The Business Council of Alabama has joined 400 business, non-profit, and advocacy groups in signing a letter of support for the “Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act” in the U.S. House and Senate.
The coalition letter was sent to members of Congress urging passage of legislation to stop the Department of Labor’s disastrous overtime regulation that could affect millions of businesses and taxpayers. The bill would direct the Secretary of Labor to conduct a more detailed economic analysis to determine the impact on an array of employers before proposing a new rule, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said.
The Department of Labor’s proposal will change regulations that determine whether an employee is classified as exempt from being paid overtime by increasing the salary threshold requiring overtime payment by 113 percent, from $455 a week to $970 a week.
The Labor Department could soon release the final regulation, which is another attack on business by the Obama Administration. The regulation would determine whether a “white collar” employee is eligible to be paid overtime for hours worked beyond 40 hours per week. Currently employees who perform the “primary duties” of their classification and are paid more than $455 a week are exempt from being paid overtime. The new proposal would increase that salary floor to $970 a week.
If implemented, the higher salary will mean many employers will have to either increase their employees’ salaries to keep them exempt, or reclassify them as hourly employees and possibly pay them overtime. Reclassification will hurt many employees and many schools and local governments will have to increase taxes to pay for higher labor costs.
“For many of our large and small employers, this regulation could mean a disastrous financial hit, or reduce the ability of many businesses to serve their customers,” the BCA-signed letter said.
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Trade Secret Legislation Goes to White House
Reuters (Cowan 4/27) “The U.S. Congress on Wednesday passed and sent to President Barack Obama legislation strengthening legal protection for companies’ trade secrets, including manufacturing processes and computer methods. The House of Representatives voted 410-2 to approve the ‘Defend Trade Secrets Act’ on the heels of it being unanimously passed by the Senate earlier this month.
“The legislation, which is backed by the White House, would open the door for companies to sue in federal court for damages related to theft of trade secrets. Theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets, is estimated to cost American firms more than $300 billion a year, according to a 2013 report by the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property.
“Trade secret theft already is a federal crime, but without the right to sue in federal court, companies must seek redress in state courts amid a patchwork of state laws. Backers of the legislation have cited a case last year in which a South Korean company, Kolon Industries, was found guilty in U.S. federal court of conspiracy to steal trade secrets from DuPont.
“In allowing civil suits in federal court for illegal procurement of trade secrets including manufacturing processes, formulas, computer algorithms, industrial designs, business strategies and customer lists, the legislation aims to create uniform standards for what constitutes trade secret theft.”
Incentive Program Progresses Despite Regulation’s Stall
The Hill (Cama 4/27) “The Obama administration is moving forward with a state incentive program related to its contentious climate change rule, even though the regulation itself is on hold. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday sent a proposal with details of the program to the White House Office of Management and Budget for its review, the final step before the program can be formally proposed to the public.
“The Clean Energy Incentive Program is designed as the carrot to the Clean Power Plan’s stick. The EPA is planning to give states credit for establishing certain renewable energy or energy-efficiency projects before the Clean Power Plan would take effect and require changes to reduce power companies’ greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA would give states participating in the program credits for eligible renewable or efficiency projects that could later be used to cancel out greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel plants under the Clean Power Plan.
“The Office of Management and Budget usually takes less than 60 days to review proposals, but it could take longer if it chooses. After that office approves the proposal, the EPA plans to put it out for public comment.”