On Tuesday, March 1, Alabama voters will head to the polls to cast their votes in 2016 Republican and Democratic federal and state primaries. The Business Council of Alabama is proud to present our list of 2016-endorsed federal candidates for the primary election cycle.
U.S. Senate: Richard Shelby
As chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and as chairman of the Commerce and Science Subcommittee, Shelby is well-situated to ensure that Alabama has a place at the table when important funding issues are considered. As a businessman, Senator Shelby also understands what Alabama needs to continue its growth as a manufacturing, technology, and medical science center.
U.S. House District 1: Bradley Byrne
In Congress, Byrne has been a forceful advocate for southwest Alabama priorities like getting a new I-10 bridge built over the Mobile River and maintaining the Navy contracts at the Austal shipyard in Mobile. Byrne has also worked to hold Washington bureaucrats accountable and to reduce federal spending. Byrne has led the charge to repeal Obamacare and pushed to restore state control over education.
U.S. House District 2: Martha Roby
Roby is the first representative from Alabama’s Second Congressional District to serve on the House Appropriations Committee. This important committee allows her to simultaneously fight against wasteful earmarks while protecting important government projects in the Second District. In addition to defense and agricultural issues, Roby’s primary areas of focus on the Appropriations Committee are improving the services and efficiencies of the Department of Veterans Affairs and supporting the role of Career and Technical Education in workforce development.
U.S. House District 3: Mike Rogers
Rogers continues to vote in favor of legislation that helps cut wasteful spending, balance the budget, and reform the tax code in order to grow our economy and create jobs. As a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, Rogers was selected to serve as chairman of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces. The Subcommittee deals with missile defense and nuclear weapons issues. These are vital issues important to America’s national security and Alabama’s economy.
U.S. House District 4: Robert Aderholt
A staunch supporter of his community and the state of Alabama, Aderholt believes the federal government serves a critical role in assisting state and local projects and economic development. He continues to support pro-growth initiatives that create jobs, strong immigration standards, and robust national security. Aderholt is also a member of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, which has jurisdiction over funding the operation of the federal government. As chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, he supports greater transparency, accountability, and oversight to the appropriations process.
BCA, TOP BUSINESS GROUPS BACK LEGAL EFFORT TO OVERTURN COSTLY EPA POWER PLANT REGULATIONS
The BCA is one of 166 organizations and 40 states that joined an Amicus Brief in support of a lawsuit to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s so-called “Clean Power Plan.”
The brief filed this week outlines the detrimental impact of the rule finalized in August 2015 on communities across the nation.
“We are confident in our case, and the sheer number and diversity of challengers in this case is itself a powerful statement against EPA’s overreach,” said Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. “Not only is the rule unlawful, it’s also bad policy. This regulation threatens one of our nation’s greatest competitive advantages-a diverse set of electricity resources that provide reliable and affordable energy. Our energy diversity has contributed to a renaissance of U.S. manufacturing, helping to generate much-needed jobs and significant investments and revenue.”
The U.S. Supreme Court recently recognized the validity of business concerns by staying implementation of the plan. But a final ruling on the legality of the regulations still needs to occur to provide certainty to all stakeholders, the chamber said. The brief argues that the rule unlawfully attempts to radically transform the electric sector and usurp states’ traditional authority over the electric grid.
The rule will cripple businesses that are still trying to get back on their feet after the Great Recession that took off in 2009.
Business groups say that the Clean Power Plan adopts a “blunderbuss approach” that “compels states, utilities, and suppliers to adopt EPA’s preferred sources of power and fuel and to redesign their electricity infrastructure.” The plan pushed by President Obama “will raise the cost of operations for countless businesses … drive jobs overseas and force businesses to close and disproportionately impact poor and rural communities.”
The rule’s massive economic costs far outweigh its limited environmental benefits. The EPA has admitted that the plan will increase energy prices nationwide, while doing little to lower overall greenhouse gas emissions and the EPA’s own documents show that the net impact on climate change will be minimal.
