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Catherine Treadwell Perry, J.D., Director of Government Relations
|High Performance Buildings Week!
This past week was High Performance Building week! ASA Advocacy is a part of the High Performance Buildings Coalition, which is comprised of approximately 200 organizations that provide guidance and support to the High Performance Buildings Caucus of the U.S. Congress. We kicked things off with a Hill Day on Monday, then a reception for Congressional members and their staff on Wednesday, and a lunch briefing on Thursday. High Performance Buildings Week is important to ASA members because it brings more attention and awareness to the need of increased energy and water efficiency in the building and infrastructure environment, which in return leads to more sales for ASA members.
HPBC supports legislation and policies that protect life and property, promote innovative building technologies, enhance U.S. economic competitiveness, increase energy and water efficiency in the built-environment, advance sustainable and resilient communities, and support the development of private sector standards, codes and guidelines that address these concerns.
ASA Advocacy met with the offices of Senator Jeff Merkley (D, OR), Senator John Boozman (R-AR), Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), Senator Kevin Cramer (R- ND), Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT). The main issues that we concentrated on were promoting the growth of skilled trades and workers, to require federal infrastructure investment to be done at the latest codes and standards, ensuring the equal treatment of water efficiency rebates under tax law, and encouraging NIST’s water quality and efficiency research.
A trained workforce is critical to ensure infrastructure investments now and in the future are built to last and are well maintained. ASA and the coalition support, as part of a federal infrastructure investment, federal assistance for worker training for building professionals through both secondary and post- secondary education, as well as non-profit organization led instruction and certifications.
Adopting and effectively implementing current model building codes and standards is the nation’s best defense against natural disasters, saving lives, protecting public property, and reducing the need for future federal disaster assistance. This is why the coalition and ASA support requiring federal infrastructure investment to be done at the latest codes and standards.
Rebates from energy utilities are tax-exempt, but not rebates from water utilities. With the rapid growth of water-saving programs, millions of Americans face an unexpected tax bill once these rebates are reported to the IRS. This is why the coalition and ASA support ensuring the equal treatment of water efficiency rebates under tax law.
The design of premise plumbing systems in the United States is based in part on decades-old data. However, many important factors affecting these systems have changed and new technical information is needed to ensure that systems are designed, installed, and operated to maximize water efficiency, water quality, and energy efficiency. This is why the coalition and ASA support encouraging NIST’s water quality and efficiency research.
ASA is proud to be your voice in D.C.! Please let us know what issues are effecting your company. Contact Catherine Treadwell Perry, Director of Government Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org with your concerns.
- The wife of Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) pleaded guilty to conspiring with her husband to "knowingly and willingly" convert campaign funds for personal use and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Margaret Hunter's agreement with prosecutors - in which she admits to spending more than $200,000 in campaign funds for personal use - poses a political and legal threat to her husband. (CNN)
- White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will step down at the end of the month. In a tweet, Trump urged Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas. (The New York Times)
- Presidential candidate John Hickenlooper (D) released a climate change platform that would secure the United States' position in the Paris climate agreement and introduce a carbon tax whose revenues would be returned to taxpayers. The former Colorado governor would also put $200 billion into domestic transportation and renewables, as well as $150 billion into grid enhancements. (Politico)
- A new rule from the White House will allow employers to back out of providing health insurance for their workers and instead give them the option to use tax-free health reimbursement arrangements to purchase their own health plans in the individual market. According to the administration, the expansion of these accounts is targeted at small or mid-sized businesses grappling with high costs of premiums, and estimates up to 800,000 employers and more than 11 million workers and family members will benefit from the change. (The Associated Press )
- The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to mark up legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs sometime this month, according to Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), including Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Richard Blumenthal's (D-Conn.) bill focusing on pharmaceutical companies abusing the patent system. (The Hill)
- Repair Aging Water Infrastructure. Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced legislation to help repair the nation’s aging water infrastructure. The Promoting Infrastructure and Protecting the Economy (PIPE) Act would create a new grant program to help communities across the country invest in critical water system upgrades. The bill would authorize $5 billion over 10 years to provide discretionary grants to state and local governments, tribal governments, and public water utilities for projects related to drinking water and waste water infrastructure. The PIPE Act would allow communities to continue to provide clean water for their residents and reliable water systems that help promote economic development. Grants funded through the PIPE Act could be used to construct, replace, or repair public drinking water and waste water treatment facilities. This could include projects to repair or replace water pipes, projects to ensure drinking water sources comply with water quality regulations, and projects that promote water conservation and efficiency. There is a lot of support for this legislation and a group of members of congress are pushing for hearings on this legislation (The IAPMO Washington Update June 14, 2019)
- EPA Completes Work on New Lead Rules, White House Reviewing. The EPA has sent its new regulations on lead in drinking water to the White House for final review, a milestone the agency has never reached before during the nearly eight years it’s been struggling to overhaul these regulations. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget began its review of the lead regulations (RIN: 2040-AF15) June 6, according to the office’s website. This OMB review is typically the final stage in the regulatory process before a proposal is released to the public. After this new regulation is publicly released, the EPA will solicit comments on it and then analyze and respond to the comments before implementing and enforcing the new lead regulations. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has said the new regulations will focus on removing the millions of lead pipes still in use across the country. Water corroding these pipes as it passes through them is the primary way tap water gets contaminated with lead, a toxic metal that can cause irreversible neurological problems in children. Long before Wheeler became the country’s top environmental official, and even before the lead crisis in Flint, Mich., the EPA has been struggling with how to beef up its regulations on lead without imposing a crippling unfunded mandate on the many municipal-run utilities that own these lead pipes. Wheeler said earlier this year he wants the agency’s new regulations to ensure that the most corrosive lead pipes are prioritized for the most rapid replacement.(The IAPMO Washington Update June 14, 2019)
- The House Financial Services Committee approved a bipartisan bill to revamp the federal flood insurance program, a piece of legislation designed to change the financial stakes for people living in areas prone to flooding, encourage private flood insurance, reduce costs for low-income consumers and require the government to update flood-zone maps. The plan, which would extend the program another five years, now needs to pass the full House and the Senate. (The Wall Street Journal)
- Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has garnered bipartisan support from House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), as well as 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on a plan to boost affordable housing by pressing local governments to ease building restrictions. The strategy would include using federal funds to lean on local governments to overhaul zoning rules and bolster affordable home construction. (Politico)
- The House passed the Taxpayer First Act, a bipartisan reform bill for the Internal Revenue Service, following the removal of the "Free File" provision. The bill now heads to the Senate, where Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has said the bill should pass "without delay."
