Capitol Hill Update: The Path Ahead

In the second session of the 117th Congress, SMACNA’s Capitol Hill office will be working to build on the many important wins from 2021.

However, Democrats have the narrowest possible margins in both the Senate and House, and, historically, bipartisan agreement is hard to come by in an election year. So, the year ahead will require challenging work and strategy to achieve our objectives and will require SMACNA member and chapter engagement. 

SMACNA plans to focus on the committees of jurisdiction for our issues and to watch legislative vehicles moving toward passage to which our initiatives can be added and passed. SMACNA also intends to work with the Biden Administration on regulatory policy that will benefit SMACNA members and feels optimistic the Administration will move forward on top industry priorities in the year ahead. 

Our regulatory efforts for 2022 will focus on upgrade of prevailing wage rules, promotion of registered apprenticeship programs, stronger independent contractor enforcement and on federal energy efficiency retrofits, all beneficial to the union sector of the industry. 

SMACNA is also optimistic about selected legislative policy gains. Many of SMACNA’s 2021 priorities, including expanded energy policy, military infrastructure, tax extenders, and pension reform exhibited momentum with the potential for advancement this year. Some are on track for floor votes this spring or summer. 

There is growing support for tax incentives and reforms benefitting the HVAC market, with hundreds of billions of bipartisan tax incentives/grant programs included in the Build Back Better (BBB) package. While there is clear debate on if a big package can pass or whether to pursue more popular initiatives piecemeal, much of the funds in the proposal are directed to boost SMACNA contractors on private and public projects. We know Senate and House leaders are seriously considering a “retooled” BBB package. 

So, there is hard work ahead of us but with coalition, industry, and individual effort, much can be done to have a successful year and benefit our membership. Time is short but opportunities abound for SMACNA.

2022 Legislative Priorities: Energy Efficiency Policy & Tax Incentives in Build Back Better
To a low carbon, energy efficient residential, commercial, public, and industrial building sector, the package is expected to include comprehensive efficiency tax incentives and simplification for energy efficiency construction, building codes and retrofits. It is expected to include a requirement for prevailing wage and utilization of registered apprentices, which would help address the industry’s need to attract new workers and retain a highly trained workforce. 

It also includes some important and creative efforts toward improving construction quality for commercial, residential, and industrial CHP systems. For example:

  • $6.25 billion home electrification program
  • $6.25 billion home energy efficiency program 
  • $500 million critical facility modernization program  
  • $300 million grant program to help states and municipalities adopt the latest building codes, as well as zero-energy building codes.
  • Extension of existing tax credits for efficient construction and retrofits, wind, and solar projects, allowing project owners to receive direct payment for investments rather than a tax credit
  • Enhance 179D Rehab Incentive

The Main Street Efficiency Act to Boost Small Business Efficiency
(H.R. 4903 and S. 2665).
To kickstart business energy efficiency retrofits for substantial energy savings to small businesses. 

“Manufacturing Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Act” to Boost Industrial Efficiency
(S. 1956)
To enhance national industrial competitiveness, would help America’s manufacturers become more energy efficient and productive by boosting energy retrofits, offering technical assistance to small and medium-sized manufacturers.

The Safe Banking Act
(S. 910 / H.R. 1996) 
Would allow banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions to offer banking services to legally operating cannabis businesses and their contracting allies without fear of punishment by federal regulators. 

Multiemployer Pension Plans
Unrelated to the “bailout” legislation in 2021, a different bipartisan pension bill, Secure Act 2.0, is considered a potential vehicle for authorizing some type of variable benefit plan 
for multi-employer plans.