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End of Obama-Era, Anti-Private Property Rights Rule Celebrated

After President Trump ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to rescind the anti-private property rights Waters of the U.S. rule, Business Council of Alabama President and CEO William J. Canary, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued statements of support.

“A regulation such as this one and its cost to implement by business that has been foisted on businesses and private property owners over the last eight years is one reason that our economy has not recovered as quickly as it should have,” Canary said. “Regulations based on ideology instead of facts, sound business reasoning, and clarity have no place in our system.”

President Trump last week directed the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rescind the “Waters of the United States” private-property grabbing rule that was unilaterally installed by the Obama Administration to expand the number of waterways that were federally protected under the Clean Water Act, including seasonal ditches, creeks, ponds and non-navigable waters.

Businesses and individuals seeking to build on their own land would have to seek expensive and time-consuming federal permits.

Timmons said that ambiguous and complex regulations like the WOTUS rule make it harder for businesses to grow and Americans to work.

“Right now, it costs close to $35,000 per employee for a small manufacturer each year just to keep compliant with current regulations,” he said. “The WOTUS rule exerted power over a staggering range of manmade features, setting up potential costs for manufacturers that would alter how they would transport goods and services.”

Timmons said politics of the last eight years have thrown regulations out of balance.

“Rules that should help our communities thrive are instead making life harder for job creators, workers and their families,” he said. “So we fully support the administration’s plan to rescind and replace the WOTUS rule with a clearer and more reasonable rule.”

U.S. Chamber Senior Vice President of Environment, Technology, & Regulatory Affairs William Kovacs said the 2015 rule was essentially a federal land grab. “America’s businesses, farmers, and other land owners and managers will be happy to see it reconsidered and properly withdrawn under President Trump,” he said in a statement.

The BCA is the exclusive representative in Alabama of the National Association of Manufacturers, the largest manufacturing association in the United States, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.


HOUSE PASSES REP. BYRNE’S BILL TO HELP BUSINESS BY STOPPING UNLAWFUL POWER GRAB

The House of Representatives has passed legislation by U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Mobile, that blocks an unlawful regulation by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

House Joint Resolution 83 passed Wednesday by a vote of 231 to 191 and goes to the Senate for consideration.

The White House has issued a Statement of Administration policy announcing that the Trump Administration “strongly supports” passage of Rep. Byrne’s bill, Rep. Byrne’s office said.

“OSHA’s power grab is not only unlawful, it does nothing to improve workplace safety,” Rep. Byrne said. “What it does do is force small businesses to confront even more unnecessary red tape and unjustified litigation. I am pleased the House has acted to block this unlawful rule, and look forward to continuing our efforts to support proactive safety policies that help keep America’s workers safe.”

Among the numerous groups supporting Rep. Byrne’s legislation are the Business Council of Alabama, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, National Association of Home Builders, Associated Builders and Contractors, American Trucking Associations, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Federation of Independent Business, and National Retail Federation.

Under the OSH Act, employers are required to record and maintain a log of workplace injuries and illnesses that occur during a five-year span. While OSHA inspectors have long used this information to enhance health and safety protections in America’s jobsites, the law explicitly says that employers can only be cited for record-keeping violations within a six-month time period. Two federal appeals courts ruled the statute of limitations is six months.

During the waning days of the Obama administration, OSHA used a regulatory fiat to finalize the so-called “Volks” rule, which extends the threat of penalty up to five years, which happened to a Louisiana construction company that was cited for paperwork errors occurring nearly five years prior.

Only Congress has the authority to write laws – not government agencies, Rep. Byrne said. Instead of focusing on paperwork errors that occurred five years ago, OSHA should spend its time and resources addressing current working conditions and preventing injuries and illnesses from happening in the future.

A copy of the resolution can be found here and a fact sheet can be found here.


FEDERAL WORKFORCE REDUCTION BEGINS

Federal Times reports that reshaping of the executive branch is underway and it will probably reduce the size of the federal workforce. President Trump’s Jan. 23 executive order institutes a hiring freeze for 90 days, pending a plan from the directors of the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management “to reduce the size of the federal government’s workforce through attrition.”

By using attrition as a tool to whittle down the workforce, the Trump administration is trying to leverage the increasing number of federal employees eligible for retirement to achieve its goals, Federal Times reported. Some estimates have pegged the eligible number of retirees at 40 percent of the total workforce by 2020, which would accomplish the Trump administration’s goal, but runs the risk leaving a very large skills gap.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Cornyn: Senate Will Vote on ObamaCare Repeal by Early April
The Hill (Carney 3/1) – “Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) predicted after a closed-door meeting that the Senate will take up an ObamaCare repeal bill by Congress’ Easter recess, giving lawmakers little more than a month. The timeline would give senators until April 7 – when lawmakers are expected to leave town for a two-week recess – to coalesce behind and vote on one plan.

“Though GOP lawmakers have campaigned for years on repealing and replacing ObamaCare, they are publicly struggling to unite behind a single idea of how to do it. The House is poised to move forward with an ObamaCare repeal and replacement as early as next week. The move comes despite public divisions among Republicans about how to repeal ObamaCare and the timeline for replacing it. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) noted during a weekly press conference congressional Republicans and the White House are not yet in the ‘same place’ over ObamaCare.”

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