Congress is out of town during this week shortened by the President’s Day holiday, but it will be back to business on Monday with a number of bills important to small business still awaiting action, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.
Here are some of the top measures that the NFIB will be tracking:
Paid sick leave: Introduced by Sen. Ted Kennedy and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the “Healthy Families Act of 2007” (H.R. 1542/S.910) requires employers of 15 or more workers provide seven days of paid leave annually to employees. The bill has passed in the House and is awaiting further action in the Senate. The NFIB opposes the bill.
Immigration: The House passed the FY 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill without language to temporarily exempt returning seasonal workers from the national cap on H-2B visas. The NFIB supports adding seasonal workers.
Health care: Four bills pending in Congress could impact small businesses.
1. Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2007 (H.R. 380/S.242) allows for the safe and legal importation of prescription drugs from other countries, including Canada.
2. “Fair and Speedy Treatment of Medicare Prescription Drug Claims Act of 2007 (H.R. 1474/S.1954) ensures prompt government payment practices for the services community pharmacies provide related to the Medicare Part D prescription drug programs within a 30-day billing cycle.
3. National Health Information Incentive Act of 2007 (H.R. 1952) assists small physician practices with the adoption of health information technology such as electronic medical records.
4. Promoting Health for Future Generation Act of 2007 (H.R. 2639) allows individuals with a health savings account to deduct 100 percent of the premiums from their taxes and permits individuals over the age of 50 to make contributions of up to $2,000 over the annual contribution limit.
Alternative Minimum Tax: Congress has yet to pass permanent relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax.
Estate Tax: In November, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing regarding permanent estate tax relief. Another hearing is expected early this year.
Legal Reform: The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007 (S. 1843) was introduced by Sen. Ted Kennedy in July, but remains in the committee. Similar legislation, H.R. 2381, has already passed in the House. The NFIB opposes both bills.