AED News

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Summer Congressional Visits Reap Legislative Progress

September 26, 2016 1:40 pm

AED has made coordinating industry congressional facility visits and meetings a top priority. More than 50 such events have occurred in 2016 alone, with more planned before election day. The visits are reaping substantial benefits as Congress is making progress on the industry’s remaining legislative priorities despite it being a presidential election year, which oftentimes halts the lawmaking process.

At the end of 2015, AED scored major legislative victories as bonus depreciation was reinstated and extended, increased Sec. 179 expensing levels were permanently increased (and indexed to inflation), the crude oil export ban was lifted, the Export-Import Bank was revived and a multiyear highway bill was enacted. Consequently, in 2016, the association turned its focus to two remaining policy priorities—Carl D. Perkins Act reauthorization (to address the skilled worker shortage) and completing the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) (investment in Army Corps of Engineers projects). AED’s recent congressional meetings, facility visits and overall messaging focused on encouraging action on these issues.

Just before lawmakers returned to Washington following a lengthy recess, AED’s President & CEO Brian McGuire urged congressional leadership to address the nation’s skilled worker shortage and invest in Army Corps of Engineers projects, such as building, maintaining and improving harbors, dams, locks and navigation channels, before year’s end. McGuire and AED’s Senior Vice President Diane Benck of West Side Tractor Sales Co. personally hand-delivered the letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) during a meeting in Milwaukee on Sept. 1.

Additionally, to underscore the importance of Perkins Act reauthorization for the entire construction sector, on Sept. 8, AED organized 26 leading trade groups, urging Congress to swiftly pass and enact the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 5587). The bipartisan bill would reform, modernize and reauthorize the Perkins Act.

Subsequently, Congress made significant progress on AED’s legislative agenda, as the House approved legislation reauthorizing federal career technical education programs and the Senate passed legislation to fund Army Corps of Engineer construction programs and invest in underground water infrastructure.

While it’s been a busy few weeks on Capitol Hill, the Obama administration remains busy attempting to burnish its legacy through regulatory incursion and executive actions. On Aug. 4, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) restricting the discounting of shareholder stock in family-owned operations for the purpose determining federal estate tax liability. The long-expected proposal substantially alters the already onerous levy on family-owned companies. To learn more about the regulation and to submit comments via an easy web form designed by the Family Business Coalition, of which AED is an active member, visit www.noestatetaxhike.org.

AED is keeping the pressure on Congress and the administration to implement the association’s growth and job-creating policy priorities and refrain from placing unnecessary, burdensome restrictions on construction equipment companies. We’re optimistic more victories on the horizon. However, direct member engagement is essential.

There are many ways for AED members to engage in the policymaking process, including contacting your lawmakers directly about WRDA and the Perkins Act, granting the association permission to freely discuss the importance of AED PAC, hosting a congressional facility visit or simply taking a few minutes to complete the new AED tax survey (details were sent to AED primary dealer contacts and aides us in our advocacy efforts).

Also, with pivotal elections forthcoming, it’s important to vote and be educated about the candidates you must choose from. As an employer, you should also engage your employees and encourage their participation in the process. Be sure to visit ofmk.freeenterpriseaction.com/ to vote for further information on the voting process and resources to make sure your voice is heard.

Congress Considers AED-Supported Workforce, Water Infrastructure Bills

September 16, 2016 8:55 pm

AED’s 2016 legislative priorities are moving closer to the finish line as the House approved legislation reauthorizing federal career technical education programs and the Senate passed legislation to fund Army Corps of Engineer construction programs and invest in underground water infrastructure.

The congressional action comes on the heels of AED’s President & CEO Brian McGuire and Senior Vice President Diane Benck of West Side Tractor Sales Co. hand-delivering a letter on Sept. 1 to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) urging fast action on these AED-supported proposals.

