Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org March 24, 2016
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On the Inside
LABOR
Labor Department’s Proposal to Raise Salary Threshold Could Hurt Both Employers and Employees, AGC Cautions
SAFETY
Obama Administration Releases Final Silica Rule, Sticking with Proposed Standard’s Silica Limit
TRANSPORTATION
FAA Authorization Extended Through July 15 While AGC Continues to Push for Funding Reforms
US Transportation Department Is Making Funds Available for AGC-Backed State Pilot Program to Test Alternatives to the Gas Tax
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC Pushes for Improvements to the Prime Contractor Payment Reporting Rule
AGC Seeks Federal Agency Change Order Improvements
TAX
Series of Tax Hearings Begin in House
Federal Issues Committee Summer Meeting Early-Bird Ends on April 1
2016 ELECTIONS
Mixed Results in Tuesday’s Presidential Contests
LABOR
Labor Department’s Proposal to Raise Salary Threshold Could Hurt Both Employers and Employees, AGC Cautions
Contact Your Legislators and Urge Them to Oppose the Proposed Rule as Written
 

The Department of Labor has proposed a change to overtime pay requirements that would increase the minimum salary threshold from $23,660 per year to $50,440 per year. Employers that have employees who are currently classified as exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act and earn an annual salary less than the proposed $50,440 will be impacted.

After AGC raised concerns about the proposal, members of Congress introduced legislation that would require the Labor Department to perform a deeper analysis of the impact the proposed changes will have on employer costs, employee flexibility and career advancement before proceeding with a final rule.  Please contact your members of Congress and urge them to support the measure, which is known as the Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act. 

Last September, AGC cautioned federal officials that the proposed rule would have a significant, negative impact on the construction industry.  AGC also joined with the Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity coalition; a diverse group of associations, businesses, and other stakeholders representing employers with millions of employees across the country in almost every industry in submitting comments. AGC will continue to monitor developments and will notify members once final regulations are issued. 

For more information, please contact Jim Young at youngj@agc.org or Tamika Carter at cartert@agc.org Return to Top

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SAFETY
Obama Administration Releases Final Silica Rule, Sticking with Proposed Standard’s Silica Limit
 

The Obama Administration released its final silica rule today that retains many of the flawed provisions AGC warned administration officials about earlier this year.  Of primary concern is that the final rule sticks with the same, unattainable silica exposure limit included in the proposed rule.  However, the administration did agree to remove the extremely restrictive regulated areas requirement that would have forced construction workers to seal off and restrict access to every part of a construction project where dust is being generated.  For more information about the rule, click here and here.  Please contact your members of Congress and urge them to block implementation of this rule until it can be proven to be technologically and economically feasible.

AGC of America released the following statement from CEO Steve Sandherr in response:

“Instead of crafting new and innovative ways to get more firms to comply with the current silica standard, which we know would save even more workers each year, administration officials appear to have instead opted to set a new standard that is well beyond the capabilities of current air filtration and dust removal technologies.  Wishing firms could meet this new but unattainable standard will undoubtedly deliver many positive headlines for the administration, but it will be all but impossible for most construction firms to comply with this new rule.

“We will continue our exhaustive review of this new regulation, consult with our members and decide on a future course of action that will best serve the health and safety of millions of construction workers across the country.”

For more information, please contact Kevin Cannon at cannonk@agc.org or Jim Young at youngj@agc.org Return to Top

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TRANSPORTATION
FAA Authorization Extended Through July 15 While AGC Continues to Push for Funding Reforms
Contact Your Member of Congress During Spring Recess and Urge them to Support Increased Airport Infrastructure Funding
 

Before the House of Representatives left on their two-week spring recess, its members passed a bill to extend Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs through mid-July. AGC has been pushing Congress to increase funding for the Airport Improvement Program and modernize the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) program.  With the House out until April 11 and the Senate out until April 4, now is a great opportunity for AGC members to contact their members of Congress while they are home and urge them to pass a FAA Reauthorization bill that includes these two AGC-supported reforms. 

These two programs are the main source of funding and financing for airport and runway infrastructure and should be included in any final FAA bill.  The House and Senate have both passed long-term FAA bills out of committee but neither has moved to the floor of their respective chambers.  The Senate bill may be considered in April, while the House bill’s fate is uncertain due to bipartisan objections over privatizing the FAA’s air traffic control operations.

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

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US Transportation Department Is Making Funds Available for AGC-Backed State Pilot Program to Test Alternatives to the Gas Tax
 

This week the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced it was making $15 million available for grants to test alternative revenue mechanisms to address the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. 

