Policy Matters Newsletter
Welcome to our Policy Matters Newsletter
Our Government Relations and Policy Group is excited to offer regular updates regarding the actions of Congress, administrative agencies, and other lawmakers at the federal, state, and local levels. Comprised of Seyfarth attorneys with government relations and policy experience, the team will develop solutions for clients and provide ongoing education and advocacy on policy issues.
August 2, 2018
Rubio Introduces Paid Family Leave Bill. Earlier today, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) unveiled new legislation aiming to provide paid family leave for new parents. The Economic Security for New Parents Act would allow parents to draw up to six months of early payments from their Social Security benefits. In return for receiving Social Security payments early, parents would defer their retirement benefits for three to six months, or the amount of time necessary to offset the cost of their parental benefits. The proposed legislation includes a 3-year sunset provision, meaning the program would expire if Congress didn't renew it. The bill has already come under fire from Democrats claiming that the legislation does not go far enough to help working families while also placing additional strain on the Social Security system.
July 26, 2018
OFCCP Director to Step Down. Earlier today, reports surfaced that the Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), Ondray Harris, would be stepping down from the role at the end of this week. Harris lasted less than 8 months on the job after being appointed to the position last December. Craig Leen, the deputy director at OFCCP, will serve as director on an acting basis. Leen is expected to continue the agency’s recent “business-friendly” approach when analyzing the pay practices of federal contractors as well as the office’s increased focus on apprenticeships.
July 19, 2018
President Trump Signs Executive Order on Workforce Training. Earlier today, President Trump signed an executive order which aims to bolster vocational training, creates a national council for American workers, and establishes a workforce policy advisory board in a push to increase the number of skilled workers in the U.S. Alongside business executives, the President introduced the “Pledge to America’s Workers,” which commits employers to expanding on-the-job training and apprenticeships. The administration expects the pledge to lead to at least 500,000 new career opportunities for students and workers. Earlier this week, Ivanka Trump penned an op-ed in support of the new initiative, declaring that the administration hopes to “create a workforce culture that fosters and prioritizes life-long learning.”
July 12, 2018
Trump Taps Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court Vacancy. On Monday evening, President Trump nominated D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh is considered a reliable member of the Republican legal establishment with a solid record on issues from free speech, to religious liberty, to the Second Amendment. His credentials include clerking with Justice Anthony Kennedy, working for Kenneth Starr’s Whitewater investigation, and spending six years in the George W. Bush White House as a lawyer and eventually staff secretary to the president.
In his 12 years on the D.C. Circuit, Kavanaugh has cast dozens of votes to roll back rules and regulations. He has often concluded that agencies stretched their power too far and frequently found himself at odds with the Obama administration, including in dissents he wrote opposing net-neutrality rules and greenhouse-gas restrictions.
June 28, 2018
Supreme Court’s Janus Decision Deals Blow to Public Sector Unions. On the last day of the Supreme Court’s term, the bench ruled 5 - 4 yesterday that public-sector unions can no longer require mandatory “fair share” fees from non-members to cover their cost of collective bargaining. The ruling fell along ideological lines, with Justice Alito delivering the conservative majority’s opinion that forcing workers to finance union activity violated their First Amendment rights. Further, the ruling requires unions to adopt an "opt in" system for workers to join up and pay dues rather than merely allowing workers to opt out of doing so. While organized labor has been preparing for this long anticipated ruling, significant drops in support are likely. Union membership nationwide is less than 11 percent of the American workforce, but about a third of government employees are union members.
See our recently issued Management Alert for more information on the decision
June 21, 2018
House Votes Down Goodlatte Immigration Bill; Vote on Compromise Bill Delayed Until Next Week. Earlier today, the House voted down H.R. 4760, the Securing America’s Future Act of 2018, by a vote of 231 - 193. 41 Republicans joined 190 Democrats to defeat Chairman Goodlatte’s bill which would have provided President Trump with funding for the border wall and offered only temporary relief for DACA recipients.
House Speaker Paul Ryan informed fellow lawmakers this evening that a vote on the "compromise" immigration proposal would be delayed until next week. The outlook for passage of the leadership compromise bill is grim after Speaker Paul Ryan and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) had an intense discussion on the House floor last night. House leadership whipped votes for the bill yesterday and sent undecided members to meet with President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in an effort to get them to “yes.” The delay comes as House Republicans look to modify the bill further in a bid to reach 2018 votes by next week.
