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BPAA Federal Policy Update - November 17

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From the Michael Best Strategies:

Tax Reform Progressing at an Aggressive Pace—On November 2, House Republicans released their tax reform bill titled, “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” Michael Best Strategies’ (MBS) tax policy experts, Denise Bode and Anne Canfield continue to provide constant updates to their tax analysis charts in this tax reform update. This past week, on November 16, the House of Representatives passed "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" (H.R. 1) as approved by Ways and Means Committee by a vote of 227 to 205. On November 16, the Senate Finance Committee passed their version of the “Tax Cut And New Jobs” act by a vote of 14-12.

Next week, the Senate Budget Committee will review the Senate Finance Committee passed bill to ensure that it complies with the requirements set forth in the FY2018 Budget Resolution. The week of November 27, the full Senate will consider the Senate Finance Committee passed bill on the Senate floor.

There are two possible pathways once the bill is on the Senate Floor: (1) The Senate passes a bill, with any amendments that may be added by the full Senate. The conferees are appointed for a House-Senate Conference Committee to resolve any differences between the two bills. Once the Conference Report is put together by the House-Senate Conference Committee, the Conference Report will then go back to the full Senate and U.S. House of Representatives for an up-down vote on the Conference Report, which is not amendable. (2) The second and, potentially, more likely pathway is that the House and Senate pre-conference the bill. Any changes that the House wants to make to the bill would be included by the full Senate during its consideration of the Senate Finance Committee-passed bill. The final tax reform bill would then be passed by the full Senate and then passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, thus avoiding a second vote in the Senate, which might be critical to the ultimate success of getting a final tax reform bill enacted.

Click here to see the MBS Analysis of the House-passed bill and the Senate Finance Committee-passed bill.


BNA -- Labor Department Looking Into Worker Center Scrutiny, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is in the midst of reviewing the legal status of alternative worker organizing centers that business groups want to see classified as unions, he told lawmakers Nov. 15. At a House committee hearing in which Acosta otherwise repeated previous statements on apprenticeship, overtime pay, and fiduciary advice for retirement savers, the secretary’s remarks on worker centers provided a glimpse into how his department may revise its interpretation of laws governing union financial disclosures.

The Hill reports, House passes bill to overturn controversial joint-employer ruling -- The House passed a bill that would overturn an Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that made companies potentially liable for labor law violations committed by their subcontractors. The Save Local Business Act, sponsored by Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), was approved 242-181 despite pushback from Democrats, who argued the bill gives a free pass to unscrupulous companies that steal wages, fail to pay overtime and break child labor laws. Republicans say the activist labor board under the Obama administration created massive confusion when it ruled in 2015 that an employer is considered a joint employer with a subcontractor if it has “indirect” control over the terms and conditions of employment or has the“reserved authority to do so.” The bill, which passed the House, would change that definition under the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act to state a company is only considered a joint employer if it "directly, actually and immediately" has control over essential terms and conditions of employment.


Food Safety News reports, FDA commissioner issues new guidance for menu labeling -- Ahead of the effective date for those new, long-awaited menu labeling regulations, which is May 7, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is out with some non-binding “guidance” to help with implementation. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb rolled out the guidance this week, using the occasion to underscore his commitment to improving nutritional information. The menu labeling requirements are only mandatory for restaurants and retail outlets with 20 or more locations. Smaller operations can “opt-in” to the federal program. Most effected restaurants and retailers were ready to implement new menu labeling in May this year, but FDA put the brakes on for more comments, especially from pizza and movie chains.

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