Advocacy - Latest From Washington

The Latest From Washington

Industry Groups to White House: The Time is Now to Spend on Infrastructure

Infrastructure spending is needed, there’s little doubt about that. That is why ASA joined a broad coalition of business groups ranging from builders to engineers, road builders to the trucking industry in advancing the need to invest in our country’s infrastructure. As our letter states, “We can no longer afford to underinvest in the infrastructure that Americans rely on in our daily lives. Any responsible proposal must provide improvements to all types of infrastructure throughout the country and address large important projects that make our businesses more competitive by reducing shipping, commuting, water and energy costs.”  See the full letter here.

House GOP Leaders Commit to Leave LIFO Untouched 

House GOP leaders, including former Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan introduced their blueprint for tax reform. One item of note is that contrary to recent iterations, it seeks to retain and protect LIFO from repeal. As part of the House majority’s “A Better Way” agenda, it states “With respect to inventory, the Blueprint will preserve the last-in-first-out (LIFO) method of accounting. The Committee on Ways and Means will continue to evaluate options for making the treatment of inventory more effective and efficient in the context of this new tax system.” A big win for those of us continuing to advocate for LIFO’s inclusion in the tax code.

New Bill Would Reform Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Funds
Congressman David Trott (R-MI) introduced legislation that would strengthen oversight of asbestos bankruptcy trust funds. The Department of Justice's Trustee Program investigates abuse in pending bankruptcies, but it has unable to investigate any abuses in trust funds that are currently in operation. Representative Trott's Enhancing United States Trustee Oversight Act of 2016 (H.R. 5618) would close this loophole and allow Trustees to ensure that these funds are not shortchanged by waste, fraud and abuse. ASA’s letter of support can be read here.

OSHA Delays "Anti-Retaliation" Provisions
We’ve learned that the new deadline OSHA just announced today for the “anti-retaliation” provisions in the new injury and illness reporting regulation. Instead of it going into effect on August 10, the new deadline will be November 1.  The deadlines for submitting injury and illness reports will remain the same starting with establishments of 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation who must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017.  More information can be found here.

House Repeals Oil Export Ban
H.R. 702, which repeals the crude oil export ban passed by the House Friday afternoon with a substantial bipartisan majority vote of 261 – 159, including 26 Democratic Yeas and 6 Republican Nays. The work now moves to the Senate. We are also proud to be highlighted as supporters of this initiative in House Speaker John Boehner’s press release. The release can be viewed here.

WaterSense® Gains Champion in Congress
A key priority of ASA gained support in the House with the introduction of the Water Advanced Technologies for Efficient Resources Use Act of 2015. As our letter of support states “our members are dedicated to advancing commonsense initiatives that improve water efficiency and reduces waste of one of our most precious resources. From its beginnings, ASA has been intimately involved and supportive of authorizing WaterSense® nationwide. Having a champion in Congress as well as legislation providing incentive programs would benefit this program immensely. By also directing government entities to purchase the most efficient products and appliances, the taxpayer wins.” Read more here.

Important ACA Fix Passes House
As Congress returns from its summer recess, legislators were looking for modest improvements to the health care law, now that the Supreme Court has affirmed its standing as law. Buried deep in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a requirement that redefines the definition of a small group employer from just 50 employees to 100. The change, expected to take effect in January 2016 would mandate employers with between 51 and 99 employees to change health care plans by requiring them to purchase insurance with additional requirements in 2016, ultimately leading to higher premiums. ASA and the 50-100 Coalition has been meeting with legislators all summer to educate them on the importance of this timely change. To read more about this issue, why it’s important to you and our efforts, click here and here.

ASA to Dept. of Labor: ‘More Time Needed on OT Regs’

As business groups like ASA continue studying a proposed regulation by the Department of Labor, the House Education and Workforce Committee’s subcommittee on Workplace Protection will hold a hearing on this topic today examining the costs and consequences of the administration’s proposal to raise the pay threshold for overtime. ASA joined with industry leaders in pointing out the challenges that this will pose to employers and employees alike, stating “according to the Department’s estimate, more than four million employees will need to be reclassified (to being non-exempt) as a result of the minimum salary increase. This will result in less workplace autonomy and fewer opportunities for advancement, while forcing employees to closely track their hours to ensure compliance with overtime pay and other requirements. Employees will have less control over when and where they work.” To read the business community’s letter, click here, to read ASA’s letter click here

House Pledges Support for LIFO
More than 25% of members of Congress have pledged to opposed a LIFO repeal and that it be taken off the menu of options for tax reform. ASA and others have been walking the halls of Congress to educate members and staff of the need to maintain this critical accounting tool, what a repeal would mean to small businesses and to add their name in support of LIFO, learn more.

ASA, Industry Groups Write State Dept. in Support of Keystone XL
The Obama Administration has put off its decision long enough. ASA and thousands of other businesses and industry groups have urged them to approve this critical project without delay, learn more.

House Passes Bill to Streamline Permitting Process, Improving Development
With ASA's support, the House passed the Responsibility and Professionally Invigorated Development (RAPID) Act. It will streamline the environmental permitting process, learn more.

Administration Delays Employer Mandate One More Year
The White House has eased the requirement that businesses with over 50 employees provide health insurance to full-time workers (at least 30 hours per week) or face a penalty, which has already been delayed a year, learn more.

Business Groups Reassert Need to Level Playing Field
For more than 20 years, the uneven playing field enabled online sellers to discount their prices and put brick-and-mortar businesses at a disadvantage. The Marketplace Fairness Coalition, of which ASA is a steering committee member, wrote the House, reiterating our call for action in 2014, learn more. 

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