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BPAA Biweekly Federal Policy Updates - May 17, 2019

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BPAA is pleased to provide the following biweekly update on federal policy. Please contact Tom Schreibel at tbschreibel@michaelbeststrategies.com if you have any questions or updates on activity at the federal level.

 

Visit BPAA’s website at http://bpaa.com/bpaa/government-affairs/government-affairs  to read previous federal and state policy updates.

 

LABOR UPDATE

  • Politico reports - Moderate Dems Look To Break Logjam On Minimum Wage Boost: A band of Democratic moderates in the House is working to end a standoff with progressives on legislation to boost the minimum wage — potentially resolving a fight that has stalled one of the party’s top priorities. Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.) is leading an effort to make tweaks that could help deliver at least a half-dozen moderates onto the $15-an-hour wage bill without losing many on the left. The initial struggle on the measure, a core part of the Democratic agenda, underscores the ideological divisions that have tested the new majority. The moderates’ plan would still offer a path to doubling the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over five years, but would come with an insurance option of sorts, according to multiple aides: a requirement that the Government Accountability Office conduct a study on the policy’s economic effects after roughly two years. The House Education and Labor Committee would then have a chance to recommend what action — if any — House leadership should take. The amendment, which is still being drafted, has not yet been publicly released. The proposal could pose a problem for some liberal lawmakers, who are refusing to do anything that they see as watering down the party’s promise to reach a federal $15-an-hour minimum wage. Read more at Politico.
     
  • Push for a $15 Minimum Wage Divides Democrats: WASHINGTON—A debate about whether the country should have a patchwork of minimum wages is complicating a push to raise the federal pay floor—and hindering House Democrats’ effort to unite on the issue. A bill to gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024, authored by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D., Va.), has been hovering just short of the votes needed to pass the Democratic-led House of Representatives, where it faces resistance from some lawmakers from regions where wages and the cost of living are generally lower. While the bill is unlikely to come up for a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate, passage in the House would give Democrats a campaign talking point in their bid to win the Senate and White House in 2020. But internal divisions threaten their ability to paint themselves as clearly supporting a near-term raise for the lowest-paid Americans.
    • A group of House Democrats has coalesced around a rival proposal from Rep. Terri Sewell (D., Ala.) that would establish a tiered federal minimum wage, under which the lowest-paid workers in the largest, most expensive cities would earn more than in places with a lower cost of living. That would raise the minimum wage every three years, based on a formula, meaning the entire country would eventually reach $15, but likely not until 2033. Read more at the Wall Street Journal.

 

SMALL BUSINESS UPDATE

  • Bloomberg Government reports - Clarify Small Business Health Plan Rules, Attorneys General Say: A dozen attorneys general aren’t satisfied with the Labor Department’s response to a judge’s ruling that called the Trump administration’s expansion of association health plans an “end-run” around the Affordable Care Act. The attorneys general, led by New York’s Letitia James, took issue May 13 with an April 29 statement from the DOL in which it said it and the Department of Health and Human Services would not take enforcement actions against existing plans created under President Donald Trump’s rule. The plans, however, would have to make changes at the end of the plan year or when the contract expired.
    • The DOL needs to clearly state that the small business health plans created under the rule must meet minimum coverage requirements under the ACA, the letter from the attorneys general said. Judge John Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia struck down portions of the rule in a March 28 decision, saying its expansion of the different types of allowable plans violate both the ACA and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The attorneys general are the same 12 who brought the lawsuit.
    • At least 28 association health plans created under the expanded rule were operational at the time of the judge’s ruling. They cover thousands of individuals. 

 

SPORTS BETTING UPDATE

  • US Sports Betting: Where It Stands One Year After The Federal Ban Fell: If you thought every state was going to legalize sports betting instantly, you were in for a rude awakening. But in the grand scheme of how things usually progress legislatively, I could argue the pace of legalization has come at a breakneck pace. The current list of states that have legalized sports betting in some fashion stands at 14 (plus sports betting that will take place in Washington, DC). Read the full overview here at Legal Sports Report.

 

MUSIC LICENSING

  • OPINION: When Two Companies Control 90% Of The Market – It’s Not A Free Market: Many self-described free marketeers vociferously oppose antitrust laws: “Antitrust laws also referred to as competition laws, are statutes developed by the U.S. government to protect consumers from predatory business practices. They ensure that fair competition exists in an open-market economy. “These laws have evolved along with the market, vigilantly guarding against would-be monopolies and disruptions to the productive ebb and flow of competition. “Antitrust laws are applied to a wide range of questionable business activities, including but not limited to market allocation, bid rigging, price fixing, and monopolies. The problem for these self-described free marketeers is – if they oppose antitrust laws…they aren’t actually free marketeers. Because one or a few companies overwhelmingly dominating a market – inherently means the market isn’t free.
    • For decades, these cartels choked to death music performers and music-playing venues alike. Until 1941 – when the Department of Justice (DoJ) stepped in. And introduced the consent decrees: “ASCAP and BMI are governed by ‘consent decrees’ originally issued by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) as a means to curb the anticompetitive tendencies of the publishing sector…. “Back in 1941, there was only one legally recognized copyright in music—the musical composition—and the balance of power in the industry was heavily tilted to the music publishers and ASCAP. Read more here at Heartland.org.
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