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BPAA Federal Policy Update - February 7, 2020

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Political Update

  • Democrats to face off at ABC debate in New Hampshire after chaos mars Iowa results: MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Iowa's final results from the first contest of the presidential cycle remain unclear, despite reaching 100% of precincts reporting late Thursday, but since the returns started slowly trickling in, the ground of the 2020 race has shifted, with the Democrats more openly and aggressively drawing contrasts between each other over their competing visions for the country. Now, they will bring the disputes they’ve been battling out on the campaign trail to the debate stage.
    • The matchup, hosted by ABC News, WMUR-TV, and Apple News, comes only four days after the Iowa caucuses and less than a week before Granite State voters head to the polls on Tuesday -- marking one of their last opportunities to pitch a decisive electorate on why they should be the nominee in July.
    • Who won Iowa? Two candidates, Buttigieg and Sanders, are currently declaring victory in the first-in-the-nation caucus state -- despite the race remaining far too close. Currently, only one tenth of a percentage point separates the two, with Buttigieg slightly edging out Sanders, according to data provided by the Iowa Democratic Party. Read the full article at ABC News


Labor Update

  • Bloomberg Government reports - Trump Touts ‘Pro-Worker’ Agenda, Backs Paid Leave Bill: President Donald Trump hailed his administration’s “pro-worker” agenda and for the first time called on Congress to pass specific legislation to create a national paid family leave program in his latest State of the Union address. “In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American decline, and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny,” Trump said in remarks to Congress Feb. 4. He said the administration has helped reduce unemployment in part by slashing “job killing regulations.” The president also called on lawmakers to pass the Advancing Support for Working Families Act (S. 2976), sponsored by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). The measure would use a tax credit to extend paid leave benefits to private sector workers. Trump previously signaled support for paid leave generally, but had yet to back any particular bill. In the address to Congress, he highlighted a recently signed law offering paid family and medical leave benefits to federal employees. “I was recently proud to sign the law providing new parents in the federal workforce paid family leave, serving as a model for the rest of the country,” Trump said. Trump’s support for the Cassidy-Sinema bill comes as lawmakers have yet to come to a consensus on paid leave. Debates on Capitol Hill have focused on who should pick up the tab for workers who take time off for family or medical reasons.


  • Bloomberg Government reports - Tipped Workers Win Wage Suits as Courts Toss Trump Guidance: An arcane provision of federal wage law known as the 80/20 rule for tipped occupations has spurred a cottage industry of plaintiff’s bar litigation targeting the restaurant industry. Tipped workers have been racking up legal victories, but that could be coming to an end with a Labor Department final rule. Finalizing Rule: The DOL is in the midst of finalizing a rule that allows restaurants to pay tipped workers the lower minimum wage of $2.13 an hour for an unlimited amount of related untipped work, such as cleaning and stocking. Courts Refuse: Restaurant industry lawyers have tried squelch the multiple active lawsuits on this issue by pointing to the opinion letter, but judges have refused to give the guidance deference in seven cases over the past year. Read the full story here: the story.


  • House approves bill to wipe out state 'right to work' laws, bolster union organizing The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a far-reaching bill that would expand workers’ rights to unionize under federal labor law while giving more power to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), over the criticism from business groups. The Democrat-controlled House approved the bill, called the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, by a 224-194 vote late Thursday along party lines. The bill is not expected to gain traction in the Republican-led U.S. Senate. Read the full article at Reuters


  • House passes bill to rewrite labor laws and strengthen unions One of the most significant bills to strengthen workers’ abilities to organize in the past 80 years passed the House on Thursday, the latest sign of momentum for the labor movement.
    • The Protecting the Right to Organize Act, known as the PRO Act, would amend some of the country’s decades-old labor laws to give workers more power during disputes at work, add penalties for companies that retaliate against workers who organize and grant some hundreds of thousands of workers collective-bargaining rights they don’t currently have. It would also weaken “right-to-work” laws in 27 states that allow employees to forgo participating in and paying dues to unions. The House passed the bill with a vote of 224 to 194, mostly along party lines.
    • The bill is unlikely to be taken up by the GOP-controlled Senate, as Republicans and business groups have argued forcefully against it, saying it would hurt employers, violate privacy rights and be a major boon for national unions. Read the full article at The Washington Post


Tax Update

  • State of the Union: Trump to tout economy as administration plans Tax Cuts 2.0: President Trump has said he is aiming to pass another "very big" middle-class tax cut, which his campaign is expected to unveil ahead of the 2020 election. While administration officials have been hesitant to go into detail, the president is likely to mention the policy during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, as he touts the economic progress made under his administration. Senior administration officials said on Friday that the president will focus heavily on the U.S. economy, with a theme of the "Great American Comeback." National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney last month that, should Trump secure a second term, he wants to target the tax cut at “even faster economic growth.” Read more at Fox Business.


  • President Trump’s State of the Union Address Offered No Updates on Trade or Tax Cuts President Donald Trump, looking ahead to his reelection campaign, spent far more of his State of the Union address Tuesday reciting his administration’s accomplishments than offering significant new policy proposals. No mention was made of second phases of two of Trump’s significant economic policy accomplishments, such as a new round of tax cuts hinted at by some advisors, or a phase-two trade pact with China to follow onto the recently enacted phase-one.
    • Much of the president’s address was devoted to listing, and taking credit for, the record-long U.S. economic expansion that began in 2009. In particular, he pointed to the record stock market, claiming the net worth of the bottom half of wage earners grew by 47%, three times faster than for the top 1%. Yet in dollar terms, the lion’s share of equity gains still go to the wealthiest 10%, who own 84% of stocks. Among economic matters, the president emphasized containment of health-care costs and preserving insurance coverage of preexisting conditions. Those are themes both parties are behind.
    • As for other economic initiatives, the president called for infrastructure spending, which elicited loud applause on both sides of the aisle. But his proposal was to call for Congressional passage of a highway bill sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso. That’s a far cry from the ambitious, $1 trillion plan to rebuild roads, bridges and other projects that Trump proposed in 2018 and was a major part of both parties’ campaigns in 2016. Read the full article at Barrons
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