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Catherine Treadwell Perry, J.D., Director of Government Relations
|Death Tax Repeal and Tax Update
ASA Advocacy is part of the Family Business Coalition (FBC). We had our policy update last week where Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO) was in attendance, along with, Randy Gartin, House Ways and Means Committee Chief Tax Counsel, Marty Reiser, Policy Advisor, Minority Whip Scalise, Mark Warren, Senate Chief Tax Counsel, and Jim Neill, Policy Advisor, Senate Majority Leader McConnell. ASA is engaged in the FBC so we can track and monitor activities and proposed legislation that might have an impact our members operating family owned businesses.
Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO) sponsored the Death Tax Repeal Act and gave an update on the bill. This bill, which has 107 co-sponsors, would fully repeal the estate and generation-skipping transfer taxes. Although, the democrat co-sponsors for the bill has doubled since the last Congress, most democrats would like to use the Death Tax as a “pay for” for other pieces of legislation they are pushing. While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which became law in December 2017, doubled the estate, gift, and generation-skipping tax exemptions, the “death tax” has not been fully eliminated. While the death tax provides only a tiny portion of federal revenue at less than one percent, it wreaks havoc on small businesses across the nation both through the administrative and therefore economic burdens it creates to comply even with an exemption but more so through the devastating impact it has on those subject to it and the economy they contribute to.
The House Ways and Means Committee has been busy! The mark up last week consisted of possible roll backs to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts and the Death Tax possibly being used as “pay fors” for traditional tax extenders. However, the tax extenders are always extended year to year without “pay fors.” This is very different than appropriations and the new Congress is having issues understanding that.
This markup may have helped kick start negotiation with the Senate, the current negotiations have not lead to any technical corrections that were in the TCJA from the previous Congress. In fact, the republicans would like to see an end to tax extenders, but the democrats will not budge on the issue because they are not in favor of the TCJA.
The Senate is dealing with another issue of the administration not being able to get their nominations affirmed. This has never happened before in history. However, the Senate Finance Committee is working to keep the TCJA intact and in place. The business community has done a great job in relating their stories to Congress of how the TCJA has helped them increase wage growth and investments. The Committee understand that there are technical corrections and drafting errors and they have a continued desire to do them, however, there is still not a bi-partisan effort to fix it.
- Health care was a leading issue during the first Democratic presidential primary debate, and "Medicare for All" further emerged as a point of division between candidates, with just two of the candidates present - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) - advocating for elimination of the private insurance market in favor of a federally run health plan. Others, such as Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, did not go so far, cautioning against moving people off their current insurance and advocating for approaches maintaining a role for employer-sponsored plans. (Kaiser Health News)
- Several contenders for president were posed climate change questions at last night's first official Democratic debate, with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee warning that this generation is "the last that can do something about it" and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas noting his $5 trillion clean energy investment plan. Four of the 10 Democrats - O'Rourke, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro - said climate change is the No. 1 geopolitical threat to the United States, though two of those candidates (Booker and Castro) also listed an additional top threat. (Bloomberg)
- Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon announced her campaign for the Democratic nomination to take on Sen. Susan Collins (R) next year. Collins, the only Republican in Congress from any of the six New England states, has leaned on her bipartisan credentials in the past, but Democrats believe they may have been tarnished by her crucial vote for Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation. (CNN)
- California Sen. Kamala Harris saw her first-choice support double, from 6 percent to 12 percent, according to Morning Consult polling conducted after the first round of Democratic debates. First-choice support for front-running former Vice President Joe Biden dropped 6 points, to 33 percent.
- Biden repeatedly came under attack during Thursday's debate over his long record and personal history, including a dramatic exchange with Harris over his comments about working with segregationists in the Senate. The ascendant left wing of the Democratic Party - manifested in Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' presence on the stage - was also on defense, with moderate candidates led by Biden expressing concern about the party's embrace of the far-left ideas.
