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The Legislative Report blog provides timely information on federal and state legislation and regulations and state trends as well as the myriad issues affecting the private club industry. A companion to CMAA's Legislative website, this resource should be your first stop for any information regarding legal, tax or legislative club-specific issues.

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USCIS Urges Employers to Identify Returning Workers When Filing H-2B Petitions

(Legal Issues, Dept of Labor, Immigration) Permanent link

As enacted as part of the 2016 budget deal, H-2B workers identified as “returning workers” are now exempted from the annual H-2B cap of 66,000 visas. US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued clarifying guidance and information on Friday, February 5.

  • What is a Returning Worker?  
     
  • When is this effective?
      
  • What about prospective workers currently in the US on H-2B status who are seeking to extend their stay, change employers, or change the terms and conditions of employment?

Read more...

It's February: Time to Post Your 300A Illness and Injury Summary

(OSHA, Regulation) Permanent link


01.28.16 Bulletin Board

OSHA is reminding employers of their responsibility to post the club’s Form 300A from February 1 through April 30, 2016. The OSHA Form 300A summarizes the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred during the 2015 year. This summary comes from OSHA’s Form 300, the log of work-related injuries and illnesses.

The summary should be displayed in a common area where notices to employees are usually posted. Think bulletin board next to the time clock - if you have one – or multiple locations on your property if there are multiple worksites.

Exemptions to this rule exist for employers with 10 or fewer employees.

Club safety expert Alan Achatz, CCM, CHE, shared this information on exempt clubs:

Athletic, City and University clubs are exempt from posting requirements yet Achatz recommends posting the information as well as retaining it for five years as it is easier to do this than to explain to an OSHA representative you are exempt from the posting requirements!

 

 

OSHA Makes Online Injury Reporting Available

(OSHA, Regulation) Permanent link


In late 2014, OSHA announced new injury reporting requirements for employers. It also added the opportunity for employers to make these reports online. A year later, the reporting portal is now available on OSHA’s website. The new webpage became available on December 24.

Effective January 1, 2015, clubs were required to notify OSHA of work-related fatalities within eight hours, and work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye within 24 hours. Previous OSHA regulations required an employer to report only work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees. Reporting single hospitalizations, amputations or loss of an eye was not required under the previous rule. The updated rule leaves in place the current requirement that employers report all work-related fatalities to OSHA within eight hours.

Employers should report these events by telephone to the nearest OSHA Area Office during normal business hours or the 24-hour OSHA hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA [6742], or electronically through the new online tool.

Clubs should bookmark this website for use should the need arise.

House Rejects the Waters of the US Rule

(Congress, Regulation) Permanent link


On January 13, the US House of Representatives passed S.J. Res 22, providing for congressional disapproval under the Congressional Review Act of the entire Waters of the US (WOTUS) rule. The joint resolution nullifies the rule and prevents the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from enacting anything substantially similar to WOTUS. The measure was passed by a vote of 253 to 166. The House joins the Senate in standing against WOTUS, which passed S.J. Res 22 by a vote of 53 to 44 in November.

To become effective, President Obama would need to sign the legislation or Congress would have to override his veto with a two-thirds majority vote. Unfortunately, neither scenario is likely as the President remains a strong proponent of the measure and the current political makeup of the Senate makes a two-thirds vote unlikely.

However, WOTUS remains on legal hold following an October injunction from the Sixth Circuit of the US Circuit of Appeals as it considers the rule. 

Stay tuned for the latest information.

IRS Announces Brief Extension for ACA Reporting Requirements

 Permanent link

On Monday, December 28, the Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service announced a short extension for mandated employer reporting requirements. These extensions impact that employer notices to employees regarding health coverage and coverage provided as well as the mandated section 6055 and 6056 reporting.

2016 marks the first year that employers must provide information on the insurance coverage provided to employees to the IRS, based on coverages extended in 2015. Employers that do not have 50 full-time equivalents and thus do not qualify as a large employer are not required to complete this reporting.

  Previous Deadline New Deadline
Employer Notice to Employees Regarding Health Coverage and Coverage Provided February 1 April 1
Section 6055 Reporting
(Forms 1094-B, 1095-B)
 February 28 (Paper)
March 31 (Electronic)
 May 31 (Paper)
June 30 (Electronic)
Section 6056 Reporting
(Forms 1094-C, 1095-C)
 February 28 (Paper)
March 31 (Electronic)
 May 31 (Paper)
June 30 (Electronic)

Omnibus Offers Welcome Reprieves for Industry

(Congress, Budget) Permanent link

The 2,009-page 2016 spending deal has a lot to offer; first it keeps the government running which is a good thing for everyone inside and outside the beltway. But the good news is it also offers three much needed reprieves for the industry.

Cadillac Tax: Employers will get a two year reprieve from this tax which was slated to become effective in 2018. The 40 percent excise tax on plans exceeding established individual and family plans will now become effective in 2020. Read more on the effect of this tax.

Conservation Easement: Under current law, a property owner may deduct the value of a conservation easement (a partial interest) that is donated to a qualified charitable organization exclusively for conservation purposes. In recent years, this tax incentive has been coupled with more than 50 tax provisions and annually renewed. The good news is that the omnibus makes this tax incentive permanent in the tax code and golf was not excluded from this act. (Technically, this was passed as a separate amendment alongside the omnibus bill but wrapped up in the whole deal.)

H-B Visas: Clubs who utilize the H-2B Visa worker program to provide seasonal staff have a reprieve from substantial changes to the program that were announced and immediately became effective in April 2015. The amendments to the program were included in the omnibus, and mirror recent measures in the House and Senate to modify the program including the reinstatement of the returning worker exemption and the admission of private wage surveys. The term “seasonal” was clearly delineated as ten months, a month longer than the previous definition. Read more...

GAO Finds EPA Acted Improperly on the Clean Water Act

 Permanent link

12.15.15 ThunderclapThe US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has cited the Environmental Protection Agency for improperly employing tactics to lobby the general public. Current regulation prohibits government agencies from using their federal funds “for indirect or grassroots lobbying in support of or opposition to pending legislation.”

During the public comment period in 2014 and continuing into 2015 when legislation was pending in Congress, the EPA actively used multiple communication mediums to engage the general public on the issue of expanding the Clean Water Act/Waters of the US. The EPA established a dedicated website to the issue. Through its own blog, the EPA linked to two external websites which featured Take Action messages designed for individuals to contact their Congressional representation in support of the rule.

The social media campaign employed the hashtags #ditchthemyth and #cleanwaterrules, and utilized Thunderclap to encourage simultaneous posting of a pre-determined message supporting the rule. The Thunderclap reached more than 1.8 Twitter users.

Concerns about the EPA’s activities were raised in a letter to the GAO by Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Senator James Inhofe, dated June 16, 2015.