NLBMDA has finalized its National Policy Agenda for 2016, and plans to continue working with Congress on legal reform, revising provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and stopping the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Proposed Overtime rule.
A Republican-controlled Congress is expected to continue clashing with President Obama but there are a few signs that the relationship might improve. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) replaced John Boehner as Speaker of the House in late-October, and has vowed “to return to regular order,” and include committees more in the legislative process.
2016 is also a presidential election year. The politics surrounding the nomination contests and general election will play a role in what happens in Washington. Complicating matters further, the Social Security Disability Trust Fund will be insolvent toward the end of 2016 unless there is congressional action.
The Innocent Sellers Fairness Act (H.R. 1199) remains a major legislative priority for NLBMDA. It limits the instances when retailers, such as lumber and building material dealers, are subject to product liability lawsuits. The legislation was reintroduced in the House of Representatives last year by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX).
Organizations supporting the legislation in addition to NLBMDA 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.
Another legal reform issue of importance to NLBMDA is the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (H.R. 758, S. 401). The legislation, which was passed last fall in the House of Representatives, reduces wasteful litigation by making sanctions against frivolous claims mandatory rather than discretionary under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and by eliminating a 21-day “safe harbor” window period for plaintiffs’ lawyers to withdraw a lawsuit without penalty.
Lumber dealers tell NLBMDA that health care costs continue to have a major impact on their operations. In response to that, NLBMDA is a member of the Stop The HIT Coalition, which includes a diverse group of trade and business associations working to repeal the health insurance tax (HIT) and protect the affordability of health care coverage.