Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org January 21, 2016
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On the Inside
WATER RESOURCES
New Water Resources Development Act Process Begins
LABOR
AGC Comments on Apprenticeship Regulations
TRANSPORTATION
House T&I Committee Prepares for FAA Reauthorization
AGC EVENTS
AGC Financial Issues Committee Winter Meeting Recap
Federal Contractors Conference Early-Bird Rate Expires 1/31
WATER RESOURCES
New Water Resources Development Act Process Begins
 

The House and Senate have begun working on a new Water Resources Development Act (WRDA bill) that authorizes water resources projects and policies for navigation (dredging, locks, and dams), flood control (levees and floodwalls), and environmental restoration for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).  Passing a WRDA bill this year is a high priority for the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, and AGC.

AGC is meeting with key congressional offices to highlight the construction contracting industry’s priorities in this new bill. These priorities include:

  • Authorizing projects that will help improve American flood security, global competitiveness, and environmental stewardship;
  • Enhancing innovative project financing opportunities through improvements to the Water Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (WIFIA) and USACE Public-Private Partnership (P3) Pilot Program;
  •  Securing drinking water and wastewater facilities with sufficient flood protections, like levees and flood walls;
  • Holding USACE accountable for delays in executing and paying change orders; and
  • Encouraging effective communication between USACE and contractors through partnering.

With overwhelming bipartisan support, Congress last passed a WRDA bill in 2014. Several AGC-supported initiatives were included in that law, including:

  • $12 billion worth of newly-authorized, highly needed projects;
  • WIFIA and a USACE P3 Pilot Program;
  • A gradual, annual increase in Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund revenues that are actually spent on harbor maintenance; and
  • The allowance of more Inland Waterway Trust Fund revenues to be spent on projects other than Olmsted Lock and Dam.

 The House and Senate are expected to hold hearings on WRDA beginning in February and March.

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

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LABOR
AGC Comments on Apprenticeship Regulations
 

AGC submitted comments yesterday in response to a proposed rule issued by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The proposed rule updates the equal opportunity regulations that implement the National Apprenticeship Act.

While Registered Apprenticeship programs (as well as DOL-affiliated state agencies) are currently prohibited from discriminating against apprentices and apprentice applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, and sex, the proposed rule adds age, disability, and individuals with disabilities to the list of characteristics that a sponsor must not discriminate against. In some cases, the rules overseeing these programs have not been updated since 1978.

 The rule also details specific mandatory actions sponsors of these programs must take to satisfy their affirmative action obligations, including mandating certain actions that are merely suggested in the existing regulations. Among the most significant changes is the requirement of affirmative action for individuals with disabilities. The rule also contains outreach, record keeping, and compliance mandates.

 AGC commented on the NPRM because members and chapters administer and/or partner with numerous apprenticeship programs around the country, which provide training across all trades involved in the construction industry. If implemented as proposed, AGC believes the NPRM will occupy staff time and increase the amount of paperwork that must be filed if program sponsors are to remain compliant.

 AGC’s letter addressed the following:

  • Specific steps program sponsors must undertake to ensure equal opportunity
  • Called for an elimination of a 7 percent utilization goal for individuals with disabilities
  • Eliminate a requirement for applicants to self-identify they are an individual with a disability pre- and post-acceptance
  • Agency should not treat the goals as quotas and enforcement should consider good faith efforts when considering non compliance
  • Additional measures that could reduce the sponsor’s recordkeeping burdens and costs of compliance
  • Need for clarification and/or additional guidance regarding the methods used to select apprentices for program participation

 AGC will continue to monitor the proposed rule and comment on future rulemakings as appropriate. The DOL has not issued any timeframe for when they anticipate a final rule or implementation date.

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

 

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TRANSPORTATION
House T&I Committee Prepares for FAA Reauthorization
 

Last week, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) announced plans to pursue legislation that would reauthorize Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs. The FAA has been operating under a number of short-term extensions, including the latest six-month extension set to expire March 31. A draft of the chairman’s proposal is expected before the end of January with markups anticipated in early February.

Modernizing the nation’s air traffic control system is a key issue for the committee, and the legislation they will consider seeks to establish an independent, not-for-profit corporation to operate and modernize air traffic control operations. Just this week, the office of the US Department of Transportation’s Inspector General issued a report critical of the FAA’s handling of the air traffic control system. The statement was unequivocal in its call for reform and modernization.