- Harris said she misinterpreted a question about abolishing private health insurance at last night's Democratic debate after she raised her hand when the 10 candidates were asked if they'd eliminate it in favor of a government-run plan. In an interview, Harris - who joined only Sanders in raising hands - said she thought moderator Lester Holt asked if she'd be willing to give up her own private insurance.
- Trump endorsed Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) for re-election, giving him a boost as he races a well-funded primary challenger. The president also gave his nod to Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), who was appointed to her seat in December after the death of Sen. John McCain.
- Senate Vote Requires Military, EPA To Deal With Harmful 'Forever Chemicals' In Water. The Senate passed a defense bill Thursday that would require an increased response from the government to harmful chemicals that have leached into water in at least 43 states. Included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is language that would push the EPA to set a national drinking water standard for a class of chemicals known as PFAS that have been linked with cancer and other health problems. The EPA has said it will decide by the end of the year whether to regulate the chemicals that are so persistent in the environment they’ve been deemed “forever chemicals.” PFAS is used in a staggering number of products which the bill directs the military to stop using. The bill also directs the Department of Defense to take more aggressive action on PFAS following accusation that the Pentagon was trying to weaken EPA regulations that would force the military to take on expensive cleanup costs now estimated at around $2 billion. The bill pushes the Pentagon to finalize agreements with states for cleaning up PFAS contamination caused by the military largely through the use of firefighting foam. The military would have three years to phase out use of the foam. Environmental groups hailed the bill as an important first step in dealing with the growing PFAS problem. The Senate version also includes a number of other environmental measures, including funding for research into carbon capture.
( The IAPMO Group Washington Update—June 30, 2019)
- Legionella Management Deficiencies at VA Hospital. A Veterans Health Administration hospital in California was not properly managing its water system to inhibit the growth of Legionella bacteria, according to a government watchdog’s report. The Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Veterans Affairs found general uncleanliness at the Loma Linda healthcare facility. Investigators did not find inappropriate testing procedures for bacteria, but did note that water temperatures were kept too low and measures were not in place to communicate to doctors the test results for Legionella in the facility’s water system. The OIG conducted an inspection at the request of Congressmen Pete Aguilar and Mark Takano to review concerns related to environment of care (EOC), infection control practices including Legionella testing, provider availability, leadership responsiveness, and allegations in the dental clinic at the VA Loma Linda Healthcare System, California. While the OIG found no specific instance of inappropriate Legionella testing, there was no standardized process for notifying clinical staff of testing results. Water temperatures were not consistently sustained to discourage Legionella growth. The OIG made 12 recommendations related to EOC, infection control practices, Legionella, training, staffing, and documentation, and two VISN recommendations to implement actions from previous reviews and development of a comprehensive EOC policy.
- In a 224-196 vote, the House passed legislation that would bar the federal government from spending money at Trump-affiliated establishments, a provision that could greatly complicate Trump's routine visits to his various properties. The measure, which hasn't been taken up by the Senate, was included in a $24 billion appropriations bill for various federal agencies. (The Washington Post)
- The United States and China have tentatively agreed to another truce in the trade war, sources said, a move that would avert an additional $300 billion of U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are set to meet this week at the Group of 20 summit in Japan, and a source said Trump's decision to delay additional tariffs was Xi's price for holding the meeting. (Politico and South China Morning Post)
- The panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which is overseeing the GOP-led lawsuit aiming to gut the Affordable Care Act, has requested further information on whether the intervenor states and the House of Representatives have legal standing to appeal the case. Oral arguments are set to begin July 9, and if the Democratic-led states and House do not have standing, there is a possibility that no one could appeal the ruling from a lower court that found the ACA unconstitutional. (The Hill)
- The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved legislation to address surprise medical bills during a markup Wednesday. The bill's inclusion of rate-setting has drawn the ire of provider groups and senators such as Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who are still pushing binding arbitration as a method to resolve disputes between providers and plans
- In a bipartisan vote, the Senate passed a $4.6 billion emergency measure to provide additional resources to the Trump administration as it faces a surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. The chamber has rejected a measure backed by House Democrats, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) spoke with President Donald Trump before he left for Japan and urged him to press for negotiations. (The Associated Press)
- Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas) is likely to reintroduce the Fossil Energy Research and Development Act within the next few weeks, a bill that would direct new research and demonstration into carbon capture, utilization, storage and removal and make authorizations for the Energy Department's Office of Fossil Energy. Supporters of the bill see higher odds of passage in a Democratic House. (Morning Consult)
- The EPA's new Freedom of Information Act policy was reported to allow numerous additional agency officials to reject records' inclusion in Freedom of Information Act requests without also providing an explanation. The EPA has disputed that characterization of its new FOIA rule.
