Washington, DC (November 8, 2012) – Tuesday’s election wrapped up a long campaign season. The industry’s political action committee, HotelPAC, distributed nearly a half million dollars to over 100 candidates. The American Hotel and Lodging Association is pleased to report that several friends of the lodging industry will be returning to Washington, D.C.
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While election returns for some races may not be finalized for days, or even weeks, the balance of power remains the same – President Obama celebrates a victory, while Republicans retain the House and Democrats the Senate.
AH&LA will continue to work with both parties to deal with the important issues that impact the overall health of the economy. The election results show that Americans remain concerned with jobs and the economy – reinforcing that AH&LA’s legislative agenda remains as relevant as ever.
AH&LA looks forward to updating their membership at committee and Board meetings during Fall conference. Here are a few notes on what they expect in the 113th Congress:
Travel: President Obama has been a strong supporter of the travel sector and recognizes its importance as an export and job creator. We see several opportunities to work with his Administration and continue our many gains of the last few years. The bipartisan JOLT Act, which aims to bring more international travelers to the U.S., is another bright spot as Senator Schumer (D-NY) and Lee (R-UT) lead the charge in the Senate. AH&LA will continue to support Brand USA and work on legislative goals through our Discover America Partnership to further the mission of increasing our share of international travelers.
Immigration: Comprehensive immigration reform has been stalled since 2007 when it was debated in the Senate, but failed to pass. Immigration reform remains highly-polarizing, but it is likely that President Obama and the Senate Democratic leadership will pursue immigration reform legislation. It is unclear what position Republicans in the Senate and the House leadership will take as they weigh the results of the election. AH&LA will continue to press for comprehensive reform, including an adequate guest worker program.
Health Care: The election all-but-guarantees that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be around for some time. Over the next two years, important implementation regulations will be written by the Federal government and by states setting up state-based exchanges. AH&LA will continue to participate in the development of these regulations. While Congress will not be expected to enact legislation repealing the ACA, there are a number of significant issues that may receive favorable attention and possibly enough bipartisan support in the Senate. AH&LA will continue to push for such reforms as repeal of the employer mandate, expanded tax credits, greater use of HSA and FSA accounts, allowing greater flexibility in counting hours of part-time or seasonal employees, and allowing competitive health care plans inside and outside of exchanges.
Labor: AH&LA and the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) have led the charge against Employee Free Choice Act legislation and the subsequent administrative rulings and regulations at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). While we have defeated or slowed many of these challenges, President Obama’s re-election most likely means an increase in labor-promoting rules from DOL and the NLRB. AH&LA will continue to work with CDW and coalition partners to pushback on these unreasonable regulations. We will need to pay particular attention to the NLRBs efforts to regulate non-union workplaces and weigh in on social media.
Energy & Environment: The Administration is generally expected to move several “green” agenda items next year. Items on the “to-do” list include stronger action on global warming or greenhouse gas emissions controls, clean air regulations, increased review of hydraulic fracturing, and restricting emissions from coal-burning power plants. AH&LA will be weighing in on a number of issues that may directly affect the lodging industry such as new regulations on clean water and air, wastewater treatment, and Federal green travel protocols.
Regulations: Several regulatory items of interest for the lodging industry will likely be given renewed attention.
- The Department of Justice proposed expanded disability regulations in 2011 to cover furniture, equipment, website and reservation systems, and may bring these proposals up for review and finalization.
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission may finalize regulations that limit the types of information employers can consider during background checks of prospective employees.
- In addition, employers might expect to see new regulations and/or guidance on expanding efforts to hire more employees with disabilities.
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