• EMA Weekly Review

  • EMA Weekly Review

     
    Energy Marketers of America weekly update on important national industry news
    December 4, 2020  [WR-20-49]
     
    Sponsored by Musket Corporation
    who generously supports The Energy Marketers of America 
     

    Quick Links to Articles for December 4, 2020

     
    Significant Challenges Remain for the 116th Congress – Government Funding and COVID Relief

    Urge Congress to Include Reasonable Liability Protections in Next COVID-19 Relief Package

    EPA Misses Statutory Deadline to set RFS Blending Mandates for 2021

    Can Employers Require COVID-19 Vaccines? 

    Ford Urges Other Major Automakers to Back CA Emissions Framework Compromise

    Legislation Introduced to Identify EV Charging Locations 

    Energy Marketers of America SBC PAC Holiday Auction Begins Monday!

    November 2020 EMA Small Business Committee (SBC) PAC Contributions

    Federated Insurance Employment Practices Network HR Question of the Month

    EMA Contributors for November 2020 

    PMAA Member Services Spotlight Featuring: Batteries + Bulbs through National Purchasing Partners (NPP)

     
    Articles for December 4, 2020
     
    Significant Challenges Remain for the 116th Congress – Government Funding and COVID Relief

    At the top of Congress’ must-do list is reaching an agreement on government funding and preventing a government shutdown when federal funding lapses on December 11. While few anticipate a repeat of the 35-day impasse that shuttered government from December 22, 2018 until January 25, 2019, pressure continues to build on Congress – in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic – to address federal funding and provide additional COVID relief. Congressional leaders are considering combining the two, possibly attaching short-term COVID relief to an end of year Omnibus funding package. 

    The House and Senate Appropriations Committees reached agreement on 12 common subcommittee allocations on November 24, just two days before Thanksgiving. In addition to resolving major differences over funding, appropriators also face challenges this year coming to agreement over public policy concerns including the pandemic, social justice priorities, gun rights, abortion, and other pivotal issues. While Congress remains committed to completing all 12 funding measures, a Continuing Resolution (CR) may be necessary to extend funding into the new calendar year for one or more of the annual bills where an impasse over policy or funding proves too challenging to reach consensus. Late Thursday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) set a midnight Saturday deadline for negotiators to reach a funding agreement and avoid a partial government shutdown next week. 

    Meanwhile, this Tuesday a group of bipartisan Senators and House members injected new life into coronavirus relief legislation discussions. Championed by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME) and others in both chambers, the bipartisan group released a $908 billion proposal, which would create short-term aid through the winter months with an expectation that President-elect Biden will pursue a larger package early in 2021. The bipartisan working group is aiming to attach this proposal to an end of year government funding package before December 11. 

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY); President-elect Biden; and Senator John Thune (R-SD), the number two Republican in Senate leadership, expressed support for the proposal. Retreating from the $2.4 trillion pandemic relief package they had been pushing before the election, Pelosi and Schumer said, “we and others will offer improvements, but the need to act is immediate and we believe that with good-faith negotiations we could come to an agreement.” The emergence of the bipartisan proposal places pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who previously circulated a $500 billion proposal, which was immediately rejected by Senate Democrats. 

    The new coronavirus relief proposal includes $160 billion for state and local governments and would create a $300-per-week unemployment benefit for 18 weeks, as well as $31 billion for vaccine distribution and $28 billion to reestablish the paycheck protection program (PPP). The framework also provides “short term Federal protection from Coronavirus related lawsuits with the purpose of giving states time to develop their own response.” EMA signed a letter this week urging Congress to approve adequate liability protection. Please click here to read the letter. However, the proposal does not include another round of $1,200 stimulus checks – a widely popular program created in previous COVID-19 stimulus legislation. Further, Senator Portman’s (R-OH) “Healthy Workplace Tax Credit” is not in the $900 billion bipartisan proposal, however, EMA continues to push for its inclusion in a letter recently sent to Congress. 

    Within funding to continue the PPP, the bipartisan framework allows for PPP “deductibility.” While specifics are not yet available, the proposal could take the form of The Small Business Expense Protection Act, which would create a tax deduction for small businesses who used a forgiven PPP loan for eligible expenses. Hundreds of trade associations are urging Congress to pass legislation before the end of the year that would make the Paycheck Protection Program loans tax-free. The IRS interpretation that businesses cannot deduct expenses paid for with the forgivable loans would result in “a surprise tax increase of up to 37 percent on small businesses when they file their taxes for 2020,” over 100 industry groups, including Energy Marketers of America, argued in a letter Wednesday. The regional and national associations urged Congressional leaders and President-elect Biden to support the inclusion of a healthy workplace tax credit in the next coronavirus relief package. The organizations outlined their recommendations and emphasized how a tax credit would ensure that businesses and nonprofits, who are struggling financially, can meet unexpected expenses related to COVID-19. As the year ends, PPP deductibility is quickly moving to the forefront of discussions, however, Senate Republicans’ targeted proposal released December 1 does not specifically address PPP deductibility. 

