Legislative Issues in 2018: Here are the Top 5, Healthcare Among Them

Feb. 8, 2018

The legislative landscape is unpredictable, to say the least. There are too many political agendas being promoted to forecast what will and won’t get done on your behalf, at least on the national level.

Fortunately, associations like the Tire Industry Association (TIA), Specialty Equipment Market Association and Auto Care Association track the business climate on Capitol Hill. If you wonder what is going to affect your business in 2018, they will let you know. So will Modern Tire Dealer.

What issues will Congress be wrestling with over the next year? Here’s my Top 5 list, in no particular order. “TIA expects to be largely involved with any infrastructure proposals, efforts on tax extenders, and changes to healthcare,” says Roy Littlefield IV, TIA’s director of government affairs.

1. Reforming healthcare. The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has been undergoing an overhaul of sorts, but it has yet to be repealed and may never be. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he will attempt to pass healthcare legislation to fund Affordable Care Act cost-sharing payments and provide funds to states for reinsurance programs or high risk pools. TIA says there appears to be little support for the legislation among House Republicans.

2. Legislating autonomous vehicles. The government seems to be pushing this technology forward. In its current form, Senate Bill 1885, the “American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies” (AV START) Act, intends to “support the development of highly automated vehicle safety technologies.” The Auto Care Association helped get a vehicle data access and control amendment into the bill. The amendment would give vehicle repair outlets access to critical data “collected” by highly automated vehicles.

Also, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says it supports the evolution of autonomous vehicles from a safety standpoint. “As driver assistance technologies improve, they may eventually result in vehicles that can control all aspects of the driving task: truly ‘self-driving’ vehicles. NHTSA is committed to advancing this technology in order to eliminate motor vehicle-related deaths on America’s roads.”

3. Funding infrastructure. The Trump administration has made a $1 trillion infrastructure package a priority for 2018. TIA says few details exist about the nature of such a proposal and how it will be funded.

4. Extending the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. The federal tax credit is available to employers who hire individuals from certain target groups, such as unemployed and disabled veterans; vocational rehabilitation referred individuals; ex-felons; and qualified long-term unemployment recipients. The credit will continue through Dec. 31, 2019. However, there is opposition to extending it.

5. Managing the estate tax. The new tax plan didn’t repeal it, but it did double the exemption levels through the end of 2025. That is a start, says Littlefield.

“We are happy the exemption was raised, as this will help more TIA members. But we have several other members who will still be negatively impacted by the estate tax and will find themselves over the exemption because of the value of their business.

“TIA will support any efforts made in Congress to fully repeal the tax. But we do not expect any big efforts being made in the near future given that the tax reform package just passed. Yet the president still has a personal stake in trying to repeal the estate tax and it was a campaign promise, so efforts could always resurface.”

If you want to stay abreast of state legislation, you will have to be more proactive. I suggest you reach out to your state association, which is better equipped to handle the more specific lobbying efforts. Great people by the names of Steve and Al and Shawn and Reece will be happy to help you out and, hopefully, sign you up.

For a directory of the U.S. state and Canadian provincial associations, check out the digital edition of our July issue on www.moderntiredealer.com.    ■

If you have any questions or comments, please email me at [email protected].

To read more of Bob Ulrich's editorials, click:

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About the Author

Bob Ulrich

Bob Ulrich was named Modern Tire Dealer editor in August 2000 and retired in January 2020. He joined the magazine in 1985 as assistant editor, and had been responsible for gathering statistical information for MTD's "Facts Issue" since 1993. He won numerous awards for editorial and feature writing, including five gold medals from the International Automotive Media Association. Bob earned a B.A. in English literature from Ohio Northern University and has a law degree from the University of Akron.