Key Issues: February 2014
Below is a brief overview of SMACNA’s top legislative priorities for 2014.
We could use your help. So read on and stay involved! Watch SMACNEWS and your inbox for future updates. For comments or questions contact Stan Kolbe or Dana Thompson at SMACNA’s Capitol Hill office at 202.547.8202 or email email@example.com
Overview: Legislative Issues Affect Your Firm’s Bottom Line
Our top congressional policy areas include:
- Multiemployer Pension Reform
- Energy Efficiency Tax Incentives
- Procurement (bid listing) Reforms
- Employee Misclassification Reform
- Increased Infrastructure Spending
Pension Reform Gaining Needed Traction
Legislation should be ready in March and we need your help to get it passed before the multiemployer provisions of the PPA expire in December 2014. Your attendance at the National Issues Conference is critical!
- SMACNA’s intensive efforts for pension reform have expanded in recent months.
- SMACNA and SMART sent a joint letter to Capitol Hill supporting Solutions Not Bailouts pension reform proposal. The letter can be viewed here.
- Carol Duncan, General Sheet Metal Works (Clackamas, OR) testified before a House committee and made a very persuasive case from the employer perspective on the need for reform.
SMACNA has been meeting with PBGC officials to attempt to address the need for additional PBGC resources and authority to intervene early in the event of possible pension plan insolvencies.
Energy Efficiency Initiatives Moving in Congress
Enacting These Means More Marketplace opportunities for SMACNA Contractors
SMACNA supports increased efficiency project grants, commercial building efficiency retrofit tax incentives for greater efficiency in residential, public, commercial and industrial facilities. The key efficiency legislation this year will beEnergy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 (S. 1392 / HR 1616) featuring numerous residential, commercial and industrial efficiency provisions. No less important will be the reform and extension of the IRS Section179D commercial building tax incentive to simplify and expand its usage to a wider variety of building types and ownership categories.
- The House Energy and Commerce Committee just passed HR 2126, The Better Buildings Act of 2014, featuring the “Tenant Star” program promoting DOE support for efficiency retrofits for commercial tenants.
- S. 1501, The Job Creation Through Energy Efficient Manufacturing Act introduced by Senator Merkley (D-OR). S. 1501 would establish an innovative energy-efficient manufacturing finance program to retrofit manufacturing, industrial and related facilities for greater productivity and competitiveness.
- S. 2003, The Renewable Energy Parity Act of 2014 would make firms eligible for the tax credit for projects that are under construction before the credit expires on Dec. 31, 2016. Currently, only projects that are placed in service by the 2016 deadline, meaning they’re complete and capable of generating power, are eligible for the credit. The change would be particularly helpful for large projects.
Federal Procurement Reform and Bid Listing Reform Introduced
Tired of Bid Shopping & Reverse Auctions? – We’re working on it!
SMACNA supports several federal construction contracting reforms, including HR 1942, our bid listing bill and a new bill banning internet reverse auctions on federal construction projects (H.R. 2751). In addition, SMACNA is pushing on a separate lobby track to advance bid listing, project labor agreements (PLA’s) and contract quality and bidding reforms.
Misclassification of Employees/Payroll Fraud Now On Congressional Radar
You can’t compete against construction firms with no employees…
The Obama Administration’s DOL has taken aggressive regulatory action under the new Secretary but the IRS has its hands tied by current law / IRS Sec. 530 Safe Harbor provisions. To address this glaring inequity, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), HELP Committee Chair of the Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety introduced S. 1687, Payroll Fraud Prevention Act, which would expand the Fair Labor Standards Act to cover misclassification of employees as independent contractors and would make the misclassification of “employees” as “non-employees” a new labor law offense. Congress may also include payroll fraud reform to a tax package this year as a revenue raising provision. See Taxpaying Employers Against Misclassification at www.nomisclassification.org
Increased Infrastructure and School Construction Funding Probable
SMACNA supports water, healthcare, mass transit center and school infrastructure improvements, large-scale federal, state and local building and facility IAQ – energy retrofits. Congress will consider each of these issues as part of the appropriation’s process this spring with greater funding levels expected by the August recess.
Pension legislative update: We hope to have a multiemployer pension reform bill introduced in the near future that, if enacted, would help stabilize the multiemployer defined benefit system for our contractors facing financial risks and for the benefit of active workers and retirees as well. To achieve comprehensive reform we will need the support of every chapter. We would also like the bill to be as close to the Solutions Not Bailout (SNB) proposal as possible. From past experience, we know that showing labor and management support for the SNB proposal will go a long way in making this happen. The House Education and Workforce committee continues to work on the very complicated legislative language and we are beginning to see more interest and maybe some traction in the Senate. Your efforts will help move this issue forward! We would like a joint labor-management letter sent to your Congressional delegation!
Good news: SMACNA President Novak and SMART General President Nigro recently sent a joint letter to Congress. We think it will help convince legislators to support the SNB proposal. Their letter went to the Chairmen and Ranking members of the four committees with jurisdiction over pension reform. Every member of the four committees was sent a copy as well – a copy of that letter is attached. SMART and SMACNA have been to numerous Hill meetings together and we are emailing a copy of the joint letter to those staffers directly. Other joint labor-management letters have gone to the Hill and you can view copies of all the letters at:
We need local efforts: We are hearing from both sides of the aisle that they are hearing plenty from those who are opposing certain provisions of the Solutions Not Bailouts proposal. The Congressional offices are very interested in hearing about this issue from SNB supporters in their district and a joint labor-management letter does get everyone’s attention! If you are able to generate a joint letter from your area, that would be a great help to the efforts we have been making here.
Suggestions for a letter: A sample letter to simply fill-in, put on letterhead and send is attached. As much as possible we used the SMART/SMACNA letter wording which we hope, will pave the way for your local chapter and the union to agree on wording for your own letter. If there are several chapters in a state, it would be good if the letters sent to Senate offices were not all identical, so, if you want to draft your own joint letter, please include:
- The names and information about the chapter and the union.
- How many employers are in the chapter and how many members the union has. How many retirees from the plan are receiving benefits, if knownState specifically if you contribute to the National Pension Fund or to a local DB plan ( State you contribute to both, if you do) You can mention, if you want, if contributions are also made to a local 401(k) plan.
- Please state how much money in a specific time frame was contributed to the defined benefit fund(s) – use a year or two years or five years if you want. The amount of money contributed has a very powerful effect. Mention contributions to the plan are less when there is an economic downturn because contributions are based on hours worked. (Pension contributions were much, much higher in 2008 for example).
- State support for the NCCMP’s Retirement Security Review Commission’s specific and concrete recommendations – Solutions not Bailouts – which if enacted, will strengthen retirement security. Include the link to “Solutions Not Bailouts: A Comprehensive Plan from Business and Labor to Safeguard Multiemployer Retirement Security, Protect Taxpayers and Spur Economic Growth” at http://www.solutionsnotbailouts.com/.
The letters should be faxed to members of your Senate and House Members at their Washington, DC offices. A list of House and Senate members and their fax numbers are attached. You can find out which House members are part of your Congressional delegation by linking to: http://www.house.gov/