Government Affairs

AKFCF Government Affairs Committee Update & Call Minutes

11/12/2018

Call Attendees: 19 Members (All Regional Reps Joined) of the Government Affair Committee and AKFCF were on this important call.  The call was recorded…

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Current State of Play – Congressional Update - Dan Gans

  • Congressional Schedule:
    • The House and Senate return Tuesday, November 13th from the midterm elections.
    • Those who’ve lost their seats need to be out of their offices by 11/28/18
    • There are only 16 legislative days left between now and the end of the Congress
    • Thus far there are 10 uncalled seats in the House - probably four of those go back in the Republican column
  • Election Results - November 9th, 2018
    • Over 113 million voters (about 48.1% of the eligible voting population) went to the polls on Tuesday to cast ballots in the midterm elections
    • House: Democrats needed a net gain of 23 seats to flip the House of Representatives. So far, they’ve gained 30 seats, with 13 races to go.
      • Democrats have taken control of the House for the first time in eight years.
  • Currently, Democrats have control of 225 seats and Republicans have control of 197 seats.
  • Senate: Republicans kept the Senate - and picked up seats in the process.
    • Notable races include: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) narrowly beat out Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX). Three Republicans flipped Senate seats in states that Trump won in 2016 (Mike Braun (IN), Kevin Cramer (ND), and Josh Hawley (MO). Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) was beaten by Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) won his race and Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) narrowly won his race as well.
    • The Arizona and Florida Senate races are still outstanding as the votes were too close to call. Mississippi will go into a runoff as per their special election.
  • Currently, Republicans have control of 51 seats and Democrats have control of 46 seats.
  • What does it all mean?
    • Washington, DC now enters a period of divided government in the run up to the 2020 presidential election.
    • R’s and D’s, including President Trump, will have to compromise on a budget and impending debt limit and sequestration, as well as spending levels for the coming fiscal years in order to avoid a government shutdown
    • There appears to be a willingness to work together on some big-ticket items, like infrastructure, investment and drug pricing. The parties may even be able to advance smaller policy initiatives impacting things like energy, financial services, cybersecurity and trade
  • Priorities for lame duck & next Congress: Technical corrections bill around the Qualified Improvement Property issue for restaurant depreciation; 30-hour work week & Obamacare/healthcare reform; federal minimum wage increase; ethanol and the renewable fuel standard

Tax Reform

  • Polaris and the QIP coalition are going into see Sen. McConnell’s office this coming Wednesday 11/14 to discuss the technical correction bill prospects in lame duck
  • It is unlikely the bill will be passed in the lame duck, but we will have another update for franchisees later this week
  • Election Implications: Expect extensive oversight of the Republican’s TCJA of 2017, which Democrats criticize for cutting business taxes permanently while cutting individual tax rates only temporarily through 2025
  • The new House majority will likely work to highlight other perceived inequities with the 2017 tax law, especially the removal of the State and Local Tax deduction (SALT), and other benefits to high-income earners
  • House Democratic leaders are also expected to utilize a little-known section of the tax code to review and possibly vote to make public President Trump’s personal tax returns (Section 6103 allows the tax-writing committees to review confidential taxpayer information, including tax returns).

Renewable Fuel Standard

  • Election Implications: There is a real opportunity to quell the RFS given Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) is a senior member on the House Energy and Commerce committee and has made his fight against the RFS well known
  • The AKFCF has been a staunch supporter of Rep. Welch in the past - we’ll be working with his office on this issue
  • Democrats in the House can be expected to use their oversight powers to slow the deregulatory agenda of President Trump, particularly as it relates to energy and environmental policy, by forcing agencies to provide documents and summoning administration officials from the EPA, DOE and Interior to testify
    • A Democratic majority could also reinstate a select committee on climate change similar to the one that existed under their leadership from 2007-2011, that would be tasked with presenting evidence to support the eventual legislative opportunities to boost energy efficiency and renewable energy
    • Sen. Cornyn is working to craft RFS legislation that will garner enough bi-partisan support to pass the Senate
    • This legislation will most likely be taken up next Congress and will not come up in the lame duck
      • His staff have been working with Senators from both parties and with a variety of RFS related concerns to put something together that is acceptable across the board
      • It was hoped the bill would be introduced in June, but as it morphs and changes, taking into consideration concerns from all parties, delays are inevitable
      • Key elements of the bill include:
        • Specific sunset for corn ethanol mandates at the end of 2022 and the phase in of increased minimum octane requirements for consumer fuels purchased at the pump
        • There is no mandate on how increased octane would be achieved – allowing free market to decide