    Importantly, still largely unknown, is whether President Trump, as he faces the end of his presidency, will sign an Omnibus funding package in excess of $1 trillion, a defense authorization bill, and/or coronavirus relief legislation in excess of the Senate Republican proposal. This lack of certainty creates additional challenges for congressional leaders as they work around the clock to finalize critical end of year legislation and fiscal year 2021 spending decisions.

    Urge Congress to Include Reasonable Liability Protections in Next COVID-19 Relief Package

    The Energy Marketers of America (EMA) urges you to reach out to Congress in support of important legislation to expand liability protections for businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic known as the “Safe to Work Act” (S. 4317). The bill is retroactive to December 2019 and provides reasonable liability protection against COVID-19 lawsuits through October 2024 for businesses who have made good faith efforts to comply with government guidance. The legislation does not protect bad actors in cases where there is willful misconduct or gross negligence to the safety of an individual. The legislation provides preemption from state laws unless state laws provide greater liability protection. 

    It is important for everyone to reach out to their lawmakers in support of the bill. Click here to do so. 

    EPA Misses Statutory Deadline to set RFS Blending Mandates for 2021

    This week, the EPA missed the statutory deadline by which the 2021 renewable volume obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) must be set. The EPA is required by statute to finalize annual RFS blending requirements for each upcoming compliance year by November 30 of the preceding year. To meet that deadline, a proposed rule is typically released in the spring or early summer with a public comment period that closes several months before the statutory deadline. The missed deadline means it remains unclear how much ethanol and other biofuels oil refiners must blend into their fuels next year. Until the Trump Administration came to power, it was typical for the EPA to overshoot the deadline by months, creating uncertainty that affected fuel prices and speculation that drove up the cost of RINS obligated parties need to meet annual blending mandates. However, over the past four years the EPA has met the deadline each time. 

    The delay means that the incoming Biden Administration, widely considered a friend of the ethanol industry, will determine blending volumes for 2021. It is unlikely the new administration would impose a radical increase in blending volumes, at least for 2021. Blending volumes beyond 2021 are likely to see an increase due to Biden’s commitment to aggressively address climate change.

    Can Employers Require COVID-19 Vaccines? 

    With vaccine approval nearing, businesses ask if they can require their workers to get the shot. Click here to read the Washington Post article.

    Ford Urges Other Major Automakers to Back CA Emissions Framework Compromise

    This week, Ford Motor Company urged major automakers to back a deal struck last year with California to meet a 50 mpg fleetwide standard by 2026 for all vehicles sold nationwide. Ford’s lobbying push comes as General Motors recently abandoned a legal battle between the Trump Administration and California over the state's right to set its own standards for greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy rules. The move signals a recognition by GM that its electrification and zero emissions strategy is more closely aligned with the priorities of the incoming Biden Administration. 

    Last year, GM, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and 10 other automakers sided with the Trump Administration in a lawsuit filed by environmental groups challenging the Administration's plans to roll back emissions and gas mileage standards and strip California's authority to set its own emission standards. Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen sided with California and cut a separate deal with the state to meet a 50-mpg fleetwide standard by 2026 for all vehicles sold nationwide. In recent years, more than a dozen other states have signed on to California's emissions standards for vehicles. 

    During the campaign, candidate Biden pledged to make major investments in electric vehicles and EV fueling infrastructure through federal financial support to automakers and expanded tax credits for consumers. Now that Biden is president-elect, GM realized that continuing support for the Trump rollback is no longer a viable way forward.

    Legislation Introduced to Identify EV Charging Locations 

    Recently, Reps. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) and Michael Burgess (R-TX) introduced a bill to provide a $10 million grant to identify the most sensible locations for electric vehicle charging stations. The grant funds would be available to local governments, electric utility companies, universities and unspecified others. The legislation is not expected to move in the House this year but is likely to be reintroduced next year. Click here to read the article.

    Energy Marketers of America SBC PAC Holiday Auction Begins Monday!

    Get your holiday shopping completed December 7-11 on the EMA SBC PAC Silent Auction site. Energy Marketers of America (EMA) SBC PAC Co-Chairs Brad Bell and Tim Keigher want you to know that the new holiday auction includes items for men, women and children with an emphasis on jewelry for women and girls, so this is a terrific opportunity to finish your shopping, especially for the ladies in your life!

