It is a new session of Congress and a new Presidential administration. What does that mean for the major issues affecting the club industry? Here’s a brief overview of what we might expect to see during the transition on three of the industry’s top federal issues.
The Affordable Care Act – Both Congressional leadership and the President have indicated plans to repeal this legislation through Congress. Work has already begun to pass the repeal through budget reconciliation, which is a method that allows fast-track consideration without the threat of filibuster. The good news is that some of the popular provisions, like elimination of lifetime limits, pre-existing conditions and keeping minors on parental insurance until age 26, may be spared. Many of the least popular provisions and those most troublesome for small businesses and individuals, the individual penalties and employer mandate, are definitely on the chopping block.
The wildcard to this issue is that Congressional leadership has been unable to agree on what the replacement will be. Expect this process to be lengthy and complicated. While Congressional leadership has indicated their goal is to have legislation on the President’s desk for his signature by February, the reconciliation process could be longer.
Overtime Rule Changes and DOL Regulations – A temporary nationwide injunction remains in effect based on the November action of the US District Court. The nomination of Andrew Puzder, a restaurant industry executive, has illustrated the Trump Administration’s interest in a more business-friendly era of regulation from the Department of Labor. Apart from the overtime rules, it is expected that the Administration will thoroughly review much of the recently enacted DOL and OSHA regulations recordkeeping, the Fiduciary Rule and others.
Congress can vote to repeal regulations, which would have immediate effect. Without that action, the Administration is bound by the rulemaking process which takes time so it is not an immediate end to a regulation. However, cabinet secretaries, like Puzder, can lessen the effect through diminished enforcement.
The wildcard here is the continuing battle in the courts on overtime. While the Trump Administration may choose to withdraw defense of the rule, other groups have already petitioned to take over defense if that happens. It remains unlikely that these efforts will be successful but does create uncertainty for small businesses.
Waters of the US – This is another measure which remains on a nationwide injunction, enacted by the US Circuit of Appeals Sixth Circuit in October 2015. Congress has already begun working on this repeal. On January 12, Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced S.Res.12 which calls for the withdrawal of the Waters of the US (WOTUS) rule.
The Trump Administration has nominated Scott Pruitt, Attorney General of Oklahoma, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt, as Attorney General of Oklahoma, was involved in litigation against the EPA and WOTUS, citing its executive overreach.
Like overtime, the wildcard here is the continuing battle in the courts. The Administration may choose to withdraw legal defense of the rule as well.
In summary, it is going to be a busy 115th Session of Congress and for the 15 cabinet agencies as they review many of the regulatory actions of the previous administration.
Stay tuned for the latest information.