MSHA Announces Rule Extension

MSHA logoMay 22, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration announced it is extending the effective date of the agency’s final rule on Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines until Oct. 2, 2017. This extension will allow additional time for MSHA to provide training and compliance assistance for its stakeholders. MSHA is developing a variety of compliance assistance materials to assist the industry, which the agency will make available to stakeholders and post on its website. MSHA claims the extension will enable the agency to hold informational meetings and focus on compliance assistance visits at various locations around the country. Additional time will also allow MSHA to train its inspectors to assure consistent enforcement. The truth is, MSHA's regulatory authority will be very much curtailed for the foreseeable future.

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Conservative Groups Draw Line in Sand on Infrastructure

RR051117 conservativeMay 11, 2017 – A coalition of conservative groups laid out a wish list for what they want in President Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure package – and it could spell trouble for the key White House policy effort, according to The Hill. In a letter sent to the administration and key members of Congress, the organizations fired their opening salvo in the upcoming infrastructure debate, urging policy makers to prioritize “fiscal responsibility” as they work on Trump’s yet-to-be unveiled proposal. The wish list is divided into six priorities: reform the environmental review process, repeal labor regulations, focus on “core” infrastructure projects, empower the states, fully pay for projects and reform spending instead of creating new funding streams. The conservative groups strongly oppose the idea of using new revenues from repatriation – taxing corporate earnings currently oversees at a lower rate when they return to the U.S. That funding tool was seen as one of the more appealing and potentially bipartisan funding offsets on Capitol Hill.

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Republicans Balk Over Raising Gas Tax

RR050817 gastaxMay 8, 2017 – Republicans are balking over President Trump’s openness to raising the federal gas tax to help pay for U.S. roads and highways – a politically fraught issue that lawmakers have avoided for years, according to The Hill. There are a handful of GOP lawmakers who are champions of increasing the gas tax, something that hasn’t happened in more than two decades. But the signals coming out of the White House appear to be at odds with GOP leadership and influential conservatives, who have repeatedly been put in the uncomfortable spot of having to square their positions with the president’s. “I oppose raising taxes, and I oppose adding to the debt,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of Republican Policy Committee and head of the Environment and Public Works Committee, told The Hill. “There are a lot of ways we can do the funding [for infrastructure].”

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Gas Tax Cut in Wisconsin?

RR050317 WisGasTaxMay 3, 2017 – A sweeping Republican proposal to fund transportation and cut taxes would flatten income tax rates, lower the gas tax and raise new funding for roads by applying the sales tax to gasoline, according to an article in the Wisconsin State Journal. The goal of the plan, which is subject to change, is to hold gas prices steady by lowering the state’s 9.18 percent minimum markup on gas prices, according to Rep. John Macco (R-Ledgeview), chairman of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. That means more money for the transportation fund could come from the bottom lines of companies that benefit from higher retail gas prices under the minimum markup law – both large national retailers and locally owned stores. Critics, however, say the money could also end up coming from consumers at the pump.

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