On Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, the Lumber Dealers of Connecticut held its annual past president dinner at the Inn at Middletown. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres were served, which was followed by a sit down dinner. There were 25 attendees, including the oldest living past president from 1967 Verne Spear. Other past presidents in attendance were Harry Taylor (1977), who still works at his lumberyard H.H. Taylor & Son, Andrew Perry (1981), Ken Roos (1984) of Branford Building Supply, David Miner (1990) of Miner’s, Inc., Mike Laureno (2000), Greg Branecky (2002) of Miner’s, Inc., Dave Bitso (2008) of Reeb Millwork, and Lorraine Miner (2013) of Miner’s, Inc. Board members toasted and thanked the past presidents’ years of service to the association.
December 4, 2013 2:00pm EST
Disaster Preparedness with David Hawley, Cornell Cooperative Extension
Natural or man-made disasters can have a substantial impact on the safety and security of forestry products and economic health. One effective way to reduce the impact of disasters is through education, stressing steps to improve disaster preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery. This course will help these business owners plan for and manage disasters that may occur on their operations, and encourage these businesses to actively adopt planning and preparedness actions.
TARGET AUDIENCE & LEVEL: DEALERS/OWNERS, Intermediate/Advanced
LBM Economic Forecast with Dr. Ed Seifried,
Seifreid & Brew
November 13, 2013 2:00pm EST
Dr. Seifried will review current economic conditions with an eye on forecasting economic growth for the
remainder of 2013 and 2014. We all know that while the Great Recession of 2007-09 is officially over and that
the recovery is now formally underway, something seems to be missing. This economic recovery has lacked the
robustness associated with past economic recoveries.
TARGET AUDIENCE & LEVEL: DEALERS/OWNERS, Intermediate/Advanced
Congratulations to our 2013 Scholarship Winners:
Sponsored by Ring’s End Inc.
Attending Fairfield University
Sponsored by Miner’s Inc.
Attending Marquette University
Sponsored by The O.L. Willard Company
Attending Bryant University
Sponsored by A.W. Hastings & Co.
Attending Quinnipiac University
Affordable Care Act Informational Overview – From the Employees & Employers Eyes – with Kirk Shoen,
Cornell Cooperative Extension
November 20, 2013 2:00pm EST
The new federal health care law called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will soon change the way that businesses and/or employees will obtain their health insurance. Some employers will be mandated to provide health insurance for their employees. Others may want to offer insurance to assist in employee retention since there will be a tax penalty for any non-insured individuals. To answer concerns regarding how ACA will directly impact you, Cornell Cooperative Extension in partnership with Community Health Advocates is providing this webinar to help answer some of the following questions:
- What does ACA mean for individuals and businesses?
- How do I know what I am supposed to do for my business?
- Who can I talk to if I have issues with finding a plan or purchasing insurance?
- What is the Individual Exchange for sole proprietors and individuals?
- What is the Small Business Health Options (SHOP) Exchange, how does it work and where can I find it?
TARGET AUDIENCE & LEVEL: ALL
The Lumber Dealers
Association of Connecticut
Cordially invites you to attend its
2013 Annual Banquet
Lumber Person of the Year
Robert A. Kelly
Torno Lumber, Inc.
Wednesday, November 6
Aqua Turf Club, Plantsville, CT
This is the first publication of NRLA’s Regulatory Newsletter. This newsletter will be published twice a year and update members on recent regulatory changes as well as upcoming changes. While every state has their own regulatory changes, this newsletter will focus on regulatory issues that cross state lines. NRLA hopes that members find these newsletters informational and useful for their business.
DOT Hours of Service Changed
New truck driver hours-of-service regulations took effect July 1. The rule requires drivers to take a 30-minute break before driving more than eight hours and limits the use of the 34-hour restart to reset a driver’s weekly clock in two ways: The restart can only be used once a week (every 168 hours), and it must include two consecutive periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Any driver that has not completed their 34-hour restart by 12:00 a.m. on July 1 must adhere to the new HOS restart regulation.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published a “visor card” outlining the changes to truck driver hours-of-service regulations, which may be downloaded here.
