Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association

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Capitol Hill Update: Act now! Keep the pressure on Congress to pass pension reform

Aug 08, 2014

Many issues of major concern to SMACNA contractors are still on the Congressional agenda.

Use SMACNA’s new Advocacy Web page to find your Congressional representatives’ contact information and set up a meeting with them while they are on vacation from Aug. 4 to Sept. 5. Key issues of concern to the SMACNA contractor are:

  • Air conditioning and heating units to qualify for Section 179 expensing in the House passed, America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2014 (H.R. 4457). The bill, sponsored by Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-12th-Ohio) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-3rd-Wis.), would permanently extend Section 179 expensing at 2013 levels, allowing contractors to expense up to $500,000 of investments in new equipment and property per year, with the deduction phased out for investments exceeding $2 million. The legislation now awaits action in the Senate. The Senate package remains stalled, but would renew most tax breaks for only two years. House Ways and Means Chairman Sen. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said making the extenders permanent would highlight the real cost of the breaks over 10 years (almost $1 trillion) and that Congress, for budgeting purposes, needs to recognize the actual cost, which does not occur under simple yearly or two-year extensions.
  • Senate passes TRIA Extension bill (S. 2244). The Senate voted (93-4) to modernize and extend the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) for seven years. Originally passed in the aftermath of 9/11 as a federal backstop for terrorism risk insurance coverage, the program is set to expire at the end of this year. Insurance and real estate development firms are beginning to slow investment in fear that a TRIA extension will not occur by Dec. 31 of this year.
  • Pension Reform. Action continues behind the scenes with key staff, but SMACNA members and chapters must keep the pressure on Congress to act before the end of the regular session or in the lame duck session. SMACNA is encouraging joint labor-management meetings in August with Congressional members in your district. The Capitol Hill office can help with scheduling. A reform bill must be bipartisan and both parties need to know there is union support for the “Solutions Not Bailouts” proposal and they need to understand from contractors, the imperative to act now!
  • New Report from PBGC: The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) recently released its FY 2013 Projections Report (formerly “Exposure Report) detailing the extent of their liabilities. This should add more impetus for Congressional action because new modeling indicates an increased risk to PBGC’s Multiemployer program from $8.3 billion in 2013 to $49.6 billion in 2023. Also, Josh Gotbaum, the current PBGC director, is resigning in August. The timing of a new appointment from the Administration is not clear, but the opening should not negatively impact the legislative process for reform.
  • A PowerPoint presentation on the “Solutions Not Bailouts” proposal can be seen on SMACNA’s Advocacy Web page.
  • Energy Efficiency Initiatives. Energy efficiency legislation remains stalled in the Senate. One of SMACNA’s biggest supporters on energy issues, Rep. Peter Welch (D-A.L.-Vt.), said negotiations to move some sort of efficiency package forward in the House and Senate continue, but he doesn’t expect anything to advance until the next Congress or after the November elections in a lame duck session. “Election-year politics have caused us some additional speed bumps,” he noted.