Congress Passes Legislation to Repeal Major Portions of ObamaCare, President Plans to Veto
Both the U.S. House and Senate passed legislation, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, which would repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Congress has voted to repeal parts of the Act more than 50 times since the law’s passage in 2010. However, this the first time legislation repealing the law will make it to the president’s desk. President Obama plans to veto the legislation and based on the votes thus far Congress will likely be unable to override the veto, leaving the Act intact.
the Republican-controlled Congress’s inability to repeal the entire Act, some
small, incremental changes have been successful. In late December 2015,
Congress was successful in enacting a two year delay of the 40 percent excise
tax also known as the “Cadillac tax” on employer-sponsored health plans. In
addition, the health insurance tax on fully insured health plans was suspended
for calendar year 2017 and the medical device tax was suspended for two years.
will continue to advocate for additional changes to the Act in 2016. Some of
the top issues include a permanent repeal of the Cadillac Tax, ending small
businesses Health Reimbursement Account penalties, reducing employer reporting
requirements, changing the “full time” employee definition and simplifying
rules for seasonal employees.
Congress’s repeated failure to increase the federal gas tax
has resulted in eighteen states enacting laws since 2013 to increase or reform their taxes in order to provide additional funding for transportation infrastructure. The recently signed-into-law
transportation bill, the FAST Act, does provide five years of slightly
increased funding for federal-aid highway and transit programs but fails to
address the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund – continuing to place
the burden on states to find additional funding for transportation
According to an analysis by Citizens for Tax
Justice, Jan. 1 brought gas tax changes to nine states – 5 cuts and 4
increases. The gas taxes in New York,
Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and West Virginia will see cuts, while Nebraska,
Utah, Maryland and Florida will see increases.
In most cases, the cuts are the result of falling gas prices, as those states' tax is tied to the
price of gas. The exceptions being North Carolina (gas tax
tied to population growth and energy prices) and Pennsylvania (scheduled slight
decrease). This chart outlines the state gas tax
changes that took effect on Jan. 1.
AGC remains focused on addressing the long-term solvency of
Highway Trust and working with our chapters to increase revenue for
transportation infrastructure at the state and local levels.
Omnibus Legislation Releases $2.1 Billion in Earmarked Funds
The fiscal year (FY) 2016 omnibus appropriations bill,
passed by Congress at the end of December, includes a provision allowing states
to use federal-aid highway funding that was previously earmarked for specific
projects to be used for other projects located nearby. Specifically, the
provision allows states to transfer funding authority from projects that had
funds earmarked 10 or more years ago but have used less than 10 percent of their
dedicated funds, to other projects within a 50 mile radius. The Federal Highway
Administration reports that Congress has allocated funding for more than 6,700
projects that was never used. Of that number, approximately 1,300 projects meet
the 10 year/10 percent requirement with approximately $2.1 billion in funding
still available. According to the Eno Transportation Weekly publication, the
$2.1 billion of budget authority for highway projects will result in $500
million in new outlays in fiscal year 2016 and another $1.4 billion over the
following seven years. States have up to three years to reprogram the earmarked
funds or they are lost forever.
Congressional earmarks have long been included in both the
transportation authorization legislation and annual appropriations measures.
The language allocating these funds usually specifies that they are available
for that project until expended. Over the years, the amount of unused,
earmarked funds has grown because the project may not be on a state’s priority
list, the earmark may not provide enough funding to cover the cost of the
construction or states may not have matching funds. The Federal Highway
Administration will soon be issuing guidance to state Departments of
Transportation on how to utilize these available funds.
Iowa Gearing Up for Democratic & Republican Caucuses
If you’ve watched any presidential election coverage lately,
you’ve no doubt heard a lot about the upcoming Iowa caucuses. Unlike most
voters who will participate in a primary election by casting a ballot early or
at a polling location on election day, Democratic and Republican voters in Iowa
will meet in person to caucus in all of the state’s 1,681 precincts on Feb. 1.
Here are two videos which help explain the differences
between the Democratic and Republican caucuses.
In a review of the RealClearPolitics polling average for
December, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has an almost 13 point edge
over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at 50 to 37 percent. Former Maryland
Governor Martin O’Malley garners just six percent of the vote.
On the Republican side, Texas Senator Ted Cruz has overtaken
businessman Donald Trump to lead the GOP field. The top five candidates
are Cruz (31 percent), Trump (27.4 percent), Florida Senator Marco Rubio (11.6
percent), Dr. Ben Carson (9.2 percent), and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush
Having said that, it is important not to place too much
emphasis on early polling. According to Nate Silver of
FiveThirtyEight.com, “In Iowa, on average, only 35 percent of voters had come
to a final decision before the final month of the campaign.” In fact, 48
percent of Republican voters made up their minds in the final week leading up
to the 2012 caucuses. On current undecided voters, Silver added, “…the
percentage must be even lower now — perhaps something like 20 percent of voters
are locked in.”
A more realistic poll of Iowa Republican voters would be as
Following the caucuses, candidates will quickly head to New
Hampshire where voters participate in the nation’s first presidential primary
on Feb. 9.
For more information,
please contact David Ashinoff at email@example.com or (202) 547-5013.
Since this will be the first electoral event in both
parties’ presidential nominating contests, much media attention is given to
polling in advance of the caucuses not to mention the results on caucus night.
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FEEDBACK REQUESTED: 811 Needs Contractor Input
We are conducting a survey on behalf of
the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the national association representing the
underground utility industry and the 811 Number. The 811 “Call Before You Dig”
campaign reminds homeowners and professional contractors of the steps required
to mark underground utilities before any digging begins.
If you have ever called before digging, we ask that you take
one minute to provide feedback that will directly impact the evolution of the
811 “Call Before You Dig” effort. Currently, the campaign stresses that
one call, to the national 811 telephone number, is all it takes to start the
process. However the use of mobile, online and other platforms to access 811
services, the “Call Before You Dig” message may need to be modernized. In 2016,
CGA will debut a new tagline that better represents current and future
practices. All of the questions in this brief survey relate to the development
of the new tagline.
Your feedback is critical as we work together to keep our
communities safe and connected.
Federal Contractors Conference Early-Bird Rate Expires 1/31
Save $75 on Registration Fee; Held May 10-11 in DC
before January 31 for the 2016 AGC
Federal Contractors Conference (FEDCON) and save $75 off the
registration fee. FEDCON—held May 10-11 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington,
D.C.—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.
To ensure delivery of AGC’s Construction Legislative Week in Review, please add 'firstname.lastname@example.org' to your email address book or Safe Sender List. If you are still having problems receiving our communications, visit our white-listing page for more details.