Legislative Update from ACCA
The 117th Congress is now in full swing, and ACCA is busy advocating for (and against) legislation that will impact contractors and small businesses across the country. We would like to take this opportunity to update you on a handful of bills and policies that we are working on.
Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act (H.R.2037, S.864)
The JOBS Act, introduced by Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI) in the House and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) in the Senate, is a bill that would extend the eligibility of Federal Pell Grants to various in–demand, short-term job training programs. This legislation would allow the Department of Education to distribute Pell Grants to students enrolled in career and technical education programs at higher education institutes that provide both instructional time and training.
As you likely know, the skilled trades industry faces a growing labor gap, and the HVACR industry is no exception. It is estimated that 115,000 positions will need to be filled in HVACR alone over the next five years. The short-term credentials highlighted in this bill can dramatically increase earning potential and help to close the labor gap. The bill will also offer a significantly lower barrier to entry than a four-year degree.
The bill currently has eight cosponsors in the House and 33 in the Senate. Considering its bipartisan nature and broad base of support in the Senate (one third of all Senators have already signed on), there is a decent chance that the JOBS Act will be signed into law in the 117th Congress.
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Reauthorization
In April, Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) of the House Committee on Education and Labor announced the launch of a bipartisan effort to reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which is the primary federal workforce development legislation in the United States. As part of their roll out, they emphasized that the legislation needs to offer workers access to in–demand skills, like those needed to close the growing labor gap in the HVACR contracting industry among other trades.
Representatives Scott and Foxx also announced that they will be holding public hearings on the issue. Given the historically broad and bipartisan support for WIOA, it is likely, although not guaranteed, that it will move forward in the 117th Congress.
Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act
The PRO Act is legislation that would rewrite our country’s labor laws in a way that would overwhelmingly and radically favor labor unions and threaten the rights of employers and employees alike. Many of the provisions in the PRO Act have been previously rejected by Congress on a bipartisan basis, overturned by the Judicial Branch, or withdrawn by federal agencies. Some of the most troubling provisions include:
- Giving unions the power to demand employers not to do business with other non-union companies.
- Giving unions the sole determination over the manner elections are conducted—effectively eliminating secret balloting.
- Eliminating workers’ rights to remove unions that have failed to adequately represent their interests.
- Limiting the ability of businesses and individuals to utilize independent contractors.
- Banning all state right-to-work laws.
- Eliminating the right of employers to withdraw recognition from a union, even upon evidence that all employees want the union out.
- Mandating civil fines up to $50,000 for any “unfair labor practice,” which is doubled for repeat offenders, and $10,000 daily fines for noncompliance with any National Labor Relations Board order.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that the PRO Act would receive a vote in the Senate once the legislation attained 50 cosponsors. At the time this article was written, the bill had 46. The bill has already passed in the House of Representatives. It is worth noting that as long as the filibuster is still in place, the PRO Act would need 60 votes in the Senate to pass. This is highly unlikely as it would require the support of at least 10 Republicans, and it currently does not have any Republican support. It is important to note that ACCA is not pro or anti-union, but ACCA is against the provisions in this bill that would restrict the rights of both employers and employees.
Main Street Tax Certainty Act (H.R. 1381, S.480)
The Main Street Tax Certainty Act, introduced by Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO-8) in the House and Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) in the Senate, would make the 199A deduction of 20 percent of qualified business income (QBI) a permanent measure. It is currently set to expire in 2025. The 199A was originally included as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 as a measure to create greater tax parity for small businesses (S-corporations or pass-through entities), opposed to larger businesses (C-corporations).
This legislation currently has 56 cosponsors in the House and five in the Senate. While this issue has gained considerable momentum, especially among small business advocates, the fact that 199A does not expire until 2025 means that it is not on top of Congress’s legislative to-do list. It is worth noting that even though a bill may not pass in the current Congress, industry support and recognition is still vital to the long-term success of any advocacy goal or target.
ACCA will continue to work on these measures and provide membership with updates on their progress. If you have questions or concerns regarding these policies or ACCA’s advocacy program more broadly please feel free to reach out to me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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