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Federal Priorities


 
The Kentucky Chamber not only advocates on behalf of business at the state level, but also in the nation’s capital where congressional and executive-branch decisions have a direct impact on you and your business.   
 
Free enterprise creates jobs, opportunity and a successful business climate. The Kentucky Chamber advocates for federal policies that will result in economic growth, fewer government regulations and encourage policymakers to expand – not limit – job growth and economic opportunity through the decisions they make. 
 

Tax and entitlement reform

The Chamber urges Congress to address the serious fiscal challenges that continue to exacerbate the annual budget deficit and growing national debt. To protect the long-term fiscal health of the United States, it is imperative Congress pass tax and entitlement reforms that will fix the structural imbalance and begin to pay down the national debt. Permanent pro-growth tax reforms that will broaden the tax base and lower rates will give businesses the certainty needed to compete globally.
 
Along with tax reforms that will grow the economy and revenue, responsible reforms to America’s entitlement programs (many of which are presently unsustainable) are needed to ensure we do not continue to bury our citizens and children in more and more debt. The Chamber is encouraged by the recent bipartisan effort in Congress to deal with Social Security reform in a balanced way. 
 

Regulatory reform

The Chamber recognizes the need for smart federal regulations to ensure workplace safety and to protect public health. At times rules are necessary to avoid states regulating industries in the absence of federal oversight. But with the huge cost of compliance and an increasing number of complex rules, it is clear our regulatory system isn’t working the way it should. Many regulations stifle economic growth and impose unnecessary costs that businesses have to pass along to their customers.  
 
Lawsuits are often filed due to the questionable legality of certain rules. The Chamber supports postponement of rules where legal challenges are present until all appeals have been settled.  
 
Businesses deserve a regulatory system that is fair for everyone, takes into account the views of communities 
and businesses, evaluates the impact the rules have, and protects our economic and personal freedoms. 
 

Immigration reform

The Chamber supports comprehensive immigration reform that creates: 
  • A workable temporary worker program for highly-skilled and lesser-skilled workers as well as the agriculture industry;
  • A federal employment verification system that is 
  • reasonable and workable for employers; 
  • A legal status for the estimated 11 million undocumented people here, allowing them to emerge from the shadow and create a stable workforce; 
  • Improved enforcement to protect our borders while facilitating the flow of trade and travel.
 

Education

The Kentucky Chamber supports education policies that will prepare students, our future workforce, with the skills the workplace demands. That’s why the Chamber advocates for legislation and regulations that address shortcomings in our education system. It is vital that students leaving our public school systems be college or career ready, that higher education be accessible and affordable, and that employers have access to a workforce that meets their needs. 
Federal law should give states the ability to implement education policies that will drive innovation in our schools to promote opportunities for work-based learning opportunities such as internships and youth apprenticeships. The development of curriculum, standards and accountability systems must include meaningful input from businesses. 
 
A strong education system is crucial to preparing young people for good jobs and bright futures. The Kentucky Chamber will continue to support policies that help ensure Kentucky, and our nation, can develop and sustain a globally competitive workforce.
 

Energy and environmental policy

The Chamber supports the development and expansion of American energy resources to improve energy security and create jobs in the United States. Reliable and affordable energy is essential to running a business and fueling economic growth and competitiveness. We support investments that will allow Kentucky to maintain its role as an energy leader and create further export opportunities for our coal and natural gas industries. The U.S. is on track to become a net energy exporter, an accomplishment that would place the U.S. at an economic advantage while enhancing our security.  
 
The Chamber has opposed federal regulations that threaten the Commonwealth’s low cost energy advantage and our ability to expand business. Specifically, rules aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions threaten Kentucky’s electric power fleet and deter  the extraction of viable natural gas reserves. These rules could limit the economic viability of power plants and wells, thereby limiting supplies of fossil fuels and forcing the state to rely on more costly alternatives.  
 
The Chamber supports the development of regulations that are stakeholder driven and based on scientific evidence, technical viability and economic rationality. For example, the Chamber opposes the regulation to control carbon dioxide from new coal plants because compliance with the rule would require the use of environmental controls that are not commercially viable or result in retirement of economically viable units without any significant environmental benefits. Further, the Chamber supports legislation that would give the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) more time to consider if new criteria air pollutant standards are warranted before promulgating the standard. The Chamber also believes additional time is necessary for fish and wildlife officials to adequately collect and review data before listing a new species as endangered and threatened.  
 
