April 12, 2013


The BCA's goals, policies and actions are driven by its members.

Each year, members of BCA's Federal Affairs Committee meet to discuss and recommend policy statements to be included in our federal Legislative Agenda. At a later date, BCA's Governmental Affairs Committee reviews the recommendations and passes along its choices to the full BCA board of directors. The board then makes the final decision on legislation to be supported by BCA.

This year's agenda was approved by the board on March 12. It is printed in the April edition of Business Alabama magazine and available on the BCA website.  


The Business Council of Alabama joined other organizations from across the country in signing a U.S. Chamber of Commerce letter that was sent to all members of Congress urging passage of comprehensive immigration reform. BCA Chairman and CEO William J. Canary signed the U.S. Chamber's multi-industry letter urging passage of immigration reform. "As you know, America's current immigration system is broken and does not meet the needs of our citizens or businesses," the letter states. "Improvements to our nation's immigration policies are long overdue and are essential to continued economic growth."


The Chamber said sound immigration policy can help the economy because "immigrants are key to the economic success of this country. We ask that Congress take advantage of the unprecedented momentum in support of reform and, working with the Administration, address this important issue before the end of the year." The Chamber said that bipartisan groups in both houses of Congress seek consensus solutions. The U.S. Chamber's message is "pass comprehensive immigration now, this year."


Immigration reform is part of the BCA's 2013 federal legislative agenda. In support of education and workforce development, the BCA will back efforts to: "Reform immigration policy to strengthen our national security, including increasing protection of our borders, while providing a supplemental workforce for American businesses and industry; simplify and expand the caps in the H2B program to make it an effective tool in offsetting the growing workforce shortages in various sectors of the U.S., and in particular Alabama's economy, wherein there are no qualified Americans willing and able to take positions and that the temporary worker must intend to return to their homeland once their visa is expired."


The National Association of Manufacturers is among more than 170 industry and business groups which have petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set up a notification system involving potential lawsuits against the EPA by outside groups. According to Politico, "Worried about EPA's alleged 'sue and settle' practice, the agency should set up a notification system with timely and transparent access to information involving any legal action, or notice of intended legal action, against the EPA." The letter said that stakeholders deserve timely and transparent access to information involving legal action, or notice of intended legal action, against the EPA. President Barack Obama has instructed federal agency heads to promote government openness by "establishing a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration," Politico reported. The letter expresses concern about the practice of "sue and settle" to circumvent the Administrative Procedure Act's regulatory process and negotiate rule making schedules and other concessions. Courts have held that some citizens and states affected by the regulations are unable to intervene in the lawsuits due to a lack of standing.  


The U.S. Postal Service said Wednesday it will cancel plans to halt Saturday delivery but it still believes that Saturday delivery hurts the bottom line. The agency's Board of Governors said that a recently passed continuing resolution prohibits the planned Aug. 5 halt to Saturday mail delivery. The continuing resolution orders the Postal Service to keep Saturday delivery for now. The Postal Service Board said ending Saturday mail delivery would save $2 billion annually. The Board of Governors wants postal reform that would allow adjustments in mail delivery schedules and possibly an increase in stamp prices. Full story at The Federal Times. 


U.S. Representative introduces family and work bill

Montgomery Advertiser (4/9) U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., writes: "This past week I spent time traveling throughout Alabama's Second Congressional District to talk about issues facing the country and visiting with those whom I have the privilege to represent. We are starting a conversation about a bill I plan to soon introduce in Congress that will lessen federal restrictions in the workplace and offer working people more time options at work. It's called the 'Working Families Flexibility Act' and it would offer the freedom for workers to use their earned 'time-and-a-half' overtime as actual paid 'time-and-a-half' off work rather than pay, if that's what they would rather have. No worker could ever be forced to take paid time off instead of pay, just like no business would be forced to offer it. But that's a decision they should be free to make together, which is why my bill ends the blanket federal restriction on doing so."

Sessions questions 'Gang of Eight' on immigration

Western Free Press (Walker 4/10) "As the Gang of Eight in the Senate moves closer to unveiling a comprehensive immigration reform bill, speculation is building over the exact contents of the bill along with questions about the path to citizenship, the definition of border security, and the long-term costs to taxpayers. This is the price of legislation drafted in secret by a self-appointed group of Senators from both parties. In addition, drafting legislation behind closed doors is now accompanied by a growing sense of urgency that could short-circuit the normal legislative process. Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama is one of the leading skeptics of secret legislative negotiations conducted in haste. Along with other GOP senators on the Judiciary Committee, Sessions continues to raise pertinent questions about immigration reform in advance of the Gang of Eight's introduction of a bipartisan bill expected as soon as later this week. Now Sessions has presented his colleagues with 10 key questions among the dozens he says must be answered before legislation is produced."

Rep. Aderholt: protect NASA

Al.com (Roop 4/11) "U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, wasted no time responding to President Obama's proposed spending plans for NASA and the Pentagon. The member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee said Wednesday that budgets range from 'disappointing' to 'indefensible'. Aderholt said, 'The bright spots in the space and defense programs are few and very far in-between, particularly as it relates to the SLS and ground missile defense'. Aderholt said the budget gives NASA $1.45 billion for the Space Launch System (SLS) being developed in Huntsville. That's $110 million less than fiscal year 2012, he said, an 'extremely disappointing' recommendation that is at odds with earlier NASA authorization legislation the president signed. Other immediate reaction to the budget by Alabama lawmakers was more muted. A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said Shelby 'believes that NASA should continue to explore the universe and challenge scientific and technical boundaries. However, NASA should maintain focus on its core mission and continue development of the Space Launch System so that it will be ready for any future NASA mission'."


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