July 12, 2020

Washington Wire: One Voice Submits Comments on OSHA’s Proposal for Tracking Workplace Injuries and Illnesses



One Voice Submits Comments on OSHA’s Proposal for Tracking Workplace Injuries and Illnesses  

OSHA recently closed the comment period for its proposed changes to the Tracking Workplace Injuries and Illnesses rule. Under its proposal, OSHA will revoke the requirement for businesses to submit Forms 300 and 301, only requiring submissions of Form 300A. However, the new rule would require businesses to include their EIN numbers when submitting a Form 300A. On behalf of our members, One Voice submitted comments supporting the revocation of Forms 300 and 301, but against having businesses include their EIN numbers. One Voice also pointed out that the agency missed an opportunity to review and revise its “anti-retaliation” provisions, as the current rule permits OSHA to cite an employer for having policies or procedures that may discourage reporting of work-related injuries or illnesses by its employees.


OSHA Still Accepting 300A Forms For Calendar Year 2017
Employers had until July 1, 2018, to submit Form 300A injury reports for Calendar Year (CY) 2017 to OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application (ITA) online portal. Before the deadline, OSHA had expected almost 500,000 filings by July 1st. However, OSHA had only a 54% response rate on 300A filings. Even though the deadline passed several months ago, OSHA is still allowing employers to electronically submit their CY 2017 Form 300A data and will flag submissions made after July 1st as “Late”. Please click here to access OSHA’s injury reporting webpage and ITA portal.



U.S., Mexico and Canada Reach Agreement on NAFTA 2.0  
At the deadline to reach a trilateral agreement, Canada signed onto a trade deal with the United States and Mexico. Once the parties reached agreement on the modernized version of NAFTA, now known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the text of the trade deal was submitted to Congress for a mandatory 60 day review period before the three countries can ratify the pact. This review period happens to end after the midterm elections in the U.S. and on the day Mexican President Nieto leaves office. Currently, it is a toss up on whether Congress will sign the agreement during a lame duck session, especially if the Democrats win control of the House in November. If Congress fails to pass USMCA, President Trump has suggested he will pull the United States out of the existing version of NAFTA, putting the three countries back to the beginning of the negotiation process.
After over a year of negotiations, the sides were able to come to an agreement on autos. In order to receive zero tariffs under the USMCA, 75 percent of components for a car or truck must be manufactured in one of the three countries. This is an increase from the current 62.5 percent requirement under NAFTA. The U.S. can impose tariffs on Mexican car and SUV imports over 2.6 million vehicles and imports of automotive parts over $108 billion. It can also impose tariffs if car and SUV imports from Canada exceed 2.6 million vehicles. The threshold for tariffs on automotive parts coming from Canada is $32.4 billion. However, the U.S. will not impose tariffs on the amount of light trucks coming from either Mexico or Canada. Also starting in 2020, 30 percent of the work done on cars and trucks must be done by workers earning at least $16 an hour. That number gradually rises to 40 percent by 2023. Finally, Mexico has agreed to adopt U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
The USMCA also includes a currency manipulation provision. Any party can file a Chapter 31 Dispute Settlement request for violating currency transparency and reporting provisions regarding government interference. However, the USMCA does not address steel and aluminum tariffs, as both U.S. and Canadian officials agreeing that the 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum were a separate issue. That being said, if the U.S. takes any new 232 actions, there will be a 60 day suspension before the new tariffs are applied to Canada and Mexico.
Unlike with NAFTA, the USMCA has a sunset provision. Every six years, the three countries must affirm to stay in the pact. If any of the three countries does not affirm to stay, that party may leave after ten years of annual negotiations. If the parties decide to remain in the agreement, they can extend it for an additional sixteen more years.






President Trump Signs FY 2019 Funding Bill Increasing Grant Funding  
On October 1st, President Trump signed FY19 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education funding bill, increasing funding for Perkins state grants to $1.17 billion, $70 million above the current funding level. The increase in funding can apply to CTE programs, especially if geared towards college and career guidance services, education technology and STEM education. Furthermore, it increases apprenticeship opportunities by $15 million to $160 million total and state grants for adult education programs by $25 million. Finally, Pell grants get a boost of $100 to $6,195 for the current academic year and continues funding for Year-round Pell.






Section 301 Tariffs Went Into Effect on September 24  
The Trump administration started imposing 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods on September 24th. Goods included on the 5,745 product list, known as “List 3”, range from tools to machines to consumer goods (for the full list, click here). On January 1, 2019, the tariff rate will increase from 10% to 25% unless the two sides make progress in defusing the escalating trade war. The Chinese retaliated in turn, imposing 10% tariffs on 3,571 U.S. products and 5% on 1,636 items also effective Sept. 24th. On Friday, the U.S. agreed to have consultations with China at the World Trade Organization over the Section 301 tariffs.






House Passes Tax Reform 2.0  
Before leaving for recess until after the midterm elections, the House passed three bills commonly referred to as Tax Reform 2.0 largely along party lines. The series of bills seek to solidify the modifications made in last year’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Passed and signed into law at the very end of 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act significantly changed the U.S. tax code for the first time in over 30 years and was a major lobbying victory for One Voice. The bill now moves over to the Senate which has signaled it will not move any of the measures prior to the November congressional elections. Even though the Senate may not take up these measures anytime soon, it is important to continue the pressure on lawmakers to treat all businesses equally and provide stability for pass-through manufacturers. Click Here for information on the Tax Reform 2.0 bills provided in the last edition of Washington Wire.






Federal Court in Georgia May Apply Previous Ruling Delaying WOTUS to all 50 States  
After a South Carolina District Judge ruled against the Trump administration’s suspension of the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule in August for failing to provide the public with an adequate notice and comment period, business groups have now asked a Georgia federal judge to expand a prior order delaying WOTUS implementation to the 22 states currently subject to the rule. There already are 24 other states where legal challenges to WOTUS are pending. In response to this challenge by business groups, environmental groups are petitioning courts in more environmentally favorable jurisdictions to reject a nationwide WOTUS ruling. If the Georgia court rules in their favor, it will block WOTUS from being implemented in all 50 states, saving thousands of manufacturers, farmers, and businesses from an unduly burdensome permitting process – the median cost of some of these permits is $155,000. Meanwhile, One Voice will continue to work with the administration to revoke and replace this undue burden on small businesses and farmers.