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1999 Legislative Update, 1999

NRCA is the legislative advocate at the federal level for the roofing industry. In fact, NRCA works on a daily basis with Congress and federal agencies, tracking hundreds of bills and proposals annually and delivering formal testimony. NRCA also has a federally registered political action committee, ROOFPAC, and initiates grassroots efforts when appropriate.

Legislative and regulatory victories and activity
  • NRCA lobbied to ensure that the federal government's fiscal-year 2000 budget resolution included spending caps. Before the vote, former NRCA president Steven Kruger, L.E. Schwartz & Son Inc., Macon, Ga., sent a Western Union Mailgram to the Senate and House stating "NRCA urges you to support passage of the Republican Budget Resolution, which includes adhering to spending caps. NRCA encourages you to maintain true fiscal discipline and give some much-needed tax relief to hard working Americans." After the budget bill passed, Chief Deputy House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) wrote to NRCA stating "The Office of the Majority Whip is grateful for your willingness to put aside your own interests to shepherd this effort [that] will be so beneficial to all Americans. Thanks for all that you do."

  • The budget resolution enabled Congress to approve the largest tax cuts in 20 years. Thus far, NRCA and the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition have succeeded in making elimination of the estate tax a priority in this year's tax cut legislation. NRCA also is fighting for lower payroll taxes by repealing the federal unemployment payroll surtax and increasing the expense limit for small businesses and the health insurance deduction for self-employed individuals. In addition, NRCA and other associations are pushing to allow small-business owners to use the cash method of accounting without limitation instead of the required accrual method. NRCA is working overtime to make sure these provisions and Welfare-to-Work and work opportunity credits for employers are included in any final agreement between the White House and Congress.

  • NRCA is a member of the Tax Reduction Coalition, helping Republican leaders cut taxes. After the tax cut bill passed, Congressman Blunt (R-Mo.) wrote to NRCA stating "Our entire [Republican] conference is grateful for the work of the Tax Reduction Coalition. We couldn't have passed this tax bill without all of our players. Thanks for being a key one!"

  • NRCA and the American Society of Association Executives cut the proposed anti-association tax. The administration included a new tax on association investment income in its proposed budget. The cost to NRCA and its affiliates would have been significant, but fortunately Republican allies responded to the outcry from associations and killed the dubious tax proposal.

  • NRCA lobbied to include roofing contractors in the Skilled Workforce Enhancement Act. This act would give small-business owners who train employees in highly skilled trades a tax credit of up to $15,000 per employee per year for up to four years. To qualify for the credit, an employer must provide 2,000 hours of shop and classroom training per year to produce a skilled employee. This bipartisan legislation was introduced too late this year to be part of the tax bill, but it will be considered by Congress in the future.

  • NRCA is a recognized leader in the fight for regulatory reform. NRCA was asked to join the Small Business Coalition for Regulatory Relief and the Alliance for Understandable, Sensible and Accountable Government Rules and has a seat on the Regulatory Affairs Committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. These groups successfully have moved several bills to various stages of passage:

    1. The Regulatory Right-to-Know Act passed the House and would give the public more information about the costs and benefits of federal regulations.

    2. The Small Business Paperwork Reduction Act passed the House and would grant small businesses six-month grace periods for most first-time violations of federal paperwork requirements.

    3. The Mandates Information Act passed the House and would establish new procedural limitations on legislation that imposes costly federal mandates on the private sector.

  • The Senate Committee on Small Business asked NRCA to help set its agenda for 1999. Chairman Kit Bond (R-Mo.) and Ranking Member John Kerry (D-Mass.) invited NRCA to participate in a series of roundtable discussions. Direct input into the planning process focused on predatory agencies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and has produced two bills thus far:

    1. The Small Business Review Panel Technical Amendments Act was reported out of the Senate Committee on Small Business. The act would bring the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act by making it convene a review panel to assess the impact of new regulations on small businesses. It also would make improvements to the review panel process currently required for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and OSHA.

    2. The Independent Office of Advocacy Act was reported out of the Senate Committee on Small Business. It would give the Chief Counsel for Advocacy, Small Business Administration, more independence and more funding to better protect small businesses from OSHA and other federal agencies.

  • On Aug. 3 the House voted to prevent OSHA from issuing its ergonomics standard. NRCA and the National Coalition on Ergonomics have been lobbying Congress to stop OSHA from proposing an ergonomics standard until the National Academy of Sciences completes a comprehensive study of the issue. Prior to the vote, NRCA President Jamie McAdam, F.J. Dahill Company Inc., New Haven, Conn., sent a Western Union Mailgram to every member of the House urging them to vote for the Workplace Preservation Act. This bill passed by a vote of 217-209. The bill now is in the Senate, as introduced by Kit Bond (R-Mo.), chairman of the Committee on Small Business.

  • OSHA now recognizes electronically accessed Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs). NRCA lobbied Congress last year for a bill that would require OSHA to permit electronic access to MSDSs. For contractors, electronic access would be recognized by OSHA as the legal equivalent of paper copies. Though it passed the House by voice vote, Congress adjourned before the Senate could act. However, OSHA altered its policy after receiving intense political pressure and contractors now can use electronically accessed MSDSs in lieu of paper copies.

  • Government agencies can't play "hide the ball" anymore with research data used to write regulations. NRCA and others supported language inserted in the federal government's fiscal year-end 1999 Omnibus Appropriations Act by Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) to make federal agencies, such as OSHA, give public access to all the studies and data used to support regulations. Now, for the first time, the public can challenge an agency and have access to all the facts as determined by all the research conducted by a government agency, and not just on the information an agency selects as appropriate to support its position. For example, EPA refused to share all its research data for new clean air standards, but in May a federal appeals court, with the power to obtain and analyze the data, struck down the standards.
Political victories and activity
  • For the 1998 elections, ROOFPAC was able to contribute $201,000 to 130 candidates for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives—the first time ROOFPAC raised and spent more than $200,000 since being formed in 1990. ROOFPAC's goal for the 1999-2000 election cycle is to reach $250,000. Thus far, ROOFPAC has contributed $75,500 to 57 candidates. ROOFPAC has a solid 76 percent win rate during the past four elections and its growing political clout would not be possible without the generous contributions from NRCA members.

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