We support policies that allow Kentucky regulators, instead of outside interest groups and regulators, to make decisions that are best for the Commonwealth. The Chamber has opposed federal regulations, including one directed at the effects of coal mining, that were developed with limited involvement of state regulators and stakeholders. Further, the Chamber opposes “sue and settle” tactics where a special interest group sues the EPA to enter into a settlement that then directs the EPA into a course of action not vetted through the traditional stakeholder process. The Chamber has supported legislation to improve the transparency of these arrangements.  
 

Health care

The Chamber supports strategies and solutions to encourage health care reform that lowers cost, improves quality, expands access to health care and protects American jobs and the employers who create them. It has been more than five years since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and the Chamber continues to push for further reforms that are needed to lower health care costs and improve care. Within the ACA, the Chamber supports restoring the 40-hour work week, repealing taxes such as the excise tax (also known as the Cadillac tax), medical device tax and health insurance tax which all increase premiums and ultimately cost jobs.
 
The Chamber supports raising awareness of positive wellness initiatives, such as worksite wellness programs, which improve health outcomes, lower insurance costs and increase productivity. 
 
The Chamber opposes cuts on the federal level to Medicare and Medicaid programs.
 

International trade

The Chamber supports policies to open trade with promising markets abroad and to remove barriers that shut U.S. exports out of foreign markets. Promoting international trade for companies in Kentucky and other states will generate economic growth and job creation.
 
The Chamber supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will put fairness and accountability at the heart of our trade relationship with the Asia-Pacific region and open markets for American goods and services.
 
The Chamber also supports the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which would remove trade barriers between the United States and European Union, help level the playing the field and boost economic growth and jobs.
 

Reliable and secure infrastructure

The Chamber supports efforts to improve the quality of America’s infrastructure, including investments in transportation, energy, waterways and wireless and broadband access. Transportation and energy infrastructure directly impact our ability to compete in the global economy.
 
The Chamber supports a comprehensive plan to ensure our transportation system does not crumble. This includes not only raising the gas tax, which hasn’t been increased since 1993, but encouraging the use of public-private partnerships and permitting streamlining for transportation projects so they can be completed in a timely, cost-efficient manner. 
 
The nation’s transportation system fuels economic development, creates jobs and enhances our overall competiveness. 
 

Legal reform

Frivolous lawsuits are a drain on our economy and undermine true justice for legitimate victims.  The threat of frivolous lawsuits stifles growth, investment and competition and is bad for business. The Chamber supports comprehensive tort reform to end lawsuit abuse and ensure businesses receive the fair and equitable justice system they deserve. 
 

Intellectual Property

The Kentucky Chamber and its member companies are very protective of intellectual property laws; however, there have been increasing abuses by so-called patent trolls. Generally, there has been a perception that patent trolls mainly target tech companies. The truth is that they target a broad range of American businesses: large and small, tech and Main Street, manufacturers, realtors, restaurants, convenience stores, auto dealers and more. 
 
Protecting intellectual property is very important to entrepreneurship and job creation. This is why the Kentucky Chamber strongly supports reforms to prevent abuses of our system and advocates for a strong patent reform bill that includes: 
  • reforming abusive demand letters
  • making trolls explain their claims
  • protecting innocent customers
  • making patent litigation more efficient
  • stopping discovery abuses
  • making abusive trolls pay
  • providing less expensive alternatives to litigation

Overtime Regulation

The Kentucky Chamber supports legislation that would stop the Department of Labor’s misguided proposed overtime regulation from going forward and sets out the conditions for reissuing a new overtime proposal.
 
The proposed regulation would double the salary threshold under which employees would have to be paid overtime for hours worked beyond 40 per week from $23,660 to $50,440. This is a major increase which will force employers to decide whether to reclassify millions of employees to nonexempt status or increase their salaries to keep them exempt.
 
Reclassifying employees will mean they will lose the ability to set their own hours or to work from home since that time will be compensable and tracking it will be impossible. Many employees who have been reclassified consider it a demotion and resent the change.
 
The Kentucky Chamber believes this proposed rule will greatly interfere with businesses’ ability to manage their workforces for growth.