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Hill Visits

    Fall 2018 Hill Visit

    Our Fall 2018 Hill Visit in March was a huge success.  Our nine attendees included one first-time attendee, and represented six professional chapters throughout the state. 

    The topics discussed on the Hill were:

    • Workplace Flexibility
      We advocated for a 21st century approach to providing workplace flexibility – allowing companies to determine and design programs that work for their workforces rather than being restricted by a one-size-fits-all mandate.  Ninety-nine percent of all employers with 50 or more employees already provide paid leave options.  Current/expected bills would mandate paid FMLA or paid sick leave, funding those through various methods and adding further requirements.  Nine states and 30 jurisdictions have already passed their own versions of paid sick leave, saddling multiple-state employers with conflicting requirements, with more states and jurisdictions expected to do the same.  We asked our Members of Congress to support H. R. 4219, which has been introduced by Representative Mimi Walters from California.  It will provide voluntary opt-in of a minimum amount of paid leave and a minimum number of workplace flexibility options for which the employer would be deemed to satisfy all of the state and jurisdictional requirements.  We thanked Congressman Bradley Byrne for co-sponsoring this bill.  In the Senate we asked for steps toward introducing a companion bill.
    • Taxes as they interact with Benefits
      We asked that the upcoming Tax Reform 2.0 not take away the current tax status of employer provided benefits, and asked support for maintaining and strengthening Section 127 of the tax code wherein companies are able to provide education assistance/tuition reimbursement to their employees with employees not having to pay taxes on up to $5,250 annually.  We specially asked for support for H.R. 795 and S. 796, both bi-partisan bills which would broaden this to include student loan debt repayment, apprenticeship, and homeschooling costs.  We thanked Senator Doug Jones for co-sponsoring S. 796.  We also asked for support for H.R. 4135 and S. 2007, also bi-partisan bills, which would increase the annual amount to up to $11,500.
    • Health Care
      Costs continue to rise and the number of uninsured is rising as well.  The uninsured rate was 12.7% at the end of 2016 and was 15.5% in the first quarter of 2018.  Repeal and replace has not worked so the approach is toward more targeted modifications.  Specifically we asked for support for H.R. 4616 which would further delay the Cadillac tax, and for H.R. 3798 which would move the definition of full-time back to 40 hours per week.  These two bills were scheduled to be voted on the afternoon that we were on the Hill, but the votes were delayed due to people trying to make travel plans due to Hurricane Florence.  We expressed our hope for companion bills for these on the Senate side.

    Thanks to everyone who participated and helped us continue our efforts to make our visits an ongoing conversation with Members and staffers.  We enjoyed staying within walking distance of the hill, appreciated the hospitality of the hotel and the city, and enjoyed the camaraderie and networking of our HR professionals. 

    As always, having an attendee from each district in our group is necessary.  Our visits with each Congressional office were interesting and productive; we look forward to our next visit in March 2019, and co-director Blinda Walker and I hope to see you there!  Specific information about the Spring Hill Visit will be shared through chapter legislative directors as we get closer.

    Just a reminder that the State Council recommends that chapters make the chapter legislative position a two-year position and that the incoming person attend the Fall Hill Visit before they begin their term in January.

    Our thanks to the State Council for giving us the opportunity to work in the legislative arena and to attend the hill visits.

    Juanita Phillips, SHRM-SCP, SPHR                  
    2018 Co-director of Government Affairs
    Blinda Walker
    2018 Co-director of Government Affairs