    Thanks to the generosity of Ned Bowman and the Florida Petroleum Marketers Association, Inc. (FPMA) and Emily LeRoy and the Tennessee Fuel & Convenience Association (TFCA), the PAC Silent Auction jewelry will include items from Effy, Judith Bright, Le Vian, and Sonatina! There are also many items appropriate for gifts for men and women.

    Thanks also to the generosity of Michael Fields and the South Carolina Convenience & Petroleum Marketers Association (SCCPMA), two bottles of 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (Cakebread) and two industry collectables, one from Citgo (1996) and one from Texaco (1995) will be auction items! Thanks, SCCPMA!

    The Holiday Auction will open Monday December 7 and close Friday December 11 at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. To access our great selection of auction items, text EMA to 71760, click the link, and follow the instructions on the screen to register. 

    Please note: You will be asked to provide a credit card in order to complete your registration. Nothing will be charged to your card on file unless you are a winning bidder or make a donation. The money used to pay for these auction items (by the winning bidders) must be personal money only not corporate! 

    As you browse auction items, you will be able to place a bid at any one of the next pre-set bid increments, or use the “Set Up AUTOBID” feature to let the system bid on your behalf up to your maximum amount. You can choose “Watch This Item” to add your favorites to the “My Bids” section of your account. If you are outbid on an item, you will be notified by text message. At the end of the auction, you will be notified by text message if you are a winning bidder. 

    If you need assistance at any point throughout the auction, please contact C2Auctions for support at chris@c2auctions.net. EMA knows that you will have fun with this new online holiday auction which will benefit the PAC and help you with your gift purchases! 

    November 2020 EMA Small Business Committee (SBC) PAC Contributions

    PAC Co-Chairs Brad Bell and Tim Keigher are grateful for the Energy Marketers of America Small Business Committee (SBC) PAC contributions from the following individuals during the November 1-30, 2020 time frame:

    Colorado: Holly Galbraith, Tim Goodrich, Brian Haldorson, Randy McFarland
    Kentucky: Shanon Crawford
    Maryland: Rob Underwood
    New Jersey: Ann Harriett, Lawrence Ray, Michael Ray
    New Mexico: Judge Dobrient, Alan Franken, Tom Hennessy, Daniel Kendrick, Reginald Roberson
    Wyoming: Mike Bailey, Holly Galbraith 

    Federated Insurance Employment Practices Network HR Question of the Month
    Re-injury, Recovery and the ADA?

    Federated Insurance’s HR Question of the Month focuses on employment-related practices liability issues. This month’s question is: I have an employee who texted me last week that he injured his back at home moving a dishwasher; that it was an old injury and that he re-injured and that he would need a couple of days to recover. I requested that he go to the doctor and get a full release before returning to work. I am getting some push back on that from the employee. I need some advice. Please click here to read the response.

    For additional information or to discuss this in further detail, please contact your Federatedregional representative or EMA’s National Account Executive Jon Medo at 800.533.0472. Federated is a EMA Corporate Platinum Partner. 

    This article is for general information and risk prevention only and should not be considered legal or other expert advice. The recommendations herein may help reduce, but are not guaranteed to eliminate, any or all risk of loss. The information herein may be subject to, and is not a substitute for, any laws or regulations that may apply. Qualified counsel should be sought with questions specific to your circumstances. © 2020 Federated Mutual Insurance Company.

    EMA Contributors for November 2020 

    Energy Marketers of America’s Marketer Defense Fund wants to thank the following individuals for their contributions during the November 1- 30 timeframe:

    Nebraska: Mark Whitehead
    South Carolina: South Carolina Convenience & Petroleum Marketers Association

    Corporate donations are acceptable. MDF funds have been used to create a COVID-19 Situational Update & Resources webpage, to hire experts to cover important regulatory agencies and disaster relief dedicated to strengthening our lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill. Click here to donate to the EMA MDF. 

    PMAA Member Services Spotlight Featuring: Batteries + Bulbs through National Purchasing Partners (NPP)
    Members can save up to 73 percent off hundreds of items at Batteries + Bulbs

    If you’re reopening your doors or you’ve been operational the whole time, Batteries Plus Bulb and NPP can help you save on the items needed to keep your business running. Members can now access big savings on batteries and bulbs of all size, as well as device repair at more than 700 Batteries Plus Bulbs stores nationwide. Make sure your thermometers are powered with alkaline or coin cell batteries. Stock extra batteries for automatic soap and hand sanitizer dispensers. Save on generators for large outdoor items and exterior lighting. Let Batteries Plus Bulbs bring your business to life.

    Check this convenient checklist to help you prepare and keep critical items running. Here is our information sheet of our products and services. 

    You can enroll your business for FREE with NPP to activate this Batteries Plus Bulbs offer and more. NPP is a member benefit provider of PMAA.

    Restrictions may apply.