Victory on NLRB Union Ambush Rule
NRLA and NLBMDA helped win another regulatory victory for their members. On May 7, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C., struck down the controversial National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rule requiring businesses to post notices that were virtually “directions on how to unionize.” NRLA & NLBMDA are members of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW), which was a party to the lawsuit.
Affordable care act changes
(1) The Affordable Care Act (ACA) included an employer mandate, which required companies with 50 or more employees to provide healthcare coverage for their employees. The mandate was set to go into effect on January 1, 2014. The Administration announced that this mandate would be delayed for one year until 2015.
This is an enormous victory for businesses, which have been lobbying for a delay. Please note this delay does not affect or delay the individual mandate.
(2) The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) announced that it would delay for one year an option under the SHOP exchanges that would have allowed employers to select a certain benefit level and then allowed employees to choose among a variety of plans at that level. That option now will not be available until 2015. Until then, a company can still choose an insurance plan in the exchange, but employees will have to sign up for coverage through the carrier chosen.
Changes to the FMLA
The Department of Labor (DOL) recently published final regulations clarifying several amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). To review a detailed article summarizing the final regulations, click here.
The DOL’s final regulations take effect on March 8, 2013. As a covered employer, a company must ensure that its FMLA policy be consistent with these new regulations. Accordingly, we recommend that companies consider replacing their current FMLA policy with the updated policy.
The DOL also issued a new FMLA workplace poster. You can find the new poster here, and it should replace the old one no later than March, 2, 2013.
OSHA Crane operator licenses
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced that it will extend the compliance date for the crane operator certification requirement by three years to Nov. 10, 2017. The proposal would also extend to the same date the existing phase-in requirement that employers ensure that their operators are qualified to operate the equipment.
NRLA members were getting ready to deal with this new certification requirement, but the delay allows NRLA and NLBMDA to continue to work with OSHA to get questions concerning articulating knuckle boom exemptions answered as well as a clearer definition as to what certification requirements these trucks will require.
OSHA is starting to implement new Hazard Communication rules and moving to the Global Harmonized System (GHS). By December 1, 2013 all employees must be trained on the new label elements and Safety Data Sheets (SDS), formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
Over the next two plus years, all businesses will also have to comply with the new GHS labels and replace all of their SDS sheets. By June 1, 2015 all employers must be in full compliance with the new GHS rules and by June 1, 2016 all labeling and SDS sheets must be updated to the new GHS standards.
The GHS standard is being adopted so that hazardous materials can be identified internationally. The requirement to have proper GHS labels and SDS sheets falls on all employers. SDS sheets cover a wide variety of products; everything from soaps, cleaning products, even wood (as sawdust is combustible).
Safe Water Drinking Act updated – Sell off date for products
The Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act (RLDWA) goes into effect on Jan. 4, 2014. The law sets new standards for the amount of lead allowed in plumbing products connected to potable water sources. The current law allows for up to 8% lead, but the new law requires a reduction down to 0.25%. Click here to be brought to a site that will help identify whether the products you have are compliant or not. Anything that is above 0.25% should be sold off before Jan. 4, 2014.
(1) The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a final rule in late 2008 creating a single electronic medical record database known as the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) for CDL drivers. As a result, CDL drivers need to complete a self-certification form and submit a current medical examiner’s certificate to their respective State Driver Licensing Agency (SDLA), such as the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). CDL drivers who do not self-certify and/or do not keep their medical examiner’s certificate up-to-date may lose their CDL status.
Each SDLA has its own self-certification forms, submission process, and additional information about the rule online. To access the information, visit the Government Affairs section of the NRLA website, click on your respective state on the left side, and then click on useful links.
(2) In February 2012, the Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established a National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (National Registry). The rule requires that all medical examiners who conduct physical examinations for commercial motor vehicle drivers complete periodic training and testing, and register with the National Registry. By May 21, 2014, all motor carriers and drivers are required to use medical examiners that are registered with the Agency’s National Registry. To access the FMCSA’s National Registry, visit National Registry.
