NLBMDA President Jonathan Paine speaks with Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga.
NLBMDA President Jonathan Paine speaks with Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga. (Photo: NLBMDA)

Scores of building material dealers visited Capitol Hill today to press a suite of concerns involving health care, small business, an expected rule on overtime, legal issues and sales over the Internet.

The visits in Washington were part of the annual spring meeting and legislative conference put on by the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association. Before visiting Congress, NLBMDA armed its members with a talking points sheet listing seven requests:

  • Redefine a full-time employee under the Affordable Care Act as someone who works 40 hours a week, not 30 as the current act states.
  • Repeal HIT--the so-called Health Insurance Tax. According to the anti-HIT website Stop the HIT, what's at issue is a fee imposed on insurance companies to help pay for Obamacare. It's widely assumed that insurance companies passed this fee along to their customers in the form of higher premiums. Big businesses that choose to self-insure avoided HIT, but because most small businesses don't self-insure, they contend they've had to bear the brunt of a charge that started at $8 billion in 2014 and was slated to rise annually. The fee was suspended for 2017, and is slated to return in 2018 and beyond. House Resolution 928 and Senate bill 183 would fully repeal it
  • Support the Regulatory Flexibility Act (H.R. 527/S. 1536) to push agencies to write alternatives for small businesses when the feds issue new rules and regulations.
  • Support H.R. 4773/S. 2707, which would require the Labor Department to re-examine its proposed update of rules that would more than double the pay threshold that certain staffers must earn before they are considered exempt from overtime pay. "More time is needed to consider less burdensome alternatives and assess the potential impact on small business," NLBMDA's talking points said.
  • Urge the Senate to join the House in approving the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (H.R. 758/S. 401), which would make mandatory the imposition of sanctions against attorneys that file frivolous lawsuits.
  • Support the Innocent Sellers Fairness Act (H.R. 1199), which frees sellers from liability in product failure cases if the seller did nothing wrong in the process. "Small businesses need [to be] protected from unwarranted product liability lawsuits," NLBMDA's talking points sheet declared. NLBMDA has been pushing this legislation for at least a decade.
  • Require "E-Fairness" by making internet retailers collect sales tax at the point of purchase. The legislation enabling this is H.R. 2775 and S. 698.

The NLBMDA members warmed up for their Hill visit by hearing Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., attack the Obama administration for crippling small businesses with over-regulation. For instance, Borasso berated the Environmental Protection Agency over its lead-paint rule.

"The EPA is trying to run a nanny state," Barrasso declare. "With their lead paint regs they've talked about special training. Where oo you get that training? Minneapolis, they said. [For people in Wyoming,] It's like going from Washington, D.C., to Florida. They don't even think of the distances in this country. ... This administration views the private sector as the enemy of the economy."

Tipton said studies show that, for the first time ever, more small businesses are being shut down than are starting up. Meanwhile, the federal debt is over $19 trillion and is endangering the future.

"The only resource the government has is sitting in our hip pockets now.--money generated by business," he said.