July 16, 2018

Washington Wire: SCOTUS Says EPA Must Conduct Cost-Benefits Analysis


SCOTUS Says EPA Must Conduct Cost-Benefits Analysis; Agency Sends Final Power Plant Rule for White House Review 

One Voice applauds the Court’s decision to hold the EPA accountable for its actions. In developing new regulations, the EPA continues to underestimate the effect their rules will have on small businesses and the economy and often will not release the “science” behind a regulation or the “scientists” consulted. One Voice continues to work with members of Congress to ensure that regulations are developed with sound and publically available data while also considering the effects their proposals will have on small businesses and the economy.  
During the July 4th holiday week, the EPA officially sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) their sweeping proposal to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent on average. One of the most controversial and costly regulations in U.S. history, the EPA’s own estimates say the rule will increase the price of electricity by 6-12% annually. This amounts to thousands of dollars in annual increases even before factoring in annual natural market price increases.  
One Voice is working with allies in the industry and on Capitol Hill to slow down or block the new rule from taking effect next year. The Administration’s goal is to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants by an average of 30% across the U.S. Legislation is making its way through the House and Senate and challenges continue in the courts over whether the EPA even has the authority to mandate the reductions under the Clean Air Act. After pushback and significant opposition, the EPA delayed finalizing the rule from June to August.



Administration Releases New Overtime Rules
The Department of Labor has released its long awaited rule updating the regulations governing overtime pay for employees. Under the current regulations, the salary threshold for exemption is $455 per week ($23,660 per year) and the new rules will update that exemption level to the 40th percentile of weekly earnings for full-time salaried workers ($970 per week, or $50,440 annually in 2016). The new rule is set to expand the number of employees eligible for overtime by an estimated 5 million. In addition, the rule may require employers to reclassify all employees earning under $54,400 and more closely track their job duties, earnings, and hours worked to determine whether the worker’s activities and compensation may actually make them exempt for overtime.  
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exempts certain employees from overtime requirements, including Executive, Administrative, and Professional (EAP) employees, as well as select salespeople working outside the office. While the proposed rules do not make any specific changes to the duties test, which determines an employee’s classification, the Department of Labor is seeking comments on the current requirements.  
Click here for a fact sheet on the proposed rule and for more information on the exemption for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Computer & Outside Sales Employees, click here.



Busy Agenda in Remaining Summer Weeks for Congress
Congress returned from the July 4th break with a full agenda packed into only a few short weeks until both the House and Senate leave Washington for a month-long August recess. House leaders indicate and aggressive agenda during their final four weeks of the summer. The Senate Finance Committee’s Tax Reform Working Groups are expected to release their findings in the coming day about challenges and options for tax reform. Hope for comprehensive tax reform this year fades with each passing week on Capitol Hill, but the Committee’s efforts are an important part of bringing tax stability and relief to manufacturers..  
At the top of the list is how Congress will address the expiring surface transportation bill before the Highway Trust Fund runs out of money on July 31. The Highway Bill, as it’s known has become a great point of contention in Washington as it affects every Congressional District in the country. It is also one of the few major pieces of legislation Congress must pass this year and many lawmakers are working for a new five-year bill. Aside from the importance of the infrastructure bill itself, the legislation may serve as a vehicle to move other stalled legislation, including that to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, which Congress allowed to expire last month.  
The last several months has seen a flurry of activity from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. One Voice is actively engaged with its allies on Capitol Hill and has submitted comments opposing a number of the EPA’s actions. Using the annual government funding process, lawmakers have succeeded in attaching a number of provisions to block or delay the new regulations. These range from amendments to stall the EPA’s regulation of carbon emissions from existing power plants to the blocking the Waters of the U.S. rule. While the funding bill is under a veto threat from the White House, the inclusion of the provisions sends a strong message disapproving of the EPA’s actions.