Congress Passes Bipartisan Debt Limit Increase
Congress recently passed the Fiscal Responsibility Act to raise the debt ceiling through January 1, 2025 and put limits on federal spending during the next two budget cycles. The legislation passed the House on Wednesday by a vote of 314 to 117, and the Senate approved it a day later 63 to 36. Congress needed to pass legislation by June 5 to avert a default on U.S. debt obligations.
In exchange for lifting the debt ceiling, the bill freezes federal spending at existing levels in fiscal year (FY) 2024 and caps spending growth at 1% in FY 2025. According to White House estimates, the bill will produce $1 trillion in savings over a decade. The agreement tightens eligibility for the food stamp program by increasing the age of exemption from work requirements on able-bodied recipients without children from 50 to 55. It includes stricter work requirements for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The legislation also provides for an expedited permitting approval process of major energy infrastructure projects.
DOL Pushes Back Target Date for Overtime Rule
The Biden Administration recently issued its Spring 2023 Regulatory Agenda, which lays out various federal agencies' regulatory plans for the year and beyond. The Department of Labor (DOL) has extended the target date to August 2023 for the release of a proposed rule containing changes to the regulations governing the exemptions to federally mandated overtime pay. While the details of the proposed rule remain unclear, the rulemaking is expected to include a salary threshold increase and changes to the duties test. The DOL originally targeted May to issue the proposed rule.
Final OSHA Injury and Illness Workplace Rule Expected in June
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently submitted a rule to the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review that will expand employers’ injury and illness reporting requirements. According to the Administration’s Spring 2023 Regulatory Agenda, the final rule is now expected to be issued this month. BSCAI will keep members updated once the final rule is announced.
IRS Issues Alert on Employee Retention Credit Scams
As aggressive marketing continues, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently renewed an alert for businesses to watch out for tell-tale signs of misleading claims involving the Employee Retention Credit.
The IRS and tax professionals continue to see a barrage of aggressive broadcast advertising, direct mail solicitations and online promotions involving the Employee Retention Credit. While the credit is real, aggressive promoters are wildly misrepresenting and exaggerating who can qualify for the credits.
The IRS has stepped up audit and criminal investigation work involving these claims. Businesses, tax-exempt organizations and others considering applying for this credit need to carefully review the official requirements for this limited program before applying. Those who improperly claim the credit face follow-up action from the IRS.
Protecting Workers from Exposure to Extreme Heat
As we enter summer work season, BSCAI is providing members with resources from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to help keep workers safe during the summer months. Under OSHA law, employers are responsible for providing workplaces free of known safety hazards which includes protecting workers from extreme heat. OSHA recommends that employers establish a heat illness prevention program and take the following steps to protect workers who are exposed to high temperatures:
- Provide workers with water, rest and shade.
- Allow new or returning workers to gradually increase workloads and take more frequent breaks as they acclimatize, or build a tolerance for working in the heat.
- Plan for emergencies and train workers on prevention.
- Monitor workers for signs of illness.
OSHA's Occupational Exposure to Heat website explains what employers can do to keep workers safe and what workers need to know - including factors for heat illness, adapting to working in indoor and outdoor heat, protecting workers, recognizing symptoms, and first aid training. The page also provides resources for specific industries and details OSHA workplace standards.
Protecting Workers from Exposure to Wildfire Smoke
With many in the U.S. experiencing smoke from the wildfires in Canada, BSCAI wants to make members aware of information and resources on the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health website to protect workers from exposure to wildfire smoke. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has additional resources on wildfire emergency preparedness, response and recovery operations.