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Washington Briefing
   March 15, 2013
AMERICA Works Act Introduced in Senate

Last week, Sens. Kay Hagan (D-NC), Dean Heller (R-NV) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) introduced the AMERICA Works Act, which will help create a strong technical workforce and address the severe skills gap facing manufacturers in the United States.

Despite high unemployment rates, hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs remain unfilled because there are not trained workers to fill open positions. In recent years, the workforce skills gap has become an increasingly pressing issue for manufacturers, who cannot find qualified workers to fill positions, and it is a focus of BCA's Manufacturing Advocacy Council (MAC).

The MAC has been working with the NAM's Manufacturing Institute to build in Alabama a coalition of business, education, work force and economic development leaders to develop a nationally credentialed high-quality manufacturing work force.

In an effort to address the skills gap, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce marked up reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act on March 6. The reauthorization, called the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills Act (the SKILLS Act), looks to consolidate funding programs and remove some of the bureaucracy associated with workforce investment boards. The committee passed the SKILLS Act on a party-line vote with 23 votes in favor, and Democrats choosing not to vote.

Click here, to learn more about the NAM-endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System.

Chairman Camp Proposes Small Business Tax Reform

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released his latest tax reform discussion draft this week focused on improvements in the tax treatment of small businesses.

The draft includes a number of proposals that seek to simplify the tax treatment of S-corporations and partnerships. It is the third proposal the chairman has released in his move toward tax reform, with the previous two proposals focused on international tax reform and the tax treatment of financial products.

Click here to read the NAM's statement on this discussion draft.

Marketplace Fairness Act to be considered with Senate budget resolution

The U.S. Senate sponsors of the Marketplace Fairness Act, S. 336, will seek an amendment to the federal budget resolution to make clear the intent of the Senate and Congress to pass e-fairness legislation. While this is a test vote, it is a pivotal one. A vote is expected soon.

Sixty votes are needed for this amendment to be a success and considered a reflection of the wishes of the Senate.

The Senate bill and its House companion, H.R. 684, seeks to end sales tax disparity by giving states the authority to require remote and online sellers to collect sales and use tax at the point of purchase.

The BCA's 2013 State Legislative Agenda states that BCA supports efforts to streamline and simplify our sales/use tax system so that in-state and out-of-state retailers are on a level playing field and provide a single point of filing for state and all local sales and use tax returns.

New I-9 Form Released

Last week, the Office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a revised I-9 form, the first revised form in more than four years. Every employer in the United States must complete a form for each employee. The new form will include format changes, new fields, clarified instructions and much more. This new form follows the previous draft released in March 2012 that received more than 4,000 comments in discontent from trade associations, etc.. Employers have 60 days to comply and should begin using the new form immediately. 
The new form is more complex and burdensome on employers, now taking an estimated additional 22 minutes (changing the estimated completion time from 13 min to 35 min) longer per form to complete than the previous edition.
In a blog post on the Alabama Immigration Law Journal from Balch & Bingham Partner Wendy Padilla Madden, who consults with attorneys across the country on I-9 compliance, points out a few key things to know:
  • By May 8, 2013, employers must be using the new form exclusively.  Using the old form after May 8 will be a basis for penalty assessment.
  • The timeframes for completing the I-9 Form remain the same.
  • Section 1 of the Form I-9 must be completed (and signed) by the employee on the first day of work for pay or before the first day of work for pay, if the employer has offered the individual a job and if the prospective employee has accepted it.
  • Section 2 of the I-9 Form must be completed (and signed) by the employer within three business days of the employee's first day of work for pay.
  • Section 3 of the I-9 Form (if required) must be completed by an employer if an employee's employment authorization or documentation of employment authorization has expired - re-verification must occur on or before the employee's work authorization expires.   An employer may choose to complete Section 3 when an employee is rehired (within three years of the date that Form I-9 was originally completed) or when an employee changes his or her name.
  • Just as with the expiring Form, employers must retain the new Forms for three years from date of hire or one year from date of termination whichever is longer. 
In case you missed it...

Shelby: Airbus, Port of Mobile bright spots; sequestration 'brutal'
The Press-Register (Dugan, 3/11) reports, "U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby pulled few punches Monday addressing the state of the national economy, but he did offer a few reasons to be hopeful about Mobile's economic future. 'I'm going to be working to get suppliers here,' Shelby told several hundred gathered at the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel for a breakfast briefing that covered everything from sequestration and gun control to immigration and the strength of the Port of Mobile."

Senate offers budget deal: Shelby is lead negotiator
The Montgomery Advertiser (3/13) reports, "Sen. Richard Shelby's debut as the top GOP negotiator on federal spending was marked by a rare show of bipartisanship Tuesday as he and his Democratic counterpart agreed on a $1 trillion plan to finance government agencies through Sept. 30. The deal, scheduled to be debated this week on the Senate floor, would end the threat of a government shutdown for the next six months by finishing the work left by the previous Congress. Shelby, R-Ala., and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said they wrote the spending plan to win bipartisan support in the House and Senate. The plan includes many spending decisions already approved by the House and would protect favored programs such as transportation, cybersecurity and scientific research from deeper cuts."

Roby praises budget proposal released by House Republicans
Al.com (Enoch, 3/12) reports, "U.S. Rep. Martha Roby praised a budget proposal released today by House Republicans, calling it a path to a balanced budget. The plan released Tuesday by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, promises to cut the deficit from $845 billion this year to $528 billion in the 2014 budget year that starts in October, according to the Associate Press. It would continue to gradually decrease the deficit until achieving a $7 billion surplus in 2023. 'Balancing a budget is a simple reality for everyday Americans, but a concept all too foreign to their government, unfortunately,' Roby said in a released statement. 'The plan outlined [Tuesday] by Chairman Ryan puts our budget on a path to balance through long-needed reforms to federal spending and a pro-growth tax structure that promotes economic prosperity. Our budget plan reflects the good sense and financial prudence of hardworking Americans.'"

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BCA Events
The 2013 Alabama
Manufacturer of the Year Awards Luncheon with keynote speaker Gov. Robert Bentley will be
Friday, April 19, 2013,
11:30 a.m. at the
Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center.
Reserve your seat today!

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