Perkins Act Reauthorization
On Sept. 13, the House overwhelmingly approved (405-5), the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 5587), legislation that modernizes, reforms and reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The Perkins Act is the federal government’s primary vehicle for investment in CTE programs and is long-overdue for update. H.R. 5587 contains many AED-supported workforce priorities, including:

• Aligning CTE programs to the needs of the regional, state and local labor markets.
• Supporting effective and meaningful collaboration between secondary and postsecondary institutions and employers.
• Increasing student participation in work-based learning opportunities.
• Promoting the use of industry recognized credentials and other recognized post-secondary credentials.

In a letter to House leadership coordinated by AED and delivered on Sept. 8, 26 leading construction industry organizations told Congress to swiftly pass H.R. 5587, citing an AED Foundation report prepared by researchers at the College of William and Mary. The study found that the equipment technician shortage is costing dealers approximately $2.4 billion per year in lost revenue and economic activity. Citing a lack of “hard skills” as the top reason technician positions are going unfilled, the report noted that vacancies at construction equipment dealerships remain open for longer than three times the national average.

The legislation now heads to the Senate where the association will press for action before the end of the year.

Water Resources Development Act
Meanwhile, the Senate was also hard at work finalizing a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) (S. 2848), legislation investing in Army Corps of Engineers projects, such as building, maintaining and improving harbors, dams, locks and navigation channels. Additionally, S. 2848 provides about $270 million in mandatory funds for the EPA and other federal agencies to respond to drinking water emergencies and lead exposure, such as the Flint, Michigan situation.

A 2012 AED-commissioned study by researchers at the College of William & Mary found that every one dollar invested in “conservation and development structures” (such as those supported by WRDA) leads to $10.59 in economic output (GDP) and generates $3.18 in tax revenues, including $2.12 for the federal government and $1.06 for state and local entities over a twenty-year period.

The House is poised to approve its own WRDA bill (H.R. 5303), which is similar to the S. 2848, but doesn’t include any funding for drinking water infrastructure, before recessing until after the election. Earlier in the month, AED assisted Reps. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) and Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) in gathering congressional support for a letter to House leadership urging that H.R. 5303 receive House floor consideration before Sept. 30. In total, 143 members of Congress joined the effort.

Following House passage, House and Senate leaders are expected to commence negotiations to reconcile differences between the chambers’ WRDA proposals.

AED will continue to keep the pressure on Congress to complete work on these important priorities before the end of 2016.

Construction Industry Urges Congress to Tackle Skilled Worker Shortage

September 9, 2016 1:41 pm

In a letter to House leadership coordinated by AED and delivered on Sept. 8, 26 leading construction industry organizations told Congress to swiftly pass and enact the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 5587), bipartisan legislation that reforms, modernizes, and reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Act.

The groups told lawmakers that, “By making technical education a priority, Congress can help better prepare workers for well-paying careers, ensure that U.S. companies are able to seize new business opportunities and make the United States more competitive in the global economy. Businesses, schools and government officials must collectively commit to tackling the technical education crisis at all levels, and you can take a great step towards enabling that commitment by passing H.R. 5587.”

The letter from construction, contractor and supplier organizations highlighted the stark findings of a study sponsored by the AED Foundation and released in January. That report, prepared by researchers at the College of William and Mary, found the equipment technician shortage is costing dealers approximately $2.4 billion per year in lost revenue and economic activity. Citing a lack of “hard skills” as the top reason technician positions are going unfilled, the study noted that vacancies at construction equipment dealerships remain open for longer than three times the national average.

“Workforce challenges are impacting the construction industry and every other economic sector in the United States,” AED President & CEO Brian McGuire said. “While the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act won’t completely solve the issue, it makes significant improvements to current law and enhances aspects of the long-overdue-for-reauthorization Carl D. Perkins Act in order to better serve both workers and employers. The House should immediately approve H.R. 5587 and put pressure on the Senate to address the skilled worker shortage a top congressional priority before the end of 2016.”

