The focus for 2015 includes EPA’s Lead Rule, Innocent Sellers Fairness Act, Online Sales Tax and more
BY: BEN GANN
NLBMDA has finalized its National Policy Agenda for 2015. Republicans will not only control the House of Representatives again, but also the Senate for the first time during the Obama Administration. Republicans will have their largest majority in the House of Representatives since 1946, and President Obama will have to cooperate with congressional Republicans if he hopes to achieve his legislative agenda.
NLBMDA plans to work with members of Congress to reintroduce the Innocent Sellers Fairness Act early in 2015. In addition, NLBMDA will also continue its advocacy on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule, increasing energy efficiency, online sales tax parity and potentially on reforming the corporate tax code.
Innocent Sellers Fairness Act
The Innocent Sellers Fairness Act remains a top legislative priority for NLBMDA and we are confident the legislation will be reintroduced in early 2015. It limits the instances when retailers, such as LBM dealers, could be subject to a product liability lawsuit. Last Congress, the legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), who is expected to introduce it again this year.
In addition to NLBMDA, organizations supporting the legislation include the National Federation of Independent Business, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, National Retail Federation and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
According to a 2010 study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, the tort liability price tag for small businesses exceeds $100 billion. By restoring fairness to a system that penalizes companies whose only activity was selling a product, the Innocent Sellers Fairness Act ensures that sellers do not take on liability for a product merely by selling it, and that if sellers are negligent with respect to certain, specific non-sale activities, they will be responsible for the harm that their negligence causes.
EPA Lead Rule Reform
Reforming EPA’s RRP rule continues to be a priority for NLBMDA. Last Congress, 14 Senators and 53 Representatives were cosponsors for legislation restoring the “Opt-Out Provision” allowing homeowners without small children or pregnant women present to decide whether to require RRP compliance and suspend the rule for homes built after 1960 without a pregnant woman or small child if EPA cannot approve one or more test kits that meet the regulation’s requirements for false positives.
The latest efforts with the rule center on the rule’s hands-on recertification requirement. Starting this spring, some certified remodelers will have to attend a course in-person to renew their RRP certification. NLBMDA has repeatedly said that certified remodelers should be able to renew their certification through an online course. EPA has said that it’s taking steps to allow for online recertification but has yet to make an announcement.