As evidenced by the results of the 2012 elections, voters don't often speak in clear and concise ways. For the most part, we have status quo in our nation's Capitol with Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives and Democrats in charge of the Senate and White House. Some have concluded this will mean at least two more years of gridlock; I have a somewhat different view.
For starters, there will be no gridlock at the regulatory agencies. Many agenciessuch as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Environmental Protection Agencywill feel a new sense of empowerment and begin to develop and process regulations that were previously put on hold until after Nov. 6. For the roofing industry, these include new OSHA regulations concerning silica; musculoskeletal injuries; and a fun new program the agency calls its Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2), which will require employers to identify hazards in their workplaces and find solutions for themregardless of whether OSHA regulations for those hazards currently exist.
We also will see movement on some legislation that has been stalled for at least a few years for political reasons. At the top of the list is immigration reform, which is badly needed, as industries like ours continue to look for new sources of qualified labor. Republicans learned in the 2012 elections it's no longer good politicsor good governance, for that matterto talk about deporting some 12 million undocumented workers.
The elections also mean we will see the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) implemented messily because some states are unlikely to embrace it. We won't know the exact implications of the law until regulationsthousands of themare issued beginning early this year. Suffice it to say costs and regulatory requirements won't be decreased any time soon.
All this, unfortunately, means we continue to face an era of uncertainty that will make it difficult for our industry's customers to make decisions about capital improvements and new plants, warehouses, etc., on which most of our industry's work depends. We expect this year to feel much like the year that just ended: a steady market with no promise of a big upturn.
There is one encouraging bit of election news to share, however. Former roofing contractor and NRCA President Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) was re-elected to the U.S. House of Representatives by a margin of 56 to 44 percent, an improvement from his first election results and indication he is serving his district extraordinarily well. We could use, oh, 434 more like him.
Bill Good is NRCA's executive vice president.