Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org February 25, 2016
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On the Inside
APPROPRIATIONS
Congress Begins Annual Funding Process, Outcome Remains Uncertain
TRANSPORTATION
FAA Bill Stalls in the House
AGC Participates in Transportation Events
AGC Asks FHWA to Clarify Buy America Requirements
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
Army Corps Releases $13 Billion Project List for Congress
Questions for Army Corps HQ? Submit them for FedCon
2016 ELECTIONS
AGC PAC Kicked Off Election 2016 Call Series
Nevada Voters Bet Big on Trump
AGC EVENTS
AGC Annual Convention is Just Two Weeks Away
APPROPRIATIONS
Congress Begins Annual Funding Process, Outcome Remains Uncertain
 

Congressional hearings and negotiations on how to fund the federal government for the FY 2017 are underway, and GOP Congressional Leaders have voiced their interest in passing individual appropriations bills prior to the end of the fiscal year in September. However, the upcoming November elections and the vacant Supreme Court seat could complicate the congressional schedule for 2016 and make passing individual appropriations bills unlikely.

This week, AGC 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 2017 funding bills.  In the letter, AGC urged appropriators to prioritize infrastructure investment and pro-infrastructure policies, which include prohibiting implementation 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 stress the importance of infrastructure investment and the need to slow down the regulatory onslaught.

While prospects for individual funding bills are slim, AGC has provided input on the industry’s priorities.

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

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TRANSPORTATION
FAA Bill Stalls in the House
Talks of Extension Begin
 

Talk about passing a short-term extension of the Aviation Innovation Reform and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act swirled around Capitol Hill this week.  Although the Act passed out of committee in early February, the House has not made plans to consider the bill on the floor prior to its expiration on March 31. 

Additionally, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) has been discussing the parameters of a Senate bill that he would like to have ready for Senate floor action as soon as April, making it unlikely that a multiyear reauthorization of the FAA will not be in place by March 31.  Thune said his committee will probably markup a bill in the next couple of weeks without the provision privatizing air traffic control that was included in the AIRR Act.

As Congress debates the FAA bill, AGC continues to advocate for increasing funding and modernizing financing for airport infrastructure programs.  We urge our members to visit and send a letter to your representative and senator asking them to support increased funding and financing for airport infrastructure.

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

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AGC Participates in Transportation Events
 

This week, AGC of America President and CEO, Steve Sandherr joined other transportation leaders in a panel discussion at the Association of American State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Washington Briefing to discuss the passage of the surface transportation reauthorization, the FAST Act.

During the discussion, Sandherr underscored the importance of the collective efforts of AASHTO and other transportation stakeholders in securing support for the FAST Act, which provides five-years of increased funding for federal-aid highway and transportation programs. 

Sandherr went on to point out that the since the bill did not address the structural deficiencies plaguing the Highway Trust Fund that the focus is now on building support for a long-term, sustainable, user-pay revenue source for the trust fund that will end the reliance on general fund transfers.  Since 2008, the Highway Trust Fund has required cash infusions of over $140 billion dollars to meet its obligations.

AGC continues to advocate for a federal gas tax increase to fix the trust fund but is also exploring other user fees and taxes to achieve long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund.  One of those options includes a mileage-based user fee – also known as a vehicle miles travelled fee.  Recently AGC joined the Mileage-Based User Fee Alliance (MBUFA), a national group that conducts education and outreach on the potential for mileage-based user fees as an additional way to provide for transportation funding.  Currently AGC is the only construction industry trade association serving as members of MBUFA.  As such, AGC staff participated in a panel discussion on transportation funding this week at the MBUFA national conference.

AGC will continue to focus on finding a long-term, sustainable, user-fee based revenue source for the Highway Trust Fund.

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

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AGC Asks FHWA to Clarify Buy America Requirements
 

AGC joined with nine other construction industry groups in a letter to Federal Highway Administrator Greg Nadeau asking the agency to complete action on a proposed rule clarifying the applicability of Buy America requirements for manufactured products that may contain steel elements and for incidental products such as nuts, bolts and washers. In December 2012, the agency issued guidance to its division offices clarifying that:

 “in order for a manufactured product to be considered subject to Buy America, the product must be manufactured predominantly of steel or iron.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) deems a product to be manufactured predominately of steel or iron if the product consists of at least 90 percent steel or iron content when it is delivered to the job site for installation.”

The guidance also waived Buy America requirements for miscellaneous steel or iron components, subcomponents and hardware such as screws, bolts and light bulbs. Soon after, FHWA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Buy America requirements that included this guidance.

A steel manufacturer and several labor unions sued FHWA, challenging the guidance. On Dec.22, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision supporting the plaintiff’s challenge of this guidance.  Specifically, the judge vacated the 90 percent threshold exemption for manufactured steel and iron products and the waiver for miscellaneous steel or iron components, subcomponents and hardware. As a result, decisions on these types of components must now be made on a project-by-project basis and go through a formal, time-consuming waiver process. The judge criticized FHWA for not going through a formal rule making process.

The industry letter to Administrator Nadeau pointed out the problems with this approach, including delays and additional costs. Because the court objected to the process by which FHWA clarified its Buy America policy, the letter urged the agency to initiate a notice-and-comment rulemaking limited to the 2012 memo’s subject area as soon as possible.  

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

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FEDERAL CONTRACTING
Army Corps Releases $13 Billion Project List for Congress
Water Resources Development Act Consideration Underway
 

As part of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently submitted an annual report to Congress that identifies about $13 billion worth of potential Civil Works Program projects for study, modification or construction. The report identifies 12 potential projects valued at about $3.663 billion with signed Chief of Engineers (COE) reports, 10 potential projects valued at about $2.980 billion with pending COE reports and 26 potential projects valued at $6.445 billion that state and local entities requested. Potential projects with signed COE reports have been fully vetted within USACE and are ready to enter the planning phase of construction. Projects recommended by state and local entities require further USACE study if authorized.  

Congress can only authorize new, potential projects listed in this report and the previous one from 2015 (see chart in report). Therefore, this report includes projects that may come down the pipeline in years to come. The House and Senate are currently working on introducing a new WRRDA bill this year. AGC is working to advance the construction contracting industry’s priorities in that bill.  

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

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Questions for Army Corps HQ? Submit them for FedCon
AGC Federal Contractors Conference; May 9-11 in Washington, D.C.
 

The difference between AGC’s Federal Contractors Conference (FedCon) and other federal construction meetings is that, at FedCon, construction contractor attendees drive the agenda. As such, for this year’s conference—held May 9-11 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.—AGC is currently seeking your questions for consideration in meetings with headquarters leaders of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Military Construction Program, Civil Works Program, Contracting, Safety and Small Business offices. To see our draft agendas for these various sessions, please click here.  To register, click here.

At FedCon, construction contractor attendees lead the meetings and develop questions for federal agencies. There is robust discussion between attendees and federal agency representatives; not death by PowerPoint presentations. In addition to learning about the latest projects and policies set to hit the street, FedCon provides an opportunity to address problems the construction industry faces when working for USACE, including but not limited to: project delays, change orders, requests for equitable adjustments, claims, past performance evaluations and more.

Over the next several weeks, we will send out, for your feedback, draft agendas with other agencies participating in the conference, including: the 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.

To register, click here.

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

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2016 ELECTIONS
AGC PAC Kicked Off Election 2016 Call Series
 

Have you been wondering….What are the odds of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump securing their party's nomination? Could Republicans have a contested convention? How would a third party candidate like Mike Bloomberg affect the race? What party will control the Senate in 2017?

Listen to political analyst Jim Ellis answer these questions as he speaks on the latest developments in the presidential, US Senate, US House, and gubernatorial races on AGC PAC’s introductory call in its Election 2016 series.

Please contact Collin Janich at collin.janich@agc.org if you are interested in participating in future calls. Return to Top

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Nevada Voters Bet Big on Trump
 

As expected, Donald Trump placed first in the Nevada Caucuses scoring just under 46 percent of the attender preference; his strongest performance to date.  Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was second with 24 percent, followed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 21 percent.  Dr. Ben Carson and Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) trailed with 5 and 4 percent, respectively.  Though he didn’t emphasize Nevada at all, Gov. Kasich finishing dead last and behind Dr. Ben Carson cannot be good for his pre-Ohio staying power.

Nevada apportions 30 delegates on a straight proportional basis with a 0 percent vote threshold.  With these percentages, Trump is expected to commit 14 delegate votes, Rubio seven, Cruz six, Carson two, and Kasich one.  The small totals mean that Nevada is only partially determinative regarding GOP nomination direction. 
 
