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Catherine Treadwell Perry, J.D., Director of Government Relations
|ASA Advocacy Sits Down with Congressman Mike Johnson
ASA Advocacy had lunch with Congressman Mike Johnson (R-LA) last week, as part of the monthly Washington Industrial Roundtable meeting. The discussion focused on Johnson’s work as Chairman of the Republican Study Committee. What ASA members will find most important about the Republican Study Committee and Congressman Johnson’s work as Chairmen, is there is a task force dedicated to workforce development.
The American Worker Task Force addresses the challenged related to building a strong and vibrant workforce that can compete in our 21st century global economy, which will have benefits for families, communities, and our country. A key part of the strategy is the utilization of a specific task force to ensure the focus is on the issues that matter most to the American people and have the resources to combat ill-advised policies with real, actionable solutions.
ASA Advocacy had the opportunity to speak with Congressman about the workforce issues and skilled-trade labor shortage our industry is facing. According to the American Supply Association’s 2015 Labor Study, the total workforce for the PHCP/PVF wholesale industry is estimated at 205,408 full time and part time employees and by 2020, 25% of the employees in the PHCP and PVF industries will have retired. There is a critical need to hire and train qualified replacements throughout the supply chain, which begins with returning craft training to our high schools. We support legislation and regulatory policies that invest in the next generation of workers needed to meet the demands in all facets of the PHCP and PVF industries.
Congressman Johnson understands the need connecting people with the skills they need to get good-paying, in-demand jobs. A “Washington knows best” approach to creating successful skills-focused education programs is not the answer as communities plan and develop career and technical education programs tailored to their local economies. The best thing the federal government can do is update the career and technical education laws to give community leaders and educators the tools and freedom they need to build programs that will open up more pathways for students and workers.
There are several other task forces related to the RSC. The Budget and Spending Task Force is in charge of producing the annual RSC budget and spearheading strategy related to spending caps, the debt limit, and appropriations. The Health Care Task Force develops proposals for lower premiums and ensure more choices for coverage. It addresses failures of Obamacare by providing alternative solutions that benefit, not burden the American people. The National Security and Foreign Affairs Task Force keeps members of Congress abreast of important events around the world and provide engagement opportunities and legislative ideas to ensure national security and secure international relations. The Government Efficiency, Accountability, and Reform Task Force works to make the government more efficient and accountable by offering measures to reform, streamline, and modernize federal government.
ASA is dedicated to being YOUR voice on the Hill and in D.C. Please contact Catherine Treadwell Perry, J.D., Director of Government Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org with any regulatory or legislative issues you are facing.
- Three weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses, a new Des Moines Register poll showed a tight, four-way race with 20 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers name Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as their first choice for president followed by 17 percent for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 16 percent for Pete Buttigieg and 15 percent for former Vice President Joe Biden.
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told McConnell (R-Ky.) he would not seek the Republican nomination for Senate in his home state of Kansas, worrying some Republicans because it makes the path easier for Kris Kobach to get the party's nomination in August. In an interview with Morning Consult, Kobach said any Republican running can win the open seat - including himself.
- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti endorsed Biden , making him one of the former vice president's highest-profile supporters in California's March 3 primary.
- Self-help author and spiritual adviser Marianne Williamson said she is ending her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Williamson - who was averaging less than 1 percent in polls and hadn't participated in a debate since July - had already laid off her entire staff earlier this month.
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he has the votes to set the rules for Trump's impeachment trial without the support of Democrats. The move is a blow to Democrats who had hoped to pressure McConnell to deal with the issues of witnesses and documents before the trial begins, though the Kentucky Republican said there would be an opportunity to debate additional evidence later on in the trial.
- Siding with conservatives, McConnell signed on as a co-sponsor to a resolution that would change the Senate's rules to allow lawmakers to dismiss Trump's impeachment articles before they are received by the House, according to sponsor Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.).
- The U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule to update the regulations interpreting joint employer status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA requires covered employers to pay their employees at least the federal minimum wage for every hour worked and overtime for every hour worked over 40 in a workweek. Under the FLSA, an employee may have, in addition to his or her employer, one or more joint employers—additional individuals or entities who are jointly and severally liable with the employer for the employee’s wages.
In the final rule, the Department provides a four-factor balancing test for determining FLSA joint employer status in situations where an employee performs work for one employer that simultaneously benefits another person. The balancing test examines whether the potential joint employer:
The final rule also clarifies when additional factors may be relevant to a determination of FLSA joint employer status, and identifies certain business models, contractual agreements with the employer, and business practices that do not make joint employer status more or less likely.
- hires or fires the employee;
- supervises and controls the employee’s work schedule or conditions of employment to a substantial degree;
- determines the employee’s rate and method of payment; and
- maintains the employee’s employment records.
- The Internal Revenue Service said tax enforcement continued to decline in fiscal 2019 for the eighth year in a row, with the agency auditing 0.45 percent of personal income-tax returns, the lowest level in at least four decades. As the agency continues to see cuts in its budget and a more hefty workload, individuals are about half as likely to be audited now compared to 2010, while experts estimate that the Treasury is losing out on billions of dollars each year.
