by Lisbeth Lyons, Printing Industries of America
Printing Industries of America is pleased to announce its Advocacy Agenda for the 113th Congress. Advocacy efforts on behalf of the industry are multi-faceted. Direct lobbying, grassroots advocacy, media relations, industry research and political advocacy through PrintPAC all support the organization’s mission to promote public policy that benefits the health and growth of the print and graphic communications industry, while also working to block legislation deemed harmful to the industry’s viability and success.
Postal reform continues to be one of the top priorities heading into the new Congress. Strides were made at the end of the 112th Congress, but postal reform never made it past the finish line. With that effort still somewhat fresh, postal reform will be one of the more urgent matters before the 113th Congress. After a recent default in the summer of 2012 and announcement to end Saturday mail delivery in August 2013, the need for Congress to act is more urgent than ever.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is an essential supply chain partner for the printing and graphic communications industry. Over half of printed paper products are delivered through the USPS, putting the industry’s future at stake without postal reform legislation. Postal reform also is a critical manufacturing jobs issue. More than eight million private sector jobs are connected to the mailing industry and depend on a viable USPS to be a key delivery channel. Of that eight million, more than 700,000 jobs are in the printing and graphic communications industry alone.
Printing Industries of America is committed to working with Congress and with the USPS to ensure that modernization efforts move forward quickly to adapt with the changing communications marketplace and to ensure a viable USPS remains well into the future.
The top tax priority for printers in the coming years will be achieving comprehensive tax reform. This means both individual and corporate taxes must be reformed in order to maximize the economic output of the printing and graphic communications industry. Some steps have been taken toward achieving this goal. The deal struck at the very end of the 112th Congress to avoid the “fiscal cliff” included some, but not all, of printers’ priorities. Significantly, the permanent nature of the provisions in the tax package will provide much-needed certainty to many businesses and families.
The plan permanently extended current lower tax rates for individuals making less than $400,000 and families with incomes below $450,000. Accordingly, many of the small businesses organized as S-corporations or other flow-through entities which pay taxes at the individual level did not see their tax rates go up. Similarly, the agreement avoided a significant increase in the estate tax burden on small businesses, and its permanent nature provides small businesses with certainty in planning costs moving forward. While the estate tax rate increased from 35 percent to 40 percent, the current $5 million exemption remains in place and will be indexed for inflation. The deal also permanently extends current policy on portability and unification.
Health Care Policy
Now that President Obama has been elected to a second term and repeated attempts to repeal his signature health care legislation have failed, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) looks like it’s here to stay. With that knowledge in mind, Printing Industries of America will focus its efforts on pending regulations within the bill set to take effect over the next two years, in addition to compliance issues resulting from those regulations. Specifically, PIA will be looking at the employer mandate set to go into effect in 2014. As it stands now, the employer mandate will impose large financial penalties on certain employers who do not provide health insurance coverage and, in some cases, on employers who do provide coverage, but not in full accordance with the new regulations.
Language like this prohibits small business growth because it makes crossing the 50-employee threshold extremely expensive and forces businesses to spend real resources to navigate through all the new red tape. Accordingly, PIA will lobby for a balanced solution that is cost-effective for businesses and promotes growth for its member companies.
Labor and Employees Benefits Policy
Issues concerning labor relations – particularly the regulatory actions and legitimacy of rulings at the National Labor Relations Board – will be top of mind, as will Department of Labor actions set to define a second term of the Obama Administration. OSHA’s rulemaking on a pending new Injury and Illness Prevention Program will be monitored closely as some are describing it to have the potential impact of “Ergonomics 2.0.” Printing Industries of America also will focus on legislative fixes to problems dealing with multi-employer pensions, as provisions of the Pension Protection Act passed in 2006 are facing a sunset period and must be renewed, changed or expire.
Environmental and Energy Policy
Regulatory oversight of EPA and changes to the Clean Air Act will be a focus for Printing Industries of America. Efforts to support and promote voluntary recycling efforts of paper will continue, as will efforts to appropriately dispel myths surrounding print’s supposedly negative impact on the environment. Likewise, Printing Industries of America is at the ready to identify, respond to and defeat efforts by environmental special interests to ban or restrict advertising mail (a.k.a., “Do Not Mail”).
Entering the 113th Congress, immigration reform has become a hot-button issue for both Congress and the Obama administration. Printing Industries of America will monitor all proposals and legislation closely to make sure that unnecessary burdens are not placed upon its member employers. One of the four principles initially proposed calls for a strong employer verification system that could include new mandates, fines and/or criminal penalties for companies found to be operating outside the law. While Printing Industries of America will not defend “bad actors,” the association is committed to ensuring that legislative language is crafted in a way that does not unintentionally sweep employers acting in good faith into expensive or burdensome consequences.
The New Congress
With a Republican House and Democratic Senate, expect the common theme of “Washington Gridlock” to continue in the 113th Congress. While it will be hard for legislation to become law, the bills that do pass likely will not be too lopsided. There are many new representatives and senators, and PIA encourages its members to reach out to their lawmakers whether they are new to the job or not. A congratulatory letter on their election or reelection is great way to engage. Printing Industries of America will keep members informed about the legislation that will affect their businesses.
Lisbeth Lyons is vice president, Government Affairs for Printing Industries of America. To keep abreast of the news from Washington, sign up for imPRINT newsletter, published weekly whenever Congress is in session and available on the website. Also look for Printing Industries of America advocacy alerts for opportunities to contact lawmakers and make your voice heard.
Reprinted with permission from the Printing Industries of America: The Magazine. Copyright 2013 by the Printing Industries of America (www.printing.org). All rights reserved.