United States: Tax Reform Gets Under Way; Special Interest Groups Already Bustling And More ... (Beltway Buzz - October 6, 2017)

The Beltway Buzz is a weekly update summarizing labor and employment news from inside the Beltway and clarifying how what's happening in Washington, D.C. could impact your business.


Tax Reform Gets Under Way; Special Interest Groups Already Bustling. As soon as the Republican-controlled Congress cast aside (however momentarily) its attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to focus on tax reform, K-Street lobbyists commenced their expected trek to the Capitol. Apprehensive that their pet tax deductions might be in danger, representatives of special interest groups began clamoring for lawmakers' attention. Judging from initial reports, the Republican proposal would lower the corporate tax rate, lower the top personal income tax rates, eliminate the  alternative minimum tax and estate tax, and—in Steven Mnuchin's words—eliminate "lots of deductions." Though vague on detail, a blueprint released last week seemed to indicate that certain cherished tax deductions, such as deductions for mortgage interest and charitable giving, might be at least somewhat safe. Importantly for the employee benefits industry, so arefor now"tax breaks for retirement plans." Everything is subject to change, and the actual value in dollars of some of these deductions might be diminished if, as expected, the standard deduction is doubled or otherwise increased. In response to the intense lobbying efforts, Republicans are already seemingly backing off from a proposal to eliminate the deduction for state and local income taxes, which disproportionately affect residents of states having high income tax rates. Industry is certain to attack each and every proposed elimination tooth and nail, and it should be interesting to see which cuts—if any—remain at the end of the day. (Hat tip to Stephanie A. Smithey, Timothy G. Verrall, and Richard C. Libert.)

Arbitration at the Supreme Court. On Monday, October 2, the Supreme Court of the United States kicked off its October 2017 term by hearing oral argument on the legality of class action waivers in employment arbitration agreements. Ron Chapman, Jr. and Christopher C. Murray have the play-by-play of the oral argument in the three cases dealing with this issue that have been consolidated before the Court: National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc.; Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis; and Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris. As Ron and Chris note, Justice Gorsuch was silent during the argument. Because Gorsuch is still new to the Court, you may be wondering what he thinks about arbitration. Well, according to SCOTUSblog, "Gorsuch's opinions have interpreted the arbitration clauses in light of the overriding presumption in favor of arbitration." We'll have to wait for a decision from the Court to see if this pattern holds. Finally, in an unusual development, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Richard Griffin, who argued the case for the Board, subsequently sent a letter to the Court correcting answers he delivered in response to Chief Justice Roberts's "50-employee" hypothetical (regarding a hypothetical agreement permitting collective arbitration only when at least 50 employees join the arbitration) noted in Ron and Chris's article.

Groundhog Day for "Agency Fees." In more Supreme Court news, late last week, the Court agreed to hear a new challenge to so-called "fair share" or "agency fees" that nonmember public sector workers pay to unions as a condition of employment. Harold P. Coxson has more, including an explanation of why this issue transcends the public sector (spoiler alert: like everything else, it's about the money).

Joint-Employer Bill Clears Hurdle. On October 4, the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce reported out H.R. 3441, the Save Local Business Act, on a party-line vote of 23–17. The Save Local Business Act will tighten the joint-employer standards in both the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. The bill has 95 bipartisan cosponsors, including three Democrats: Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Luis Correa (D-CA), and Collin Peterson (D-MN). In addition to a whole swath of industry associations and right-leaning groups, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference is also supporting the bill. The next stop would be a vote on the House floor, though whether Republican leadership will bring up the bill is unclear.

Immigration Matters. Here are some immigration tidbits from this week: 

  • On October 2, comments were due on the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) proposed changes to the Labor Condition Application. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce requested that the DOL withdraw the proposed changes and instead propose them, if at all, via the Administrative Procedure Act rulemaking process.
     
  • On October 3, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that premium processing will now be available for extensions of H-1B status, the final category of H-1B petitions to become eligible for premium processing treatment after a lengthy suspension. Stephen H. Smalley has the details.
     
  • On October 4, the House Homeland Security Committee reported out the Border Security for America Act, H.R. 3548. Among other provisions, the bill would provide $10 billion in funding for a border wall.
     
  • October 5 was the deadline for current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients to apply for renewal of their benefits. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and SHRM, among other groups, continue to push Congress for a quick resolution of the matter.
     
  • Also on October 5, the Senate confirmed Lee Francis Cissna to be USCIS director.
     
  • Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) has an op-ed in The Hill on his bill to require all employers to use E-Verify.

Senate Nominations Hearings. As the Buzz previously reported, on October 4, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a confirmation hearing for Cheryl Stanton (to be the DOL's Wage and Hour Division administrator), David Zatezalo (to be assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health), and Peter Robb (to be general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board). A vote in the committee will be the next step, and the Buzz expects that the full Senate will vote by the end of the month to ensure that Robb steps in immediately upon the expiration of current general counsel Richard Griffin's term on October 31.

DOL Solicitor. Late last week, President Trump announced his intent to nominate attorney Kate S. O'Scannlain to be solicitor for the Department of Labor. Currently, Nicholas C. Geale is serving as both acting solicitor and chief of staff for Secretary of Labor Acosta. A confirmation hearing for O'Scannlain has yet to be scheduled.

EEOC Training. Readers may recall that in 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its report from its Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace. As a follow-up to the report, on Wednesday, October 4, the EEOC unveiled two training programs for employers called Leading for Respect (for supervisors) and Respect in the Workplace (for all employees). The programs are intended to focus on "respect, acceptable workplace conduct, and the types of behaviors that contribute to a respectful and inclusive . . . workplace." A list of frequently asked questions on the training programs is available here. No word on whether the training will instruct employers on how to inoculate their workplace civility policies from NLRB scrutiny.

Of Mice and Congressmen. Washington D.C.'s rodent problem might not be as bad as New York City's, but it's still pretty bad. The Capitol Hill area is particularly infested—and we aren't just referring to the politicians and lobbyists. Some speculate that a 10-year restoration project of the Cannon House Office Building has led to an influx of vermin in the three House office buildings (Rayburn, Cannon, and Longworth). However, with Congressional approval ratings nearing all-time lows, cynics may say that the rodents are simply abandoning the sinking ship that is the 115th Congress.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions