Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org February 8, 2018
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On the Inside
FEDERAL BUDGET
Pending Budget Deal Includes Billions for Construction
Pending Budget Deal Includes Multiemployer Pension Policies to Address Critical Plans
IMMIGRATION
AGC Calls for Immigration Reform that Addresses Industry and Country Needs
INFRASTRUCTURE
Trump Administration Infrastructure Proposal Expected Monday
FEDERAL BUDGET
Pending Budget Deal Includes Billions for Construction
Would extend 179D Energy Efficient Commercial Construction Tax Incentive
 

As of publication, Senate is considering—and the House has yet to consider—an AGC-supported bipartisan budget bill for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 that: (1) averts arbitrary, across the board cuts to construction programs by lifting the budget caps established under sequestration; (2) provides nearly $90 billion (see chart for construction funding) in emergency funding for reconstruction and recovery efforts from the 2017 natural disasters; (3) creates an avenue for the appropriation of $20 billion in additional infrastructure funding over two years; and (4) renews certain tax incentives—specifically Section 179D—for energy efficient commercial construction projects. However, the bill does not address issues within the current immigration debate nor does it complete the FY 2018 funding process, setting the stage for another potential federal government shutdown on March 23 (assuming it the bill passes both houses of Congress tonight).

As noted, this legislation would establish an avenue—not actual funding—in FY 2018 and 2019 for additional infrastructure funding, amounting to $20 billion total. While the needs of our nation’s surface transportation, public facilities and other critical infrastructure require long-term solutions, this is a positive first step. AGC will continue to work with Congress and the administration to enact those long-term solutions in a significant infrastructure bill this year.

Additionally, the legislation would renew—through Dec. 31, 2017—Section 179D, which provides a tax deduction to help offset some of the high costs of energy efficient components and systems for commercial and larger multifamily buildings. This tax incentive is an effective tool to leverage private capital in the construction of energy efficient commercial construction projects.

For more information contact Jimmy Christianson at christiansonj@agc.org.


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Pending Budget Deal Includes Multiemployer Pension Policies to Address Critical Plans
 

As of publication, the pending bipartisan budget bill includes a provision that would create a special committee of Congress to address critical multiemployer pension plans that have been identified by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) as headed to insolvency. Many of these plans are ineligible for relief under the 2014 Multiemployer Pension Reform Act. Without government intervention these plans will fail and bankrupt the PBGC in the process. If the budget agreement passes, then this newly formed committee would have until the end of November 2018 to identify a solution to the pension crisis.

While AGC is supportive of finding a solution to the nation’s multiemployer pension issues and addressing funding challenges at the PBGC, AGC is focused on advancing legislation that would offer a new, sustainable, and more equitable designed plan—called a composite plan—which is a long-standing AGC priority. AGC is also concerned about how this special committee would address the PBGC’s funding, as AGC would oppose massive PBGC premium increases on healthy plans to fund such a solution.

For more information contact Jim Young at youngj@agc.org.


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IMMIGRATION
AGC Calls for Immigration Reform that Addresses Industry and Country Needs
 

This week AGC joined other national construction trade associations in expressing support for broad, bipartisan immigration reform and identifying policies that we believe would help address the workforce needs of construction industry employers. This collaborative construction industry action comes on the heels of a renewed interest in the immigration reform debate and growing domestic workforce shortages.

The policies agreed to by the construction industry include support for a guest worker program for construction; creating a fair and efficient employment verification system; addressing the undocumented population with an earned path toward legal permanent status or citizenship, especially Dreamers; extending TPS status for deserving nations; and protecting construction contractors from discrimination or retaliation for border wall construction.

AGC also joined a broad coalition of organizations late last week in urging Congress relief for H-2B visas, where demand for these visas exceeds availability annually. The H-2B program is essential to employers who cannot find local temporary workers to fill less skilled positions. Despite the limited applicability for this industry, it remains one of the only legal immigration visas eligible for construction workers.

For more information contact Jim Young at youngj@agc.org.


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INFRASTRUCTURE
Trump Administration Infrastructure Proposal Expected Monday
 

The long-awaited infrastructure proposal – first mentioned by President Trump during his election campaign – is expected to be unveiled on Feb. 12. Originally saying his plan would generate $1 trillion in infrastructure investments, President Trump upped the ante during his Jan. 30 State of the Union address, increasing the target to $1.5 trillion. AGC looks forward to working with Congress and the Administration on enacting long-term infrastructure funding solutions and environmental review and permit streamlining reforms in a significant infrastructure bill this year.

At this point, it is widely reported that $200 billion in federal funds and loans will be made available with the intention of leveraging that amount to reach the $1.5 trillion goal. A variety of infrastructure categories will be addressed including roads, bridges, airports, water and wastewater, water navigation, energy and others. A significant portion of the federal dollars will be used as an incentive for new state, local and private sector investments in infrastructure. While public-private partnerships will be part of the plan, it will not be the primary focus. Significant portions of the funding will be directed at projects in rural areas and another portion will be aimed at “transformative” projects. Existing federal credit programs such as TIFIA and WIFIA will receive additional resources to encourage innovative financing solutions. The Highway Trust Fund’s chronic revenue shortfall and shortages in other existing infrastructure funds are not expected to be addressed.

Regulatory reform – particularly streamlining the environmental review and permitting requirements – will also be a priority. The president has said he would like to see infrastructure projects approved within two years as opposed to the current ten year timeframe.

Some unanswered questions about the proposal that will hopefully be clarified in Monday’s rollout include where the federal funds will come from and how those funds will be distributed amongst the various federal agencies that manage the different infrastructure programs.

For more information, contact Brian Deery at deeryb@agc.org.


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