With every new presidential administration comes a different set of priorities and issues, and Congress' legislative agenda reflects this fact. However, while much of the media focus has been on the big ticket items–health care reform, climate change, regulation of the financial industry, and the economy, there are several other items that are simmering on the backburner. At some point, the heat will get turned up and these issues will really start bubbling.
Here is a sampling of just a few such issues:
- Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act (HR 3126): expands government regulation of consumer financial products, potentially impacting business' credit agreements with customers. Click here to learn more and to send a message to Congress.
- Healthy Families Act (HR 2460): mandates that businesses with 15 or more employees provide up to 7 days of paid sick leave to their employees.
- Protecting America's Workers Act (HR 2067): strengthens the authority of the U.S. Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA), giving OSHA more tools for increased enforcement and penalties.
- Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform: Congress plans to introduce/consider legislation to overhaul our nation's chemicals management system. NEMA has urged Congress to include the "Environmental Design of Electrical Equipment Act" (HR 2420) as part of such reform. For more infromation, please click here.
- Employee Free Choice Act (S 560/HR 1409) or similar compromise: strips workers' of their rights to secret ballots for union organizing elections and imposes mandatory binding arbitration on employees and employers if they fail to achieve consensus on contract terms within 120 days. Click here to read more and take action.
Most of these issues won't make the front page of the newspaper or create as much debate as say, health care reform, but it is important to know that they are on the stove. Industry needs to keep an eye on these pots (as well as numerous others…this list is by no means exhaustive) and communicate to Congress on both those proposals with which we agree and those we don't. The moral of the story: we don't want the pots to boil over before we have a chance to have our say on their potential (positive or negative) impact.