Mr. Trump didn’t score a knockout punch, but does add incrementally to his delegate advantage and is the undisputed leader heading into the twelve-state Super Tuesday bonanza on March 1.  Those contests, mostly in the south, will go a long way towards deciding whether Trump can best position himself to capture the party nomination.  To win the nomination, a candidate must secure a delegate majority, meaning 1,237 of the 2,472 total Republican convention delegate votes.
 
Under the present vote and delegate commitment ratios it appears that no candidate, including Trump, will have the necessary delegate votes to effectively clinch the nomination.  Therefore, assuming both Cruz and Rubio remain able to attract significant delegate support, having a brokered Republican convention still looms as a possibility.

For more information, please contact David Ashinoff at ashinoffd@agc.org or (202) 547-5013. Return to Top

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AGC EVENTS
AGC Annual Convention is Just Two Weeks Away
 

AGC’s 97th Annual Convention will be held March 9-11, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas. Please visit meetings.agc.org/convention for registration information. Below is a preview of some of the Convention sessions.

Politics & the Annual AGC Convention

Do you like politics?  Are you fascinated by this election?  Will you be attending the Annual Convention in San Antonio?  If so, the AGC PAC/Political Briefing is the place to be.  The session takes place on Thursday, March 10 at 8:30 a.m.  Don’t miss out as we highlight AGC PAC activities, supported candidates, and the upcoming November elections.

For more information, please contact David Ashinoff at ashinoffd@agc.org or (202) 547-5013.

Utility Infrastructure Contractors Division

At the Utility Infrastructure Contractors Division Meeting on March 9 from 3:00-4:30 pm, come see a panel discussion profiling the Integrated Pipeline Project (IPL), a joint effort of Dallas Water and the Tarrant Regional Water District. Hear about the challenging needs of the region and the IPL’s unique approach to the solution, how the local chapter campaigned for and secured broad new funding access, and what it was like to be a contractor on this impressive project. We will also hear about solid strategies for improving diversity in your construction business from a younger member of the construction community. The Division is also hosting a forum on Delivering Tomorrow’s Electricity Infrastructure, designed to examine how challenges like moving to a lower carbon emissions environment, changing relationships between consumers and suppliers, the rise of outcomes-based regulation, increasing levels of distributed generation, and much more, rewrite the rulebook for how we think about electricity infrastructure. The Forum will take place on March 10 from 8:30-9:30 am and will explore how disruptive technology trends like cloud computing, reality capture, crowd funding, 3D printing, and more, are poised to transform the way in which electricity infrastructure is planned, financed, designed and made.

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

Federal & Heavy Construction Division

On Wednesday, March 9 from 10:30 am to noon, the AGC Federal & Heavy Construction Division will welcome presentations from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (invited) and Maura Hesdon, a young construction executive with Shoemaker Construction based in Pennsylvania. The Army Corps will provide an update of fiscal year 2016/17 projects and other updates on its multi-billion dollar construction program. Ms. Hesdon will discuss local, state and federal minority and women hiring goals for construction contracts and innovative ways as to how contractors can recruit workers to meet those goals.

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

Highway & Transportation Division

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, will address the Highway and Transportation Division on March 11. The Ways and Means Committee is the tax writing body in the House and has jurisdiction over revenue issues, including the Highway Trust Fund. Chairman Brady will be discussing his ideas about how to fix the pending trust fund revenue shortage. He will also give his outlook for comprehensive tax reform in this session of Congress.

Also at the Division meeting, an AGC Construction Leadership Council member will discuss the need for new managers in transportation construction companies to recognize the need to also be politically active at both the state and federal level. Brian Lee of Lane Construction will point out that political activism should be part of the job description of any business that work in the public sector as support is needed to ensure a robust public market exists.

The Highway & Transportation Division also scheduled a Highway Roundtable Discussion on March 9 with AASHTO representatives to address “Improving Electronic Information Sharing between state DOT and Contractors.” ASSHTO representatives will discuss the latest updates to its software packages used by many state DOTs in administering their highway construction programs. This will be an opportunity for contractors and chapters to discuss interoperability issues with AASHTO Ware.

Lastly, the four AGC Divisions have planned a session on March 10 to address: “Attracting a Qualified Work Force to the Construction Industry.” A panel of experts will discuss various aspects of attracting a new generation of workers.

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

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