Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org June 30, 2016
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On the Inside
WATER RESOURCES
AGC Helps Lead Industry Push for Congress to Vote on WRDA Legislation
ENVIRONMENT
Army Corps of Engineers Seeks Public Comments on Proposal to Renew, Revise Nationwide Permits
TAX
AGC Comments to Treasury on Overreaching Regulations
PUERTO RICO
AGC-Supported Bill Providing Relief for Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis Passes Congress
WATER RESOURCES
AGC Helps Lead Industry Push for Congress to Vote on WRDA Legislation
Tell Your Members of Congress to Demand Floor Action Now
 

AGC joined several industry, local government, and water groups in urging its members to contact their members of Congress and urge them to demand floor action on the pending Water Resources Development Act legislation. As previously reported, AGC sent a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) asking for the Senate to take up and pass the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) of 2016 before the Senate adjourns in July for their summer recess. Additionally, the AGC co-chaired Water Infrastructure Network (WIN) sent a similar letter, and we joined 86 other associations in a separate letter further reiterating our desire for the Senate to take action. The WIN was also among leaders pressing Republican Senators to sign on to a letter asking Sen. McConnell to bring WRDA to the floor, which now has 30 signatories.

Passed out of both House and Senate Committees by large, bipartisan majorities, the WRDA bill authorizes Army Corps of Engineers construction projects. The Senate version also includes other provisions such as creation of a Clean Water Trust Fund—a longtime AGC priority. Other provisions of note include State Revolving Fund and Water Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act funding for cities with declared lead in water emergencies (like Flint, Mich.), reauthorizing sewer overflow control grants, new funding for technical assistance to small treatment plants, Safe Drinking Water Act compliance assistance for small disadvantaged communities, reauthorizing funding for desalination, and assistance for low-income residents when replacing lead service lines to homes.

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

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ENVIRONMENT
Army Corps of Engineers Seeks Public Comments on Proposal to Renew, Revise Nationwide Permits
If Your Projects Use These Permits, Be Sure to Take a Look at the Proposed Changes
 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) recently published a proposal to reissue and modify the nationwide permits (NWPs).  The Corps issues these permits to authorize a variety of construction operations in “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) that have minimal individual and cumulative adverse environmental effects.  AGC invites members to provide their feedback on the proposed permits to AGC by Friday, July 8 using AGC’s NWP Discussion Document (MS Office Word document download).

NWPs are general permits issued by the Corps under Clean Water Act Section 404 and are intended to allow certain activities to proceed with little delay or paperwork.  They authorize (on a nationwide basis) discharges of dredged or fill material into WOTUS, including activities associated with road crossings, utility lines, stormwater management, wetland and stream restoration, coal mining and renewable energy generation.  Based on recent data, the Corps authorizes roughly 30,000 projects through the NWP program each year.

Visit the Corps’ Nationwide Permits or the Corp’s Regulatory Programs and Permits Web pages for more information.  Also, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains a web page that provides a chronology of nationwide permits issued to date and related materials.

If you have additional questions, please contact Leah Pilconis at pilconisl@agc.org. Return to Top

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TAX
AGC Comments to Treasury on Overreaching Regulations
 

On Tuesday, AGC sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and IRS policy staff requesting additional time to analyze the effects of the proposed 385 regulations on small and large contractors. AGC specifically asked for an extension of the public comment period to October 5 (90-days); and that the Administration dedicate adequate time and resources for a comprehensive review and analysis of the public comments on the proposal rather than finalize the regulations on an arbitrary timeline. Visit AGC’s Action Center and urge your members of Congress to oppose the 385 regulations in their current form.  IRS has scheduled a July 14 public hearing on the proposed 385 regulations, and AGC plans to provide further comments and examples of how the regulations would affect construction firms.

On the same day, Republican members of the Ways and Means Committee sent a letter to Secretary Lew outlining the negative economic consequences of the Administration's proposed 385 regulations. Committee Democrats had previously written to Secretary Lew asking for a meeting about the proposed regulations. It is yet to be seen how Senate Democrats will respond to alter the regulations. A concerted effort to have several Senate Finance Committee Democratic members weigh in with a letter to Treasury is underway.

Next week, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) are summoning Treasury's top policy advisers to Capitol Hill to answer lawmakers' concerns about the broad-based rules.

For more information, please contact Brian Lenihan at lenihanb@agc.orgor (202) 547-8892. Return to Top

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PUERTO RICO
AGC-Supported Bill Providing Relief for Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis Passes Congress
 

On Wednesday, Congress passed legislation to provide relief for Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. The AGC-backed bill (known as PROMESA) would create a debt-restructuring process, empower a federal oversight board to supervise the territory’s fiscal affairs and create a redevelopment authority —with no taxpayer dollars used for a bailout— that will help rebuild Puerto Rico’s infrastructure. The bill is now on its way to the president’s desk, who has signaled that he will sign the bill into law.

After years of borrowing to cover operating costs, the territory racked up $70 billion in debt, with Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla stating that despite the bill, Puerto Rico “will default on more than $1 billion on bonds” on Friday, July 1.  While U.S. States are afforded bankruptcy protection through the tax code, territories are not covered under the same provisions. As it stands, many Puerto Rican government entities are unable to pay contractors for work completed on government construction projects and the public and private construction markets there remain on life support.

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

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