The following organizations signed the letter:

Air Conditioning Contractors of America
American Coal Ash Association
American Concrete Pavement Association
American Concrete Pipe Association
American Concrete Pressure Pipe Association
American Institute of Steel Construction
American Rental Association
AED Government Affairs Office
121 North Henry Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Telephone: 703.739.9513
Facsimile: 703.739.9488
Electronic Mail: aeddc@aednet.org
American Road & Transportation Builders Association
American Supply Association
American Traffic Safety Services Association
Associated Equipment Distributors
Association of Equipment Manufacturers
Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute
Distribution Contractors Association
Heating, Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International
Mason Contractors Association of America
National Asphalt Pavement Association
National Association of Manufacturers
National Ground Water Association
National Ready Mixed Concrete Association
National Roofing Contractors Association
National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association
National Utility Contractors Association
Portland Cement Association
Power and Communication Contractors Association
Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute

To download a copy of the letter, click here.

Equipment Industry Says WRDA, Workforce Are Must-Do Priorities for Returning Congress

September 7, 2016 7:01 pm

As Congress returns to Washington, D.C. following the August recess, AED has called on lawmakers to finish the job on two of the construction equipment industry’s top policy priorities: Carl D. Perkins Act reauthorization legislation and a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).

In a Sept. 7 letter to congressional leadership, AED’s President & CEO Brian McGuire acknowledged the limited days left in the legislative calendar, but encouraged lawmakers to address the nation’s skilled worker shortage and invest in Army Corps of Engineers projects, such as building, maintaining and improving harbors, dams, locks and navigation channels.

Highlighting the results of a recent AED Foundation-commissioned study by researchers at the College of William & Mary, which found the technician shortage is costing equipment dealers approximately $2.4 billion each year in lost revenue and economic opportunity, McGuire urged both chambers to finish work in 2016 to reauthorize, reform and modernize the outdated Carl D. Perkins Act. AED has endorsed the bipartisan House Education & the Workforce Committee-approved Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 5587) as a great step toward tackling the country’s technical education crisis.

Additionally, McGuire reminded lawmakers that enacting a WRDA bill this year will create jobs, spur economic growth and support American competitiveness. A 2012 AED-commissioned study by researchers at the College of William & Mary found that every one dollar invested in “conservation and development structures” (such as those supported by WRDA) leads to $10.59 in economic output (GDP) and generates $3.18 in tax revenues, including $2.12 for the federal government and $1.06 for state and local entities over a twenty-year period.

McGuire and AED’s Senior Vice President Diane Benck of West Side Tractor Sales Co. hand-delivered the letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan during a meeting in Milwaukee on Sept. 1.

“Congress’s work for the year isn’t over,” McGuire told Ryan. “To place the economy and the construction sector on solid footing for many years, we strongly urge you to make the most of the waning legislative days left in this session and enact Perkins Act reauthorization legislation and a WRDA bill in 2016.”

IRS Proposes Significant Restrictions to Estate Tax Discounting Rules

August 31, 2016 1:18 pm

On Aug. 4, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) restricting the discounting of shareholder stock in family-owned operations for the purpose determining federal estate tax liability.

Under current law, married couples are allowed $10.9 million in a lifetime exclusion for federal estate and gift taxes. Assets above the threshold are taxed at a 40 percent federal rate.

Traditionally, the IRS and the courts, for purposes of the federal estate and gift taxes, have permitted the valuation of privately-owned business interests to include a “lack of control” and “lack of marketability” discount because some stakes are worth less since they are harder to sell or represent a minority interest. The proposed rule, which applies to corporations, partnerships and limited-liability companies, disregards any restrictions on liquidation or redemption an heir uses to claim a valuation discount if that restriction either lapses after the transfer or the heir or heir’s family has the ability to remove the restriction after transfer. The IRS is also seeking to eliminate the lack of control discount to assignees.

The agency is accepting comments on its proposal until Nov. 2 and will host a public hearing in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 1. As AED considers its response, we would appreciate hearing from members about whether and how eliminating the lack of control discount would affect member companies and their estate plans for the current generation of owners. Send an email to AED Senior Director of Government Affairs Daniel Fisher at dfisher@aednet.org.

AED Launches Tax Reform Survey Project: Help Shape the Industry’s Tax Agenda

August 19, 2016 1:26 pm

With Congress gearing up for a once-in-a-generation tax reform debate, AED has launched a new project to gather data from equipment distributors to guide and support the association’s tax-related lobbying.

