Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org October 11, 2018
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On the Inside
Infrastructure
Major AGC-Backed Water Infrastructure Bill Passes Senate
Labor
AGC Asks for Construction Exemption from Trucker HOS Rules
Tax
AGC Continues to Push for Fix for “Retail Glitch”
Diversity and Inclusion
AGC Releases Paper on the Business Case for Diversity & Inclusion in the Construction Industry
Federal Construction
AGC Holds Reverse Industry Session for the U.S. Army Corps
Awards
Your Time is Now: JLT Build America Awards Applications due October 24, 2018
Infrastructure
Major AGC-Backed Water Infrastructure Bill Passes Senate
Authorizes Billions of Dollars for Corps, Drinking Water and Wastewater Projects
 

On October 10, the Senate passed—on a vote of 99-1—an AGC- supported water resources development bill that helps the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) maintain much of our nation’s water resources infrastructure.  The president is expected to sign the bill into law shortly.

While not a funding bill, this legislation allows Congress to eventually approve billions of dollars in funding for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works projects, including navigation (dredging, locks), flood control (levees), hydropower (dams), recreation (parks), and water supply.  In addition, the bill reauthorizes the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) for $50 million annually in fiscal years 2020 and 2021 and provides a new authorization, championed by AGC, for the funding of State Revolving Funds with WIFIA dollars—which can be used for drinking water and wastewater facility projects.

Other notable provisions in the bill include:

  • Reaffirming a federal commitment to State Revolving Funds; 
  • Authorization of capital grants for State Drinking Water Treatment Revolving Loan Funds;
  • Establishing an innovative water infrastructure workforce development program;
  • Authorization of feasibility studies and critical projects;
  • Making publicly available USACE real estate assets as a means to help avoid sometimes lengthy Rivers and Harbors Act Section 408 approval processes, which delay Clean Water Act Section 404 permit issuance; and
  • Rehabilitation of USACE constructed dams.

For additional information, please contact Sean O’Neill at oneills@agc.org, or (202) 547-8992. Return to Top

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Labor
AGC Asks for Construction Exemption from Trucker HOS Rules
 

AGC submitted comments this week, individually and as part of a construction coalition, to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requesting that construction industry drivers be exempted from hours of service (HOS) rules.

The comments pointed out that the type of driving undertaken by industry drivers does not create the same demands or fatigue concerns as long haul drivers. Because of the seasonal nature of construction and demands on contractors to complete projects under tight time limits the HOS restrictions have significant negative and unnecessary impacts on construction. Congress and FMCSA have acknowledged this problem by providing a variety of exemptions from HOS requirements for some construction operations and materials. However, these limited exemptions, while somewhat helpful, create confusion in implementation and enforcement.

Should FMCSA decide to not offer a broad exemption, the comments made a numbers of specific recommendations that would make the current rules less onerous, including: expanding the short haul exemption to 150 miles and making it uniform, eliminating the return to work location requirement, allowing for additional driving hours when adverse weather conditions occur, and allowing for flexibility in use of sleeper berths to meet off-duty requirements. The comments pointed out that these recommendations can be implemented without undermining driving safety.

FMCSA solicited input as it considers a rule making to address the growing number of criticisms of the existing rules from drivers in many impacted industries. AGC and eleven of our construction industry allies jointly filed comments to demonstrate a strong unified voice in calling for reform of the rules. AGC’s individual comments added additional information and background in support of the coalition’s position.

For additional information, contact Brian Deery at deeryb@agc.org or (703) 837-5319.


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Tax
AGC Continues to Push for Fix for “Retail Glitch”
 

On Oct. 9, AGC joined industry allies in urging Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin to have the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issue interim guidance to correct a drafting error from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that accidentally changed the depreciation period for certain commercial real estate improvements to 39 years, instead of 15 years—or even less.

During the drafting of TCJA, the tax writers consolidated the restaurant, retail, and leasehold improvements (essentially the interior improvements to commercial property) depreciation schedule into a new category, now called qualified improvement property (QIP).  Unfortunately, in doing so, they cross-referenced the incorrect section of the tax code that changed the depreciation schedule from 15-years (and eligible for temporary 100 percent bonus depreciation) to 39 years.  This was clearly a drafting error that would normally qualify as a “technical correction” but a political stalemate has prevented passing a technical corrections bill.

As a result, those industries and companies affected by this glitch, including the construction industry, have called for Treasury to issue interim guidance to correct the problem while Congress fixes the statutory language.  In August, AGC co-signed a letter to Treasury requesting action from Secretary Mnuchin on this issue, and on Tuesday followed up with issuing formal regulatory comments for a Treasury’s proposed for bonus depreciation.

For further information, please contact Matthew Turkstra at matt.turkstra@agc.org, or (202) 547-4733. Return to Top

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Diversity and Inclusion
AGC Releases Paper on the Business Case for Diversity & Inclusion in the Construction Industry
 

AGC’s report, The Business Case for Diversity & Inclusion in the Construction Industry, outlines six reasons why diversity and inclusion are strategically valuable in generating corporate/industry innovation, increasing profitability, and ensuring a positive and sustaining legacy of progress for your firm.

The conventional understanding of diversity has evolved over time. What started as a focus on compliance of Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action requirements has moved into a critical and necessary part of doing business as a way to achieve greater financial success. As the population of the U.S. becomes more diverse, construction companies will need to reflect the changing demographics in order to find workers and remain competitive. The arguments for a company including diversity and inclusion as a key business strategy go beyond the moral imperative of “doing the right thing” and focus on the measurable financial results that can be achieved.

For additional information, contact Brynn Huneke at Brynn.huneke@agc.org or (703) 837-5376.​​ Return to Top

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Federal Construction
AGC Holds Reverse Industry Session for the U.S. Army Corps
 

On Oct. 9, AGC members met with leaders of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Headquarters and field offices from across the country for the agency’s first ever interactive training session with the construction industry in Washington, DC.

AGC members explained the importance of early communication by USACE, gave incites on the type of information that industry seeks in order to qualify an opportunity, and the value associated with certain types of USACE engagements (e.g. RFIs, one-on-ones, partnering, industry days).

AGC members spoke about how different factors might influence the decision towards either bidding or not bidding (e.g., costs of competition, risks, acquisition strategy, past acquisition practices of customer, competitive analysis, etc.).  AGC frequently engages in training sessions with federal agencies and remains dedicated to further educating federal agencies on construction process.

For additional information, contact Jordan Howard at jordan.howard@agc.org or (703) 837-5368. Return to Top

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Awards
Your Time is Now: JLT Build America Awards Applications due October 24, 2018
 

The deadline to apply for an JLT Build America Award is quickly approaching, but it’s not too late! These awards honor AGC members who build the nation's most impressive construction projects ranging across the building, highway and transportation, utility infrastructure, and federal and heavy divisions.

If that sounds like you, we encourage you to apply online for some much-deserved recognition for your outstanding projects. As an added bonus, all entry fees are donated to the AGC Education and Research Foundation to impact young constructors across the country. Apply by October 24, 2018, for full consideration. Learn more about AGC of America's awards programs at www.agc.org/awards.

For additional information, please contact Nahee Rissi at chon@agc.org, or 703-837-5348.


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