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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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American Health Care Act Withdrawn From Consideration

(Health Care Reform, Congress) Permanent link

ACHA Vote

Following turmoil in the House of Representatives, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) has been withdrawn from further consideration. This bill was designed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). HR 1628 would have eliminated several of the unpopular provisions of the ACA including the individual mandate penalties to have insurance, and the employer mandate for qualifying large employers to provide affordable health insurance to all employees. 

The House of Representatives was slated to vote on the measure on Friday, March 24, but dissension within the majority party prompted the bill to be withdrawn from further consideration at this time. 

Speaker Paul Ryan has indicated that the House of Representatives will not immediately reconsider the AHCA but remains committed to the goal of repealing and replacing the ACA. 


H-2B Visa Cap Met for FY2017

(Congress, Immigration) Permanent link
hb2 out of stock


US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that the H-2B visa cap for the 2017 fiscal year had been reached. The final receipt date was March 13, 2017. Currently, the H-2B visa cap set by Congress is 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the first half of the fiscal year (October 1 - March 31) and 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 - September 30). 

Earlier this month, US Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and a bipartisan group of 29 senators requested that the Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly conduct an audit to determine the number of unused visas during the first half of FY2017. They requested that any unused visas be made available immediately. Previous audits of this nature have discovered unused visas. 

With the cap met, no additional H-2B visas will be available until October 1, 2017. 

Senators Ask for Audit as H-2B Cap Looms

(Congress, Immigration) Permanent link

 HB2 Audit


US Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and a bipartisan group of 29 senators have requested an audit to determine the number of unused visas during the first half of FY2017. The Senators sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, outlining concerns that the second half of FY2017 H-2B visa statutory cap will be reached soon. They requested that any unused visas be made available immediately. Previous audits of this nature have discovered unused visas. 

In the letter, the Senators cited input from small businesses that “will likely be locked out of a necessary program that they rely on during their busiest seasons. Failure to access these critical workers will harm small businesses, American workers, and the economy.”

Currently, the H-2B visa cap set by Congress is 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the first half of the fiscal year (October 1 - March 31) and 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 - September 30). On January 10, the H-2B visa cap for the first half of the 2017 fiscal year was reached.

With the cap looming, it is evident that small businesses and clubs could be shut out of this program for the remainder of FY2017. CMAA supports the congressional extension of the expired returning worker provision, which exempts workers who previously used the program to be exempt from the cap. Congress opted not to extend this provision for FY2017. 

A Break Down of the American Health Care Act

(Health Care Reform, Congress) Permanent link

AHCA - Doctor

As expected, the House of Representatives is now tackling the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The jurisdiction for the American Health Care Act (AHCA) falls under two different House Committees, Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce. This week, each committee began their respective consideration. As the measure stands today, here is a high-level summary of the highlights:

What’s In?
Most of the popular provisions of the ACA will be retained under the AHCA. This includes:

  • Prohibiting the denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
  • The allowance of dependents to remain on their parent’s insurance until age 26.
  • Prohibiting lifetime limits.
  • Prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in the issuance of insurance.

What’s Out?
Most of the unpopular provisions of the ACA will be repealed and replaced under the AHCA. It will exclude the:
  • Individual mandate penalties to have insurance. 
  • Employer mandate for qualifying large employers to provide affordable health insurance to all employees. 


What’s New?
The AHCA includes:

  • An increase in the amounts individuals can elect for pre-tax health savings accounts. It would increase from $3,400 individual/$6,750 family to $6,550 individual/$13,100 family. 
  • A penalty for individuals who allow their coverage to lapse. Insurers would be able to impose a 30 percent surcharge on new plans for individuals who had not maintained continuous insurance coverage. 
  • Tax credits, indexed by age, for the purchase of coverage. These credits phase out for individuals making $75,000 or families with combined income of $150,000. 


What’s Next?

Early on the morning of March 9, the House Ways and Means Committee approved their section by a vote of 23 to 16, while the Energy and Commerce Committee continues a simultaneous marathon session. This repeal and replace process will continue, and changes are expected once the legislation moves to the Senate for its consideration.

Stay tuned for the latest information!

President Issues Executive Order on WOTUS

(Congress, Regulation) Permanent link

White House Executive Orders

On Tuesday, February 28, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order (EO) directing the Environmental Protection Agency to proceed with rescinding or revising the Waters of the US (WOTUS) rule through the regulatory process. In the EO, the President directs that the new rule should respect the roles of Congress and the states, and cites the previous 2006 legal opinion of Justice Antonin Scalia in Rapanos v. United States as a starting point.

The Waters of the US (WOTUS) final rule dramatically expand federal jurisdiction over waters and wet areas in the US, including most water bodies on golf courses. The final rule was published in the Federal Register on June 29, 2015, and was slated to become enforceable 60 days later.

The rule has been legally challenged by 32 states, numerous industry groups and environmentalist groups on both procedural and substantive grounds. In October 2015, a nationwide injunction was issued by the Sixth Circuit of the US Court of Appeals which stayed the rule from enforcement. That injunction is ongoing.

The expansion of the WOTUS rule would have significantly impacted club operations and budgets as clubs will be required to obtain costly, federal permits for any land management activities or land use decisions in, over or near these additional regulated waters.

Today’s action is significant for landowners. Now, the EPA will restart the rulemaking process with this directive in mind and it is imperative that any new rule must be clear, well founded in law and science, and strike a necessary balance between protecting the environment and allowing businesses to thrive.

Congress Allows H-2B Visa Returning Worker Exemption to Expire

(Congress, Immigration, Regulation) Permanent link

Waitstaff


On Friday, December 9, Congress passed its second continuing resolution of the year, extending short-term government funding through April 28, 2017. Unfortunately, for clubs who currently use H-2B visa workers, Congress did not include what is known as the “returning worker” provision.
  
This provision would continue to have exempted H-2B workers identified as “returning workers” from the annual H-2B cap of 66,000 visas. A “returning worker” is defined as an H-2B worker who was previously counted against the annual H-2B cap of 66,000 visas during the previous three fiscal years.
  
The provision was last enacted as part of the FY2016 budget deal in December 2015.
  
In previous years, when the returning worker provision was not in effect, the annual cap was routinely met, which prevented further applications being approved and leaving many seasonal businesses, like clubs, without sufficient workforces. Over the course of 2016, the program also suffered from significant processing delays, again hampering the businesses that rely on the program.
  
When Congress returns in January, they will begin working on the full FY2017 budget.

House Passes Bill to Delay Overtime Rules for Six Months

(Congress, Dept of Labor) Permanent link

On Wednesday, September 28, the House of Representatives passed HR 6094, The Regulatory Relief for Small Businesses, Schools, and Nonprofits Act.  Championed by Representative Tim Walberg (R-MI), this bill was fast-tracked for consideration and reported favorably the House Rules Committee on Tuesday. 

The final overtime rules are slated to become effective and enforceable on December 1, 2016, drastically increasing the salary threshold for exempt employees. This legislation would delay the enactment of the final overtime rules by six months until June 1, 2017.

However, this legislation is unlikely to become law. The Senate is currently most concerned with passing a budget before the end of the fiscal year, September 30, and unlikely to take up consideration of the measure. In addition, the current Administration who has championed the rule changes through the Department of Labor has indicated that the President would veto the measure if it came across his desk.