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J. Kendzel, ASA Vice President Advocacy
|Get Engaged on Increasing Truck Driver Workforce
The ASA Advocacy Team has been at the forefront in driving legislation to help increase the number of qualified truck drivers. Truck driver shortages are having a significant negative impact on delivery of product to our member’s facilities creating customer service issues and economic loss throughout the supply-chain. To help reduce the impacts and increase the pool of qualified truck drivers, ASA has been supporting the adoption of the DRIVE-Safe Act ( S.569 and H.R. 1374). The primary purposes of the legislation is to: 1) create a federal minimum age for truck drivers at 18 and 2) increase specific safety requirements.
The legislation is now being considered by both Houses and it is time for our industry to step up at the grass roots level and let our elected officials know how important this legislation is and that they should support its adoption into law. To contact your state senators and representatives we have created an online platform where all you need to do is provide your name and company address and the platform will select the appropriate senators and representatives. All you need to do is hit the send button! To begin the process please click here.
Seventy percent of the nation’s freight is carried by commercial trucks yet as our economy strengthens, motor carriers are having difficulty finding the drivers they need to handle growing capacity. According to a recent estimate, the nation needs an additional 50,000 truck drivers immediately, a shortage that is expected to grow to more than 174,000 by 2026. In the plumbing and industrial piping supply chains we operate, companies are being forced to increase prices to account for higher transportation costs and experiencing difficulty in serving their customers due to delayed deliveries. This will ultimately result in higher prices for consumers.
While 48 states currently allow drivers to obtain a commercial driver’s license at 18, they are prohibited from driving in interstate commerce until they are 21. The DRIVE-Safe Act would create a two-step apprenticeship program to allow these younger drivers to enter the industry safely. Candidates would be accompanied in the cab by experienced drivers for a total of 400 hours of on-duty time with at least 240 hours of driving time.
In addition, trucks used in the program would be required to be outfitted with the latest safety technology including active braking collision mitigation systems, forward-facing event recording cameras, speed limiters set at 65 miles per hour or less and automatic or automatic manual transmissions.
The DRIVE-Safe Act will help our nation’s freight continue to move while preserving the safety of our highway system. It will help fill desperately needed jobs and provide younger Americans with the opportunity to enter a profession where they can earn an average of $53,000 with full benefits.
Thank you in advance for stepping up and advocating for this important legislation. To learn more about the DRIVE-Safe Act please visit the ASA website.
ASA is a member of the Opportunity America Jobs and Careers Coalition (OAJCC) and participated in an important March 28 meeting held by OAJCC on Capitol Hill. It featured Special Assistant to the President James Redstone of the Domestic Policy Council, and he discussed White House priorities for the Higher Education Act (HEA). The OAJCC and the White House would like to see more of the $130 billion HEA has allocated to 4-year colleges allocated to workforce development programs. This reallocation would go to community college and market-driven career and technical education (CTE) programs. As such, the White House supports the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, introduced March 14 by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-VA), which would help close the “skills gap” by making Pell Grants eligible for short-term job training programs and could be added as an amendment to any HEA reauthorization bill.
- Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a resolution that would form a Senate committee on climate change. The Senate rejected the progressive Green New Deal on Tuesday, in a 0-57 vote with 43 Democratic senators voting present.
- U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason for the District of Alaska ruled against President Donald Trump's executive order to restart sales of drilling rights across more than 125 million acres of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans - areas withdrawn from leasing by former President Barack Obama. The ruling, which sided with environmentalists' argument that existing law does not allow presidents to reverse existing withdrawals, reimposes Obama's executive orders to take those areas off the table from future oil and gas leasing. (Bloomberg)
- The EPA again missed a deadline the agency had set for publishing draft revisions to federal drinking water rules for lead and copper. The EPA had said the draft, which has been repeatedly delayed throughout the Obama and Trump administrations, would be published in February 2019.
The U.S. Court of International Trade upheld as constitutional the Trump administration's steel and aluminum tariffs under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act.
The House failed Tuesday to override the first veto of President Trump's tenure, a vote led by Democrats seeking to uphold a measure unwinding the president's national emergency declaration at the southern border. The chamber voted 248-181 to override the veto, falling short of the roughly 290 votes, or two-thirds majority, needed. Trump issued the veto earlier this month to push back on a rebuke from Congress over his bid to reallocate Pentagon funding to build a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border.
- The Department of Justice said in a legal filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans that it supports the ruling by U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor that the Affordable Care Act should be invalidated in its entirety. The Justice Department's latest stance on the ACA lawsuit in Texas goes much further than its previous argument in June that there were only grounds to eliminate the health law's consumer protections.
- A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration's attempt to expand the availability of "association health plans," which are often cheaper than ACA plans but lack some health benefits and consumer protections, for small businesses and self-employed individuals is illegal and deliberately attempts to "end-run" around the ACA.
On Tuesday, J. Kendzel, ASA VP of Advocacy participated in a teleconference facilitated by the S-CORP discussing current tax initiatives impacting S Corporations.
The House and Senate are in session.
- Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine (Va.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.) will reintroduce their public health insurane option proposal on Tuesday, aiming to extend more affordable coverage to people purchasing plans on the ACA individual and small-business exchanges but stopping short of establishing a federally run health plan. Medicare X, which the senators hope to phase in over the course of several years, would give beneficiaries access to Medicare providers, create a reinsurance program and remove the existing cap on tax credit eligibility for people whether they receive coverage through Medicare X or the private market. (Politico)
- The Senate is set to vote on a resolution that would cut debate time for the chamber's consideration of some executive nominations from 30 hours to two hours. The House is planning to take up the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization this week, including a new provision that would aim to curtail the purchase and possession of firearms by individuals deemed to be a threat by a court. (Roll Call)
- White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said President Donald Trump would sign an executive order to speed the development of domestic pipelines as soon as this week, according to two sources with direct knowledge of Kudlow's comments.
