NLBMDA Members Prepare for Capitol Hill Visits

By / 2 months ago

nlbmda-logoNLMBDA will be hosting the 2017 Spring Meeting and Legislative Conference, March 27–29, 2017, at the Renaissance Dupont Hotel in Washington, D.C. As part of the meeting, on March 28, NLBMDA members will go to Capitol Hill to meet with their lawmakers about several issues affecting the lumber and building material (LBM) industry.

The first day of the meeting on March 27, NLBMDA will hold committee meetings, including the Legislative Advocacy Committee and Regulatory, Codes and Standards Committee. Among the highlights for the first day of the meeting are the LuDPAC Luncheon and the Welcome Reception and Silent Auction.

Matt Lewis, a senior columnist at The Daily Beast and a CNN Political Commentator is the featured speaker for the LuDPAC Luncheon. That evening, attendees will be able to bid on a range of items at the reception. Proceeds from both the luncheon and the reception will benefit NLBMDA’s advocacy efforts.

The next morning, on March 28, lawmakers will speak to attendees regarding the changes in Washington. Capping off the day on Capitol Hill will be a congressional reception, which will offer an opportunity to meet with lawmakers and recap visits with NLBMDA members and staff.

Dealers plan to focus on four issues as part of their visits on Capitol Hill: regulatory reform, renewal of a Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) between the U.S. and Canada, preservation of the mortgage interest deduction, and estate tax repeal.

Congress and the Trump Administration have already taken action to reform the regulatory process. In January, President Trump signed an executive order (EO) that requires the removal of two federal regulations for every new federal regulation that is implemented. The EO will expand the scope of regulatory review and is intended to dramatically reduce the overall amount of federal regulation.

For its part, the House of Representatives has already taken early action on several regulatory reform bills. On January 5, the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R. 26) was approved by a vote of 237 to 187. The legislation increases accountability and transparency in the federal regulatory process by requiring Congress to approve all major rules before taking effect.

In addition, on Jan. 11, the Regulatory Accountability Act (H.R. 5) was passed 237 to 187. The legislation updates the federal rulemaking process under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) to increase transparency and accountability.

Another issue that is garnering increasing interest from dealers is the expired SLA between the U.S. and Canada. The most recent SLA placed a tax on softwood lumber imported from Canada into the U.S. and expired on October 12, 2015.

After a one-year cooling off period following the expiration of the most recent SLA, on November 28, the U.S. Lumber Coalition, a group of U.S. softwood lumber producers, filed a petition with the Department of Commerce (DOC) and International Trade Commission (ITC) seeking anti- dumping duties (ADD) and countervailing duties (CVD) on Canadian imports to offset what they view as the harm caused to the U.S. market by subsidized Canadian products sold in the U.S.

Should the ITC decide to impose duties on Canadian imports, it is likely to have a significant impact on the U.S. market. NLBMDA has received reports that dealers are already seeing increases in the price of Canadian softwood lumber in anticipation of duties. A preliminary CVD determination is expected on April 24 and a preliminary ADD determination is expected on May 4.

As the Trump Administration and Congress seriously consider tax reform, there is concern that the mortgage interest deduction in its present form could be at risk. The tax deduction is popular with taxpayers and is a central part of American housing policy. NLBMDA supports the MID and its continued inclusion in the tax code.

The estate tax may also be modified as part of tax reform. Legislation has already been introduced in the House and Senate to repeal the estate tax.

As a candidate, President Trump proposed eliminating the estate tax. NLBMDA is excited to have its members in Washington, D.C. this month to meet with lawmakers and advocate for the lumber and building material industry.

Dealers wishing to learn more about the 2017 NLBMDA Spring Meeting and Legislative Conference can visit the event website at www.leg-con.org.

Ben Gann

Ben Gann is director of legislative affairs and grassroots activities for NLBMDA in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.Dealer.org