Engineering Inc. - January/February 2014 - (Page 6)

Legislative Action Budget Deal Increases Discretionary Spending, Avoids Next Round of Sequestration Cuts T he House and Senate adopted a budget agreement prior to adjournment in December that increases caps on discretionary spending by $63 billion over two years and replaces the impending automatic across-the-board sequestration with targeted cuts and federal fee increases. ACEC supports the agreement; it will bring predictability to the federal budget process and should allow increased spending for critical infrastructure programs. Non-defense spending would total $491.8 billion in Fiscal Year 2014, which is $14 billion less than the Senate had proposed but $76.9 billion more than the original House budget. Defense programs would total $518 billion, $2.5 billion above current funding and $22.4 billion above the projected post-sequestration level. The bill would lower the compensation cap for federal contractors from $952,308 to $487,000 and would tie subsequent increases to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Cost Index. Passage of the two-year budget agreement should pave the way for action early in 2014 on one or more appropriations bills to fund specific agencies. Such action must occur prior to Jan. 15 in order to avoid another government shutdown. ACEC Backs Federal Infrastructure Finance Bill; Helps Kick Off New P3 Caucus S ens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) have introduced the bipartisan Building and Renewing Infrastructure for Development and Growth in Employment Act, or BRIDGE Act, which would create an independent infrastructure financing authority to provide loans and loan guarantees to states and localities for infrastructure projects of regional and national significance. The fund would be initially capitalized with $10 billion and used to leverage state, local and private dollars. Eligible projects include transportation and water infrastructure and energy transmission, distribution and storage projects, with a minimum cost of $50 million. Five percent of funding would be set aside for rural, smaller projects. ACEC endorsed the bill as providing another financing tool to address our country's infrastructure priorities, particularly large projects that cannot be undertaken with conventional funding. "ACEC continues to strongly advocate increased investments through traditional core federal infrastructure programs," wrote ACEC President and CEO Dave Raymond in a letter to the bill's sponsors. "However, additional options are necessary to supplement existing funds and leverage private sources of capital." ACEC Director of Transportation Programs Matt Reiffer delivered that same message at a briefing for the newly formed Congressional P3 Caucus. Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Gerry Connelly (D-Va.) formed the group to collect and disseminate information to their colleagues on public-private partnerships (PPPs). Reiffer joined representatives from the U.S. Chamber, Honeywell and George Mason University on a briefing panel to discuss how PPPs can facilitate infrastructure development and improve government service. House Clears ACEC-Backed Energy Bills 6 ENGINEERING INC. the Interior Department from enforcing federal hydraulic fracturing regulations in any state that already has them and would recognize states' authority to regulate this type of activity. Finally, the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act would expedite permitting for the construction of interstate natural gas pipelines. It would mandate that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rule on a requested pipeline certificate no later than 12 months after receiving a complete application. JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2014 The Senate is unlikely to act on these initiatives before the end of the year, although one or more of them could come up in the context of a larger energy package in 2014. CRAIG F. WALKER/THE DENVER POST VIA GETTY IMAGES T he House cleared three ACEC-backed energy bills to expand domestic energy production late in 2013. The Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act of 2013 would reform the leasing process for onshore oil and natural gas projects on federal lands, ensure that funds are available for wind and solar permitting and establish clear rules for the development of U.S. oil shale resources. The Protecting States' Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act would prohibit

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Engineering Inc. - January/February 2014

Engineering Inc. - January/February 2014
Contents
From ACEC to You
Market Watch
Legislative Action
Extreme Weather Resistance
2014 Legislative Outlook
Model Infrastructure
The Hard Market That Never Came
2013 Fall Conference Highlights
Mirrored Concerns
Risk Management
Business Insights
Members in the News
Mergers and Acquisitions

Engineering Inc. - January/February 2014

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