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NECA's Legislative Update Top Three 11/22/17

Nov 21, 2017

1. The Senate Finance Committee approved its version of tax reform on a party-line vote late on November 16. Tensions ran high and will likely get worse when the measure is brought before the full Senate later next week.

NECA’s Look Ahead: The bill first heads to the Senate Budget Committee on November 28 with plans to move it to the floor at the very end of the month. Democrats are expected to offer dozens of amendments that are all likely to fail. Meanwhile, discussions are continuing behind closed doors to address several key issues, especially revising how pass-throughs are treated under both the Senate and House bills. Write your Senators and Representative today and tell them they must fix the bill and affirmatively ensure S-corps, LLCs, LLPs and partnerships are treated fairly compared to C-Corps under the tax code.

2. Late last week, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced a bill lauded by Democrats as a fix to the critically declining Central States Teamsters and the United Mine Workers’ multiemployer pension plans. The proposed plan is a loan guarantee program where low-interest loans are given to the pension plans and then invested in anticipated high return investments. With the return on these investments, the plans will then hypothetically be able to pay back both their unfunded liabilities and the federal government. This plan faces a steep uphill battle politically. In additional pension news, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) released its report for 2017 showing that the deficit for multiemployer pension plans has grown to $65.1 billion.

NECA’s Look Ahead: NECA continues to advocate for the inclusion of the composite plan design in any pension legislation that can make it to the House or Senate floor. As the PBGC’s report raises fears for the multiemployer world, the spotlight put on the need for reform by Sen. Brown’s bill is much needed. That said, a loan guarantee by itself is an unlikely candidate for success in a Republican-controlled House and Senate.

3. On November 20, 2017, the Nebraska Public Service Commission approved in a 3-2 vote, an alternate route for the long-awaited Keystone XL pipeline which will link Canada’s Alberta oil sands to refineries in the United States. Nebraska was the last state to approve the project’s permits.

NECA’s Look Ahead: Although this a major win for the project and President Trump, who considers Keystone XL one of his major energy priorities, the project will still face a number of legal and public challenges from anti-pipeline environmentalist groups in Nebraska before construction can begin. According to the White House, the Keystone XL pipeline would create 42,000 jobs nationwide.