As we enter a new year, NRCA expects the new Republican-controlled Congress and President-elect Donald Trump to address several issues of importance to the roofing industry during 2017. NRCA will work to capitalize on opportunities to address several key policy priorities.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump proposed dramatic cuts in tax rates as a component of comprehensive tax reform, and his plan largely mirrors the "Better Way" tax reform proposal released by House Republicans in June. Trump's plan has three rates on the individual side of the tax code at 12, 25 and 33 percent based on income levels and would slash the corporate rate to 15 percent with active business income in pass-through companies also taxed at this rate. The House Republican proposal proposes full expensing of capital investments, including real property such as commercial roof systems.
NRCA has been working for years to build relationships with lawmakers on the tax-writing committees in Congress to lay the foundation for tax reform that lowers rates for all NRCA members. NRCA now is well-positioned to ensure any tax legislation benefits the roofing industry by better enabling its members to grow their businesses.
Another key issue for NRCA members is the expanding regulation of virtually every aspect of business operations. Regulations from federal agencies, most notably the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, have been problematic for roofing contractors.
During his campaign, Trump proposed a moratorium on new federal regulations and indicated his administration will review existing regulations to evaluate their effects on jobs and the economy. A greater sensitivity to the effects of regulations on economic growth and employers should be a welcome respite for the roofing industry from the regulatory overreach of recent years.
Given the torrent of new regulations in recent years, NRCA has made passage of regulatory reform legislation by Congress a priority. NRCA supports the Regulatory Accountability Act, which will strengthen protections for businesses against intrusive regulations by providing more realistic cost-benefit analyses and transparency during the development of regulations by agencies.
The bill has been approved by the House several times in recent years but has stalled in the Senate and also faced a veto threat from President Obama. The chance for passage of this legislation has greatly improved given the election results, and NRCA will be working to get regulatory reform enacted in 2017.
Given the fact premiums for health insurance plans purchased for 2017 under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will rise 25 percent on average, the law is ripe for modification. During his campaign, Trump pledged to repeal the law and replace it with an alternative that provides truly affordable coverage. As part of their Better Way proposal, House Republicans have outlined reforms that would repeal much of the ACA and establish market-oriented reforms. NRCA looks forward to working with Congress to enact legislation that harnesses market forces to make health care benefits affordable.
Another priority for NRCA has been passage of immigration reform that meets the needs of its members' workforce development challenges. Regarding this issue, the outlook in 2017 is more uncertain.
Trump made his hardline stance on illegal immigration one of his signature campaign issues. Although it is unclear how the Trump administration will proceed with respect to immigration issues, it likely will include initiatives designed to enhance border security and strengthen interior enforcement. Additionally, Republicans in Congress are likely to pursue legislation to mandate use of the E-Verify electronic verification program for nearly all employers. As a result, it is unclear whether the Republican Congress will be receptive to legislation NRCA supports to create a visa program that enables employers to legally hire foreign workers on a temporary basis when necessary to fill job openings.
NRCA looks forward to working with the new Congress and Trump administration as these and other issues are addressed in 2017. NRCA's goal is to ensure government policies provide greater opportunities for entrepreneurs to start and build businesses in the roofing industry.
Duane L. Musser is NRCA's vice president of government relations.