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Catherine Treadwell Perry, J.D., Director of Government Relations
|Family Business Coalition Meeting and Legislative Update
Last week ASA Advocacy attended the Family Business Coalition meeting where staffers from the House and Senate briefed the coalition on what legislation we can expect to see move for the rest of the year. The Family Business Coalition is a diverse collection of organizations and industry groups united for the common purpose of protecting America’s family businesses across the country. The monthly coalition meetings connect top decision makers from Capitol Hill with family business coalition partners, family business owners, and state-based allies. Many ASA member companies are family businesses and this coalition, with ASA Advocacy, monitors and acts on legislation that affects family businesses in Congress.
So, what can we expect see move through Congress this remainder of this year? Republicans are paving the way to release a Tax 2.0 in the summer. This would hopefully, lock in the individual tax cuts. The big infrastructure package that everyone has been talking about, might actually happen. The House democrats released a 19 page infrastructure plan, which included 17 pages of the Green New Deal. The problem is that the estimated cost is $760 Billion and there are no realistic “pay for.” Congress also realizes that there might be some issues on the horizon with transit accounts. The transit accounts will soon be bankrupt, which means the payments to the states will slow down.
However, there is always a threat of tax issues that will hurt your business. The meeting had a briefing on the new Mark-to-Market Tax is an actual threat. In September, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, released his proposal to overhaul the taxation of capital gains. Such a system would impose taxes on the value of an asset annually, rather than imposing tax when the asset is eventually sold. The purposely includes several key components. Individuals with more than $1 million in income or $10 million in qualifying assets over a three year period would be taxed annually on the change in value of their tradable asset. In addition, it also purposes eliminating the lower capital gains tax rate, instead taxing capital gains as ordinary income using the existing progressive rate schedule. Stay tuned to hear more on the Mark-to-Market Tax!
- Former Vice President Joe Biden's aides are said to have pitched Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)'s campaign on an alliance in this week's Iowa caucuses, with the two campaigns potentially helping each other in voting precincts where one candidate does not have enough support to win delegates. Democrats familiar with the meeting said Klobuchar was not currently interested in the Biden campaign's proposal, and her spokesman said her campaign does not "intend to" make any caucus deals.
- Biden said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) "spilled the beans" when she said she was "really interested" to see how the Trump legal team's focus on the Bidens during the impeachment trial would affect Iowa's caucus voters. Speaking at a campaign event in Iowa, Biden said "the whole impeachment trial for Trump is just a political hit job to try to smear me."
- Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, the first Democrat to declare his candidacy for president, dropped out of the race and will not participate in the Iowa caucuses after a poor showing in the polls and failing to make most of the primary debates. In an interview with CNN, Delaney - who launched his campaign in a 2017 op-ed and spent more time in Iowa than any other candidate - said he did not want to take support away from other moderate candidates in the race.
- The Democratic National Committee announced an overhaul to the criteria used to determine who qualifies for the party's Feb. 19 presidential debate, with candidates now needing to earn at least 10 percent in four polls released between Jan. 15 and Feb. 18, or 12 percent in two polls in Nevada or South Carolina. In addition to the increase in the requisite polling threshold, candidates who earn at least one delegate to the national convention from the upcoming races in Iowa and New Hampshire will also qualify, and candidates are also no longer required to secure a certain amount of individual donors, which could put former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg - who has refused to accept donations - in prime position to make the debate stage in Las Vegas later this month.
- Rep. Doug Collins announced he's challenging newly appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler for the Republican nomination for Senate in Georgia, according to sources. Loeffler, a former executive, has the backing of Gov. Brian Kemp (R), while Collins, a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, is hoping to launch his campaign with the support of Trump's inner circle and perhaps the president himself.
- In a 49-51 vote, the Senate blocked a push
to consider witnesses in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. Two Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, voted to consider additional testimony.
- Revelations in an unpublished book manuscript by John Bolton, the former White House national security adviser, added fuel to the debate over whether the Senate should call witnesses in the impeachment trial. It was reported that he said Trump told him in August that he wanted to continue freezing U.S. security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into his domestic political rivals, which Trump denied in a late-night tweet.
