NARI ON THE HILL: JANUARY 2016
The Start of the 2nd Session of the 114th Congress
Between the holiday season, the President’s State of the Union speech, each political party’s organizational retreat, and an extraordinary snow storm, the 2nd session of the 114th Congress has gotten off to a slow start. With the weather shutting down the government for several days and making travel very difficult, the House of Representatives postponed all votes until February 1.
The Senate, however, has been in session and on Wednesday began consideration of a bipartisan energy bill, S 2012, that would mandate energy infrastructure upgrades and boost energy efficiency standards for commercial and federal buildings. It is the first time the Senate has considered a major energy bill in over eight years. The measure was sponsored by Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski and Democratic Ranking Member Maria Cantwell. So far, the legislation has enjoyed wide support among members of the Senate. Both Senators Murkowski and Cantwell have urged lawmakers to refrain from offering controversial amendments or invoking parliamentary procedures which would prevent the passage of the bipartisan bill. With the House passing its own energy bill last year, Senate action would allow both Chambers to go to conference and work out a final compromise that could be passed into law.
NARI has been a strong supporter of the energy efficiency standards in this legislation and has worked with fellow members of the Energy Efficiency Coalition to encourage passage of a comprehensive energy reform bill.
NARI Goes to Washington
NARI is coordinating a “Lobby Day on the Hill” on Wed., March 16 in Washington, D.C. All interested NARI members are invited to attend as we meet with several key legislators to discuss issues of importance to our industry, such as workforce development, taxes and regulations. In addition, those arriving on Tues., March 15 will have the opportunity to participate in an evening tour of Congress facilitated by our lobbyist, Sen. Tim Hutchinson. Registration information will be coming soon.
Lead Test Kits
The Environmental Protection Agency has been directed by Congress to reexamine its Lead Test Kit regulations. As the current technology stands, there is no test kit available that can meet the requirements as outlined in the EPA’s own regulations. In response to the Congressional directive, EPA held a meeting on this issue on June 4, 2015, and NARI was one of the participants involved in that conversation. In July NARI submitted comments to the EPA on possible reforms to the Lead Test Kit regulations.
The EPA continues to wrestle with this issue and in December, the Agency notified the public of an expanded opportunity to provide comments on lead test kits and other field testing options. The Agency is opening a second comment period and specifically soliciting comments on the following:
• Proposing to eliminate the positive response criterion;
• Proposing to modify the positive response criterion;
• Maintaining the current negative response and positive response criteria;
• Proposing to provide reduced Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Program training requirements for X-Ray Fluorescence technicians; and
• Exploring any other lead-based paint field testing technology that would provide reduced costs for consumers, remodelers and families to comply with the RRP rule.
The comment period will close on February 19, 2016, and NARI will, again, be submitting comments on behalf of the remodeling industry.
Silica Rule Update
In keeping with its stated goal of finalizing a Silica Rule by the end of February, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has sent its final proposed rule over to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the White House for review. OIRA will review the costs and benefits of the rule and determine if the rule fits the Administration's regulatory priorities. It is during this final review process that the construction industry will have one last opportunity to impact the rule before it is finalized.
On Wednesday, January 6, the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC) held another meeting to discuss the options going forward now that the final proposal is at OIRA. NARI, along with fellow members of the CISC, continue to support regulations that protect the health of employees and clients. However, the Coalition continues to have grave concerns that the Silica Rule, as proposed by OSHA, is neither technologically nor economically feasible. Therefore, in an effort to continue to impact the process, representatives of the CISC, along with individual member organizations, will be going in to meet with OIRA over the next several weeks to request that OSHA begin this rule making process again. NARI will continue to be involved in this process.