There have been mixed stories that Congress won’t be too busy this year due to the mid-year elections; however, based on the communications I’m receiving from coalitions and other news reports, I beg to differ. Here are some of the main priorities you should be aware of for 2014. These priorities all vary between Congressional and various agencies, as well as by state for licensing issues. Read below for a preview of 2014!
A Win to Start the Year
The NLRB had until Thursday, Jan. 2, to either petition the U.S. Supreme Court for review of the U.S. Courts of Appeals decisions (both the D.C. and 4th Circuits) striking down the NLRB’s notice posting rule or request an extension of time to file its petition. That deadline came and went with no action. This means that more than 6 million businesses won’t be required to post a notice of employee rights to organize as a union.
Despite the court decisions knocking down the NLRB’s rule, federal contractors are still obligated to post a notice identical to the NLRB posting under a separate rule published three years ago by the U.S. Department of Labor. Another lawsuit filed by NAM is underway regarding this ruling.
A New NLRB Ambush Rule
Despite a favorable Dec. 9 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on a dismissal of the NLRB’s appeal of the U.S. District Court decision striking down the “ambush” elections rule, the NLRB has indicated its plans to propose a new rule now that it has a complete senate-confirmed Board. This new rule is expected in the Spring.
Read more to understand the possible impact of the rule.
Final Persuader Rule Set for March
U.S. Department of Labor released its latest regulatory agenda indicating the agency plans to issue the final “persuader” rule in March 2014 (see agenda notice here). The proposed rule, which was released on June 21, 2011, was designed to silence employer opposition to union organizing. If the final rule is similar to the proposal, it will substantially interfere with employers’ access to legal advice on labor matters and with attorney-client privilege.
CDW’s comments on the proposed rule are available here. A fact sheet on the possible impact of the rule is available here, and a more in depth policy paper here.
Next Week (Jan. 13-17):
Supreme Oral Argument in Noel Canning
CDW continues to support the efforts of bottling company Noel Canning to legally challenge President Obama’s Jan. 4, 2012, unlawful recess appointments to the NLRB. In January 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held in Noel Canning v. NLRB that the recess appointments were unconstitutional. Since then, two other federal appeals courts also have ruled the appointments unconstitutional (NLRB v. New Vista Nursing and Rehabilitation [Third Circuit] and NLRB v. Enterprise Leasing [Fourth Circuit]). A decision is expected before June of this year.
If the Supreme Court rules that the appointments were invalid, any decisions or any regulations issued during the time the recess appointees served will likewise be invalid.
The House and Senate return this week with several key actions to complete. The Senate is pursuing extending unemployment insurance benefits. Republicans are proposing a short-term, three-month extension that is paid for through other revenues, and the Democrats are arguing they want a full year extension that would cost $25 billion. Appropriators have finalized six of the needed 12 agencies to reach a Jan. 15deadline before the government may shutdown once again. It appears that a short-term extension may be sought after to buy more time to get the Omnibus bill finalized so agencies know what their exact budgets are for 2014.
Tax reform has been in the works for the last several years. Many thought 2013 would bring that reform about, but even the farm bill couldn’t get re-authorized last year, so taxes are delayed once again; in addition, with Senator Max Baucus being named as U.S. Ambassador to China, he would have to relinquish his chairmanship on the Senate Finance Committee, and he played a pivotal role in pushing tax reform. In the meantime, a number of tax cuts expired at the end of 2013, but many lawmakers are looking to permanently extend these cuts or get them included in some other form of legislation this year.
An issue that never really goes away, but is constantly changing: Last year, we saw several states deal with cable/satellite companies start to encroach in the low-voltage integration world by offering their security services and not being licensed to do so. Massachusetts, Michigan, Texas, and Florida all introduced legislation surrounding this issue last year. Additionally, Maryland had a task force studying licensing and continuing education for electricians. NSCA is working with local members to include exemption language in any bill that may be introduced.