Legislative Updates

May 10, 2021 

National Restaurant Association Resources Aim to Help Operators Apply for COVID-19 Relief

The Small Business Administration began accepting applications for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant program on May 3.

The $28.6 billion fund was established to help foodservice businesses such as restaurants and bars recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Operators with 20 or fewer locations are eligible to apply.

The National Restaurant Association has noted that the total number of applicants is likely to exceed expectations, which could quickly exhaust the allocated funds. Distributors and dealers who wish to share information with operators may point them to the SBA’s grant site and the National Restaurant Association’s step-by-step guide to filling out an application. The association has also prepared a FAQ document about the program and has hosted webinars with SBA officials to explain in detail how the program works.

“The SBA has done incredible work in assembling this program in such a short period of time, and we appreciate our partnership with them,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs for the National Restaurant Association.
 

May 10, 2021 

Unemployment Pay is Dampening Jobs Market, U.S. Chamber Says

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has called for ending the $300 weekly federal unemployment benefit in the wake of April’s weaker-than-anticipated jobs report.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported May 7 that employment rose by 266,000 in April and that the national unemployment rate was steady at 6.1 percent. This was less than the 1 million in added jobs some economists had expected as more Americans are vaccinated and businesses ramp up activity.

“The disappointing jobs report makes it clear that paying people not to work is dampening what should be a stronger jobs market,” said Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “We need a comprehensive approach to dealing with our workforce issues and the very real threat unfilled positions poses to our economic recovery from the pandemic. One step policymakers should take now is ending the $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit. Based on the Chamber’s analysis, the $300 benefit results in approximately one in four recipients taking home more in unemployment than they earned working.”
 

May 3, 2021

FEDA Signs Letter Supporting Direct Control Standard for Joint Employers

FEDA has signed on to a letter urging legislators to amend the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act to make clear that an employer may be considered a joint employer only if it has direct control over the employee.

The long-understood definition of what constitutes a joint employer has been muddied the last few years after the Obama administration reversed the standard for the purposes of labor union organization to include employers with indirect control.  The Trump administration later rescinded that change, however, President Joe Biden appears to be investigating reverting back to the Obama-era rule. As a result, Rep. James Comer (R-KY) and Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) plan to reintroduce the Save Local Business Act to codify a direct control joint employer standard in both the Fair Labor Standards Act and the National Labor Relations Act.

A coalition of associations, including the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, has prepared a letter in support of the Save Local Business Act. “This legislation comes at a critical time in the economic recovery when so many small businesses are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic and seek clarity in the law to help them better grow their businesses, create jobs, serve their communities and meet local, state and federal obligations to their employees, customers and the general public,” the letter states.

To read the full letter, click here.
 

May 3, 2021

Coalition to Meet with Federal Agencies About Potential Rules

Summarized from Jade West, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors

The Department of Labor has sent a draft OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). This is the first step in issuing an ETS. It is anticipated that the OIRA review will move quickly but it is likely to take a minimum of two weeks. As you may remember, shortly after taking office President Joe Biden issued an executive order directing the Department of Labor (DOL) to decide whether to issue a COVID-19 emergency workplace rule by March 15.

Although neither OIRA nor DOL has made the contents of the ETS public, the Coalition for Workforce Safety (CWS) – of which the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors is a member – will be meeting with ORIA to provide a stakeholder perspective and present general concerns about the ETS. NAW was a signatory on a letter regarding an ETS last year. You can view the letter here.

Also of note, several management law firms are closely following this issue, and there is a high likelihood that litigation will be filed to challenge an aggressive ETS. NAW and other trade associations could well be participants in a court challenge if one is initiated.
 

May 3, 2021

Biden has Proposed $6.1 Trillion in Spending During his First 100 Days

Summarized from Jade West, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors

During a joint session of Congress last week, President Joe Biden unveiling the $1.9 trillion American Families Plan, which proposes funding for childcare, paid family and medical leave, universal pre-kindergarten, tuition-free community college, and a four-year extension of the expanded child care credit enacted in the most recent COVID-19 relief bill. However, these programs would be paid for primarily by increasing taxes on both income and capital gains and through increased enforcement of the current tax law.

