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Help AGC and Urge Congress to Repeal the “Prior Approval” Requirement for Trade Association PACs

AGC of America joined 113 other national trade associations on a letter urging members of the US House of Representatives to support H.R. 2101 - the Prior Approval Reform Act. You can help our efforts by contacting your representative to urge him or her to cosponsor H.R. 2101 - the Prior Approval Reform Act.
This bill, introduced by Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), would repeal the Federal Election Campaign Act’s “prior approval” requirement for corporate member trade association political action committees (PACs). In summary, this requirement discriminates against these associations by making their PACs the only political committees that must first obtain exclusive permission from member corporations before soliciting eligible employees for support. The Act’s onerous prior approval requirement is a relic from the past that is discriminatory, restricts First Amendment rights, and creates burdensome compliance costs and confusion.
For more information, contact David Ashinoff at ashinoffd@agc.org or (202) 547-5013.

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Urge Your House Rep. to Extend Electronic Logging Devices Mandate Deadline for Hours of Service Compliance

Dec. 18 is the deadline for motor carriers to comply with a U.S. Department of Transportation mandate to install and use electronic logging devices on trucks to record drivers’ hours of service. The Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) issued the mandate for all motor carriers required to maintain Records of Duty Status (RODS) for Hours of Service (HOS) compliance. AGC has sought an exemption from this requirement for construction industry truck drivers but that request has not been accepted.
Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has introduced legislation to delay the mandate for two years. AGC is supporting this legislation in the hope that the delay will allow the necessary time to make the case with FMCSA that this requirement is unnecessary for construction. Contact your representative and ask them to cosponsor H.R. 3282 and delay this mandate.
For more information, contact Brian Deery at deeryb@agc.org or (703) 837-5319.

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Trump Announces Support for Changes to Immigration Policy

This week President Trump announced his support for a major shift in national immigration policy. Trump teamed with Senators David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in support of legislation – the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act – that would impose a merit-based immigration system and would curtail the family- and humanitarian-based options for entry into the country. The goal of the proposal would be to limit legal immigration, which hovers around 1 million entrants every year by half, and it would also rescind the diversity lottery as well as cap annual refugee admittances.
The legislation is a stark contrast to the bipartisan legislative attempt in 2013 by the “Gang of Eight,” which AGC largely supported. The RAISE Act is expected to face fierce opposition in Congress as it fails to address the undocumented individuals already in the country, a sticking point for any democrat support.
While AGC supports a merit-based immigration system, AGC is concerned that the legislation could fail to deliver the type and number of workers needed for industries like construction, which is currently facing a widespread domestic worker shortage. AGC is also concerned that the legislation fails to address the undocumented individuals already in the country.
AGC looks forward to working with Congress on an immigration package that fully addresses the broken immigration system by strengthening national security, functions efficiently and fairly, and addresses future workforce needs. AGC also looks forward to continuing to work with Congress and the administration on job training and education proposals that will ensure Americans have the skills necessary for careers in the construction industry.
For more information, contact Jim Young at youngj@agc.org or (202) 547-0133.

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AGC Submits Comments to Senate Finance Committee on Tax Reform

This week, AGC submitted comments in response to a letter sent by Senator Orrin Hatch, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, soliciting input from stakeholders on tax reform.  The deadline for submissions was Monday, July 17. AGC’s comments called for tax reform that lowers the rates for all businesses, corporate and pass-through alike. The comments also called for repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), increasing the threshold at which the percentage-of-completion method of accounting is required and raising the exemption level for long-term contracting rules.  AGC also called on Congress to use the opportunity presented by comprehensive tax reform to invest in the nation’s infrastructure and shore up the Highway Trust Fund.
According to Capitol Hill publications, the email inbox set up by the Finance Committee to receive comments was flooded with “hundreds of thousands of submissions.”  While most of these submissions were form letters generated by a group called Americans for Tax Fairness, opposing lower taxes on “millionaires and wealthy corporations,” many other submissions were from traditional stakeholders, like AGC. According the Senate Finance Committee “each submission will be considered as the committee moves forward with its current tax reform efforts.” AGC will continue to monitor the committee’s progress on tax reform.
For more information, contact Matt Turkstra at matt.turkstra@agc.org or (202) 547-4733.

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House Budget Resolution Moves Forward

 

Provides Mechanism for Increased Infrastructure Spending
This week, the House Budget Committee advanced their 2018 budget resolution, Building a Better America by a party line vote of 22-14.  The resolution sets spending levels for both mandatory and discretionary programs, provides instructions for tax reform and establishes a mechanism that would allow for increased spending for any potential new infrastructure plan. The bill would significantly increase defense spending while cutting both mandatory and discretionary programs. The fate of the resolution remains unknown with conservative Republicans believing cuts don’t go far enough and moderates believing the cuts go too far.
The budget also sets several policy priorities, including aligning Highway Trust Fund spending to revenue coming into the Fund. In addition, the budget eliminates subsidies for Amtrak, the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grants and the TIGER grant program.  Most of these positions are consistent with previous House Republican budgets; however, they are unlikely to ever be passed into law. The budget also creates a “Reserve Fund” that would allow for an increase in infrastructure funding in the event that Congress takes up an infrastructure spending bill and prevent any objections to such a bill based on budgetary points of order.
The biggest takeaway from the resolution is that it underscores the need for fixing the Highway Trust Fund and providing revenue for increased infrastructure investment as a part of comprehensive tax reform.
For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at oneills@agc.org or (202) 547-8892. Return to Top