The survey project, which examines the impact of both existing tax laws and proposed changes to the code, includes questions on a variety of topics including cost recovery, LIFO, like-kind exchange, the estate tax, the new 3.8 percent passive income tax, the business interest deduction and more. The survey data will help AED confirm that its tax reform agenda is aligned with member needs and will provide critical insight to help the association’s lobbyists make our industry’s case on Capitol Hill.

“One certainty is that if tax reform happens, there will be winners and losers,” 2016 AED Chairman Whit Perryman (Vermeer Texas-Louisiana) said. “AED is working to ensure that the equipment industry comes out ahead and that any changes to the tax code improve the climate for capital investment and family businesses. The survey data our members give us will be crucial to those efforts and I encourage all dealers to participate in this important project.”

The online survey was launched on August 9. To ensure the integrity of the data, emails requesting participation are being sent to only one primary contact at each AED dealer member company. Please check with the key contact at your company to make sure he or she received the email and either completed the survey or passed it along to the appropriate person. To find out who at your company received the email or to obtain a link to the survey, please contact AED Vice President of Government Affairs Christian Klein at caklein@aednet.org or 703.739.9513.

AED Mourns Passing of former Congressman Steve LaTourette, Construction Industry Stalwart

August 4, 2016 9:17 pm

WASHINGTON – Brian P. McGuire, president and CEO of Associated Equipment Distributors, issued the following statement regarding the passing of former Rep. Steve LaTourette of Ohio.

“With the passing of Rep. LaTourette we lost a great champion for the construction equipment industry. He was a stalwart, dedicated to doing what was right in Washington regardless of politics. Whether it was advocating for rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure or his work with the Main Street Republican Partnership ensuring pragmatic candidates were elected to Congress, Rep. LaTourette made a lasting imprint on Ohio, Capitol Hill and the nation.”

AED Urges Strong Support for Bill to Overhaul Career and Technical Education

July 28, 2016 9:00 pm

On July 28, AED President and CEO Brian P. McGuire sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urging the House to act swiftly and decisively to approve the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 5587). The legislation, which was unanimously approved by the House Education & Workforce Committee, enhances, reforms and reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Act to address one of the most pressing challenges facing American businesses: the skilled worker shortage.

McGuire’s call for action was rooted in stark data: the recently-released AED Foundation study by researchers at the College of William & Mary quantified the technician shortage’s economic impact on the equipment industry. The study found that:

• The technician shortage is costing AED members approximately $2.4 billion per year in lost revenue and economic opportunity.
• The average job open rate for AED members – the percentage of jobs going unfilled – is 11.34 percent, more than three times the national average.
• Distributors cite the lack of hard skills as the top reason technician positions are so hard to fill.
• Seventy-eight percent of AED members don’t think local educational institutions – high schools, community colleges and technical schools – understand equipment dealer workforce needs and don’t believe curricula are aligned to meet those needs.
• More than 50 percent of AED members said the skills gap had hindered dealership growth and increased costs and inefficiencies. But the technician shortage isn’t just a problem for dealers; it’s also a problem for all the economic sectors AED members serve: Almost 75 percent of survey respondents said the technician shortage made it difficult to meet customer demand.

“Simply put, by making technical education a priority, Congress can help better prepare workers for well-paying careers, ensure that U.S. companies are able to seize new business opportunities and make the United States more competitive in the global economy,” McGuire’s letter said. “Businesses, schools and government officials must collectively commit to tackling the technical education crisis at all levels, and you can take a great step towards enabling that commitment by passing H.R. 5587.”

To read the full letter, click here.

To download a one-page summary of the AED Foundation/William & Mary report, click here.

House Committee Members, Industry Organizations Unanimous in Support of Technical Education Bill

July 18, 2016 2:10 pm

On July 7, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce unanimously approved the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 5587). The bill, introduced on June 28 by Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.) and Katherine Clark (D-Ma.), reauthorizes and reforms the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which is the central federal investment mechanism for training in high-skill, in-demand jobs.

