Register for the SIGMA ELC and Learn How Data Analytics Can Improve Performance
It’s Not Too Late to Register for the SIGMA Executive Leadership Conference January 16-18 in Big Sky, Montana! Morning workshop education sessions presented by Mike DePauw, Executive Advisor with Culture Index, on how data analytics can transform your organization—helping you keep your employees on board, improve their performance, and also help in recruitment. In today’s labor market you cannot afford to miss these sessions!
Morning workshops leave the afternoon free for networking – and skiing. Evening receptions leave time for dinners on your own with friends and business peers and leave you rested for the day to come. The SIGMA ELC has everything you need to kick off the new year with takeaways you can immediately put to use at home.
Don’t miss this opportunity to improve your company’s performance – Register TODAY!
Click Here for More Information and to Register
OSHA Extends Comment Period on Vaccine Mandate
On November 30th, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it is extending the comment period on its COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) by 45 days to allow stakeholders additional time to review the ETS and collect data and information necessary for comment. The new deadline is January 19, 2022.
On November 17th, SIGMA sent a letter to OSHA requesting that the agency extend the original brief comment period on the ETS in order to allow the association time to survey its members and better inform OSHA of the rule’s impact. “It is critical that OSHA provide stakeholders with sufficient time to thoroughly review the Rule and its potential impacts on the workforce and the supply chain,” SIGMA wrote. Also on November 17th, OSHA announced that it had suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the ETS pursuant to a motion from the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which ordered the agency to "take no steps to implement or enforce" the ETS "until further court order."
SIGMA is pleased that OSHA granted its request for an extension of the comment period and will file comments with the agency reflecting the impact of the mandate on its members’ ability to do business and compete.
Of interest to SIGMA members, several trade associations have created safetynotmandates.com, a website where individuals can reach out to Congress and express opposition to the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard, as well as provisions in Congress's reconciliation bill that dramatically increase penalties for OSHA violations. The website includes a description of the issues as well as a web portal that will send a pre-populated letter directly to Members of Congress. The letter can be edited.
Sources: U.S. Occupational and Safety Administration, NATSO
“Build Back Better” Budget Reconciliation Update
Senate leaders and the parliamentarian are moving forward with the "Byrd Bath" process to determine whether provisions are within the bounds of reconciliation rules that allow passage with a 51-vote majority and generally require provisions to have a non-incidental revenue impact. During this process Republicans can make a case that a provision runs afoul of those rules, and Democrats can defend the measure. Those disputes, which the nonpartisan Senate parliamentarian adjudicates over what could be a period of weeks, can complicate Democrats' plans for including any number of provisions in the legislation.
The state & local tax (SALT) deduction cap appears to be the tax issue most under discussion in relation to the reconciliation bill. The House Bill substantially raises the SALT Cap (from $10k to $80k), but whether that remains in the senate bill is unclear. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wants to eliminate the cap for those under approximately $400k in annual income. Others want a higher cap. Members are balancing their relief for residents of high-tax states versus the perception that the bill's benefits would then be tilted toward the wealthy.
The legislation that passed the House includes a number of tax provisions that affect individual taxpayers (including pass-through businesses), trusts, and estates.
Key proposed changes of interest for individual taxpayers would:
- Expand the net investment tax (NIIT) to cover net income derived in the ordinary course of a trade or business for taxpayers with greater than $400k (single filer) or $500k (joint filer) in taxable income.
- a 5% surtax on the modified adjusted gross income over $10m for individuals or over $200k for non-grantor trusts.
- Charge an additional 3% surtax on modified AGI over $25m for individuals or over $500k for non-grantor trusts.
- Modify Roth IRA provisions.
- Limit excess business losses for noncorporate taxpayers.
- Reduce the Section 1202 exclusion for the sale of qualified small business stock.
- Increase the SALT deduction.
Click Here for a comprehensive summary of all of these provisions, prepared by Ernst & Young's Washington, D.C. office, which works with SIGMA on tax advocacy matters. [Note: You must be logged in to view the document.]
Agreement Reached to Fund the Federal Government
On December 2nd, a day before funding for the federal government is scheduled to expire, House Democrats released a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through February 18th. The CR was subsequently passed by both chambers and sent to President Biden for his signature, avoiding a government shutdown. The CR came after Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reached an agreement and despite some Senate Republicans who threatened to oppose the measure unless Democrats agreed to direct no funding towards enforcing the Administration’s vaccine mandate for large companies.
The bill will extend current funding levels (with a few exceptions, including additional funding to support Afghan refugees) for government agencies and will provide additional time for Democrats to pass their budget reconciliation bill.
Earlier this week, the House Freedom Caucus, a groups of conservative Republicans in the House, sent a letter to Minority Leader McConnell urging him to use “all procedural tools at [his] disposal “to block the CR “unless it prohibits funding – in all respects – for the vaccine mandates and enforcement thereof.” Senator McConnell rejected the request, stating that shutting down the government over vaccine mandates would not “get an outcome.” “It will only create chaos and uncertainty,” Senator McConnell said.
Sources: BGov, House Freedom Caucus
House Transportation Committee Chairman DeFazio to Retire
On December 1st, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) announced that he will retire at the end of his term after 36 years in Congress—perhaps an indication that he believes Democrats will lose the majority, and he his chairmanship, in the midterm elections.
Chairman DeFazio’s announcement also comes after years of work crafting a House infrastructure bill that involved a broad reaching and environmentally focused overhaul of highway and transit infrastructure programs was abandoned for a much narrower bill in order to win Senate approval. During his tenure, Chairman DeFazio was an opponent of tolling existing Interstates and worked to secure funding for the Highway Trust Fund through his “Pennies for Progress” legislation that would have increased the federal gas tax by one penny. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Representative Rick Larson (D-WA), the two most senior members of the Committee, have announced they plan to run for the chairmanship.
Sources: Politico, BGov, The Hill
FTC Orders Industry to Provide Supply Chain Information
On November 29th, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched an investigation into supply chain interruptions, ordering large wholesalers and suppliers – including Walmart, Amazon, and others – to provide “detailed information that will help the FTC shed light on the ongoing supply chain disruptions and how these disruptions are causing serious and ongoing hardships for consumers and harming competition in the U.S. economy.”
According to the agency, the investigation will provide a better understanding of the reasons behind the disruptions and will examine whether supply chain disruptions are leading to specific bottlenecks, shortages, anticompetitive practices, or contributing to rising consumer prices.
The orders require the companies “to detail the primary factors disrupting their ability to obtain, transport and distribute their products; the impact these disruptions are having in terms of delayed and canceled orders, increased costs and prices; the products, suppliers and inputs most affected; and the steps the companies are taking to alleviate disruptions; and how they allocate products among their stores when they are in short supply,” the FTC said. The FTC also is requiring the companies to provide internal documents regarding the supply chain disruptions, including strategies related to supply chains; pricing; marketing and promotions; costs, profit margins and sales volumes; selection of suppliers and brands; and market shares.
Additionally, the agency is soliciting voluntary comments from retailers, consumer goods suppliers, wholesalers, and consumers regarding “their views on how supply chain issues are affecting competition in consumer goods markets. These comments provide an opportunity for market participants to surface additional issues and examples of how supply chain disruptions are affecting competition.”
Source: U.S. Federal Trade Commission
FHWA Unveils Infrastructure “One-Stop Shop” Website, Requests Information
On November 30th, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced the creation of a new infrastructure “one-stop shop” website for transportation agencies, communities, and stakeholders to learn more about the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. According to the agency, the new website will provide information on new and existing FHWA programs, as well as how to apply for grants and other discretionary funding opportunities available under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
FHWA is also issuing a Request for Information (RFI) to solicit suggestions from the public and stakeholders on how best to facilitate FHWA’s implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Source: U.S. Federal Highway Administration