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Government Engagement Update

December 18, 2020

Closing Out 2020...

It is an understatement to say that 2020 did not go as planned. There was much talk of social-distancing, wearing masks, virtual everything and the new normal. There was, however, little talk of government regulation and legislation. Now, as this tumultuous year comes to a close, there is a mad dash to finalize a few unresolved items on the government’s to-do list.

Congress, up against a federal government funding deadline, is negotiating an omnibus spending bill for FY2021, another COVID-19 relief package, and a bipartisan energy bill. Without an agreement on the omnibus bill, the chances of getting the other two legislative priorities across the goal line are highly diminished.

Specific to COVID-19 relief, ALA is actively lobbying Congress to include deductibility safeguards for Paycheck Protection loans, having joined with other trade associations in letter-writing campaigns and virtual fly-in events. Here is a copy of the most recent letter. Furthermore, ALA members are encouraged to contact their Members of Congress and ask that Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) deductibility be included in the final relief package.

Before the bipartisan energy bill came together, ALA was supporting member efforts to pass legislation regarding necessary technical corrections for the standards of large-diameter ceiling fans. In fact, a standalone bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives last week. With not much chance of passage in the U.S. Senate, due to time constraints, the language of the underlying bill was included in the larger bipartisan compromise. Read the text of the standalone bill.

ALA is hopeful that an agreement will be reached on the omnibus by the end of this week and that the other two items can be checked off the list as well. ALA will keep members informed as the situation develops.

Looking to 2021…

What to Expect from a Biden Administration on Trade
President-elect Biden has made repeated statements that the Section 301 tariffs on products coming from China will stay in place for the foreseeable future. Mr. Biden indicated that he plans to take a hardline stance against China and plans to thoroughly review the U.S.-China relationship before making any decisions to add additional, or pull back existing tariffs. To further cement his position on the matter, President-elect Biden has nominated Katherine Tai as the next United States Trade Representative. Tai is a tough trade negotiator with a strong background in U.S.-China trade policy. ALA and the Americans for Free Trade Coalition sent a letter to President-elect Biden encouraging him to take an early review of the current trade situation with China.

What to Expect from a Biden Administration on Energy
The Trump administration has been derelict in promulgating energy efficiency rules on federally covered appliance products. The inaction has resulted in a massive backlog at DOE. There are over ten lighting categories that await action by DOE, including general service lamps, ceiling fans and others. Each rulemaking proceeding will take months to complete and could have dramatic effects on the lighting industry. Member input will be desperately needed to help inform DOE’s final decisions.

State Activity
It is no secret that California is active at the state level regulating the products of the lighting industry. Due to DOE’s lack of action, other states have picked up the torch to enact localized regulations. The focus for much of the regulatory activity has been on general service lamps and the infamous 45 lumen per watt (45lpw) requirement. Currently, four states have adopted a 45lpw standard. Nevada just approved a similar standard, and it is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

There are two pending federal court cases, as well as expected regulatory activity by DOE that could clear up or further complicate this mixed-up situation. As for today, there is no 45lpw federal standard. Below is a list of the state standards for general service lamps:

  • California's regs are already in effect with a 45lpw standard (Title 20)
  • Colorado's regs went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020 with a 45lpw standard
  • Nevada's regs go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021 with a 45lpw standard
  • Vermont's regs went into effect on Jan. 20, 2020 with a 45lpw standard
  • Washington's regs went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020 with a 45lpw standard
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