A look ahead from NARI Lobbyist
2013 will be a busy year for NARI in Washington D.C. Fiscal issues will continue to dominate debate on Capitol Hill in the wake of the “taxmageddon” negotiations that marked the end of the 112th Congress. America’s struggle to work its way out of a recession will translate into Senators and Congressmen debating frequently on taxes and spending.
NARI’s position on budgetary issues reflects its small business membership. Eighty percent of NARI member companies have 20 employees or less and those businesses want the federal government to tighten its belt the same way Main Street small business owners have.
Tax reform is expected to be a hot topic in 2013 and, possibly throughout the entire 113th Congress which lasts 2-years. NARI believes that legislative debate on tax reform must include a focus on lowering individual rates. Too often, tax reform discussions focus exclusively on corporate rates, however, most small businesses file taxes as individuals, not corporations. Data shows 80% of NARI members file taxes as individuals and 49% use S-Corp as their form of ownership structure. NARI is partnering with the S-Corp Association to ensure the importance of individual rates is emphasized as part of an overall tax reform strategy.
Whenever there is talk about overhauling the tax code, people in Washington begin to speculate about removing the home mortgage interest deduction. The attractiveness of realizing $83 billion in additional revenue is hard to resist for some lawmakers, but NARI will join with the Realtors and other business organizations to maintain a key part of the tax code that incentivizes home ownership.
It is also likely that energy legislation will play a role in the 113th Congress. Major changes to energy policy, like cap-and-trade bills, are unlikely. However, legislation that recognizes the positive impact of energy efficiency measures can gain bi-partisan support and make its way to the President’s desk for signature. NARI supports legislation that will help motivate homeowners to make energy efficient upgrades to their homes and will work to ensure NARI certifications are included in any standards written into federal law. Last year, NARI worked with several groups to support the Sensible Accounting to Value Energy Act (SAVE) which would put energy upgrades on par with new granite countertops when it comes to home appraisals. NARI expects to help re-introduce the SAVE Act next year and to work towards its passage.
Lastly, on the legislative front – NARI will be working closely with the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) to enact regulatory reform legislation that will ensure small business has a seat at the table when federal agencies write rules and regulations. Last year, House-passed legislation stalled in the Senate, but NARI is optimistic that Virginia Senator Mark Warner’s leadership on regulatory reform issues will break the partisan log jam that has prevented small business regulatory relief legislation from passage.
While the limelight in Washington is on Congress, much of the work that impacts NARI membership is in federal agencies. Several agencies held back their regulatory plans prior to the election and now that President Obama secured a second term, we are expecting a flood of federal regulations covering environmental and worker protection, healthcare, labor union formation, and several banking and finance areas covered by the new Dodd-Frank law.
There are over 400 regulations in the pipeline that will affect small businesses. EPA’s implementation of the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) rules will remain a top priority. NARI will continue to push for tougher EPA enforcement against non-certified contractors who are endangering homeowners and their families. EPA’s lack of enforcement and failure to increase public awareness of LRRP has created an underground economy of uncertified contractors who put families at risk and threaten the professionalism of the remodeling industry.
Another rule that is on NARI’s radar is OSHA’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2). Draft regulations that will require employers to develop and implement plans that “find and fix” workplace hazards are expected soon. NARI wants to be sure OSHA’s rules reflect the real-world work environment of remodelers and does not create unnecessary paperwork or bureaucracy that could actually do more harm than good.
NARI’s efforts on the regulatory front will be aided by the Office of Advocacy at the U.S. Small Business Administration during 2013. That office works to make sure NARI’s voice is heard by agency officials who are drafting rules. Not only will SBA’s Office of Advocacy work to make sure paperwork and regulatory burden are kept to a minimum in future rules, they play a key role in looking at rules on the books that can be revised or eliminated in order to benefit small firms without sacrificing regulatory protections. –Tom Sullivan, NARI Lobbyist
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