December 23, 2011 – The House and Senate reached an agreement today to extend the payroll tax cut for two months while details are worked out on a one-year extension. The bill includes an extension of unemployment benefits for 99 weeks and expedited review of the Keystone XL pipeline. CNN Money reports that other expiring tax provisions were not included in the bill, but that Congress could pass them in January and make them retroactive to January 1. The bill was approved by the House and Senate and will be presented to the President for signature. Obama has said he will sign the bill.
December 21, 2011 – The EPA has released a cost estimate of a rule that was signed December 16, 2011, that will require the reduction of emissions of toxic air pollutants from power plants in the U.S. The cost, estimated by the EPA, is expected to be $9.6 billion in 2015, and nearly that amount in 2016 and beyond. Because this is the agency that is writing the rule, costs could be much more than they estimate. “This is another example of the Obama Administration using its power to follow through on campaign promises to make it much more expensive to generate electricity using coal,” said Ray McCarty, president of Associated Industries of Missouri. “The costs of this rule will be felt by all consumers, but the rule will be especially costly for Missouri manufacturers and will certainly result in job losses.” What does this mean to your business? Electric utilities must pass this cost through to its customers. A
December 20, 2011 – The United States House of Representatives just voted to send the so-called “tax extenders” bill (extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits) back to a conference committee for further consideration. This action will allow further consideration of the package, but could also endanger passage. Several Democrat Representatives expressed unwillingness to delay the vote on the bill, which could delay travel plans for Representatives that are trying to return home for the Christmas holiday. In fact, Congressman Cleaver announced he was going home, regardless of the action taken by the House. The House Speaker issued a statement in support of additional conference work on the bill. And, not unexpectedly, the President issued a statement asking the House to pass the Senate version of the bill. There has been much conversation in recent weeks over the package. The House included quick consideration of the Keystone XL project in the package. President Obama responded by saying he would veto the bill if it
Yesterday, President Obama announced he had established the “White House Office of Manufacturing Policy” to “coordinate the execution of manufacturing programs and the development of manufacturing policy.” While the mission of the newly established office is certainly welcome, it is important to note that many of the problems facing manufacturers have actually been caused by regulations issued by agencies within President Obama’s control. In particular, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued several regulations that will increase costs for manufacturers, either directly or through electricity rates. The President seems to be following through on the comments he made during his presidential campaign to bankrupt coal-fired power plants and, in so doing, he is increasing costs for power – a major cost component for most manufacturers and other businesses. “While we welcome any support for manufacturing, the fact of the matter is there are some tangible steps the Administration could take to help employers in this country by reigning in the bureaucratic regulations
The AP reports that the U.S. House has passed a bill that would require Congressional approval for new federal regulations that are estimated to cost more than $100 million. The bill is expected to die in the U.S. Senate, according to the article. “Federal regulations have been proposed by agencies, the directors of which are appointed directly or indirectly by the President, to implement items the Obama administration has been unable to pass through Congress,” said Ray McCarty, President of Associated Industries of Missouri. “This bill just makes sense. Regulations that increase costs for Missouri businesses should be reviewed by elected officials. They should not be implemented by Washington bureaucrats, who seem to care little about the impact those regulations will have on American jobs.” So far, we have seen regulations promulgated by the National Labor Relations Board to implement provisions allowing expedited union elections, and a myriad of regulations in the environmental area. “The environmental regulations are cost drivers for every Missouri
Associated Industries of Missouri (AIM), working with all other business groups around the state, has announced consensus on legislation to address Missouri’s failing Second Injury Fund and the liability it presents for Missouri employers. Last year, AIM worked with its partner business organizations to defeat legislation that would have increased Missouri employers’ workers’ compensation costs by as much as 14%, according to estimates by a national workers’ compensation rate authority. The defeated legislation would have immediately increased the surcharge that funds the Second Injury Fund by 4% and, more importantly, would have allowed all non-work related claims and conditions to increase the amount that must be paid for compensable injuries under the Missouri workers’ compensation system. That would have meant workers with conditions like diabetes and obesity, and those with sports injuries and other non-work related injuries, would have been eligible for enhanced workers’ compensation benefits when injured at work because of these injuries and conditions that have nothing to do with work. Although