June 14, 2018
House to Vote on Two Immigration Proposals Next Week. Speaker Paul Ryan defused a moderate Republican rebellion with a promise to hold high-stakes votes on two DACA related immigration bills next week. The floor votes will effectively stop the effort to bring up legislation through the discharge petition; Republican moderates reportedly fell two signatures short of the 218 needed to force votes.
The House will consider H.R. 4760, the “Securing America’s Future Act of 2018,” a bill drafted by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), as well as a second compromise package, the “Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018” (still in draft form), which was assembled by Speaker Ryan in consultation with conservatives and moderates. House Leadership circulated this summary of the draft compromise bill. There are no guarantees that either bill will pass.
June 7, 2018
BLS Releases New Gig Economy Worker Data. Earlier today, the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) issued its much anticipated report on the gig economy. The report, which was the first government study on the subject since 2005, found that the number of temporary workers decreased over the past 12 years, going from 10.7% of the nation’s workforce to 10.1%. Additionally, a survey question within the study found that 79% of independent contractors overwhelmingly preferred their work arrangement to traditional jobs (Table 11), a finding which runs counter to a popular narrative that gig workers would prefer traditional employment.
Seyfarth’s Camille Olson, who testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on the gig economy in February, was quoted as saying “[t]his report offers new, hard data on workers in contingent and alternative employment arrangements which will help guide the broader debate on the pros and cons of the so-called 'gig economy.'” The BLS plans to release additional findings specific to workers who find gigs through an app or website in September.
May 24, 2018
Supreme Court Upholds Workplace Arbitration Contracts. On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the National Labor Relations Act does not bar employers from requiring workers to sign arbitration agreements waiving their right to bring class-action claims on disputes, primarily over wages and hours. Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch authored the majority’s decision, siding with the four other conservative justices on the bench. The Wall Street Journal editorial board reacted to the decision, saying, “[a] ruling the other way would have would have abrogated hundreds of thousands of employment contracts and sent trial lawyers to the races. What a difference a single Justice makes.”
For a more a detailed explanation of the decision and its implications going forward, see our recently released client alert.
May 17, 2018
Update on Discharge Petition Filed in the House to Force DACA Vote. The discharge petition making its way through the House has caused a divide among Republicans. The discharge petition aims to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by forcing a vote on H. Res. 774, which would then lead to the consideration of four different DACA related proposals. In order for the discharge petition to be executed, it must be signed by a majority of House members—at least 218 members, to be exact. If the entire House Democratic caucus were to sign onto the petition, it would take an additional 25 Republicans to reach that threshold. As of today, the petition has 29 signatures, 20 of which are Republicans.
May 10, 2018
Trump Administration’s Spring Regulatory Agenda Released. On Wednesday, the Trump administration released its semiannual unified agenda of regulatory and deregulatory actions for the spring. Mapping out what actions federal agencies plan to take in the coming months, the agenda sheds some light on the administration’s upcoming priorities.
May 3, 2018
With Congress in recess and out of DC, Policy Matters has an update of what’s been happening in the courts this week:
High Court Applies “ABC” Test When Assessing Independent Contractor Status. On Monday, the Supreme Court of California ruled in Dynamex Operations v. Superior Court that a three factor “ABC” classification test is the correct method under state law for determining whether a worker should be classified as an employee or independent contractor. The test presumes that a worker hired to perform services is an employee of the hiring business, subject to the hirer’s ability to provide all three of the following elements:
April 26, 2018
Third Judge Rules Against Administration’s Termination of DACA. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates issued a ruling against the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the third such federal judge to do so. In his opinion, Bates stated that the rescission of DACA was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act since the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) failed to adequately explain why the program was unlawful. “Neither the meager legal reasoning nor the assessment of litigation risk provided by DHS to support its rescission decision is sufficient to sustain termination of the DACA program.”
April 19, 2018
Push for Immigration Legislation Renewed in the House. A bipartisan group of House members began a campaign yesterday to pressure Speaker Ryan to bring immigration legislation up for a vote. The lawmakers announced that they had secured the support of 240 members, including 50 Republicans, to vote on a series of immigration bills, including one on DACA. The group is hoping to exercise a rarely used procedural rule known as “Queen of the Hill,” under which the House would vote on several immigration related measures and the bill with the most votes would pass. However, Speaker Ryan has stated several times in the recent past that he would be unwilling to bring a bill to the floor that President Trump would ultimately not sign.
April 12, 2018