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TAUC Legislative & Regulatory Update, November 2016
As the election season heads into the home stretch, many in Washington are starting to focus on the upcoming “lame duck” session of congress and the Obama Administration’s push to finalize regulation. This is always a tricky time for policy making as there are fewer opportunities to advance major legislative changes, and the ability to decide which legislation can be included in must-pass vehicles shifts to the Congressional leadership and the Administration. The Obama Administration and retiring members of Congress will also be looking to enact legislation and finalize policy changes that they believe will cement their “legacy” once they are out of office.
Here is an exclusive update from TAUC on issues of vital interest to contractors and the union construction and maintenance industry as a whole.
Multiemployer Pension Reform
One of TAUC’s major priorities will be to push for multiemployer plan design reforms. We have joined with our building trades and construction trade association partners to educate members of Congress on the urgent need for reform and to promote draft legislation (proposed by House Education & Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline) authorizing hybrid composite plans. It is our hope this legislation will be considered in the lame duck session.
One potential legislative vehicle that is considered somewhat “must pass” in the lame duck is a bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee to address the pending insolvency of the United Mine Workers of America pension and health benefits programs. TAUC and our partners continue to communicate that while we do not object to passage of legislation to help the 122,000 members of the Mineworkers facing benefit reductions, Congress must also address the crisis facing the over 10 million participants in multiemployer pension plans as part of the legislation.
We anticipate that there will significant efforts to block the Administration from implementing several of its proposed environmental regulations during the lame duck session as well. This will include attaching “riders” to prevent EPA from using funds made available under the omnibus appropriations to implement the Clean Power Plan and the agency’s carbon limits for new and modified power plants. EPA opponents will also likely attempt to block the Administration from implementing the EPA’s 70 parts per billion ozone standards. The President has stated that he would veto legislation delaying or blocking these rules.
Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order Rule
The Associated Builders and Contractors of Southeast Texas filed in Federal Court to block an Executive Order (EO) requiring prospective federal contractors on Federal contracts over $500,000 to disclose labor law violations. Last month, the Department of Labor released final regulations and guidance for implementing the EO issued by the President in 2014.
A Federal judge in the case issued a preliminary injunction against new regulations, which were set to go into effect on October 25th.