Laws affecting inquiries into the criminal histories of job applicants and workplace drug testing are among the issues manufacturers will grapple with in 2018.
House appropriators released a spending bill Tuesday that would cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget by $528 million next year, far less than the $2.6 billion cut President Trump requested.
The legislation would include language requiring the repeal of water jurisdiction regulations and include funding for buyouts at the agency. But it wouldn’t include the deep cuts Trump proposed in May, when administration officials said they wanted to end 50 department programs and eliminate 3,200 of the agency’s 15,000 jobs.
The spending bill also includes funding for the Interior Department, the Forest Service and related agencies. It’s a $31.4 billion bill, which is $824 million less than current levels and $4.3 billion higher than Trump’s budget.
The Hill (7/7, Jagoda) reported that “the Treasury Department on Friday identified eight tax regulations that it plans to suggest changes to, following a review that was directed by President Trump.” The Hill added, “Among the rules the Treasury plans to propose reforms to are regulations the Obama administration issued relating to offshore tax deals and the estate tax, which have been opposed by GOP lawmakers and business groups.”
The Trump Administration had ordered the department “to issue a report that identifies regulations that impose an ‘undue financial burden’ on taxpayers, add ‘undue complexity’ to tax laws or increase or exceed the IRS’s statutory authority.”
Dow Jones Newswires (7/7, Rubin, Subscription Publication) reported that “a rule limiting the tax benefits of intercompany loans was among the Obama administration’s most controversial and tax experts had expected it to appear on Treasury’s target list.” The article quoted a department statement saying, “Treasury intends to propose reforms – potentially ranging from streamlining problematic rule provisions to full repeal – to mitigate the burdens of these regulations in a final report submitted to the president.”
In a column for Shopfloor (7/7), NAM Vice President for Tax and Domestic Economic Policy Dorothy Coleman wrote that the list of possible changes to tax regulations includes “four regulation projects of specific concern to manufacturers: Sec. 385 debt-equity rules, proposed rules on valuing minority interests in family-owned businesses, rules for calculating gains and losses on currency exchanges and regulations allowing contractors hired by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to fully participate in summons interviews and receive summoned documents.” In urging the repeal or withdrawal of the proposals, Coleman stated that “manufacturers applaud Treasury for acting decisively to begin to address the onerous, costly and unnecessary burden these tax regulations impose on manufacturers.”
A new state law could give the St. Louis Port Authority access to a new revenue stream for redevelopment and infrastructure along the Mississippi River.
The city’s Port Authority Board passed a resolution Tuesday authorizing the creation of an Advanced Industrial Manufacturing Zone, a designation recently established by Missouri lawmakers.
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court took an important step to safeguard the due process rights of manufacturers by ruling 8-1 in BNSF v. Tyrell, affirming that passing through a state is not sufficient to allow you to be sued there.
Observers of the U.S. tort system, by far the most expensive lawsuit system in the world, are well aware that plaintiffs go to great lengths to have their cases heard in particular jurisdictions known to be plaintiff-friendly and hostile to outsiders—especially corporations. This phenomenon, sometimes known as litigation tourism, underlay a case brought against BNSF Railway Company in Montana state court.
The case involved two separate workplace injury claims against BNSF under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act. One employee, a resident of North Dakota, was injured in Washington State. A second plaintiff, a South Dakota resident and the daughter of a deceased employee alleged injury based in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. The plaintiffs chose to sue BNSF in Montana, despite the fact that they did not live there, had never worked there, and were not injured there. The Montana Supreme Court held that BNSF was subject to the general jurisdiction of the Montana courts because it could be “found” there since its trains run through the state.
Relying on a case decided in 2014 involving claims against Daimler AG brought in California for injuries and activities that occurred in Argentina, the Supreme Court held that simply running your trains through a state, without any other connection, is insufficient under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to allow a court to exercise jurisdiction over a defendant—i.e., to allow a defendant to be sued there.
Recognizing the importance of this case, the Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action (MCLA) filed amicus briefs in this case, both encouraging the court to take the case as well as arguing that the case should be decided in favor of BNSF. The team here at the MCLA applauds this result, which brings a measure of rationality and predictability to our often irrational state tort system, and we salute BNSF for fighting the case all the way to the highest court in the land and making some good law for all manufacturers along the way.