Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Work to be done on Capitol Hill

Mark Adamson, Barbara Schiebe, Martin Tirado, & Gregg Wartgow 

'First, get to know your Congressman and their office staff who work on issues related to operating a snow and ice business.' 

By Martin Tirado, CAE
As SIMA represented the snow and ice management industry on Capitol Hill last month, it became clear that work as a general concept needs to occur. Work in this scenario can be described as 1) Congress needs to work more on passing bi-partisan legislation that makes sense and not get tied up the politicking associated with public policy; 2) Encouraging ways to incentivize our work force to get back to work and perform the essential services, like snow and ice removal, that gets our economy moving; and, 3) allow small businesses, like SIMA members, to perform their work without overly burdensome regulations that slow business growth.

When talking with Congressmen and their staff from several states where SIMA had representatives, it quickly became clear that item #1 is a monumental task that needs people committed to significant change to accomplish. For items #2-#3, SIMA provided their positions in these ways:

H2-B and Immigrant Labor – In the past year, different bills have been introduced to allow employers access to legally employ non-citizens in their workforce. H-2B, commonly used for the landscape industry, has also been addressed. Many SIMA members want to try using the H-2B program for their companies, even potentially for a source of winter services labor, but the yearly caps on the number of non-citizens allowed into the H-2B program is restrictive. Despite attempts to enhance and clarify the H-2B program, mainly through HR 4238 introduced by Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland, no progress has been made.

Affordable Care Act (ACA) Clarifications – According to a SIMA survey conducted in 2013, health care reform was the top legislative issue for respondents. Recently introduced to help clarify the regulatory language of the ACA is HR 5213, referred to as the STARS Act. This bill would simplify the treatment of seasonal positions for purposes of the employer shared responsibility requirement under the ACA, and could offer seasonal employees better and more affordable health care coverage through exchanges than plans being offered by employers. Like some SIMA member companies, if you have seasonal employees working less than 6 months per year, this could be beneficial to you if you are mandated to offer health coverage by currently meeting or exceeding the 50 employee threshold. As this is just in a committee now, this bill will need rapid and overwhelming legislative support to be enacted in this session of Congress.

How can you help? First, get to know your Congressman and their office staff who work on issues related to operating a snow and ice business. Let them know how you feel on certain issues and ask to be a resource to them when evaluating different legislation. Do the same with any state or local elected officials that enact legislation that impacts you. Then of course, contact SIMA so we can help each other in advancing our mutual legislative agenda.

Gregg Wartgow, Barbara Schiebe, Senator Ron Johnson, Mark Adamson & Martin Tirado 

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