- House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and the panel's Oversight Subcommittee Chairman John Lewis (D-Ga.) urged the Trump administration to appoint a new taxpayer advocate before tax-filing season this year. The previous taxpayer advocate, Nina Olson, retired in July 2019.
- The Taxpayer Advocate Service said in its annual report to Congress that the average household pays a surtax of more than $3,000 annually to offset taxpayers who don't pay all the money they owe. Reduced funding for the IRS has contributed to the collection problem, according to the report.
- The Trump administration and a collection of Republican attorneys general said in a court filing that a Democratic-led challenge to a 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that struck down the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate penalty "does not warrant immediate review " from the Supreme Court. The House and a group of Democratic attorneys general had previously asked the high court to accelerate review and hear the case before the end of the term in June.
- The number of people who signed up for 2020 coverage under the ACA on HealthCare.gov remained relatively stable , declining to 8.3 million this year from 8.4 million in 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said.
- The American Petroleum Institute is launching an ad campaign that promotes the oil and gas industry's role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing cleaner technologies, as Democratic presidential candidates promise to phase out fossil fuels. API said the campaign will cost seven figures but did not disclose the exact amount.
- President Donald Trump formally announced his administration's proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act , which include narrowing the scope of infrastructure projects that would require an environmental review and eliminating the requirement for government agencies to account for "cumulative impacts," like a project's effect on climate change.
- In a letter sent to all House members, Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) called on lawmakers to oppose the Trump administration's proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act. The letter said the proposal "ignores the full extent of the climate crisis" and is "the wrong direction for federal policy to take."
- The Energy Department published new efficiency standards established under the Obama administration in December 2016 that are estimated to save consumers and businesses about $8.4 billion and reduce carbon emissions from large equipment such as commercial boilers and portable air conditioners by about 100 million tons over three decades. The Trump administration sought to block the finalization of the standards but was ordered to comply by U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit following a lawsuit by five environmental groups, a dozen states and two cities.
- In a 247-159 vote, the House passed a bill that would require the Environmental Protection Agency to set a mandatory drinking water standard for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The bill heads to the Senate, where Republicans have voiced concerns that the legislation is too broad and oversteps the EPA's authority.
- House and Senate are in Session.
| || NEWS FROM STATE AND LOCAL |
Update on State Bills Being Tracked
New State Activity
- Wisconsin (SB423) - Lead testing of potable water sources in certain schools; providing loans for lead remediation in certain schools; and providing an exception to referendum restrictions for lead remediation. ACTION: Fiscal estimates received.
- New York (A08966) – updates plumbing fixture water efficiency requirements to be consistent with EPA WaterSense specifications.
- Indiana (SB0214) – will require drinking water in every school building in Lake County be tested at least one (1) time in each period of two (2) calendar years
- New Hampshire (SB599) - every 5 years, public and private schools and licensed child care facilities shall test for the presence of lead in drinking water at all outlets at the school or facility.
- Virginia (SB299) - would require each local school board to install at least one purified water bottle filling station in every public school in the local school division.
- Virginia (SB392) - Local school boards; lead testing; report. Requires each local school board to submit its plan to test and remediate certain potable water sources and report the results of any such test to the Department of Health.
- Virginia (SB393) - Child day programs; potable water; lead testing. Requires licensed child day programs and certain other programs that serve preschool-age children to develop and implement a plan to test potable water from sources identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as high priority.
- Illinois (HB4017) - Amends the Illinois Estate and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Act. Provides that, for persons dying on or after January 1, 2021, the exclusion amount shall be the applicable exclusion amount calculated under Section 2010 of the Internal Revenue Code, including any deceased spousal unused exclusion amount (currently, the exclusion amount for Illinois estate tax purposes is $4,000,000).
- Kentucky (SB57) – proposed amendment to KRS 162.062 which would, if adopted, eliminate the current requirement for water bottle filling stations to be added for existing schools undergoing any renovation.
- New Jersey (A6093) - Requires public water systems to replace customer lead service lines at expense of all public water system customers.
Democrats are racing against the clock to shore up support for checking President Trump’s war powers as the fight shifts to the Senate. Lawmakers looking to limit Trump’s ability to take military action against Iran face a tight time frame with little room for error after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced she will send the articles of impeachment to the Senate this week. Once the trial begins, all legislation is expected to be delayed for weeks.
The House recently passed legislation to broadly regulate a cancer-linked chemical over objections from the White House that Congress is sidestepping agencies.
The bill, which passed 247 to 159, targets a class of chemicals abbreviated as PFAS that have been leaching into the water supply across the country, causing health problems in communities where water has been contaminated.
President Trump’s latest environmental rollback was met with strong resistance from a number of Democratic lawmakers and nearly every major environmental group recently, with critics lambasting the administration for seeking to unwind a bedrock environmental law.
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