ACHRNEWS

Let the Legislative Guessing Games Begin

November 18, 2010

If you’ve been living under a rock to avoid the hopeful candidates who were flooding your mailbox and answering machine with political ads, it’s now safe to come out. Take a deep breath and let it out - the midterm elections are over. While not quite all the ballots have been counted yet, the Republicans have gained a significant majority in the House of Representatives. While they also gained a few seats in the Senate, the Democrats retained the majority there.

Now a new kind of fun is beginning - the fun of trying to predict what will happen in the next legislative cycle with a lot of new people moving to Washington, D.C.

This is always a guessing game, but some are able to make more educated guesses than others. Since I recently listened to a webinar by ACCA’s Charlie McCrudden, I’m going to share a few of his intriguing comments in this blog.

First off, it’s important to note that there will be a lame duck session before the new 112th Congress convenes. According to McCrudden, the issues most likely to be discussed by the lame-duck Congress include a continuing resolution (to fund the federal government’s budget), the Bush tax cuts, and the estate tax. In addition - and most significantly for HVAC contractors - the extension of the 25C tax credits may also be brought to the floor.

McCrudden predicted that it’s most likely that the Bush tax cuts will be extended in some form, and noted that ACCA will be “lobbying for extension ‘as is.’”

As for the 25C tax credits, he said that ACCA will ask its members for assistance in contacting their representatives if a bill is proposed that includes 25C extension. He also noted that the 25C credits could potentially be changed to include an increase in SEER/EER, a shorter time period (one year instead of two), or a verification requirement (such as ACCA’s Quality Installation standard). It will be interesting to see if any of these proposals do actually appear in bills on the House or Senate floor.

McCrudden also talked about the new dynamics of the 112th Congress, which he said will essentially pit the Republican House against the Obama administration. He noted that the new Speaker of the House will only need to get 218 votes from the 239 Republicans to pass a measure. However, he pointed out that the executive branch may continue to enact its agenda through regulatory agencies. So, he said, many in D.C. expect the House to start holding oversight hearings on actions taken by agencies such as the EPA and Department of Labor (DOL).

But D.C. isn’t exactly a predictable place, so we’ll have to sit tight for a bit before we start to see what the 112th Congress plans to do - and how that may ultimately end up affecting you and your business.