Combined with the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that was passed earlier this year and Biden’s $2.5 trillion American Jobs Plan, the new president has already proposed $6.1 trillion in spending during his first 100 days in office. Continuing to spend at this level will harm American businesses, Eric Hoplin, president and CEO of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, said in a statement.

“The pandemic forced hundreds of thousands of businesses to close their doors for good, destroying jobs and hurting families across America—and President Biden’s unprecedented $6 trillion in new government spending proposals this year will kill more American jobs and businesses,” Hoplin said.

“While the President claims this new deluge of government spending will be paid for only by wealthy individuals and corporations, the truth is he will raise taxes on individual and family-owned businesses, small and mid-size businesses, and entrepreneurs across the country.

“By raising taxes on America’s Main Street businesses, President Biden will upend his own goal of helping American families by forcing the employers that survived the pandemic to cut jobs, slow hiring, and increase prices.”
 

May 3, 2021

American Families Plan Could Impose Capital Gains Taxes on Inheritance

The newly revealed American Families Plan contains several tax changes and increases to fund what President Joe Biden has called “human infrastructure.” Among these is a change to how inherited capital gains are taxed.

Currently someone who owns assets that have increased in value does not have to pay capital-gains taxes until they sell. This has allowed some assets transfer at the time of death to go untaxed. However, under Biden’s proposal, unrealized gains greater than $1 million would trigger taxes upon the death of the owner, regardless of the taxpayer’s other income. The Biden administration has claimed it would include protections for family businesses that remain operating, however, as Palmer Schoening, chairman of the Family Business Coalition points out, previous attempts at implementing exemptions to the estate tax for family businesses have failed to adequately protect those businesses.

While the American Families Plan does not include any changes to the death tax itself, Schoening wrote that the proposed alteration to the capital gains tax amounted to a “second death tax with a much lower exemption.”

A recent letter from the Family Business Coalition urged legislators to support a full and permanent repeal of the federal estate tax. It cited a 2017 study by the Tax Foundation that found the U.S. could create more than 150,000 jobs by repealing the estate tax. “It makes no sense to require grieving families to pay a confiscatory tax on their loved one’s nest egg,” the letter stated. “Far too often this tax is paid by selling family assets like farms and businesses. Other times, employees of the family business must be laid off and payrolls slashed. No one should be punished for fulfilling the American dream.”

For more information on the capital gains tax at death issue, please read this analysis from the Congressional Research Service.
 

May 3, 2021

Federal Agencies Will Include Minimum Wage Increase in New Contracts

Summarized from Jade West, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors

President Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring federal contractors performing service, construction or concession contracts to pay a $15 hourly minimum wage to those employees who are working on those contracts.

Beginning Jan. 30, 2022, all federal agencies will need to ensure that the $15-per-hour minimum wage is included in any new covered contract solicitations, and by March 30, 2022, all agencies will need to implement the minimum wage in new covered contracts. Additionally, contracting officers must implement the higher wage in existing covered contracts when exercising options and extensions.

To read the White House fact sheet, click here.

To read an in-depth report on the EO provided by McGuireWoods law firm, click here.
 

April 26, 2021

Videos Helping Businesses Adapt to Changing World

As American businesses work to adapt to a rapidly changing world and meet the expectations of today’s customers and employees, the U.S. Chamber is making more resources available to help in that transition. The U.S. Chamber OnDemand is a portal for videos covering a wide range of topics, such as coronavirus, diversity and inclusion, healthcare, cybersecurity, global supply chains, and other business issues. Each video features engaging conversations with business leaders, government officials and subject experts on the most urgent topics impacting companies.

To view the full list of on-demand videos and browse by topic, please visit this page.