all drivers who are currently required to use records of duty status log books. ELDs are intended to be used for enforcement of FMCSA’s hours of service rules for truck drivers. The rule, scheduled to go into effective on December 10, 2017, details the technical specifications for ELDs.

The rule permits the use of smartphones and other wireless devices as ELDs, if they satisfy FMCSA’s technical specifications, are certified and are listed on the agency’s website. Motor carriers who previously installed Automatic On-Board Recording Devices may continue to use the devices for an additional two years beyond the compliance date. Electronic data transfer must be made by either wireless web services, e-mail, Bluetooth or USB. To facilitate roadside inspections and ensure authorized safety officials can access data, an ELD must provide either a display or printout.

In addition, the final rule lists supporting documents that are also required for use in conjunction with the ELDs. The agency requires eight supporting documents to be retained to verify on-duty time requirements are being met. This requirement can be met with the following documents: bills of lading, itineraries, schedules or equivalent documents that indicate the origin and destination of each trip, dispatch records, trip records or equivalent documents, expense receipts, electronic mobile communication records, reflecting communications transmitted through a fleet management system and payroll records and settlement sheets or equivalent documents that indicate payment to a driver.

The final rule exempts drivers who use paper logs for no more than eight days during any 30-day period, drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000 and drivers who conduct driveaway-towaway operations.

AGC submitted comments when the rule was proposed detailing the concerns of the construction industry, including cost of implementation, administrative issues and impact of the construction environment on the devices. AGC also suggested extending the construction exemption to the ELD requirement. AGC’s comments pointed out that many construction industry drivers are covered by the short haul exemption and that that this should be extended to ELD requirements were adopted.  Return to Top

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
Government Funding Ends December 16
Shutdown Unlikely; Short-term Continuing Resolution Likely
 

Negotiations on how to fund the federal government for the remainder of FY 2016 may extend beyond December 16, when a three month continuing resolution (CR) that is currently funding federal agencies expires.  Reports indicate that Congress will pass another CR to allow negotiations to continue at least into the weekend, if not into next week or, perhaps, into next year. A government shutdown is considered unlikely at this point. If Congress fails to agree on an omnibus appropriations bill for FY 2016 before adjourning for the holidays, it may pass a CR to fund the government into January 2016.

AGC recently sent a letter to congressional leaders and members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees detailing the construction industry’s priorities for the fiscal year 2016 funding bill.  In the letter, AGC urged appropriators to prioritize infrastructure investment and pro-infrastructure policies, which include prohibiting implementation of a number of regulations like the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ “Waters of the U.S.” rule, the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council and Department of Labor’s Blacklisting proposed rule, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s local hiring initiatives for federal-aid highway and transit projects.  AGC continues to meet with members of Congress to press for the importance of infrastructure investment and the need to slow down the regulatory onslaught.

While prospects for a government shutdown appear slim, we have provided  some guidance on how to prepare your projects for the potential of a government shutdown, which can be found here.  

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

TAX
Tax Extenders Package on Verge of Compromise
 

As of publication time, a deal on extending over 50 tax provisions that expired at the end of 2014 was coming in to the final stretch with lead Republicans in the House and Senate in agreement with Senate Democratic leaders and the White House for a proposed mixed package of certain permanent provisions (e.g. R&D, 179 expensing, ETIC, CTC) and two-year extensions for the remaining provisions. The only reservations were coming from the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) still holding out to index the Child Tax Credit to inflation.

Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio), a senior member of Ways and Means, said “a couple dozen” House Democrats could back a permanent extenders deal even without leadership support. But he added: “I think you have to have leadership's buy-in. And quite frankly, it complicates things with the White House, too, if you don't have Pelosi on board.” Republicans are split on the strategy to include a repeal of the ACA’s Cadillac Tax and Medical Device Tax, and it remained unclear whether either will be included in any final package. Per a report during a coalition call, Rep. Tiberi and the rest of members in the House expect to head back to their districts this weekend, and Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wisc.) expects to deliberate over a government funding bill in to next week.

The fallback next week, if the larger deal collapses, is a two-year extension of the expired tax breaks, putting us right back in this position at the end of 2017. On Wednesday, AGC attended a meeting with House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) where he signaled that there was still good reason to keep negotiating with Democrats, but showed no signs of relenting for on indexing the refundable credits; and that a big deal could be coming very soon – AGC expects a larger package with permanency could be released as early as Monday afternoon.

There are two multiyear fallback plans on the table, the Senate Finance package S. 1946, the Tax Relief Extension Act of 2015; and the Ways and Means proposed amendment the Senate amendment to H.R. 34, the “Tax Increase Prevention and Real Estate Investment Act 4 of 2015.” Both proposals address AGC’s nine tax extender priorities. AGC will continue to update the AGC Tax Webpage and push email updates to members until a package is signed by the President in the coming days.

For more information, contact Brian Lenihan at lenihanb@agc.org Return to Top

FEDERAL CONTRACTING
SBA and FAR Council Propose Rules Impacting Federal Contractors
AGC Comments on Lower Tier Counting & Design Build Regulations
 

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council recently put forth proposed rules that will improve federal procurement for prime construction contractors.

TheSBA’s proposed rule would allow non-small prime contractors to count small business subcontractors at all tiers—not only at the first-tier—towards small business subcontracting goals. Through AGC’s efforts, Congress passed and the president signed this reform into law. For AGC’s comments on that proposed rule, click here.

TheFAR Council’s proposed rule would limit the second-step (“short-list”) of the two-step design-build procurement process to no more than five teams. Through AGC’s efforts, this reform was passed into law last year. For AGC’s comments on that proposed rule, click here.

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

AGC EVENTS
Register Now for the 2016 Federal Contractors Conference
Save $75 on Registration Fee; Held May 10-11 in DC
 

Register today for the 2016 AGC Federal Contractors Conference (FEDCON) and save $75 off the registration fee. FEDCON is the premier conference for federal construction contractors to discuss the latest projects, policies and contracting issues facing the industry with federal agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Naval Facility Engineering Command, Air Force Civil Engineer Center, General Services Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of State, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Bureau of Reclamation.

In addition to substantive discussions and presentations with federal agencies, attendees will hear from legal experts about the latest federal regulations that will impact their businesses and may have the opportunity to continue a dialogue with federal agencies after the conference. During the Federal Law and Regulation Workshop, leading federal construction attorneys will address executive orders, Small Business Administration and Federal Acquisition Regulation rules, and case law trends your company needs to know to work in the federal market. And, when the conference concludes, AGC member attendees will have the opportunity to participate in ongoing dialogue and meetings with agency headquarters later in the year.

For more information and to register, go to http://meetings.agc.org/fedcon/ Return to Top

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