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Catherine Treadwell Perry, J.D., Director of Government Relations
|116th Congress — Policy Update
ASA Advocacy is committed to being your voice on The Hill and in D.C. Part of that process is to make sure that you are informed on what is going in the most powerful city in the Nation. ASA is part of the High Performance Buildings Coalition and last week I attended our monthly meeting where I am part of the leadership for the coalition. We had update of the 116th Policy Priorities for the coalition and ASA.
Workforce Development has been a huge issue area for ASA. However, there are a few upcoming bills that could start to change things. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Senator Rob Portman (R- OH) introduced this year’s version of the JOBS Act, which would allow funding for community college job training programs that lead to industry credentials – including programs offered in community college noncredit continuing education divisions that are shorter than a semester.
Senator Mike Braun (R-IA) and Representative Jim Banks (R-IA) introduced the Pell Grant Flexibility Act, which is alternative legislation that would serve the same purpose of the JOBS ACT, but would less programs and only on a temporary basis. The Pell Grant program disbursed over $28.2 billion last year in needs – based funding to cover tuition and other college costs. But Pell grants are available only to student working to earn academic certifications or degrees and they only cover programs that last at least a semester long. They are not available to industry recognized credited and programs.
ASA is meeting with Senate HELP Committee on May 2nd to see where they stand on the Pell Grants being included for trade and vocational certifications. The goal is to get the JOBS Act into reauthorizing the Higher Education Act and include Pell Grants for trade and vocational certificate and skills training.
Infrastructure is going to be huge this year. If any legislation moves in this political atmosphere, infrastructure will most likely be it. The House Transportation and Infrastructure will be holding a hearing on public buildings as infrastructure. Previously, ASA met with House offices to ensure that buildings and what goes into buildings, such as plumbing, heating, cooling, and piping were not left out of the infrastructure discussion. We will be continuing to meet with offices to ensure that when an infrastructure package drops, the PHCP industry is not left out.
Tax is always an issue in Washington. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced a bill to renew tax extenders that expired in 2017. There are around thirty that need to be renewed. There is a bill that could be introduced called the Tax Extender and Relief Act (S 617). However, there is only one democrat on the bill as of now. This is because the democrats have their own energy efficiency proposals that they want to add to the bill. There is also talk of disaster relief being an addition to the bill. This language would make it easier to get loans to rebuild after disaster strikes. As of now, the bill is just sitting and it might better for the House to take it up.
The House Ways and Means Committee had hearing on temporary tax previsions including extenders and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. However, nothing moved. There is a retail fix standalone bill that provides if you are a community building owner, depending on what type of building you have dictated what renovation you could take in HR 1. The goal was to give all retail the same benefits across the board. But there was a drafting error – they forgot to copy and paste new legal definition. There is agreement that this bill needs to be fixed, but it has not happened yet. There needs to me more of the new majority urged to make it a priority,
The National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) has also been creating some stir lately.
Provisions in the President’s FY2020 Budget request for the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) related to the funding of Physical Infrastructure and Resilience programs have raised some concern. The budget justification for NIST will eliminate work on developing and deploying advances in science and technology to markedly improve building energy efficiency and occupant safety in the U.S. This includes elimination of work at the Net-zero energy, high-performance building facility, as well as embedded intelligence in building control and operation. NIST will also eliminate funding for the Disaster Resilience Research Grants Program and the Fire Research Grants Program, ASA signed onto a letter that ASHRAE sent on this issue raising the concern to leadership for the Appropriations Committees in the U.S. House and Senate.
These updates are not an all-inclusive list of our issues, but the ones that have had movement in the last 20 days. ASA is always dedicated to being YOUR voice on The Hill and in D.C. It is more important now than ever to be heard in Washington. We want to know what issues you care about. Email Catherine at firstname.lastname@example.org with issues that are effecting you and your businesses.
Also, in other news, please note that our DRIVE Safe Act grassroots campaign is still active. Please click here to send a letter to your Representative and Senators letting them know you support the DRIVE Safe Act. If you would like us to set up a meeting with your Representative or Senators and speak with them about the Act please email Catherine at email@example.com.
- Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said that she would ban new fossil fuel leasing on federal lands on- and offshore if elected president. Under her plan, Warren would emphasize renewable energy project deployment and set a target for 10 percent of U.S. power generation to come from wind, solar and other clean energy projects offshore or on federal lands. (CNBC)
- The Trump administration is set to tell five countries that they will no longer be exempt from U.S. sanctions if they continue to import oil from Iran. The countries include U.S. allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey, and officials say the move is intended to further increase pressure on Iran by strangling the revenue it gets from oil exports. (The Associated Press)
- The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects total refining production to decline in April by 8.5 percent compared with the start of 2019 as U.S. oil refiners prepare to make plant overhauls in the second quarter. U.S. refinery maintenance tends to be higher in early spring and winter, but refiners are currently conducting more upgrades than usual to prevent autumn and winter shutdowns as they work to meet upcoming low-sulfur standards. (Reuters)
- In the coming weeks, we expect House Democrats to introduce a labor policy bill, responsive to top union legislative priorities. On March 26, the relevant House Committee held a hearing considering proposals to reform federal labor laws by allowing for fractured bargaining units, mandating more employer reporting, expanding class action litigation opportunities, and increasing penalties for unfair labor practices. The soon-to-be-introduced legislation, the “Protecting the Right to Organize Act,” will also likely seek to override state right-to-work laws, expand joint-employer liability, relax election procedures, and undermine independent contractor status to deem more workers as “employees.”. (NAM Labor and Policy Update April 19, 2019)
- The House Ways and Means Committee is preparing for a legal battle for President Donald Trump's tax returns after administration officials have said that Trump is unlikely to turn the documents over. On a call last week hosted by Tax March, committee member Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) said Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) will issue a subpoena if the Internal Revenue Service, which missed the previous deadline of April 10, does not comply with his new deadline of 5 p.m. Tuesday. (The Hill)
- The Treasury Department announced new regulations for opportunity zones, part of the GOP-led tax overhaul designed to encourage investors to go into distressed areas. The new rules should increase flexibility for investors, including making it easier for funds to make sure they have 90 percent of their assets invested in opportunity zones, as required. (The Hill)
- A personal lawyer for Trump urged the Treasury Department not to hand over the president's tax returns to House Democrats, arguing that such a move would turn the Internal Revenue Service into a political weapon. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) is now pushing the IRS to hand over the documents by April 23 after the Treasury Department missed his April 10 deadline. (The New York Times)
- Rep. Seth Moulton announced he's running for president, becoming the 19th candidate to join the crowded Democratic field. The Massachusetts Democrat, a 40-year-old Iraq veteran who's serving his third term, led an unsuccessful effort to derail Rep. Nancy Pelosi's bid for speaker last year. (Politico)
- Former Vice President Joe Biden will announce Wednesday he is running for the Democratic nomination for president, according to sources. The campaign is said to be considering officially launching the Delaware Democrat's bid at a later date in Charlottesville, Va. (The Atlantic)
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said there will be no chance of a U.S.-U.K. trade deal post-Brexit if the country's deal with the European Union in any way weakens the Northern Ireland peace pact, known as the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement. Pelosi's remarks bolster demands by the EU that any Brexit agreement guarantee that the border between Northern Ireland, a part of the U.K., and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state, remains open. (The Washington Post)
- The U.S. International Trade Commission, which is required to review new trade deals, said that Trump's U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement would add 176,000 jobs over time and bump up gross domestic product by 0.35 percent. The Trump administration offered a more optimistic view of the deal, releasing a report saying the agreement would mean $34 billion in investments in the U.S. auto industry and add 76,000 jobs to the auto sector.
- U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is planning to go to Beijing the week of April 29 for a new round of face-to-face trade talks, while Chinese representative Liu He will come to Washington the week of May 6, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person said the two sides are hoping for a presidential signing ceremony as soon as Memorial Day. (The Wall Street Journal)
- The House and Senate are in recess.