(3) While many states are passing laws that allow for the medical or recreational use of marijuana it is important to note that marijuana use is still illegal under federal law, even for medical purposes. CDL drivers hold federal licenses and are required to adhere to federal DOT requirements. If a driver holding a CDL license tests positive for marijuana, he/she will have to complete the required return-to-work process.
LDAC Welcomes All-Time Manufacturing
NRLA is proud to announce that All-Time Manufacturing has recently joined its lumber and building material family as an associate and retail yard. All-Time Manufacturing was founded in 1946 by three brothers, the Brodies, and was an early American innovator in no maintenance products that included marine windows, blinds, storm windows and doors, vinyl coated chain link fence, aluminum railings,and shower enclosures.
Working with General Electric, All-Time Manufacturing led the way in the use of insulated glass in high-altitude aircraft, and the company still makes superior-quality insulated glass for use in its high-quality vinyl and aluminum windows.
All-Time Manufacturing has entered its third generation as a family-owned and operated American manufacturer focusing on product excellence and service. All-Time has shipped to customers as far away as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and has continued to innovate with a range of products including no-maintenance vinyl, steel, and aluminum railings, porch enclosures, custom vinyl windows, high-quality vinyl and aluminum fencing, pergolas, gates, and more.
“At All-Time we take pride in the quality of our products and only use high quality materials such as UV-resistant virgin vinyl or rust-free aluminum alloys in our manufacturing processes,” said Rob Brodie, owner. “We manufacture our windows, doors, fences, railings, and other products to exceed industry standards. Customizable options and designs are available upon request.”
Another Successful LDAC Lobby Day
April 17, 2013
LDAC members at the Connecticut State Capitol.
LDAC Legislative Chair Greg Branecky hosted another successful lobby day in Hartford. Ten LDAC members started their lobby day off with the Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Connecticut before hosting their own meeting and then gathering with about a dozen lawmakers off of the chamber floor. LDAC lobbied on the issue of a construction trust, product liability, and opposing proposed budget tax increases.
LDAC members held their lobby day partly in conjunction with the
Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Connecticut.
A construction trust would make it so builders who have committed fraud are unable to hide behind bankruptcy protection. If fraud was committed, then their debts would not be dischargeable in bankruptcy court.
Product liability reform would make it so that retailers are held accountable for their own liability.
Currently, if a retailer is included in a product liability lawsuit, they may be forced to pay the entire settlement – even if they are only found liable for just a small portion of the claim. Product liability reform would make it such that if a retailer is found liable, the amount of liability would be determined and they would be required to pay the percentage of the claim for which they were found liable.
LDAC is opposing budget proposals that include sales tax, property tax, and utilities tax increases. While the budget needs to be balanced, LDAC does not believe that Connecticut can continue to use budget gimmicks and ask for continued tax increases while also proposing increased spending.
CT Members Meet With the Department of Revenue Services
By Greg Branecky, Miner’s Inc.
LDAC Legislative Chair
Joe Cecarelli, Marshall Collins (our Lobbyist), and Greg Branecky recently met with the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) to explain Lumber Dealers of Connecticut’s position on the Sales Tax Home Weatherization Products exemption, which we believe has out lived its usefulness.
The Sales Tax Exemption on Home Weatherization Products originally went into effect Nov. 25, 2005 through April 1, 2006, and was subsequently extended to May 31, 2007, at which time the legislators made it permanent. The exemption cost the State $8.2 million dollars in lost revenue during 2012 and is projected to result in $8.5 million in lost revenue for 2013.
We explained to DRS why this exemption is outdated. All major window manufacturers offer Energy Star rated windows. New home construction and most remodeling projects are using Energy Star’s windows. Additionally, we discussed how long it takes the retailer to calculate the sales tax on home weatherization, which ranges from 1 to 5 hours monthly.
The meeting went very well. They understood why this exemption is out dated. Our hope is that DRS will examine the exemption and eventually remove it. This would result in the state having additional revenue, sparing small business additional burdensome sales tax.
