AIM Board Representatives Visit Congressional Delegation in DC
Representatives from companies on the Board of Directors of Associated Industries of Missouri this week visited Missouri’s congressional leaders regarding issues that are important to Missouri employers.
Topics included overall oppressive federal regulations and their impact on business; new EPA regulations on carbon emissions and dry streams; federal tax reform, including the need for America to lower its tax burden to become competitive in the global marketplace; the impact of the Affordable Care Act on employers; the importance of reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank; and other topics.
Board members told the leaders that they had recently learned the federal government was able to provide reimbursement of ACA insurance premiums to employees pre-tax, but that private employers were not, according to a recent article, and asked for the congressional leaders to research that further.
Rod Reid of Shepherd Hills Factory Outlets pointed out to the elected officials that the ACA was keeping him from adding employees. “Last year, we had more than 50 employees. This year, through attrition, we have less than 50 and we must keep it that way to avoid triggering penalties under Obamacare,” said Reid. “While we would like to provide insurance for employees, the cost of providing insurance or paying the Obamacare fines are just too expensive for our business.”
Steve Hoven of SSM Healthcare gave the congressional leaders a graphic look at the number of federal agencies that regulate the healthcare industry. The regulatory agencies filled an entire page.
Marc Ellinger of Blitz, Bardgett and Deutsch law firm talked to the congressional leaders about the need for action on a federal transportation bill. Most indicated they believed a short term extension in the current spending authorization was the best we could hope for this year, while they continue to work on a longer term highway bill. Rod Reid, who also chairs the Missouri Transportation and Development Council, asked leaders about their ideas regarding the source of additional federal highway funding and there was no clear consensus on that issue. Some suggested repatriation of foreign income could provide a source of revenue, but that was just one idea of many being discussed.
Jim Carter from Emerson Electric Co., a recognized tax expert, joined the group to discuss the need for comprehensive tax reform that would improve American businesses’ ability to compete in the global marketplace. Jim pointed out that the current trend of inversion (foreign companies merging with American companies to take advantage of lower rates) was becoming more common and America would continue to lose jobs and revenue until the federal government takes steps to reduce the tax burden on American businesses.
Shaun Garrison representing Ameren, Ursula Wojciechowski and Albert Wynn representing Peabody Energy, all talked about the new EPA regulations on existing power plants. Ray McCarty pointed out that Missouri consumers get 82% of their electricity from coal and the inability to use coal to generate electricity would definitely drive up the price of electricity for all consumers, including businesses, and particularly manufacturers. Rod Reid noted that Laclede Electric said customer bills could increase as much as 50% due to the new regulations.
McCarty said proponents claim the United States should set a good example for other nations and he pointed out that the United States has already set such an example by reducing emissions from power plants and many other sources, while other countries continue to dramatically increase carbon emissions. McCarty said it was unfair to drive businesses out of the country and punish our citizens with higher utility bills with these unfair and unreasonable regulations. He pointed out that the Administration claims the rules provide flexibility, but McCarty said the only flexibility is a choice of the lesser of two evils: the fairy tale use of non-proven theoretical carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology, or a cap-and-trade system that allows electricity producers to purchaser renewable energy credits from renewable energy sources. “The CCS technology simply does not exist in a working environment today and the cap-and-trade system simply makes electricity more expensive – a luxury Missouri employers and consumers cannot afford,” said McCarty.
The group also thanked the leaders for their support of the EA/18G Growler program and their support of an effort to rein in the EPA’s apparent change of direction regarding lime residuals in water treatment, a change that would cost water treatment plants (and their customers) hundreds of millions of dollars with no significant environmental benefits.
The group personally met with Senator Roy Blunt, Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, Congressman Jason Smith, Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, and Congressman Billy Long. The group met with staff in the offices of the other congressional leaders.
“It is important for our Missouri delegation to hear from employers in Missouri about the issues affecting Missouri business and this is the best way to get that message across,” said McCarty. “We are truly thankful for these business leaders taking the time out of their schedules to travel to Washington, D.C., for these important meetings.”