The U.S. Chamber is the lead petitioner in a coalition of national trade associations challenging the final power plant regulations. The Chamber has been joined in its lawsuit by the National Association of Manufacturers, among others.
The BCA is the exclusive representative in Alabama of the U.S. Chamber and the NAM.
COURT RULES IT HAS JURISDICTION OVER WOTUS LAWSUITS
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled Wednesday that it has jurisdiction to hear cases against the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.
The ruling by a three-judge panel has been viewed as a possible setback for industry groups and states which brought the lawsuits and argued the cases should be heard in district courts, the American Farm Bureau Federation said.
Alabama joined 17 other states in asking for a nationwide stay of the WOTUS rule last September. The AFBF said it is likely the 6th Circuit will rehear the WOTUS case. The AFBF analysis also said it presumes the previous temporary stay of the WOTUS rule is still in effect.
The WOTUS rule expands the EPA’s regulation of private lands by changing the interpretation of the Clean Water Act. As a result, common farming and forestry practices could require a permit or be subject to large penalties.
Here’s a WOTUS timeline: Feb. 22 – the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals rules it has jurisdiction to hear lawsuits filed against the WOTUS rule; Oct. 9, 2015 – the 6th Circuit issues a temporary nationwide stay of the WOTUS rule; Sept. 9, 2015 – Alabama joins 17 other states to pursue a nationwide stay from the appeals court; Aug. 28, 2015 – WOTUS rule goes into effect but was immediately stayed in 13 states.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Proposed Tax Increases on Businesses Would Discourage Investment, Job Creation, and Competitiveness
National Association of Manufacturers (Drogus 2/9) “Manufacturers believe a true pro-growth agenda must balance the need to invest in core areas like infrastructure and national security while advancing tax policies that encourage investment and promote competitiveness. Unfortunately, the president’s approach would fail on both counts and instead significantly increase federal spending while imposing a wide range of tax increases on businesses, making it harder for manufacturers to create jobs and compete in the global economy.
“Although the president acknowledges the need to lower corporate tax rates, many of the reforms in the budget plan-including a punitive ‘minimum tax’ on overseas earnings, higher tax rates on capital gains and dividends and the imposition of a confiscatory estate tax on small businesses-totally miss the mark.
“The president also would significantly increase the tax burden on the energy industry-and consumers-by repealing a number of important energy tax provisions and imposing a new $10 per-barrel oil tax. These and other business tax increases fall far short of what is needed to achieve meaningful reform, ensuring that the U.S. economy would continue to struggle.
“Similarly, the president’s proposal to ‘fix’ the so-called ‘Cadillac’ tax on employee benefits set to hit in 2020 is a nonstarter for manufacturers. The tax would slow private-sector health care innovation and erode the value of employer-sponsored health plans. The only acceptable ‘fix’ for this 40-percent excise tax is full and permanent repeal.”
EPA: Do As I Say, Not as I Do
U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Hackbarth 2/22) “In August 2015, EPA caused 3 million gallons of mine waste to pour into Colorado’s Animas River, turning it a sickly yellow. Six months later, a report on the Gold King Mine accident, produced by the House Natural Resources Committee’s majority staff, gives us some context to what led to the spill.
“Because of its bad assumptions and inadequate planning, the report states EPA ‘violated the Clean Water Act by unlawfully discharging pollutants into navigable waters without a permit and in violation of water quality standards’.
“The (EPA) explained in its August 2015 review that a pressure test wasn’t done because it ‘would have been quite costly and require much more planning and multiple field seasons to accomplish’. If this were a private business, EPA would never have accepted this answer. It would have decried such behavior as ‘cutting corners’ and rushing ahead with little regard to safety and the environment. Fines would’ve been issued.
“In light of the Gold King Mine spill, we should be very skeptical of EPA seeking to enlarge its authority over land use by claiming jurisdiction over waters, including ditches, canals, ponds, and wetlands, as far as 4,000 feet from a navigable water under the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. The rule has been put on hold by a federal court until litigation in finished.”