Government Affairs — Year in review
by Ashleigh Petersen
The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). Under the standard, companies with 100 or more employees would have had to develop, implement and enforce a mandatory coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination policy, unless they adopted a policy requiring employees to choose to either be vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work.
The American Rental Association (ARA) joins dozens of charitable nonprofits and trade associations in sending a letter to President Biden and key members of Congress asking for the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) to be restored.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issue a joint temporary final rule to increase the number of H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for fiscal year 2022. The rule makes an additional 20,000 visas available.
ARA joins 70 other organizations in supporting legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate to restore the ERTC.
The Economic Bridge Coalition (EBC), of which ARA is a founding member, sends a letter to the president urging him to support further COVID-19 pandemic recovery provisions.
ARA scales back its National Legislative Caucus in Washington, D.C., due to the pandemic. Instead, the ARA board of directors meets in the capitol starting on March 22.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides additional deferment of principal and interest payments for existing COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) borrowers. The extension brings the total deferment time to 30 months from inception.
Michigan rental operators of construction and other heavy equipment score a major win. House Bills 4833 and 4834, which remedied the personal property tax issue that has been negatively impacting rental operators for years, is signed into law on March 24 and goes into effect Jan. 1. This victory comes after a five-year battle with the support of ARA, the Michigan Heavy Equipment Rental Tax Coalition, state agencies and members of the ARA of Michigan.
ARA puts out a call to action to all ARA members asking them to contact their U.S. House of Representative members, urging them to pass the Relief for Restaurants and other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act of 2022. On a bipartisan vote, the House passes the bill on April 7 — which could help thousands of small businesses still struggling with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
DHS and DOL make an additional 35,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas available for the second half of fiscal year 2022.
On May 2, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signs into law House Bill 1103, an amendment to an existing heavy-duty equipment motor vehicle code that defines weight limitations of equipment eligible for property tax relief. Previously, equipment weighing 5,000 lbs. or more was eligible for property tax relief. The new law lowers the weight limit to 1,500 lbs., increasing the amount of equipment that is eligible for tax relief. The new law goes into effect July 1.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives enough petitions to reach the cap for the additional 23,500 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas made available for the second half of fiscal year 2022 for returning workers only under the H-2B supplemental cap temporary final rule.
ARA scores another legislative victory in Maryland with the passage of Maryland Senate Bill 724, which goes into effect on July 1. Previously, the law replaced the personal property tax on heavy equipment property with a 2 percent gross receipts tax on the short-term lease or rental of heavy equipment property. The recently passed legislation makes a technical change to this provision. It exempts government agencies from the tax while also repealing a requirement that an equipment rental business with gross receipts subject to tax to report certain information to the county or municipality where the heavy equipment is located. Local governments will no longer be required to calculate the amount of property tax that would have been due under the personal property tax method.
OSHA announces plans to launch enhanced enforcement initiatives to protect workers from known industry hazards. It comes as 22 workers die in trenching and excavation work during the first six months of 2022 — surpassing the 15 total deaths in all of 2021.
ARA kicks off its “Get out the vote” efforts ahead of the November midterm election by encouraging the equipment and event rental community to visit the ARA’s Voter Resource Center — ARAvotes.com — to find important voting information.
ARA’s Government Affairs department hosts “2022 Midterm Election Outlook,” a webinar featuring Jim Ellis from Business Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC).
On Aug. 19, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul reports that the state has been awarded $501.5 million in federal funding through the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), a program through the American Rescue Plan Act. The funds will support programs for small businesses, with a focus on recovery from the economic effects of COVID-19.
USCIS receives enough petitions to reach the congressionally mandated cap on H-2B visas for temporary nonagricultural workers for the first half of fiscal year 2023. Sept. 12 is the final receipt date for new cap-subject H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before April 1, 2023. USCIS will reject new cap-subject H-2B petitions received after Sept. 12, that request an employment start date before April 1, 2023.
Employee Voter Registration Week (EVRW) is held Sept. 26-30. Throughout the week, companies and associations across the country join together in an effort to encourage voter registration.
ARA reminds members that they can still apply for the ERTC. The refundable credit — that businesses could claim on qualified wages, including certain health insurance costs during certain periods of the pandemic — was intended to help businesses impacted by COVID-19 be able to keep employees on the payroll.
On Oct. 19, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a new poster, “Know Your Rights: Workplace Discrimination is Illegal.” All covered employers, generally those with at least 15 employees, are required to display the updated EEOC poster, alongside other required EEOC posters in their workplaces.
Voters cast their ballots during the midterm election on Nov. 8.
The Equipment and Event Rental Advocacy Workgroups meet Dec. 6-8, in Chicago.
Discussing industry issues
The American Rental Association (ARA) Equipment Rental Advocacy Workgroup and ARA Event Rental Advocacy Workgroup both met Dec. 6-8, in Rosemont, Ill., to discuss issues those in the industry are facing and plan for the future.
The ARA Equipment Rental Advocacy Workgroup includes:
- Scott Irwin, Delux Rental, Ypsilanti, Mich., and ARA president.
- Tim Allen, Allen Rental, Roseburg, Ore.
- Alex Bauman, In-A-Pinch? Rent It!, Martinsville, Ind.
- Sam Castillo, Tates Rents, Boise, Idaho.
- Larry Cox, Sunstate Equipment Co., Phoenix.
- Brian Grant, B.W.G. Enterprises d/b/a Grant’s Rental, Bridgewater, Mass.
- John Jeanguenat, RentalMax, Carol Stream, Ill., and co-chair of the ARA Equipment Rental Shared Interest Group (SIG).
- Jeff Lignugaris, Northside Tool Rental, Atlanta.
- Steve Mau, Brainerd General Rental, Baxter, Minn., and ARA president-elect.
- Ed Noonan, United Rentals, Charlotte, N.C.
- Hunter Patin, Bottom Line Equipment, Lafayette, La.
- Jeff Roberts, City Rentals, Ontario, Calif.
- Trish Southard, D.J.’s Rentals & Sales, Elk City, Okla.
The ARA Event Rental Advocacy Workgroup includes:
- Jeff Crotto, CERP, All About Events – Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Fla.
- John Bibbo, CERP, Event Source, Cleveland.
- Sara Blood, Blood’s Catering & Party Rentals, White River Junction, Vt.
- Brady Castro, PRO EM National Event Services, Phoenix.
- Andy Cooke, Cooke Rentals, Cornelius, N.C.
- Delores Crum, CERP, Premiere Events, Austin, Texas, and chair of the ARA Event Rental SIG.
- Michael Fitzwater, Special Events Entertainment, Portsmouth, Va.
- Dan Hooks, CERP, Charlotte, N.C., and ARA board chair.
- Jane Hutton, Arena Americas, Oak Creek, Wis.
- Dave Markey, Pedersen’s Rentals, Seattle, Wash.
- Jared Medaris, CERP, Expo Party Rentals, Fresno, Calif.
- Brian Richardson, L & A Tent Rentals, Trenton, N.J., and ARA Region Two director.
- Barbara Wyatt, Butler Rents, Glendale, Colo.
- Bryan Bolt, TopTec Event Tents, Moore, S.C.
- Bernhard Gentsch, Anchor Industries, Evansville, Ind.
Both groups discussed segment-specific issues and industry-wide issues such as workforce development to help determine the topics that will be the focus of ARA’s National Legislative Caucus, scheduled for March 28-30, 2023, in Washington, D.C.