- The Fed voted to keep interest rates steady at between 1.5 and 1.75 percent, restating last month's policy outlook nearly verbatim. In a small change, the policy statement described consumer spending as "moderate" as opposed to "strong" in December.
- The U.S. economy grew 2.3 percent in 2019, which is the slowest pace of Trump's presidency although still a solid number. The economy grew 2.1 percent in the final three months of the year.
- Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in an interview that the coronavirus could bring jobs back from China to the United States. Ross said it gives companies "another thing to consider" when they look at supply chains.
- The federal deficit will exceed $1 trillion this year, according to a projection from the Congressional Budget Office. The United States will see negative consequences unless Congress makes "significant changes to tax and spending policies," the agency said.
- Infrastructure Discussions. While the impeachment trial was getting all the press attention, House Democrats began their push to advance a comprehensive infrastructure bill. This week kicked off with House Democrats' release of a proposal to spend $760 billion over five years on roads, bridges, rail, broadband and other forms of infrastructure. House Democrats on the tax-writing committee also held a hearing to discuss how to finance such an initiative. No conclusions were reached at this hearing, but several potential funding sources were cited, including Private Activity Bonds, Build America Bonds, private-public partnerships, an increase in the gas tax, and many others. However, the funding component is the most critical and controversial piece of any infrastructure bill. It is unlikely unrealistic that any bipartisan funding compromise can be made in this election-year environment, and no such plan will emerge. Nonetheless, House Democrats will continue to push forward a bill, without a suggested funding source, as a way of advancing the debate and adding the bill to their resume of accomplishments this year. (IAPMO Washington Update)
- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency must reconsider three 2016 biofuel waivers given to HollyFrontier Corp.'s Woods Cross and Cheyenne refineries and CVR Energy Inc.'s Wynewood refinery on the grounds that the EPA overstepped its authority in granting the exemptions. The court ruled that the agency's justification for the waivers was flawed because the refineries did not get the exemption the previous year, and the Renewable Fuel Standard states that any waiver approved for a small refinery after 2010 must be considered an "extension."
- EPA Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson is leaving the Trump administration to serve as senior vice president of government affairs for the National Mining Association, according to the trade group. Jackson had recently garnered attention amid a months-long dispute with the EPA's Office of Inspector General, which claimed Jackson was not cooperating with the office's investigations.
- The House and Senate are in session.
- Iowa will hold presidential caucuses Monday night, the first nominating contests of the year.
- Trump will deliver the State of the Union address on Wednesday. He will reportedly not mention the impeachment trial, and focus instead on his achievements in office as a fresh start for his re-election bid, according to officials.
- The Senate is set to vote Wednesday to acquit Trump.
| || NEWS FROM STATE AND LOCAL |
Update on State Bills Being Tracked
New State Activity
- Virginia (SB393) - Child day programs; lead testing, potable water, effective clause. Bill was read third time and passed the Senate.
- Hawaii (SB3024 and HB2227) – focus of amendments to existing energy efficiency standards is to add requirements for air purifiers but also provide editorial changes to showerhead definition.
- Rhode Island (S2043) - Establishing Appliance and Equipment Energy And Water Efficiency Standards Of 2020
- Tennessee (HB1924) - As introduced, requires an LEA or the governing body of a public charter school that constructs or renovates a school building to install water bottle filling stations.
House Republicans know they face a growing vulnerability with young voters on climate change — but their attempts to craft a greener message are running headlong into their allegiance to President Donald Trump.
Unlike Trump, the chamber’s GOP lawmakers have largely stopped scoffing at the scientific evidence that human-caused global warming is contributing to intensifying wildfires and extreme weather.
The Trump administration is preparing to further dismantle environmental regulations by vastly reducing the reach of federal protections for streams and wetlands — delivering a major win for farmers, developers, miners and oil and gas producers.
The U.S. strike that killed Iran's Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani sent a jolt through the global oil markets, but the real effect on the Middle East and the energy world won't be known until Iran's response becomes clear in the coming weeks or months.
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