Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org March 3, 2016
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On the Inside
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
Civilian “BRAC” Bills Advance in House
Military Construction & Veterans Affairs Leaders Press for FY 2017 Funds
Questions for NAVFAC HQ? Submit them for FEDCON
TRANSPORTATION
Short-Term Extension Likely for FAA Bill
Participate in TCC Fly-In – Make Your Voice Heard
LABOR
Senate Finance Committee Holds Hearing on Multiemployer Pension Issues
2016 ELECTIONS
Carson to Withdraw
Trump, Clinton Knocking on Door
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
Civilian “BRAC” Bills Advance in House
Encourage Redevelopment of $8 Billion of Federal Real Property
 

This week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously approved two AGC-supported bills that would encourage federal agencies to dispose of, consolidate, or redevelop at least $8 billion of excess or underutilized civilian federal real property. The Public Buildings Reform and Savings Act, H.R. 4487, and the Federal Assets Sale and Transfer Act, H.R. 4465, would:

  • Establish a Public Buildings Reform Board to identify opportunities to reduce the federal real property inventory and make recommendations for the sale of at least $8 billion worth of underutilized and vacant federal properties;
  • Sell the existing Department of Energy Headquarters Complex in Washington, D.C., and build a new one;
  • Allow for unsolicited proposals for the exchange, sale or redevelopment of federal real property;
  • Requires GSA to create and publish a single, comprehensive database of all federal real properties; and
  • Streamlines the federal real property disposal process.

Passage of these bills will help grow the federal private construction markets by encouraging redevelopment and a more efficient use of real property by the private or federal sectors. For example, GSA sold an abandoned heating plant in Washington, D.C., for $19.5 billion that will be converted into high-end condominiums, requiring private construction work of more than $100 million. A Senate committee recently passed its own federal real property reform measures. AGC will continue to press for passage of these bills by the House and Senate.

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

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Military Construction & Veterans Affairs Leaders Press for FY 2017 Funds
AGC Calls for Change Order Oversight & Funding to Implement VA Reforms
 

This week, AGC called on the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Military Construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct oversight into DOD construction agencies’ delay in executing and paying change orders on construction projects and need for adequate VA construction program funding to implement a host of recent reforms.  

AGC urged the Subcommittee to investigate serious problems with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Naval Facilities Engineering Command in regards to timely execution of and payment for change orders. Delays in executing change orders on construction projects can and have led to substantial project delivery delays, further cost-overruns, and strained relationships between contractor and owner that often end in litigation. This problem jeopardizes the safe, efficient and timely delivery of construction projects as well as the financial stability of many construction companies, especially small ones.

AGC also urged the Subcommittee to reject the president’s proposed 45 percent—$750 million—cut to the VA major and minor construction accounts in FY 2017. The VA needs adequate funding to implement the reform requiring a federal construction owner other than the VA—like the Army Corps—to execute VA construction projects valued at or more than $100 million. The VA is also implementing improvements to its own construction program, as suggested by AGC. These reforms include establishing decision review boards, conducting industry peer reviews of projects, adopting an electronic construction management tool, and providing more training for staff.

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

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Questions for NAVFAC HQ? Submit them for FEDCON
AGC Federal Contractors Conference; May 9-11 in DC
 

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 in at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.—AGC is currently seeking your questions for consideration during its meeting with headquarters leaders of the Naval Facility Engineering Command. To see our draft agenda for these session, please click here. To register, please click here.

At FEDCON, construction contractor attendees lead the meetings and develop questions for federal agencies. There is broad 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 a host of federal construction agencies, including but not limited to: project delays, change orders, requests for equitable adjustments, claims, past performance evaluations and more.

In addition to NAVFAC, agencies participating in this conference include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 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 703-837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org Return to Top

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TRANSPORTATION
Short-Term Extension Likely for FAA Bill
 

This week, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) indicated that he and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA.) are close to agreement on a three-month extension of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs.  This extension will be necessary to allow for the House and Senate to work through the legislative process.  The current authorization expires on March 31.

The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee passed their version of the FAA reauthorization last month, and the Senate is expected to introduce their bill next week.  AGC continues to push for increased infrastructure funding for the Airport Improvement Program and a modernized Passenger Facility Charge program. We encourage you to contact your members of Congress and ask for their support.  We detailed these and other priorities for the FAA bill in a letter that we recently sent to the Senate Commerce Committee.

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

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Participate in TCC Fly-In – Make Your Voice Heard
Register at www.agc.org/tcc_fly-in
 

Although Congress’ recently-passed highway and transit bill, the FAST Act, temporarily stabilizes highway and transportation programs, legislators have so far failed to address the root cause of the funding shortfalls that have plagued the Highway Trust Fund since 2008. Additionally, a short-term extension of federal aviation programs expires at the end of March, and Congress is working on a multi-year bill to fund those programs.

The TCC Fly-In is your opportunity to help educate Congress about the real word impacts their failure to find transportation revenue has on your company, our industry and the economy as a whole.  Join us and your transportation construction peers May 10-11 at the Transportation Construction Coalition’s (TCC) 2016 Legislative Fly-In, held in Washington, D.C.

In addition to the TCC legislative briefing, AGC has scheduled meetings with the Federal Highway Administration and a Washington briefing luncheon to get you up to speed on other key legislative and regulatory issues that could impact your businesses.

