Washington Weekly
Aug. 31, 2015

Last Week

The House and Senate were in recess. In a last-minute reprieve for the farming and manufacturing industry, a federal court in North Dakota ruled against the Obama administration's planned Waters of the U.S. rule that was set to go into effect last week.

ASA has joined with over 350 business groups in writing the EPA to voice our concerns and opposition to this rule. As our letter said, "At the most fundamental level, the proposal as written represents an unjustified expansion of Clean Water Act jurisdiction far beyond the limits of federal regulation explicitly established by Congress and affirmed by the courts. The proposal would, for the first time, give federal agencies direct authority over land use decisions that Congress has intentionally reserved to the States. It would intrude so far into traditional State and local land use authority that it is difficult to imagine that any discretion would be left to State, county and municipal governments." To see our letter, click here.

The federal injunction is one of more than a dozen lawsuits related to this rule. It should be noted that the injunction is only limited to the 13 states involved in the suit: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. More

This Week

Much to our displeasure, the Department of Labor and OSHA have not pushed back the date to submit comments regarding the proposal to raise the threshold to earn overtime. ASA will be joined with dozens of business groups in writing OSHA in opposition to this rule, you can do the same.

Many ASA members have asked for an extension, which regrettably OSHA has ignored. You can comment on this proposal with the click of a button to OSHA directly, by clicking here.

The deadline to comment is Sept. 4.More

Item of Interest

Reports out of Capitol Hill are that Republican leadership are tallying support for legislation that would keep the Affordable Care Act's small-group market from expanding to include employers with up to 100 employees. ASA has been at the ground floor at getting this change implemented and has been walking the halls of the House and Senate to educate staff and policy makers on the urgency of getting this done. To see our one-pager on this subject, click here.More

The Obamacare 'Fix' Most Likely to Pass This Congress
National Journal
Legislation overturning the Affordable Care Act's expansion of the small-group insurance market is likely to get a look this fall, according to multiple sources on and off Capitol Hill, and it may be the Obamacare "fix" with the best chance of becoming law. All the usual caveats apply: Republicans would have to convince the rank-and-file to accept a smaller-scale change to the law while waiting for full repeal. Democrats must be willing to agree to any change at all. Nothing involving Obamacare comes easy.More

'Cadillac Tax' Could Wreck Popular Medical Accounts
Politico
A popular middle-class tax benefit could become one of the first casualties of the Affordable Care Act's so-called Cadillac tax, affecting millions of voters. Flexible spending accounts, which allow people to save their own money tax free for everything from doctor's co-pays to eyeglasses, may vanish in coming years as companies scramble to avoid the law's 40 percent levy on pricey health care benefits. More

EPA Water Rule Takes Effect in Some States
The Hill
The Environmental Protection Agency started enforcing its controversial water pollution jurisdiction rule Aug. 28 in all but 13 states. Aug. 28 marks 60 days after the rule, known as the Clean Water Rule, was published in the Federal Register and the day that the agency planned to start enforcement along with the Army Corps of Engineers.More

Clinton v. Biden? Where Obama's Original Cabinet Stands
Bloomberg
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack's endorsement of Hillary Clinton in a Cedar Rapids Gazette op-ed may have given the Democratic front-runner high-level support in a key state (Vilsack used to be Iowa's governor) and, according to NBC, showed "how difficult a late entry into the 2016 contest would be for" Vice President Joe Biden. But it's not quite that simple.More