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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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House Passes Health Care Overhaul Repealing Employer Mandate

(Health Care Reform, Congress) Permanent link

On Thursday, May 4, the House of Representatives passed HR 1628, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) of 2017 by a vote of 217 to 213. This measure eliminates several of the unpopular tax provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) including the individual mandate penalties to have insurance and the employer mandate.

Relevant to clubs specifically, the AHCA repealed the employer mandate which requires qualifying large employers to provide affordable health insurance to all employees.

(Sec. 206) This section repeals the penalties for certain large employers who do not offer full-time employees and their dependents minimum essential health coverage under an employer-sponsored health plan (commonly referred to as the employer mandate). The repeal is effective for months beginning after December 31, 2015.

The US Senate has already indicated that it will undertake consideration of its own effort to repeal and replace the ACA. In a statement, Senate Health Committee Chairman Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) indicated that the committee plans to take its time on the effort. If and when this measure is passed, reconciliation between the House and the Senate would need to occur. It is likely there will be significant differences between the two measures.

Stay tuned! 

Bills Would Make Returning Worker Exemption Permanent

(Congress, Immigration) Permanent link

 

 

take-actionSenators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Angus King (I-ME) have introduced s.792, the “Save our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2017.”

In the House of Representatives, Representatives Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Andy Harris (R-MD), Kevin Yoder (R-KS) and Bob Gibbs (R-OH) sponsored HR 2004, the "Strengthen Employment and Seasonal Opportunities Now (Season) Act."

This bipartisan legislation is designed to make substantial reforms, aimed to help seasonal employers better navigate the H-2B visa program, including the reinstatement of the “returning worker exemption.”

This provision allows workers who have successfully used the program in the past to be exempted from the annual cap of 66,000 visas. The exemption was in place in FY2016, but Congress failed to extend the provision for FY2017.

As of March 13, H-2B visas have been exhausted for the 2017 fiscal year which may severely impact seasonal businesses including clubs and hospitality in securing workers for their summer seasons.   

Register your support for this measure with your US Senator through www.clubindustryvotes.org


 


Supreme Court Declines to Halt WOTUS Consideration

(Congress, Legal Issues, Regulation) Permanent link

Supreme Court Declines to Halt WOTUS Consideration

On Monday, April 3, the Supreme Court declined a request by the Trump Administration to delay consideration in the National Association of Manufacturers vs. the Department of Defense. This case is not specific to the merits of the Waters of the US (WOTUS) rule but instead addresses the issue of jurisdiction, specifically which courts should hear challenges to the Clean Water Act. 

The Trump Administration requested a delay in consideration due to its recent executive order to the Environmental Protection Agency to proceed with rescinding and/or revising the Waters of the US (WOTUS) rule through the regulatory process.

Without further explanation, the Court issued a brief statement denying the request.  

This does not mean that a ruling will be immediately forthcoming. The case will be scheduled for oral arguments in the term beginning in October and a decision would not be expected any earlier than the summer of 2018. 

The final WOTUS rule remains on nationwide injunction,  following the October 2015 action of the Sixth Circuit of the US Court of Appeals.  

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!