This week, the AGC co-chaired Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) sent a letter to the committee to ensure that upgrading the nation’s airport infrastructure will be a major priority in any multi-year aviation reauthorization proposal.

The letter noted that the demands on existing airport infrastructure are set to grow, and that aviation infrastructure improvements must go hand in hand with operational enhancements. This dual approach would deliver maximum benefit to air travelers while improving the U.S. economy. Civil aviation remains an integral component of the nation’s intermodal transportation network.

FAA’s forecast for Fiscal Years 2015 – 2035 passenger levels projects growth from 776 million in 2015 to 1.1 billion by 2034. Capital needs are estimated at more than $15 billion annually between 2015 and 2019. The passenger facility charge (PFC), a direct user fee to support airport infrastructure, has been capped at $4.50 since 2000. TCC called for an increase in the PFC cap to at least recapture lost purchasing power over the past 15 years. In addition TCC called for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding to at least $3.5 billion. AIP provides grant funding to airports for runway and ancillary road construction.

The Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over the FAA in the Senate and thus far no legislation or time schedule for taking up reauthorization has been made public. TCC urged the Senate Committee to take up the legislation soon.

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

 

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AGC EVENTS
AGC Financial Issues Committee Winter Meeting Recap
 

Last week, over 50 member company CFOs and other senior accounting professionals gathered in Scottsdale, Arizona to attend the AGC Financial Issues Committee (FIC) Winter Meeting. Over the course of the conference committee members enjoyed sessions on FASB initiatives, tax matters, and an economic outlook offered up by AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson.

On the first day, attendees focused on the tax and operational issues companies must confront, with presentations led by the following.

  • A discussion on construction tax issues: Cord Armstrong--CBIZ MHM, Kelli Franco--Moss Adams, Alan Clark--Smith, Adcock & Co.
  • A CFO Discussion on Enterprise Risk Management: Tim Sznewajs--D.A. Davidson, John Sanders--ZURICH, Steven Schmidt--ZURICH

 On day two, FIC members turned their attention to accounting issues and also explored industry priorities before the federal government:

  • Update on Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) ongoing projects such as lease accounting by Larry Smith--FASB Board Member
  • FASB Key Issues & Implementation: Timothy Wilson--BKD, Erin Roberts--EY, Tony Hakes--CBIZ MHM
  • Congressional & Presidential Tax Reform Update: Brian Lenihan--AGC Congressional Relations

The committee is geared towards member company CFOs, controllers, tax directors, and other senior accounting professionals. Attendees have the opportunity to learn about—and formulate positions on—the tax and accounting issues directly affecting AGC member companies.

Meetings center around discussions with FASB representatives, practitioners, and financial officer breakout groups on topics including internal controls, project performance reviews, and the use of technology (like Box.com) in operations or accounting functions. Attendees also have the opportunity to network and discuss a wide variety of topics, including: audit issues faced by construction companies; congressional action on tax policy; and the industry’s economic outlook.

The slides from the Summer Meeting are now available under the presentations tab on the meeting page – AGC FIC Winter Meeting. The next meeting of the FIC will be the Summer Meeting scheduled for June 13-14, 2016 in Washington, DC. Meeting and hotel information will be circulated in the coming weeks and Early-Bird registration will open soon.

For more information, please contact Brian Lenihan at lenihanb@agc.org or (571) 214-8071

 

 

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Federal Contractors Conference Early-Bird Rate Expires 1/31
 

Register before January 31 for the 2016 AGC Federal Contractors Conference (FEDCON) and save $75 off the registration fee. FEDCON—held May 9-11 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.—is the premier conference for federal construction contractors to discuss the industry’s latest projects, policies, and contracting issues 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 the Bureau of Reclamation.

In addition to presentations and substantive discussions with federal agencies, attendees will hear from legal experts about the latest federal regulations bound to impact their businesses.

 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 companies need to know in order 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 at agency headquarters later in the year.

To register, please go to http://meetings.agc.org/fedcon/ or contact Jimmy Christianson at christiansonj@agc.org or (703) 837-5325.

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