July 16, 2018

Washington Wire: As Expected, Court Upholds NLRB Ambush Election Rule


As Expected, Court Upholds NLRB Ambush Election Rule  

In an expected but disappointing decision, the U.S. District Court of D.C. on July 29 upheld the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) “Ambush Elections” rule, which One Voice strongly opposes. For several years, both NTMA and PMA worked with coalition partners to successfully defeat the NLRB on Capitol Hill and in the court. However, the July 29 D.C. Court ruling marked the second time in several months that judges upheld the NLRB’s latest attempt at the Ambush Election rule, which took effect April 14. The rule, issued in December 2014, shortens the time from when a union election is called and a vote is held to as little as ten days (from the current average of 56 days). It also requires employers provide unions with the personal email and phone numbers of eligible employees 48 hours prior to holding a vote. Through its coalition partners, One Voice is exploring its legal options and appealing the D.C. District Court’s ruling.



EPA Updates Final Carbon Emissions Rule; Additional 9% Reduction Sought
On August 3, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revealed an updated version of its sweeping Clean Power Plan proposal, which industry groups including One Voice strongly opposed. The new regulation requires a nation-wide reduction of carbon emissions from electricity generation by 32 percent before 2030 over 2005 levels – a 9 percent jump from the previous target. While the revised rule extends the primary enforcement date from 2020 to 2022, experts expect massive increases in electricity costs for manufacturers should this final rule withstand congressional and legal scrutiny.  
In its opposition to the rule since its release last year, One Voice pointed to the EPA’s own data showing 6-12 percent anticipated annual increase in electricity prices – costing NTMA and PMA members thousands of additional dollars each year. In addition to raising the target to reduction to 32 percent and extending the compliance date, the EPA added a “safety valve” allowing states to appeal for additional extensions if power supply disruptions appear likely. The new version also includes a new Clean Energy Incentive Program rewarding states for moving quickly to invest in renewable energy such as wind and solar and prioritizing energy efficiency improvements in low-income communities. Following legal concerns, the EPA revised its efforts to encourage interstate emissions trading and regional compacts to help them meet carbon-reduction targets.  
Sources indicate that the EPA initiated many of the changes following public pressure and pending legal challenges brought by industry groups such as One Voice and nearly fifteen states fighting the rule in court. On June 29, in Michigan v. EPA, the U.S. Supreme Court handed the Administration a major rebuke in saying the EPA had failed to properly consider the impact a previous rule would have on businesses and the economy. One Voice is continuing to work with members of Congress and coalition partners to oppose this rule and several other major EPA initiatives that will increase the cost of manufacturing in America.



One Voice Joins Partners in Opposing New Ozone Regs
One Voice, along with coalition partners, is launching a nation-wide public relations campaign and has sent a letter to President Obama asking him to abandon the new National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone and retain the existing 75 parts per billion (ppb) standard. The EPA is set to finalize the standard by October 1, 2015.  
This past November, the Administration announced it would move forward with further regulation of ground level ozone, the main component of smog. One Voice is strongly opposed to this new initiative, which experts say will cost the U.S. economy $1.7 trillion by 2040 while increasing compliance costs by $1.1 trillion. The White House twice ordered the EPA to delay the proposal – ahead of the 2012 Presidential and 2014 Congressional midterm elections.  
The proposal will reduce ground level ozone levels from the existing standard to as low as 65ppb. Some environmental groups are calling for a reduction to 60ppb, which would classify the entire U.S. as a non-attainment zone, potentially limiting manufacturing production, expansion of facilities, hiring new employees, and infrastructure projects. One Voice will continue to push the Administration to abandon the new proposal and retain the current standard.



Senate Committee Extends Key Expired Tax Provisions
On July 21, the Senate Finance Committee passed a two-year extension of almost all the tax provisions Congress allowed to expire on December 31, 2014, including Bonus Depreciation, Section 179 Equipment Expensing, R&D Tax Credit, and others. The measure, which passed in a 23-3 vote, extends the provisions retroactive to January 1, 2015 and through 2016. It also enhances the R&D Tax Credit and Bonus Depreciation and allows AMT in lieu, another way to help businesses trapped under corporate AMT. A One Voice survey shows 90% of members used Bonus Depreciation last year and 91% used Section 179 Expensing provisions to purchase new equipment. Almost half use the R&D Credit, and more would if it were easier to claim for smaller companies without vast accounting departments. The House has passed several bills supported by One Voice to enhance and make permanent provisions such as R&D and Section 179. Given the different approaches, most in Washington do not expect a final solution until October or as late as early December.