ACA Repeal/Replace

  • Election Implications: Since the Democrats took the House in the elections, we will most likely not see any movement on this project during lame duck
  • Both Republicans and Democrats would like to see health care taken off the table and its too early to say if a deal can be made or not, but we will try
  • The new House Democratic majority will be limited in its ability to enact health care legislation with Republicans still in control of the Senate and White House
  • Proposals such as Medicare for All and additional subsidies for state insurance exchanges will be next to impossible to achieve

Joint Employer

  • There were two letters sent to the Department of Labor from Sen. Isakson and Rep. Byrne.
    • The Senate letter featured 26 Senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Majority Whip Cornyn (R-TX).
    • The House letter was bipartisan in the end, with Reps. Scott Peters (D-CA) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX), signing on in addition to 80 Republicans
    • The letters urged the DOL to develop rulemaking to clarify the current standard for determining Joint Employer Status under the FLSA and that the conflicting and outmoded FLSA standards for joint employment have contributed to over costly litigations for small businesses.
      • We are also awaiting the near-term rulemaking from the NLRB and hope the letters encourage the board to expedite the process

Pending Bills - Just a reminder, these bills will have to be reintroduced in the next Congress

House:

  • H.R. 1314 – Renewable Fuel Standard Elimination Act
    • Sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte
    • Bill amends the Clean Air Act to repeal the EPA’s renewable fuel program, which requires transportation fuel to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuel
    • 67 cosponsors
  • H.R. 1315 – RFS Reform Act of 2017
    • Sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte
    • Bill amends the Clean Air Act to eliminate certain requirements under the renewable fuel program to prohibit the EPA from approving the introduction into commerce of gasoline that contains greater than 10-volume percent ethanol, and for other purposes
    • 55 cosponsors
  • H.R.5212 – GREENER Fuels Act
    • Sponsored by Rep. Peter Welch
    • Bill amends the Clean Air Act to reform the RFS program
    • 3 Cosponsors
  • H.R. 3441 – The Save Local Business Act
    • Sponsored by Rep. Bradley Byrne
    • To clarify the treatment of two or more employers as joint employers under the NLRA and the FLSA of 1938
    • Passed the House w/ 132 cosponsors
  • H.R. 772 – Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2017 – bill offers some more flexibility and protections
    • Sponsored by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers
    • Bill amends the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to revise the nutritional information that restaurants and retail food establishments must disclose
    • Board must include: calories contained in the whole menu item, number of servings and number of calories per serving, number of calories per common unit of the item, such as for multi-serving item that is typically divided before presentation to the consumer
    • Nutritional information may be provided solely by a remote-access menu (e.g. an internet menu) or food establishments where the majority of orders are placed by customers who are off-premises
    • Passed the House 2/6/18
  • H.R. 620 – ADA Education & Reform Act
    • Sponsor: Rep. Ted Poe
    • To amend the ADA to promote compliance through education, to clarify the requirements for demand letters, to provide for a notice and cure period before the commencement of a private civil action, and for other purposes
    • Passed the House 2/15/18
  • H.R. 3798 – Save American Workers Act
    • Sponsor: Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN)
    • Bill to repeal the 30-hour threshold for classification as a full-time employee for purposes of the employer mandate in the ACA and replace it with 40 hours
    • 77 Cosponsors
  • H.R. 6544 – The Employee Rights Act
    • Sponsor: Rep. Phil Roe
    • Bill to provide protections for workers with respect to their right to select or refrain from selecting representation by a labor organization and their right to refrain from paying dues or fees to a labor organization for nonrepresentational activity
    • 9 Cosponsors

Senate:

  • S.1782 – Forty House is Full Time Act
    • Sponsor: Rep. Susan Collins
    • Bill to modify the definition of full-time employee for purposes of the employer mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
    • 5 Cosponsors
  • S.2519 – GREENER Fuels Act
    • Sponsor: Sen. Tom Udall
    • Bill amends the Clean Air Act to reform the RFS program
    • 0 Cosponsors (newly introduced)
 

Your AKFCF Government Affairs Committee

Ray Aley – Chair

Brett Harris – Vice-Chair

Leslie Sharp – Secretary & PAC Secretary

Keith Cole – Treasurer GAC

Lesley Hottinger – Representative GL & PAC Chair

Austin Felker – Representative SE

Ralph Harman – Representative NW

Scott Peterka – Representative NE

Bill Ford – Representative SW

Shahid Chaudhry – Representative SoCAL

Peg Duenow – Representative UMW

Jamie Jackson – Representative Harman

Brandon Robertson – Representative EC Liaison

Dale Black – Representative At-Large UMW

Jay Trujillo – Representative At-Large Harman


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Questions?  Contact Ray Aley

(802) 318-4705