Please visit www.agc.org/tcc_fly-in to register and make your hotel reservations. Return to Top

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LABOR
Senate Finance Committee Holds Hearing on Multiemployer Pension Issues
 

This week the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing titled, “The Multiemployer Pension Plan System: Recent Reforms and Current Challenges”, which examined benefit suspension tools for deeply troubled plans under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014; the proposed benefit suspensions for participants in the Central States Pension Fund; the funding challenges of the United Mine Workers Pension Plan; the projected insolvency of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC); and the proposed new composite plan design.

AGC has promoted the 2014-encated Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MPRA) as an important step in reforming the multiemployer pension system and warned that any attempts to roll back this law would impose far greater benefit reductions for participants in troubled plans. AGC has also urged Congress to authorize composite plans, which would modernize retirement benefit plans and create a sustainable system for contributing employers and their workers and retirees. AGC sent a letter to members of the committee ahead of the hearing as did a broad, multi-industry coalition of employer organizations.  

The former director of the PBGC, Josh Gotbaum, testified at the hearing that participants in the Central States were not alone in receiving benefit reductions and the situation was a compilation of factors. Gotbaum reiterated that MPRA offers a chance to preserve the greatest benefits for the greatest number of participants and that repealing MPRA would make the system worse and jeopardize the entire multiemployer pension system.  He also urged Congress to authorize composite plans as a way to “allow plans to survive.”

Gotbaum and Andrew Bigss, American Enterprise Institute scholar, did raise questions with the composite plan design. Gotbaum is concerned that the composite plans will pay PBGC premiums and therefore could erode the base of funding. He also raised concerns with some of the actuarial assumptions. Biggs testified that he was skeptical that the composite plans could deliver the benefits they promise because of the reliance on investment in stocks and that the actuarial assumptions evaluate the volatile returns accurately. Biggs is a proponent of direct contribution or 401(k) plans and believes that defined benefit plans are an antiquated model.

AGC will continue to educate the stakeholder community on composite plans as a viable alternative and the only option to offer a sustainable system for its contributing employers. AGC is also working with actuaries to show that proposed actuarial assumptions in the composite plan model are sound and that the plans actually have the ability to pay benefits rather than making promises that last only as long as plans have assets. The Biggs testimony failed to highlight that the plans will have 20 percent funding cushions, and his views that 401(k) plans are the panacea to retirement security are flawed. AGC will continue to work with our partners in the building trades to implement realistic reforms to the pension system that provide lifetime income security for participants and eliminate financial risk for employers.

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

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2016 ELECTIONS
Carson to Withdraw
 

Following a dismal Super Tuesday showing, Dr. Ben Carson issued a statement yesterday afternoon in which he all but suspended his presidential campaign.  "I do not see a political path forward in light of last evening's Super Tuesday primary results,” he said. “However, this grassroots movement on behalf of 'We the People' will continue."

Carson will skip tonight’s GOP debate in his hometown of Detroit, but is expected to deliver a speech at CPAC tomorrow. Earlier rumors suggested that Carson may consider jumping into the open FL senate seat now that he has retired to West Palm Beach. The candidate filing deadline isn't until May 6, so there is plenty of time for him to make a decision.

The retired neurosurgeon indicated he will use the annual conservative gathering to address his political future.

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

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Trump, Clinton Knocking on Door
 

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump delivered strong performances in their respective Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses, but neither could land the knockout punch for which they hoped.  At least for Republicans, one mathematically viable scenario remains to fall into a contested convention.  It appears we will know on March 15.

Ms. Clinton continued her dominance in the south, but surprisingly stumbled in Oklahoma. She won eight of the 11 Democratic voting states on Tuesday. Sen. Bernie Sanders, in addition to his 51-41 percent win in Oklahoma, took his home state of Vermont, and the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses.

Ms. Clinton was again dominant in the states with large African American populations and it is probable that she once more attracted approximately 90 percent support within the black community. Sanders, however, is in the superior position among white Democratic voters. Massachusetts was the only northern state that Ms. Clinton carried, but it was close. She finished with 50.3 percent of the popular vote.

The unofficial projected Democratic delegate count, according to the New York Times, finds Ms. Clinton with 1,001 regular and super delegates versus Sen. Sanders’ 371. Democratic National Committee rules require a nominee to secure 2,383 delegate votes.

Mr. Trump took seven of the 11 Republican voting states; Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) placed first in three, his home state of Texas, Oklahoma, and Alaska, while Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was victorious in the Minnesota Caucus. Trump’s strongest percentage, 48.9 percent, came in Massachusetts. Despite placing first in seven voting entities, he broke the 40 percent threshold in only two places: the aforementioned Massachusetts, and Alabama, 43.8 percent.

Projecting the delegate counts and factoring the voting thresholds per state to qualify for delegate apportionment, Trump has approximately 320 delegate votes with Cruz trailing at 225, and Rubio possessing 113 committed regular delegates. Gov. John Kasich follows with 23, and Dr. Ben Carson has eight. The party officer delegates in most states, as well as several small state delegations cumulatively totaling 247 votes, are not included in these projections since they are unbound, or free agents and similar in stature to Democratic super delegates, at the convention.

Of the committed delegates, Trump has secured 46.4 percent of the available delegates. It appears the March 15 primary day will likely tell the tale. Should Trump win the key winner-take-all states of Florida (99 delegates) and Ohio (66 delegates), he will likely be unstoppable. On the other hand, if his three major opponents strategically form an alliance, and allow Rubio to challenge Trump virtually one-on-one in Florida, Kasich to have an unencumbered chance in Ohio, and Cruz the same in North Carolina (also on March 15), and they successfully top the leader in all of those places, the brokered convention becomes a clear reality.

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

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