By Dave Simpson, interim president and CEO, Carolinas AGC
Special to North Carolina Construction News
As things rev up these days in Raleigh, Columbia and Washington, D.C., Carolinas AGC (CAGC) is pushing hard for infrastructure funding for transportation, building and utility needs, improving the workforce shortage and building up the construction industry.
With help from our thousands of CAGC members across North and South Carolina, we have our hands full in the state legislatures as well as in Washington as we help with efforts by AGC of America and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association in Congress.
CAGC, the construction industry association of the Carolinas, will have our work cut out for us. That’s because both North and South Carolina are facing millions of dollars in shortfalls from projected revenue at a time when the price tags of Medicaid and education, for example, continue to soar.
But there’s some good news ahead as your CAGC lobbyists in the Carolinas – Berry Jenkins, Leslie Hope, Dave Simpson and Allen Gray – work legislative sessions that began January 2015.
NC Gov. Pat McCrory recently called for more than $1 billion in transportation funding needs. CAGC is working with powerful coalitions, including NC Go! and the NC Chamber, to help secure such funding. A blue-ribbon legislative panel in North Carolina is looking at the public infrastructure needs and possible funding sources through the year 2025 for universities, community colleges, state agencies and public schools as well as necessary local water and sewer construction.
In South Carolina last month, Gov. Nikki Haley said she supports an increase in the state’s gasoline tax while decreasing income tax. She also favors a restructuring of the SC Highway Department and allotting $400 million a year toward badly needed transportation funding. CAGC is working with another influential coalition to encourage lawmakers to set aside transportation funding.
Effective April 14, 2015, new National Labor Relations Board rules will allow for quick elections for unions in the workplace. CAGC will be on the forefront of educational efforts for the construction industry to maintain our Carolinas’ status of union-free, pro-employee states.
“The public is starting to sound the drum on the need for transportation funding. Our roads are getting worse each and every day. We are hopeful the legislature is listening and are ready to take action and put into place the annual, recurring dollars needed to repair the roads in SC.” – Leslie Hope, SC government relations director, CAGC
The SC Legislature returned to Columbia Jan. 13 for the first year of a two-year session. We’ll be working to:
- Increase road funding
- Increase fines for speeding in work zones
- Address the lack of skilled laborers
- Improve the legal climate in SC
- Address environmental processes at DHEC
“Finding the funding resource to provide a sustainable transportation will be challenging and require a political will in the General Assembly that will not be easy to motivate but is absolutely necessary if North Carolina is to provide the infrastructure our impending growth will demand.” – Berry Jenkins, government relations director for CAGC.
The NC General Assembly convened Jan. 14, 2015 for a one-day legislative session, with the full session cranking up Jan. 28, 2015. We’ll be working to:
- Advocate for a long-term, sustainable transportation infrastructure funding source with the NC Chamber’s Coalition for a Prosperous Future;
- Reinstate the historic preservation tax credits in a coalition led by Gov. McCrory’s administration;
- Provide leadership and find transportation funding solutions in the NCGO Transportation Advocacy Coalition (co-founded by CAGC) in a legislative and public awareness campaign;
- Support regulatory reform and minimize administrative burdens, reduce member firms’ business operation costs; and
- Support the recently enacted Strategic Project Prioritization Process, minimizing political input into NCDOT projects, providing transparency in the project programming process.
Underground safety and damage prevention
CAGC led the 15-year effort to update North and South Carolinas’ outdated underground utility safety laws. By bringing together and working with all stakeholders, both states will have the most comprehensive laws in the nation. In fact, other states are using our laws as model legislation in crafting their own legislation. These laws bring clarity to the “call 811 before you dig” process, enhances public/workforce safety and helps ensure the integrity of vital infrastructure.
CAGC is playing a critical role in implementing the law by making presentations to members/stakeholder groups, working closely with NC811 & SC 811 on their educational campaigns, and developing the enforcement process in North Carolina for implementation.
For more information on legislative issues or membership to Carolinas AGC, call Dave Simpson at 704/372-1450 x. 5724.