I’m writing this article in early 2023 just as Congress reconvened. Consequently, there’s a lot of speculation about what’s ahead for business-related legislation with a Republican-led House of Representatives.
AICC is a longtime member of the Small Business Legislative Council (SBLC), and AICC President Mike D’Angelo is a member of its board of directors. SBLC, in our view, has the best track record in keeping us apprised of and how they are likely to affect AICC members in their day-to-day business. So, with that in mind, let’s look at a few SBLC has brought to our attention for the first session of this 118th Congress.
For those of you who may have regularly attended our annual Washington Fly-Ins 10–12 years ago, you may recall our continual drumming for making the R&D tax credit permanent. It was typically renewed on a one- or two-year basis through various tax bills, but the business community wanted a permanent fix. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 included a longer-range “fix” to the question of the R&D tax credit, but it, too, set an expiration date of December 31, 2021. We see the restoration of this tax credit as an important priority for small and medium-sized businesses. Whether it can get passed in this new Congress remains to be seen.
FTC to Ban Noncompetes?
This one came out of the blue: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on January 5 issued a proposed rule that, if enacted in its current form, would prohibit businesses from entering into or attempting to enforce noncompete agreements with their employees. Claiming that these agreements artificially depress wages because they prohibit workers from seeking more lucrative employment opportunities elsewhere, FTC says the rule will apply to contractual provisions such as “excessively broad nondisclosure agreements.” We don’t know exactly how many AICC members would be affected by this, but whether you’re a boxmaker or supplier, you likely have noncompetes in your agreements with your key employees—general managers, sales managers, and the like. These protect your proprietary information without, in my view, undue burden on the employee in their search of new employment. AICC is likely to issue comments on this proposed rule during the 60-day period, so stay tuned.
SEC Rules on ‘Climate Change’
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is also set to release final rules in early 2023 on climate change disclosures. The new rules are expected to require companies to report greenhouse gas emissions and other climate “risks” when they make filings with SEC. While this affects only public companies, it stands to reason that private companies such as AICC members will see another wave of “vendor certifications,” meaning boxmakers will have to satisfy their customers’ ongoing demands for corrugated packaging’s impact on the environment, which we all know is minimal.
Add to these the U.S. Department of Labor’s ongoing scratching into overtime rules and classifications for independent contractors, and you can see that our “what’s ahead” is likely to be very interesting.
Eric Elgin is owner of Oklahoma Interpak and Chair of AICC’s Government Affairs subcommittee. He can be reached at 918-687-1681 or email@example.com.