- Corporate tax revenue fell 31 percent last year, around twice the amount official budget forecasters anticipated and around the lowest level in 50 years, while overall taxes paid by individuals rose 3 percent. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other Republicans have claimed that the GOP-led 2017 tax overhaul would pay for itself, and the decline in big business tax revenue could give Democrats more ammunition to call for the tax cuts' rollback.
- President Donald Trump said China will "eventually make a deal" with the United States on trade because the country is paying "hundreds of billions of dollars" as a result of the trade war. Trump's comments come before he and Chinese President Xi Jinping might meet at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka later this month. (Bloomberg)
- Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said he will continue to pursue legislation that would limit President Donald Trump's tariff powers. He said during a call with reporters that Congress has "delegated too much authority to the president of the United States." (Politico)
- Energy consumption in 2018 increased by 2.9 percent - the highest level since 2010, according to BP PLC's annual market review, which warned that an increase in extreme hot and cold days, as seen last year, could increase energy demand and carbon emissions into the future and reduce the effectiveness of efforts to offset those impacts. The report tallied an increase in last year's global carbon emissions of 2 percent - the fastest growth since 2011. (Financial Times)
- The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit directed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to vacate its approval of higher tariffs for a pipeline system of Kinder Morgan Inc., docking FERC for using data created after the rate increases were in effect, contrary to its long-standing policy. The case against 2011 and 2012 rate increases was brought by shippers, including American Airlines Inc., which have also brought challenges to other rate increases on the system. (S&P Global Platts)
- The House Climate Solutions Caucus will hold its first "organizing meeting" of the Congress next week, said caucus co-chairman Francis Rooney (R-Fla.), who added that he plans to set requirements on members who want to join the bipartisan caucus. Republican members had promised to revive the caucus after the GOP lost many House seats in the November 2018 elections. (Washington Examiner)
- House and Senate are in session.
- Tuesday, ASA Advocacy will meet with Congressman Kevin Brady’s (R-TX) office to discuss LIFO.
- Wednesday, ASA Advocacy will meet with Congressman Devin Nunes (R- CA) office to discuss LIFO.
- Thursday, ASA Advocacy will attend an Energy Task Force meeting.
| || NEWS FROM STATE AND LOCAL |
Update on State Bills Being Tracked
New State Activity
- New York (A07253): Requires potable water testing at schools and state and local parks at least once every three years and any finding of lead contamination must be abated within ninety days. has had recent activity: print number 7253a.
- Pennsylvania (HB 1636 and HB 1637): Providing for the Public School Building Emergency Repair and Renovation Grant Program; establishing the Public School Building Emergency Repair and Renovation Grant Fund; and making an appropriation. Program includes renovations that ensure the safety of drinking water and water used for meal preparation in public school buildings, which may include testing of the potability of water for the presence of lead and other contaminants.
- Delaware (HB210): An Act To Amend Title 16 Of The Delaware Code Relating To Authorizing A Pilot Program To Issue Grants For The Installation Of Residential Drinking Water Purification Systems.
Walmart Inc, Target Corp and more than 600 other companies recently urged U.S. President Donald Trump in a letter to resolve the trade dispute with China, saying tariffs hurt American businesses and consumers. This letter is the latest of many sent to the Trump administration by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, the national campaign against tariffs supported by more than 150 trade groups representing agriculture, manufacturing, retail and tech industries.
Hydrogen, which has been touted as the fuel of the future much of the past five decades, may finally be on the verge of converting its potential to reality. Governments, automakers and even oil and gas giants are part of a growing coalition pushing a larger role for the fuel as the world seeks to reduce carbon emissions while still providing reliable electricity to a growing population and powering complex industrial processes, the International Energy Agency said in a report.
President Donald Trump recently said he is still considering using sanctions to block a controversial pipeline that would increase natural gas flows from Russia to Germany. “Well, we’re looking at it. People have a right to do what they want to do. I think it’s something that I’ve been looking at and I’ve been thinking about and I’m the one that brought up the pipeline problem,” Trump told reporters during an appearance with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
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