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Catherine Treadwell Perry, Director of Government Relations
|ASA Advocacy Met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of OSHA
Last week ASA Advocacy met with Loren Sweatt, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA). The meeting was part of the Labor and Speaker Series hosted by the National Association of Manufacturer. As an ASA member it is important for your association’s advocacy to have a close relationship with federal agencies, especially OSHA.
OSHA’s mission is to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance. However, in the past, OSHA, has trended more towards strictly enforcement. Sweatt stated that under the new Secretary of Labor, Eugene Scalia, we will see OSHA increasing their resources and training for companies to understand how to be compliant. Secretary Scalia is a son of the Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016.
In my conversation with the Deputy Assistant Secretary, she mentioned a video that OSHA has provided to help companies understand why OSHA might be doing an inspection at your facility and what OSHA will be looking for while completing the inspection. It is a short, five minute video that goes through everything from the goal of the inspection to how the three parts of the inspection will be conducted.
There are three steps to an OSHA inspection: the opening conference, the walk around, and the closing conference. In the opening conference OSHA will explain why OSHA is in workplace, walk around producers, worker representation and the need for worker interviews. The walk around is where the OSHA representative will walk around the facility and ask employees questions, such as, how long they have been employed, if there has been any injuries or close calls, and does the employer provide personal protective equipment. The closing conference will discuss the findings, possible corrective procedures, and reasonable timeline for corrections. The OSHA inspector will also discuss any course of action that the employer may take following an inspection and consultation services.
After the inspection the OSHA inspector will make a report and it will be sent to the area director to decide if action will be taken. If an action is taken, the employer has 15 days to contest it. This video is a brief, but thorough video on an OSHA inspection. OSHA is working to give employers the knowledge and resources they need to comply with their obligations and provide safety information to workers.
OSHA has an on sight consultation program that is free and confidential to small and medium sized businesses. It helps employers identify workplace hazards, provides advice for compliance with OSHA standards, and assists with providing and establishing safety programs. If you would like to find out more information on this program or other training offered by OSHA, please contact Catherine Treadwell Perry, Director of Government Relations at email@example.com.
- Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he will not run for re-election next year. Walden, who was first elected in 1998, is the 19th House Republican to announce their retirement ahead of the 2020 elections. (Politico)
- Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) said he is "at least reconsidering" retirement after the announcement from House Energy and Commerce ranking member Greg Walden (R-Ore) that he will not run for Congress in 2020. Shimkus is the second-most senior Republican on the committee after Fred Upton of Michigan, who is term-limited out of the chairmanship, but at least four other Republicans have said they are interested in seeking the post. (Politico)
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) promised, if elected president, to impose hiring restrictions and fines on companies worth more than $150 billion or companies with more than $5 million per year in federal contracts if they hire senior government officials within four years after they leave office. In a post outlining the plan, Warren called out Beth Zorc, the former general counsel for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development who became Wells Fargo & Co.'s head of public policy. (Bloomberg)
- The Senate failed this afternoon to overcome an initial test vote to start debate on a second fiscal 2020 spending package. In a 51-41 vote, the chamber rejected that first procedural motion, which needed 60 votes of support. The four-bill package, H.R. 2740 (116), includes the Defense, Labor-HHS-Education, State Foreign-Operations and Energy-Water spending measures for fiscal 2020.
- Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11) introduced the Low-Income Water Customer Assistance Programs Act of 2019, HR 4832. This bill would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to establish pilot programs to assist low-income households in maintaining access to sanitation services and drinking water, and for other purposes. The Senate also introduced the companion bill, S 2687.
- Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN-2) introduced the 21st Century Workforce Partnerships Act, H.R. 4826. This bill would award career pathways innovation grants to local educational agencies and consortia of local educational agencies, to provide technical assistance within the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education to administer the grants and support the local educational agencies with the preparation of grant applications and management of grant funds, to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to support community college and industry partnerships, and for other purposes.