- South Korean President Moon Jae-in is expected in Washington this week for meetings with Trump to discuss issues between the two countries, including North Korea denuclearization.
| || NEWS FROM STATE AND LOCAL |
New State Activity
NY S.1947 and A 1261 - ASA has submitted letters to both the NY Senate and Assembly documenting opposition to proposed legislation that would implement prevailing wage standards on projects receiving any level of state financial support. The bill would also classify Industrial Development Authorities (IDAs) and Local Development Corporations (LDCs) as “public entities” and the projects in which they engage as “public works,” subjecting any project they support to prevailing wage laws. It is my understanding this means almost all construction projects in the state would cost up to 25% more due to the implementation of prevailing wage. We are encouraging all ASA members located in the State of New York to consider contacting there local representatives to let them know your opposition to the proposed bills. You can find your local representative’s email addresses at the following: https://www.nysenate.gov/senators-committees and https://nyassembly.gov/mem/
Updates on Key State Legislation
HB 1444 (WA): Concerning appliance efficiency standards. has had recent activity: Public hearing in the Senate Committee on Ways & Means at 01:30 PM.
HB 7151 (CT): AN ACT CONCERNING ENERGY EFFICIENCY STANDARDS. has had recent activity: REFERRED TO Office of Legislative Research AND Office of Fiscal Analysis 04/03/19
HB 19-1231 (CO): New Appliance Energy And Water Efficiency Standards has had recent activity: House Second Reading Laid Over to 04/01/2019 - No Amendments.
HB 556 (HI): RELATING TO ENERGY EFFICIENCY. has had recent activity: The committee(s) on CPH recommend(s) that the measure be PASSED, WITH AMENDMENTS. The votes in CPH were as follows: 5 Aye(s): Senator(s) Baker, S. Chang, J.Keohokalole, Nishihara, Ruderman; Aye(s) with reservations: none ; 0 No(es): none; and 2 Excused: Senator(s) L. Thielen, Fevella..
HB 3445 (IL): LEAD SERVICE LINE REPLACEMENT has had recent activity: Rule 19(a) / Re-referred to Rules Committee.
HB 330 (NC): Efficient Government Buildings & Savings Act. has had recent activity: Re-ref Com On Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House.
HB 3658 (IL): APPLIANCE EFFICIENCY STANDARDS has had recent activity: Fiscal Note Requested by Rep. Tom Demmer.
A recent editorial (”Pipelines not a part of state’s future”) argues that for Connecticut to meet its environmental goals, the state should not only reject new natural gas infrastructure but also “close off any path toward” the increased use of clean-burning natural gas.
This position is shortsighted, not practical and will only harm those who rely on natural gas to heat their homes, businesses that use natural gas in the manufacturing process and electricity generation companies that are increasingly turning to natural gas to meet our on-demand power needs.
will turn his attention to the manufacturing sector in the heart of the Rust Belt on Wednesday when he visits the nation’s last remaining tank manufacturer in Lima, Ohio.
The president will deliver remarks at the Lima Army Tank Plant, which has teetered on the edge of insolvency at several points over the course of its storied history. The plant got a shot in the arm earlier this year with a $700 million government contract to upgrade the Army’s flagship tank, the M1 Abrams.
Flooding in the Midwest is posing a risk of contamination to more than 1 million private wells that supply drinking water to rural areas in the region, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.
The AP reported that the National Ground Water Association, a trade group, said there are 1.1 million private wells in 300 flooded counties across 10 states in the Midwest.
Total housing starts fell 8.7% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.16 million units from an upwardly revised reading in January, according to a report from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department that was delayed due to the partial government shutdown.
The February reading of 1.16 million is the number of housing units builders would begin if they kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts fell 17% to 805,000 units following an unusually high reading of 970,000 units in January.
NAHB Eye On Housing
Building material prices topped the list of problems builders faced in 2018, but cost and availability of labor is expected to return to the number one spot in 2019, according to special questions on the January survey for the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. The survey results showed that material prices were a significant issue for 87% of builders last year. In 2019, however, “only” 69% of the builders expect them to continue being a problem.
The National Law Review
Over the last several decades, cities and other municipal entities (such as water reclamation districts) that own and operate wastewater treatment plants and sewer systems have been subjected to additional and increasingly stringent regulatory requirements under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
In recent months, talk of regulating or even breaking up Amazon.com, Inc. has moved from the political fringes to the mainstream. In early March, in a widely discussed Medium post, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren made the case that Amazon (plus Google and Facebook) have amassed an alarming concentration of power, arguing for structural change to the tech industry.
The White House is quietly working on a healthcare policy proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the matter.
While it is not clear how far along the process is, work on a proposal has been going on for months. The effort appears to belie criticism that Trump's decision to restart the debate on healthcare, an issue Democrats used to their advantage in the 2018 midterms, was an error committed without forethought.
Crain's Cleveland Business
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said passage of legislation to improve U.S. infrastructure isn't likely this year without a consensus that includes President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans over how to pay for it.
"Getting infrastructure done means paying for it," said Hoyer of Maryland. "And while everybody wants to invest in infrastructure, it is more problematic from many perspectives of how you pay for that."
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