The pace of the 2013 Connecticut General Assembly accelerated rapidly as soon as they hit the ground running on opening day. Once legislation regarding gun control, school safety and compensation for first responders, all in response to Newtown, had passed, Legislators and the Governor were then confronted with a dramatically worsening budget picture. Although revenues were up for 2012, projections were for decreasing revenues of approximately $250 million for each of the next two years.
Ultimately the Governor and the majority Democrats passed a budget without any Republican support and which increased spending by nearly 10% over the two year period. At the heart of the budget process was a difficult debate over compliance with the state’s spending cap. Without reductions in either the Governor’s or the majority Democrats’ spending plans, the spending cap would have to be altered to permit the increase.
Normally changes to the spending cap need a 60% approval vote in both the House and the Senate. However, three Democrat Senators refused to support the unsustainable growth in spending thus necessitating passage of “an accounting change” which moved $4.7 Billion of Medicaid spending off budget; a vote that only required a simple majority. Without this change the budget could not have passed.
The final budget, without counting all of the Medicaid spending, is $18.6 Billion and $19 Billion in fiscal 2014 and 2015 respectively. The spending increase is 3.7% and 2.2% annually. Crucial to “balancing” this budget it the assumption of an estimated 6% revenue growth over the two year period. LDAC members must continue to speak to their legislators about fiscal responsibility. Even though a budget and the bills necessary to implement it were adopted on time for the first time in more than a decade, Connecticut’s fiscal crisis is not over.
The Governor and the majority Democrats contend that taxes were not increased to balance the budget. Nevertheless, the gasoline tax will increase between $0.03 to $0.04 per gallon on July 1, 2013; the 20% corporation business tax surcharge which was to sunset will be continued, and a tax on electric generators which also was to sunset, will be continued for three months. Significant borrowing also occurred. Nearly $1.5 billion in new borrowing was authorized and interest payments on some existing loans were deferred for two years.
The rest of the 2013 legislative scorecard is dominated by what did not pass. The new Speaker of the House, Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) convened the Municipal Opportunities and Regional Efficiencies (MORE) Commission. This was an attempt to find ways to deliver municipal services more effectively and efficiently. Although few major changes came from the study, the Commission will reconvene again by October to continue its work. Some of the topics considered were: taxation of motor vehicles, alternate methods of taxing commercial property, land value taxation, prevailing wage, and binding arbitration.
LDAC Bills of concerns that passed:
– SB 387 increased the minimum wage by $0.40 on 1/1/14 and $0.35 on 1/1/15. The wage was not indexed.
– SB 910, file 871, concerns access to personnel files – employers now must grant access within 7-10 days. PA 13-176.
– HB 6658, file 693 regarding non-compete agreements. Individuals must be allowed up to 7 days to consider signing such agreements.
LDAC Bills of concerns that did not pass:
– HB 5682 regarding mechanics’ liens and 5098 regarding notice of liens.
– HB 1075, file 841 would have required LDAC members to be responsible for significant additional reporting involving the sale of materials to contractors. LDAC worked in conjunction with the Home Builders’ Association to stop the bill in the Senate.
– HB 5264, file 159 would have required cash or credit refunds for the return of damaged or defective goods when made within 2 days.
– SB 907 would have made it more difficult for employers to dispute workers compensation claims and treatment costs.
– SB 926 would have imposed further penalties regarding unemployment compensation violations.
– SB 1074 would have required hospitals to charge actual costs rather than billed costs to employers for workers compensation treatment. The bill would have reduced employers’ workers’ compensation costs.
– SB 54 would have required employers to make payroll deductions for certain private sector employees who elected to take part in a state run retirement plan. LDAC actively participated in a broad based business coalition which killed the bill.
Various bills would have allowed stress related workers’ compensation benefits. None passed. A special fund, outside of the workers’ compensation system, was created to assist the Newtown first responders; however, the issue will be likely return next year.
All in all it was a particularly busy Legislative Session. Despite general success on LDAC specific issues, members should be
extremely concerned about the fiscal direction of the state budget. The issue has not gone away and much work is still required.
The following report is from the Lumber Dealers Association of Connecticut (LDAC) lobbyist, Marshall R. Collins of Marshall R. Collins & Associates, and NRLA Government Affairs Manager, Jeff Keller.