 The program, known as the Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives (STSFA) grant program, was created in last year’s long-term highway & transit bill, the FAST Act, and is intended to fund state (or groups of states) pilot programs that test user-pays as an alternative Highway Trust Fund revenue mechanism – including mileage-based user fee pilot programs. AGC pushed hard for the measure during our successful reauthorization campaign last year as a way to ensure Congress addresses the program’s long-term funding needs.  A link to FHWA’s press release can be found here.  Detailed information on the availability of funds can be found here.

AGC and our coalition partners in the Mileage Based User Fee Alliance have been closely monitoring the STSFA and working with other stakeholders - including states - to ensure the success of this new program.  

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

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FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC Pushes for Improvements to the Prime Contractor Payment Reporting Rule
 

AGC submitted comments on the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council’s proposed rule to require prime contractors to self-report late or reduced payments to contracting officers. Under the proposed rule, unjustifiable delays or reductions in subcontractor payment under the terms and conditions of the subcontract would lead to a negative past performance review for the prime contractor.  AGC’s comments concluded that the proposed rule is unnecessary and needlessly burdensome given existing Prompt Pay Act safeguards and small business subcontractor payment acceleration executive measures. 

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

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AGC Seeks Federal Agency Change Order Improvements
Requests Improved Data Reporting to Encourage CO Accountability
 

AGC, along with the American Subcontractors Association, called on the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council to improve the data federal agencies collect regarding the administration of change orders in response to the Council’s information request. AGC’s recommendations would require federal agencies to collect a range of data regarding the timeliness of action by the contracting officer (CO) in an effort to encourage greater CO accountability.  

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

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TAX
Series of Tax Hearings Begin in House
 

On Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Tax Policy Subcommittee convened the first in a series of hearings on how policymakers should fundamentally reform the tax code. The hearing entitled, “Fundamental Tax Reform Proposals” gave three lawmakers an opportunity to testify on their proposals.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) discussed how taxing a business based on its cash-flow – rather than its income – under his American Business Competitiveness (ABC) Act encourages investment, spurs innovation, and helps small businesses. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) explained how his Flat Tax Act would simplify our current complicated tax system and make it easier for Americans to file their taxes. Finally, Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA) highlighted how the Fair Tax Act would help families move up the economic ladder.

The next hearing in the subcommittee is expected on April 13 which will be focused on fundamental reforms within the context of an income-based tax system.

For more information, please contact Brian Lenihan at lenihanb@agc.org or (202) 547-4733. Return to Top

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Federal Issues Committee Summer Meeting Early-Bird Ends on April 1
 

Don’t forget to sign up for the AGC Financial Issues Committee Summer Meeting, which is scheduled for June 13-14, 2016 in Washington, DC. The early bird rate expires April 1, after which, the registration fee increases to $375.  Meeting and hotel information is available on the meeting’s site. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear about the latest on federal tax policy from Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) invited, congressional staff, and AGC government affairs staff.

For more information, please contact Brian Lenihan at lenihanb@agc.org or (202) 547-4733. Return to Top

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2016 ELECTIONS
Mixed Results in Tuesday’s Presidential Contests
 

To no one’s surprise, Donald Trump easily swept the Arizona primary on Tuesday.  Mr. Trump notched a 47-25-10 percent popular vote victory margin over Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich, respectively.  With this performance, the New York real estate mogul claimed the last major Winner-Take-All primary and all 58 Arizona delegates.

The night also belonged to Sen. Ted Cruz who scored a major win in Utah, capturing almost 70 percent of the caucus vote and sweeping all 29 counties.  Because he attracted majority support, Sen. Cruz won a backdoor Winner-Take-All result and the state’s 40 Republican National Convention delegates.
 
The Utah result is not as significant from the perspective of Cruz’s aggregate delegate count, but the Trump shut out makes it that much harder for the front-runner to obtain the 1,237 votes required for a first ballot victory.  The win pushes Cruz to approximately 465 delegates, or about 290 behind Mr. Trump.

For the Democrats, Hillary Clinton easily defeated Sen. Bernie Sanders in Arizona.  The result means the former Secretary of State could conceivably secure approximately 60 Democratic delegates from the pool of 85 once the final count is apportioned and more Super Delegates announce their intentions.  This victory will add to her gaudy national delegate total, putting her within sight of 1,700 committed and announced votes.  She needs 2,383 delegate votes to clinch the party’s presidential nomination.  But it was Sen. Bernie Sanders who scored two landslide victories by winning Idaho and Utah caucuses.  In Idaho, Sen. Sanders destroyed Ms. Clinton with a 78 percent win.  In Utah, he did slightly better with a vote that may go as high as 80 percent when all of the caucus votes are tabulated and reported. 

Even though Sanders recorded his strongest performance of the campaign with these two overwhelming wins, he only managed to close the delegate gap by approximately 25 votes, and possibly even less when all of the Super Delegates decide.  This is hardly a dent in Ms. Clinton’s 2:1 national advantage and does not dissuade what will be her easy first ballot convention floor victory.

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

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