- May 2nd ASA Advocacy will meet with the SENATE Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee to discuss the JOBS Act and the Higher Education Act.
- May 9th ASA Advocacy will be meeting with Congressman Cohen to discuss the DRIVE Safe Act.
- Our DRIVE Safe Act grassroots campaign is still going strong. Please click here to send your letter of support.
| || NEWS FROM STATE AND LOCAL |
Update on State Bills Being Tracked
HB 3658 (IL): Efficiency standards. ASA has opposed this bill due to the use of a “sell date” vs. a “manufactured date” in the compliance section of the bill. The bill is currently at the rules committee and appears that it will not progress during this session however, ASA has created a grassroots campaign to let state representatives know our concern. To contact you state representative concerning this issue please click here.
HB 1444 (WA): Concerning appliance efficiency standards. has had recent activity: House concurred in Senate amendments and the bill has passed both houses. ASA submitted an opposition letter on the bill due to sever water efficiency requirements being placed on plumbing fixtures and also requiring grid readiness for residential water heaters. The section related to water heaters was removed from the final legislation.
HB 3445 (IL): LEAD SERVICE LINE REPLACEMENT has had recent activity: Removed Co-Sponsor Rep. Terra Costa Howard
AB 163 (NV): Revises provisions governing water conservation. (BDRÂ 48-798) has had recent activity: In Senate. Read first time. Referred to Committee on Natural Resources. To committee In Senate. Read first time. Referred to Committee on Natural Resources. ASA has submitted a letter in opposition to this bill and will follow up with a letter to the Committee on Natural Resources. ASA will also be setting up a grassroots campaign in Nevada to oppose this effort – if you have facilities in Nevada, stay tuned for notification on this effort and how you can participated.
New State Activity
NY. A7253: Relates to potable water testing at schools and parks. Would required first-drawn tap testing of potable water systems to monitor for lead contamination.
DE HB 124: an act to amend title 24 of the Delaware code relating to the board of plumbing, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration examiners. Amendment would prohibit the Board, when considering a license application, from considering a conviction where more than 10 years have elapsed since the date of the conviction if there have been no other criminal convictions in the intervening time.
LA. SB 228: TAX/TAXATION: Provides individual income tax credits for the purchase and installation of residential water saving equipment
High on the list of President Donald Trump’s priorities as he tries to close a trade deal with counterpart Xi Jinping is making sure China faces consequences if it doesn’t live up to its promises. Yet in pursuing that goal Trump may also be giving China a new cudgel to use on American companies and striking another blow to the international rule of law.
The U.S. Congress has strong arguments for obtaining President Donald Trump’s tax returns, but first faces a long court battle that could extend into the 2020 presidential election, some legal experts said. Democratic Party leaders, who took control of the House in November, have recently stepped up pressure on Trump to release tax records from 2013 to 2018, which legal experts said could shed light on the president’s business dealings.
Task and Purpose
The Department of Homeland Security is considering designating the painkiller drug fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction "when certain criteria are met," according to an internal memo obtained by Task & Purpose.
Dated Feb. 22, 2019 under the subject line "Use of counter-WMD authorities to combat fentanyl," the information memorandum prepared for then-Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen from James F. McDonnell, DHS assistant secretary for countering weapons of mass destruction, offered background on the drug and how some elements of the U.S. government see fentanyl as a potential "mass casualty weapon."
Reliance Industries denied involvement in any arrangements that lead to cash payments for oil supplies to Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA via third parties, and said it is not in violation of any U.S. sanctions, according to a statement from India’s giant oil refining company on Saturday.
Labor markets remained tight across the United States as businesses struggled to find skilled workers and wages grew modestly, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday in its latest report on the economy.
The U.S. central bank’s “Beige Book” report, a glimpse of the economy based on conversations with business contacts across all 12 of the Fed’s districts, found economic activity grew at a slight-to-moderate pace in March and early April. A few districts reported some strengthening in economic growth.
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