1. NECA submitted public comments in response to a request by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to implement Executive Order 13706, Establishing Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors, signed by President Barack Obama on September 7, 2015. The Executive Order requires federal contractors to provide their employees with up to seven days of paid sick leave annually, including paid leave allowing for family care.
NECA’s Look Ahead: NECA believes this new rule will place an undue regulatory burden on contractors as a result of the complexities associated with this rule. Ultimately, some contractors may choose to curtail their work in the federal market. As required by the Executive Order, the DOL must issue a final rule by September 30, 2016. NECA will continue to monitor this issue and keep our contractors and chapters informed on upcoming developments.
2. The Senate is finally moving forward with its long stalled energy bill after two Senators dropped their “holds” on the legislation. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) secured an agreement on April 13 to proceed on a slate of amendments and the underlying energy reform bill. Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) had held up the NECA-supported reform packageover concerns relating to oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and securing funding for clean water, respectively.
NECA’s Look Ahead: The bill is expected to receive full consideration in the Senate any day now. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) wants the energy bill to be completed as soon as possible and suggested it could be wrapped up in as little as a day. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI) told NECA that he looks forward to getting a Conference Committee underway to hash out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill and move to final passage.
3. After two weeks of discussions, the Senate failed to come to agreement on a package of clean energy tax credits that would have been included in its version of Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization. The credits for sources like geothermal power, small fuel cells, combined heat and power systems, and small wind energy had been left out of the 2015 tax extenders law passed in December, and GOP and Democrat leaders had agreed this needed to be addressed. The deal fell apart, however, as more items were added to the legislation.
NECA’s Look Ahead: The Senate will now move forward with a clean FAA bill in the next week, with a tax title focused on provisions that are typically on the reauthorization bill, like passenger taxes and user fees. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Democrats would still support the bill, setting up likely passage for the 18-month reauthorization. Meanwhile, House leaders have not said whether the chamber will take up the Senate’s FAA bill, which is smaller than the six-year reauthorization passed by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. That bill, which would have privatized the nation’s air traffic control system, still faces opposition from some powerful Republicans and has not made it to the House floor. NECA will continue to advocate for passage of these important tax credits and will work to find another legislative vehicle to attain enactment.