March 2013: Government Affairs


Government Affairs

We had yet another productive and successful time in early-February at the 2013 MCAA Convention at the World of Concrete/World of Masonry in Las Vegas. Many MCAA members were present, and we had an extremely active session discussing the upcoming year in Washington, D.C. I want to take the time to recap my presentation for those who were not able to attend and give an outlook for another successful year in 2013.

We won some huge legislative victories in the 112th Congress (2011-2012) with the help of many MCAA member companies, but our work does not stop with those victories. We need your continued engagement and input as we continue to take the voice of the masonry industry to Washington, D.C. As we heard from former Congressman Bob Dold, MCAA will be its most effective when its members are fully engaged and talking to their members of Congress on a regular basis.

While the 112th Congress will go down in history as one of the most unproductive sessions of Congress, MCAA had a successful time in achieving numerous legislative victories from our priority list. Top on the list of major accomplishments for MCAA must be the major step forward in permanently extending the estate tax exemption level at $5 million per spouse, indexing the exemption level for inflation, capping the tax rate at 40 percent, and allowing for spousal portability.

As you know, before this legislation was signed into law, the estate tax exemption levels and tax rates had changed on a nearly annual basis since 2003, making it nearly impossible for businesses to plan and budget for the future. Knowing that these levels are now permanent for the foreseeable future, MCAA member companies will be able to understand how the estate tax will or will not affect their businesses and will be able to confidently plan for the future of the company.

In addition to Congress finally addressing the estate tax, Congress also was able to permanently address the “patch” to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) by also indexing the AMT to inflation. This ensures that middle class taxpayers are not hit by this tax that was originally enacted to ensure that wealthy taxpayers were not able to reduce their tax liability to levels near zero.

While these two tax provisions were literally dealt with in the final days of the 112th Congress, MCAA also had major legislative wins early in the Congress with the enactment of H.R. 674 (which repealed the 3% withholding provision in place since 2005, which would require federal-state-local governments to withhold 3 percent of payment due to government service providers), and including life-cycle costing (LCC) related to Military Construction projects and life-cycle costing as a part of OMB’s Circular A-94 (Guidelines and Discount Rates for Benefit-Cost Analysis of Federal Programs) in the minibus appropriations bills of 2011.

With the kick-off of the 113th Congress (2013-2014) in early-January and President Obama’s Inauguration behind us, there have been many issues that have been quickly established as priorities for numerous members of Congress in the new Congress – many of which would directly impact MCAA members.

Two of the main issues we will be extremely engaged in are the push for major, broad-based immigration reform, and the continued talks over the fiscal state of our country and how Congress and the White House will engage to get our budget deficit and debts under control. As with any major legislative undertaking, the truth is in the details, and MCAA will be sure that we have a seat at the table as these issues are being debated and crafted.

I hope to see many of you at the MCAA Midyear Meeting. We look forward to another successful year of working with the MCAA and its members to ensure that MCAA is a major player in continuing to lay the foundation for a strong construction industry and American economy.

Stephen A. Borg is VP of The Keelen Group. Contact him at

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