On July 10, ISSA hosted a webinar about the cleaning industry’s current legislative and regulatory outlook. During the webinar, Director of Government Affairs John Nothdurft and General Counsel Bill Balek discussed ISSA’s advocacy efforts already underway, our accomplishments so far, and our forward-looking plans to shape a legislative and regulatory environment that will allow the worldwide cleaning industry to thrive.
In spring 2019, ISSA surveyed member companies across the supply chain and found both broad support and demand for increasing our advocacy efforts. Of the 496 members who responded, 73% take ISSA’s advocacy efforts into consideration when renewing their memberships, 65% believe ISSA would take some action on an issue important to them, and 55% want ISSA to do more advocacy, while only 5% do not.
We continue to listen to and track feedback from our members and are committed to giving the industry a stronger voice on the issues our large and diverse membership cares about most. Some of the top issue areas our members mentioned include labor shortages, labor costs, chemicals regulations, and the increased costs of doing business. You can watch the full webinar at ISSA TV; otherwise you can read the highlights below.
Labor Shortages: Immigration Reform and Ex-Offender Re-Entry
DC Legislative and Regulatory Services (DCLRS), ISSA’s lobbying firm in Washington, D.C., has been meeting with key congressional offices on a variety of bipartisan immigration related topics, including expanding the H-2B temporary seasonal worker visa program as well as reiterating the need for more nonseasonal workers to fill jobs in the cleaning industry. We have also been working with groups such as the National Association of Manufacturers and Building Service Contractors Association International to raise awareness about how immigration issues impact different parts of the cleaning industry.
Criminal justice reforms such as the First Step Act are a bipartisan effort bringing nonviolent ex-offenders to a place where they can re-enter the workforce after serving their time. This has the potential to keep recidivism rates down while providing a safety valve for labor shortages. In June, ISSA joined the Getting Talent Back to Work coalition and has worked to provide transferrable skills to inmates before their release and re-entry into the workforce.
Increased Cost of Labor: Minimum Wage, Overtime Rules, and Workplace Harassment Training
On July 1, 2019, minimum wage increases went into effect in 22 states and localities. Many more are expected to consider increases, including the United States Congress. These increases could impact workers and businesses in the cleaning industry. ISSA’s Cleaning and Maintenance Management magazine offers advice in the article Managing Minimum Wage Increases Across State Lines.
The Department of Labor released a new notice of proposed rulemaking on overtime regulations, which has “a much lower threshold,” making compliance and costs “more manageable” compared to the 2016 proposed rule. It will also prevent the threshold from increasing automatically without public comment first.
California, Oregon, and Washington have passed workplace harassment training laws specifically for cleaning service providers. In response, ISSA is working with lawmakers to “balance the safety of our workers with making sure that the solutions being put out there are [both] workable for our members, [and] actually reduce the prevalence of harassment.” The ISSA Show North America 2019 will have a speaker on this topic, and we will be releasing a summary of the harassment training requirements by state soon.
Ingredient Disclosure and Chemical Regulations
While we’ve lived with disclosure of hazardous chemicals for years, what’s new is that “California and New York state are requiring full disclosure: hazardous [and] non-hazardous ingredients” in January of 2020, according to Balek. ISSA expects other states to follow suit and will be hosting a webinar and workshop designed to help you comply with these laws.
The federal-level Lautenberg Safety Act and state-level California Safer Consumer Products Program give their respective agencies “broad authority” to affect our industry’s product lines, says Balek. California is looking at NPEs and 1,4-Dioxane, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reviewed p-Dichlorobenzene and 1,3-Butadiene.
Volatile organic compound regulations, green cleaning laws, and state pesticide registration fees continue to be revised regularly. New states begin regulating VOCs about every second year. Green cleaning has been on the rise lately, and we expect it to percolate at the top of state legislative agendas next session. Finally, as states suffer through budget shortages and financial crises, they continue to increase things like pesticide registration fees.
Increased Costs of Doing Business: Sales Taxes on Services, Tariffs, and Tax Reform
As our economy transitions from goods-oriented to service-oriented and states look for more revenue, sales taxes are increasingly being extended to services. This could “increase costs” and be “difficult to comply with if you are not used to collecting sales taxes,” according to Nothdurft.
While President Trump put the latest round of China tariffs on hold, they remain the number one policy priority for our membership. Both ISSA and its membership have submitted comments to the U.S. Trade Representative, engaged with policymakers, and sent letters to elected officials.
The 2017 tax reform continues to be revisited at the federal level. In 2019, ISSA joined the Main Street Employers and Last In First Out (LIFO) coalitions.
ISSA will continue to track and address these issues by educating and engaging our members, policymakers, and the public, lobbying on behalf of the cleaning industry’s interests, and helping our members comply with new laws and regulations after they are passed.
We encourage you to become more involved in our efforts. We want to know what issues keep you up at night and what is impacting you where the rubber meets the road. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to John Nothdurft, ISSA Director of Government Affairs, at 847-982-3453 or at Johnn@issa.com.