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Trump Infrastructure Plan Unveiled; President Backs 25 Cent Gas Tax Increase

Tell Congress to Invest in Infrastructure NOW
AGC applauded President Trump for releasing his $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan on Feb. 12 and backs his reported endorsement of a 25 cent federal gas tax increase to help make the Highway Trust Fund solvent.  We link here to one-page summaries of the administration’s infrastructure fundingenvironmental streamlining and workforce development proposals. With action on an infrastructure bill moving to Congress, it is critical that the construction industry lets Congress know that the time for infrastructure investment is now. Contact your U.S. representative and U.S. senators right now so that they understand that investing in and improving our nation’s infrastructure helps America prosper.
It has also been widely reported that the president—at a bipartisan meeting at the White House on Feb. 14—endorsed a 25 cent gas tax increase, which would raise $394 billion for the Highway Trust Fund. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce—with AGC’s support—put forth such a gas tax increase proposal in January.
Action now turns to Congress, where committees in the House and Senate will commence hearings on the president’s plan in early March. Given election year realities and Congress’s knack for only passing major legislation when it must, AGC is eyeing March 23—when government funding runs out, again—and the ensuing government funding bill as a prime vehicle for moving the construction industry’s infrastructure priorities.
For more information, contact Jimmy Christianson at [email protected] or (703) 837-5325. 

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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 [email protected].

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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 [email protected].

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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 [email protected].

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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 [email protected].

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AGC Meets with New OFCCP Director

On January 31, 2018, AGC attended an intimate stakeholder roundtable discussion with Ondray T. Harris, the recently appointed Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) at the U.S Department of Labor. AGC took the opportunity to outline the unique challenges construction contractors face when interacting with the OFCCP and complying with its requirements.  AGC strongly advocated for greater clarity, increased communication, and deeper industry knowledge.
Director Harris and his staff appear genuinely interested in partnering with the construction industry to ensure the development of American workers and continued investment in diversity initiatives. In line with the Trump administration’s focus on apprenticeships, the director and his staff also discussed how apprenticeship programs can assist in diversity efforts and Affirmative Action requirements for contractors.
AGC regularly attends these types of meetings to connect federal agencies with the construction industry they are required to regulate. These are unique opportunities for AGC to help educate federal officials on how their rulemakings translate at the practical level, as well as identify additional partnership opportunities.  AGC looks forward to continuing to work with the OFCCP and other federal agencies on behalf of its membership.
For more information, contact Claiborne Guy at [email protected] or 703-837-5382.

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House Committee Advances AGC-Supported Tort Reform Legislation

On Jan. 30, the House Judiciary Committee took an important step towards common sense tort reform by approving The Infrastructure Expansion Act of 2017H.R. 3808. The bill addresses an antiquated New York State law commonly known as the “Scaffold Law.” The Scaffold Law has been construed to impose strict liability on property owners and/or general contractors who have no direct supervision of an employee, nor anything to do with the circumstances of the plaintiff’s accident.
AGC supports H.R. 3808 because the Scaffold Law fails to improve both public safety and worker safety, while at the same time raising the cost of construction projects in New York. It also does nothing to limit workers’ access to the workers compensation system, nor does it protect any entity from contributory negligence for a fall or other accident from height. AGC joined a coalition in support H.R. 3808 and urges Congress to pass it.
For more information, contact Jim Young at [email protected] or (202) 547-0133.

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Companies Celebrate Tax Cuts

Tell AGC How Tax Reform Impacts Your Construction Firm
Since the new tax reform law passed in December, many companies have trumpeted how tax cuts are positively impacting their business. Companies as prominent and diverse as Apple, ExxonMobil, Pfizer, and Walmart have announced one-time bonuses, increased employee salaries, new or increased employee benefits, or plans to invest in new plants and equipment. AGC is interested in hearing about how the new tax reform law is impacting the construction industry.
If your business is benefitting from the new law (or is adversely impacted), or if you have announced any plans to increase employee benefits, salaries, or investment in your business, please let us know. We are also interested to hear if the demand for construction is increasing as a result of tax reform. This information will help AGC determine how it can continue to improve the tax environment for the construction industry.
Please contact Matthew Turkstra, AGC’s Director of Tax, Fiscal Affairs and Accounting, with any information that you can share about your business as a result of tax reform.
For more information, contact Matt Turkstra at [email protected] or (202) 547-4733.

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Obama Admin. 2015 WOTUS Rule Delayed

Status Quo Remains in Effect
Implementation of the Obama administration’s 2015 “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule—which expands federal environmental permitting jurisdiction involving wetlands—has been delayed. On Jan. 31, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) took AGC-supported regulatory action that delays the 2015 WOTUS rule from taking effect until February 2020. This action virtually maintains the status quo nationwide and provides continuity and regulatory certainty for contractors in the field while the agencies continue to work to repeal and replace the 2015 WOTUS rule.  The need for this action became necessary after a Jan. 22 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that would result in lifting the current nationwide stay of the 2015 WOTUS rule in most states.
For more information, contact Melinda Tomaino at [email protected] or Leah Pilconis at [email protected].

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AGC-Backed Water Infrastructure Bill Introduced in House and Senate

On Jan. 30, Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Dian Feinstein (D-CA), along with Representatives John Katko (R-NY) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), introduced the AGC-supported Securing Required Funding for Water Infrastructure Now (SRF-WIN) Act, charting a politically viable path towards updating water infrastructure investment.
The SRF WIN Act would be a five-year bill that authorizes $200M each year for a total of $1B over five years. As such, bill provides needed increases in funding for our nation’s Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs). It will also allow State Infrastructure Authorities to utilize financing available through the Water Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program—and the SRF—to increase funding for multiple local water infrastructure projects at once, while also ensuring that current SRF grant funding is preserved. This is vital, because no funding would be made available for this new program if Congress fails to fully appropriate SRF dollars at FY 2018 levels or higher.  A full summary of the SRF Win Act can be found here.
AGC will continue to work with the House and Senate to ensure that the SRF WIN Act is included in any infrastructure legislation that moves through Congress in 2018.
For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at [email protected] or (202) 547-8892

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