- The EPA released a proposed rule that would end its 24-year-old "once in, always in" policy that requires power plants and other facilities that emit pollutants beyond certain levels must always subsequently meet strict controls, even if they take steps to reduce emissions below those thresholds
- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a Democratic presidential hopeful, will propose using a tax on Wall Street transactions to fund a plan canceling the United States' $1.6 trillion student debt load. The tax would include a 0.5 percent levy on stock transactions, a 0.1 percent tax on bond trades and a 0.005 percent tax on derivatives transactions. (Bloomberg)
- The House and Senate are out of session.
| || NEWS FROM STATE AND LOCAL |
Update on State Bills Being Tracked
Wisconsin (AB 56) - creates a revenue limit adjustment for a school district that incurs costs to remediate lead contamination in drinking water in the school district, including costs to test for the presence of lead in drinking water, to provide safe drinking water, and to replace lead pipe water service lines to school buildings in the school district. Bill presented to Governor for signing on 6/28/19.
New State Activity
New Jersey (Lead in Drinking Water):
- A5653: Requires public water systems to offer drinking water tests to customers in certain circumstances.
- S3991: Requires public water systems to offer drinking water tests to customers in certain circumstances.
- S3988: Requires certain residential property owners, schools, and child care centers to test drinking water for lead every three years.
- A5652: Requires certain residential property owners, schools, and child care centers to test drinking water for lead every three years.
- A5656: Requires public water systems to provide customers and local officials with expedited notice of elevated lead levels.
- S3992: Requires public water systems to provide customers and local officials with expedited notice of elevated lead levels.
- S3993: Requires landlords to provide notice to tenants concerning lead in drinking water.
- A5658: Requires landlords to provide notice to tenants concerning lead in drinking water.
The New York Times
The New York Times asked all 23 Democratic presidential candidates for their views on the best ways to improve the health care system. We received responses from 19 of them. The first three questions asked whether the candidates supported three possible routes for changing how Americans receive health insurance: by creating a “Medicare for all” system that would eliminate private insurance; by providing a choice between a “public option” health care plan run by the government and private insurance; or by making more modest changes to the Affordable Care Act.
The New York Times
“Medicare for all” is the hottest idea in the Democratic presidential race for overhauling the nation’s health care system, and it is a phrase quite likely to be heard repeatedly at the first debates. But despite all the buzz, it turns out that the concept is dividing the 2020 field. A new survey of the Democratic candidates by The New York Times finds that many of them prefer less sweeping changes than the Medicare for All Act, the single-payer bill introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders and supported by Senator Elizabeth Warren and several other presidential hopefuls.
Ahead of the first Democratic debates, Joe Biden is proposing that Congress grant immediate citizenship to more than 800,000 U.S. residents who were brought to the country illegally as children.
The former vice president and Democratic polling leader introduced some of his immigration priorities Monday in a newspaper op-ed that blisters President Donald Trump for an “assault on the dignity” of the Latino community through policies and rhetoric designed to “scare voters” in 2020.
The Washington Examiner
The Trump Environmental Protection Agency is dismissing a technology that is favored by many Republicans and is widely considered to be among the most effective at slashing emissions from coal plants.
EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy, or ACE, rule, finalized recently to replace President Barack Obama's signature climate change rule, the Clean Power Plan, does not include carbon capture and storage, also known as CCS, in a list of six technologies that utilities can consider to reduce carbon emissions and make their plants more efficient by burning less coal to produce the same amount of electricity.
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