- The Housing and Urban Development and Justice departments have agreed that HUD will handle most enforcement of the 1863 False Claims Act, which the Obama administration used to build bad-lending cases against big banks after the subprime mortgage crisis. The Trump administration now wants to spur more banks to offer mortgages to low-income borrowers eligible for Federal Housing Administration insurance. (Reuters)
- A 2010 post-financial crisis plan from the Securities and Exchange Commission to encourage rating agencies to publish unsolicited ratings yielded little evidence of any such ratings being published, according to the ratings firms, a trade association, the SEC and a committee of board investors advising the agency. Rating agencies were given access to deal data to publish unsolicited ratings in an effort to ease the conflict of interest that made rating agencies "essential cogs in the wheel of financial destruction," where the firms are paid by the entities whose bonds they rate. (The Wall Street Journal)
- Lawmakers and some in the Trump administration are trying to stop a switch scheduled for the beginning of next year of the Thrift Savings Plan, the retirement savings vehicle for federal government employees, that would shift to a different mix of investments that would increase exposure to China and other emerging markets. A bipartisan group of senators last week sent a letter to the plan's governing board saying that Chinese companies that raise money for American investors run counter to American interests. (The New York Times)
- The Treasury Department is rolling back Obama-era regulations meant to curb tax-avoiding corporate inversion deals, saying that because "tax cuts made our business environment more competitive, we are now able to remove regulatory burdens that have been rendered obsolete," according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The new rules removed a requirement that companies document certain internal loans, along with streamlining other regulations.
- The Trump administration and congressional Republicans have begun discussing a new tax cut package with urging from Trump, who wants to announce a new proposal before the 2020 presidential election. White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow is playing a key role in the discussions, which so far are in the early stages, according to people briefed on the talks.
- In private conversations, Chinese officials have warned they won't compromise on some key issues affecting U.S.-China trade relations, and they are concerned with Trump's impulsiveness, fearing that he won't stick to any deal signed in the next few weeks, according to people familiar with the matter.
- The United States and China are looking for a new site to sign a phase one trade agreement, Trump said. The White House had hoped to sign the deal in November, but the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group in Chile was canceled amid growing protests in Santiago
- The House is in recess this week. The Senate is in session.
| || NEWS FROM STATE AND LOCAL |
Update on State Bills Being Tracked
New State Activity
- California - In his first year in office, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed several laws impacting California employers. The National Law Review published an article summarizing each of the key new laws going into effect on January 1, 2020. Read more…
- Pennsylvania - As part of continuing efforts to advance his Lead-Free PA initiative, Governor Tom Wolf announced on 10/31/2019 that the commonwealth is issuing a Request for Information (RFI) through the Department of Human Services to gather input on local efforts and needs to reduce lead exposure in Pennsylvania. Read more …
- No new state activity to report.
Environmental Protection Agency
EPA’s proposed Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) includes a suite of actions to reduce lead exposure in drinking water where it is needed the most. The proposed rule will identify the most at-risk communities and ensure systems have plans in place to rapidly respond by taking actions to reduce elevated levels of lead in drinking water.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s demand that Beijing commit to big purchases of American farm products has become a major sticking point in talks to end the Sino-U.S. trade war, according to several people briefed on the negotiations. Trump has said publicly that China could buy as much as $50 billion of U.S. farm products, more than double the annual amount it did the year before the trade war started.
Moderate and progressive House Democrats are clashing with each other over changes to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s signature plan to lower drug prices. A group of centrists, including Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a democrat from Florida, co-chairwoman of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition, has warned leadership that some moderate Democrats might vote against the bill if it moves any further to the left, sources say.
The New York Times
The Federal Reserve is widely expected to lower interest rates soon for a third, and potentially final, time in 2019. What comes next is less clear. Fed officials lowered borrowing costs in July and September in an effort to guard against mounting risks, including President Trump’s uncertainty-inspiring trade war and a global manufacturing slowdown. They likened the moves to taking out insurance to protect the economy.
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