 

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Department of Transportation Guidance on Bidder DBE Submittals Pending

The U.S. Department of Transportation is preparing guidance to clarify that states must require all bidders to submit disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) utilization information regardless of whether the state requires the bidder to submit the information at time of bid or allows a five day grace period following bid submission. AGC wrote to Transportation Secretary Chao and asked that the guidance be changed to require only the apparent low bidder to submit this information.
The DBE rules allow states to choose whether to require DBE commitment information with bid submittal or up to five days later. In our comments, AGC pointed out that when U.S. DOT revised the DBE rules during the Obama Administration, there was much discussion on this issue as part of the rule making process and in meetings between DOT officials and AGC members. At that time, DOT indicated that if a state chooses the five day grace period that only the apparent low bidder would be required to submit its DBE commitments.
DOT responded to AGC’s letter indicating that it plans to move ahead with guidance that requires all bidders to submit DBE commitments even if states choose the five day grace period.
For more information, contact Brian Deery at deeryb@agc.org or (703) 837-5319.

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House Committee Approves FY 2018 Transportation Funding

This week, the House Appropriations Committee approved legislation funding the U.S. Department of Transportation for Fiscal Year 2018, which begins on October 1. The bill fully funded the federal-aid highway program at the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act authorized level of $44.234 billion, an increase of 2.2% over FY 2017. Transit formula grants were funded at FAST Act level of $9.733 billion. The bill, however, cuts the transit Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program by $650 million. The subcommittee-approved funding level for the Department is short of the $2.3 billion that was authorized in the FAST Act but is more than the $1.2 billion requested by President Trump in the administration’s FY 2018 budget proposal.
The legislation would also eliminate $500 million in funding for the TIGER grant program, which has been funded at that level for the past several years. The Trump budget called for eliminating TIGER grants and the House has routinely done that in years past. However, the Senate just as routinely adds the funds back in to the final bill.
The House bill also provides $500 million for a new AMTRAK Northeast Corridor state of good repair program, although all of these funds are being directed to the New York/New Jersey Gateway program to build and improve transit and rail tunnels into New York City. The Airport Improvement Program (AIP), is set to receive $3.35 billion. The AIP program has been funded at this level for the past six years.
For more information, contact Brian Deery at deeryb@agc.org or (703) 837-5319.

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Tell Your Representatives to Support Increased Airport Infrastructure


The House of Representatives has yet to move forward and consider the 21ST Century Aviation, Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, as it is unclear whether the bill has enough votes to pass. The AIRR Act would reauthorize Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs. As we reported last week, the bill fails to adequately invest in airport infrastructure. The vote delay provides you another opportunity to contact your representative and ask them to support increased funding for our nation’s airport infrastructure.
For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at oneills@agc.org or (202) 547-8892.

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H-2B Seasonal Worker Visa Cap Increased for 2017

On July 19, the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Labor issued a final rule authorizing a one-time increase in the number of H-2B visas, which allow foreigners to work in seasonal positions. The rule increased the annual 66,000 visa cap by 15,000 for such workers and expires on September 30.  AGC supports a permanent expansion of the H-2B visa statutory cap by exempting returning seasonal workers who have followed the law from counting against the limit. Additionally, changes should be made to the visa program to better fit the distinct needs of the construction industry.
For more information, contact Jimmy Christianson at christiansonj@ac.org or 703-837-5325. 

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Trump Administration Releases New Details on Regulatory Agenda

Silica, WOTUS, Paid Sick Leave, Local Hiring and More
The Trump administration released new details on its regulatory and deregulatory plans. Issued July 20, the 2017 Spring Unified Agenda provides some answers and many questions about the future of major regulatory issues facing AGC contractors. On the positive side, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its goal to issue a new rule on the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act by the end of this year and kicked the can on new stormwater regulations as well as lead paint rules for public and commercial buildings. Also, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) signaled the withdrawal of regulatory efforts to further address: the establishment of an injury and illness prevention program (I2P2); noise in construction; combustible dust; and preventing back over injuries and fatalities. On the negative side, OSHA did not provide any details on plans for its silica standard, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council provided its plan to issue a final rule to cement the direct federal contractor paid sick leave regulation, and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) punted on any effort to withdraw the local hiring proposed rule and has still left in place the existing pilot program.
On the whole, the Trump administration has slowed the federal regulatory machine. In the first five months of 2017, the administration’s regulatory efforts produced quantifiable annualized cost savings estimated at $22 million, compared to $6.8 billion in annualized costs due to rules finalized during last five months of fiscal year 2016. AGC remains engaged in the legal fight against the silica rule and will push back on DOT and the FAR Council decisions on local hiring and paid sick leave, respectively. For more details, read the 2017 Regulatory Road Ahead.
For more information, contact Jimmy Christianson at christiansonj@ac.org or 703-837-5325.

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