On the same day the committee voted, AED joined more than 250 other organizations in a letter to the panel’s Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-Va.), urging action on the bill. The industry-wide coalition of signatories highlighted the broad appeal of career and technical education (CTE) improvements. Not only are all industries suffering from the inability to recruit and retain technically-skilled workers, the impacts of the skills gap on any individual sector inevitably ripple up and down customer supply chains.

The association has long argued that responsive federal workforce policy should provide states and communities with the tools necessary to stimulate the growth of skills that put students into jobs. The reauthorization bill provides a structure closely aligned with the goals expressed in AED’s legislative priorities: utilizing Perkins as a tool to further empower states to nurture the abilities in demand by employers. The legislation would do that by:

• Aligning CTE programs to the needs of the regional, state and local labor markets.
• Supporting effective and meaningful collaboration between secondary and postsecondary institutions and employers.
• Increasing student participation in work-based learning opportunities.
• Promoting the use of industry recognized credentials and other recognized post-secondary credentials.

Improving technical education programs is a business imperative for equipment distributors. A recent study sponsored by the AED Foundation and prepared by researchers at the College of William & Mary found the technician shortage is costing distributors approximately $2.4 billion each year in lost revenue and economic opportunity. The study found the top reason technician positions go unfilled is that applicants lack the necessary hard skills. Curricula at high schools, community colleges and technical schools are not aligned with employer needs, meaning high-paying jobs are going unfilled.

Congress worked hard in 2015 to restore certainty to federal transportation programs and tax policy through passage of the FAST and PATH Acts; unfortunately, the skills gap is preventing American businesses from fully capitalizing on the economic opportunities those laws have created. By passing H.R. 5587, lawmakers could continue to make good on their investment in American business and infrastructure.

The bill now awaits consideration by the full House. Stay tuned to AED as the process moves forward and click here to tell your members of Congress to help build the technical workforce of the future.

For more information about the bill and the committee’s work, click here.

House Committee Opens Effort to Overhaul Technical Education

July 12, 2016 7:40 pm

Leaders of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce unveiled the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act.” Introduced by Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.) and Katherine Clark (D-Ma.), the legislation reauthorizes and reforms the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which is the central federal investment mechanism for training in high-skill, in-demand jobs.

 

Since 1984, the Perkins Act has provided federal support to state and local career and technical education (CTE) programs. Its grants have offered students the opportunity to gain the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to compete for jobs in a broad range of fields, such as construction, health care and technology. Overdue for reauthorization and unaltered since 2006, the law no longer reflects the realities and challenges facing students and workers.

Through the reauthorization bill, committee members seek to build on recent primary education reforms in order to:

 

  • Deliver states more flexibility to use federal resources in response to changing education and economic needs.
  • Ensure career and technical education prepares all students, including historically disadvantaged and vulnerable students, for success in high-skill, high-wage occupations and careers in nontraditional fields.
  • Improve alignment with in-demand jobs by supporting innovative learning opportunities, building better community partnerships, and encouraging stronger engagement with employers.
  • Enhance career and technical education through increased focus on employability skills, work-based learning opportunities, and meaningful credentialing so students are prepared to enter the workforce poised for success.
  • Streamline performance measures to ensure career and technical education programs deliver results for students and taxpayers.
  • Reduce administrative burdens and simplify the process for states to apply for federal resources.
  • Reward success and innovation by directing federal resources to replicate promising practices that best serve students and employers.
  • Provide parents, students, and stakeholders a voice in setting performance goals and evaluating the effectiveness of local programs.
  • Empower state and local leaders to develop plans that improve the quality of career and technical education and take into account unique ‎local and state needs.

 

Responsive federal workforce policy should provide states and communities with the tools necessary to stimulate the growth of skills that put students into jobs. The reauthorization bill provides a structure closely aligned with the goals expressed in AED’s legislative priorities: utilizing Perkins as a tool to further empower states to support needed skills.

 

Click here to tell your members of Congress to help build the technical workforce of the future. Stay tuned to AED as the bill – and the long-expected version from the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee – moves forward through the legislative process.

 

To read a fact sheet on the bill, click here.

To read a more detailed bill summary, click here.

To read the bill, click here.

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