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2019 Legislative Priorities

Renewal of U.S. – Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement: Renewal of a Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) between the United States and Canada is needed to allow for the continued stable product supply of framing lumber for retailers, home builders and consumers. Click here to read the issue brief.

Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act: Address the nation’s shortage of affordable housing by protecting, expanding and strengthening the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC). Click here to read the issue brief

Repeal of the Health Insurance Tax (HIT): Delay or repeal the health insurance tax (HIT) levied annually on fully insured health care plans that are offered by many small and medium-size businesses. The Health Insurance Tax Relief Act has been introduced in both the United States Senate (S. 172) and House of Representatives (H.R. 1398) to suspend the HIT through 2021. Click here to read the issue brief. Click here to take action and to contact your member of Congress. 

Qualified Improvement Act: Fix a drafting error in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Public Law No: 115-97), and allow interior improvements to commercial buildings, known as qualified improvement property, to be eligible for 100 percent bonus depreciation. Click here to read the issue brief. 

Estate Tax Repeal: NLBMDA encourages members of Congress to cosponsor and pass the Death Tax Repeal Act (H.R. 218, S. 215), eliminating the estate tax and its impact on family-owned businesses. Click here to read the issue brief. Click here to take action and contact your member of Congress. 

Small Carrier Electronic Device and Exemption Act: (H.R. 1697) NLBMDA supports action taken by Reps. Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Greg Gianforte (R-MT) to introduce the Small Carrier Electronic Device and Exemption Act (H.R. 1697), which would exempt businesses that operate 10 or fewer commercial trucks from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) electronic logging device (ELD) requirement. Click here to take action and contact your member of Congress. 

LEGISLATIVE WATCH LIST

Energy Efficiency and Building Codes: This issue has been percolating for a while. A major energy bill was last signed into law in 2005. There could be an opportunity to update energy efficiency standards and promote technology neutral building codes as part of a broader energy bill. 

Housing Finance Reform:  Ten years on from the financial crisis, the political timing could be right to reduce the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and establish a new secondary market system for conventional mortgages with a federal government backstop for catastrophic circumstances. President Trump has also nominated Mark Calabria to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, who has called for the end of the conservatorship for Fannie and Freddie. 

Infrastructure:  NLBMDA supports the work of Congress and the Trump Administration to increase        investment in roads and bridges to eliminate congestion, and also advocates for increased investment in affordable housing as part of comprehensive infrastructure legislation. NLBMDA's Government Relations team is actively engaged on infrastructure discussions to ensure that housing is included in any proposed legislation. NLBMDA expects an infrastructure package to be introduced later this year. 

Innocent Sellers Fairness Act (ISFA): Unfounded and unfair lawsuits have a negative effect on the ability of building material dealers to run their businesses and contribute to their communities. A product liability suit that consumes time and limited financial resources is a threat to small businesses, and is particularly unfair for cases where the product failure or damage was caused without the retailer’s knowledge or control. The Innocent Sellers Fairness Act was introduced on February 16, 2017, by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) and ensures 1) sellers/retailers do not take on liability for a product merely by selling that product, and 2) that if sellers are negligent with respect to certain, specific non-sale activities, they will be responsible for the harm that their negligence causes. In addition to NLBMDA, the legislation is supported by groups such as the National Association of Wholesaler Distributors, National Federation of Independent Business, National Retail Federation, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (legislation has not been reintroduced at this time)

Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act: There is support among congressional Republicans for the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act, which would respect state civil tort law while mandating sanctions for frivolous claims. The Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act would deter the filing of frivolous lawsuits by placing the cost of defending unfair and unfounded claims on the lawyers and plaintiffs who bring them. (legislation has not been reintroduced at this time)

National Debt: The federal government’s debt obligation now exceed $21 trillion and will likely pose a serious risk to the country’s economic growth if left unaddressed. 

Tax Extenders: NLBMDA is working with the Tax Extenders Coalition to extend a number of tax incentives that expired at the end of 2017 and were not extended for 2018. Sens. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have introduced legislation (S. 617) to retroactively extend the tax provisions that expired at the end of 2017 and 2018 through the balance of this year, and provide disaster tax relief benefits to individuals and businesses affected by major disasters occurring in 2018. The tax incentives includes the residential energy efficiency tax credit for existing homes (25C), energy efficiency tax credit for new homes (45L), and commercial building tax deduction (179D). In addition, the legislation would allow home owners to deduct the premiums paid for mortgage insurance, and provide mortgage forgiveness tax relief by eliminating any taxes home owners might face due to renegotiating the terms of a home loan.

U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA): President Donald Trump signed a draft agreement for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in late 2018, which is intended to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that has been in place since 1994. Congress is required to vote up or down on a USMCA bill, creating additional political considerations in the trilateral trade negotiations.
 
In addition to replacing NAFTA, there are policy questions surrounding the current trade dispute between the U.S. and China. With the Trump Administration engaging in an aggressive campaign against China’s trade practices and tariffs on many Chinese products already in place.