Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) recently introduced the “Government Neutrality in Contracting Act” (S. 71) in the Senate. This legislation would prohibit federal contracting agencies from mandating that contractors and unions enter project labor agreements (PLAs) on direct federal projects. In addition, the bill would preserve the right of contractors and unions to voluntarily negotiate and execute project labor agreements on federal projects, if they so choose.
Support U.S. Marine Contractors & Oppose Sen. McCain’s Amendment
This week, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced legislation that would repeal provisions of the Jones Act, which supports the American maritime industry including American marine construction contractors. The Jones Act requires waterborne cargo between two points in the U.S. to be transported on American vessels. Compared to foreign maritime companies that receive direct subsidies from their respective governments, U.S. companies in the domestic trades succeed on their merits in the marketplace where competition is fierce. Moreover, repeal will also permit unfair competition from heavily subsidized foreign dredging contractors pursuing contracts to maintain and construct our domestic waterways, restore and armor our eroding coastlines, and all things related.
Last week, the campaign arm of House Republicans – the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) – issued a press release claiming Democrats want to raise the gas tax. Not only was the press release irresponsible, but it was inaccurate. As the 114th Congress began last week, Democrats and Republicans jumped into the discussion of potential Highway Trust Fund solutions and members of both parties acknowledged that the need to keep all options on the table – including a gas tax increase.
In preparation for Election Day 2014, thousands visited ConstructionVotes.com to access voter registration materials and Get-Out-the-Vote resources. AGC of America thanks you for your efforts in helping to encourage colleagues, family members and friends to register to vote and vote on Election Day.
On Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Committee conducted its first hearing under new Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.). The focus of the hearing was the macro view of the U.S. economy and the central tenets needed for sustained job creation, wages, and economic growth – policies under the jurisdiction of the committee needing reforms – taxes, international trade, and entitlement reforms. During his remarks, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) highlighted the need to take advantage of low fuel prices to incrementally increase the federal tax on gasoline.
Last week, nearly 50 member company CFOs and other senior accounting professionals attended the AGC Financial Issues Committee (FIC) Winter Meeting in Florida. Committee members were brought up to speed on FASB standards and IRS regulations, including recent tax court rulings by means of a tax discussion with John Armour, CBIZ MHM, and Timothy Wilson, BKD. Attendees heard from Cullen Walsh, FASB senior staff, about ongoing projects such as Lease Accounting and hot topics in IRS Examinations by Jeanne Wierman, IRS Construction Technical Advisor. An economic outlook was provided by Ken Simonson, AGC Chief Economist, and a discussion about the status of federal legislation and politics with Brian Lenihan of AGC and Dean Zerbe, Alliant Group National Managing Director, shed light on the ramifications of the elections on tax reform in the coming years.
Today, marking one of the first legislative actions of the new Congress, the House passed H.R. 30, the Saving American Workers Act of 2015, by a bipartisan vote of 252-172. Twelve Democrats crossed party lines and supported the bill. The bill would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) definition of full-time employee as 30 hours of service per week and replace it with the more traditional 40-hour definition. The ACA’s employer mandate to provide coverage to all full-time employees became effective beginning with plan years on or after Jan. 1, 2015. Previous delays of the ACA employer mandate did nothing to change the law’s underlining full-time definition of 30 hours-of-service per week.
As the price of gas continues to drop at the pump and the Highway Trust Fund once again approaches a zero balance, the idea of increasing the gas tax is circulating the halls of Congress. Several members of Congress made news this week by not dismissing a gas tax increase as one of the potential ways to address the upcoming Highway Trust Fund shortfall, including Senate Environment & Public Works Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).