The DC City Council voted Tuesday to implement a plan to provide more than half a million workers with eight weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child, one of the nation’s most generous paid family leave programs.

Tuesday’s 11-to-2 vote by the D.C. Council came despite concerns that the leave program would harm small businesses and cost some workers their jobs. Although three states guarantee paid family leave, all of them fund the benefit in part through employee contributions.  DC’s plan is proposed to be funded by a payroll tax and administered via a new city department.

The council initially proposed 16 weeks of paid family leave, funded by a 1 percent payroll tax on businesses. That was then cut to 11 weeks, to reduce the payroll tax to 0.62 percent. On Tuesday, the Council cut it further, to eight weeks for a new child or six weeks to care for a sick relative, while adding two weeks of leave for a worker’s own illness or injury. No state currently guarantees eight weeks of paid leave, although New York will when its program launches in 2018.

Workers would receive up to 90 percent of their salary, with the benefit capped at $1,000 per week. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said that structure ensures that the city’s lower-income workers stand to gain the most from the benefit.

The council will take another vote on the program in two weeks before sending it to the mayor’s desk.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has not said whether she would sign the bill, but the 11-to-2 margin would be veto-proof if it holds when the council votes again.  Critics of the plan cited the program’s costs, its uncertain effect on businesses and the fact that more than 60 percent of those who would get the benefits live in Maryland and Virginia.

If the bill becomes law, it would be sent to Congress for approval, like all laws in the District, and it could run into opposition with Republicans controlling both houses of Congress and the presidency. Congress can pass a resolution invalidating a District law, although that’s extremely rare. Congress more often blocks city policy in other ways, usually through amendments to spending bills.

The bill applies only to private employers because the city cannot tax the federal government and the local government already has a paid leave program. Supporters said funding the program through a payroll tax was the only option because the District is barred from taxing workers who don’t live in the city.

The DC Council Universal Paid Leave legislation appears to be moving forward quickly with passage likely by the end of December. Today Chairman Mendelson will release a new version of his legislation. Councilmember David Grosso has told the press this legislation will be the most expansive paid leave benefit in the country.

From coalition conversations and what has been reported in the press the bill will consist of 11 weeks of maternity/paternity leave and 8 weeks to care for a parent or grandparent. Employees would be eligible to receive up to 90% of salary with the benefit being capped at $1,000 a week. The bill will cover those who work in DC regardless of where they live. Both Federal employees and DC residents who work in other jurisdictions will not be permitted to opt-in to the program.

The program will be funded by a .62% payroll tax that is estimated to begin in January of 2019 that will create a new technology infrastructure and a DC government-run program. Employees will not be able to draw benefits from the fund until January of 2020. NUCA of DC has serious concerns as to how some of our members will be able to both pay the tax and provide strong benefits during this period of limbo.

Chairman Mendelson has reiterated his goal to pass the legislation before January. He plans to have the council take the first vote on Dec. 6 and the final vote on Dec. 20. Should the council vote twice in favor of the bill, it will be up to Mayor Muriel Bowser whether to veto the legislation. Bowser has voiced concern about the bill’s cost and its impact on the business community. The law would also need to be approved by the Republican-controlled Congress, though it is rare for Congress to invalidate a District law.

NUCA of DC, in conjunction with other invested organizations will continue to push for the alternative Employer Mandate model as it provides full wage replacement for 8 weeks at a lower cost while preserving the existing employer-employee benefits relationship. We will be sure to keep you updated as this issue progresses.

 

 

INSURANCE ASSOCIATES ANNOUNCES OUR LATEST NEW HIRE AND TWO PROMOTIONS

Insurance Associates is excited to announce the hire of our newest associate, Karen Garceau, and the promotion of two employees:  Lexi Stock and BJ Westner.

Karen was hired to Insurance Associates in May 2016.  Her career started early in high school working for her father’s property and casualty insurance firm in Maine. For twenty years after this she specialized in construction at an independent insurance agency in Florida. Karen was responsible for account management, risk management, client services, marketing, sales, and agency operations. She brings her greatest strengths to IA that consists of understanding the unique insurance needs of the construction industry and her ability to solve problems. In her spare time, Karen enjoys spending time with her four children and four grandchildren, camping, hiking, and going to the gym.

Karen graduated from Florida State College at Jacksonville and also earner her Certified Insurance Counselor designation in 2003 and Certified Risk Manager Designation in 2009.

We are pleased to announce the promotion of Lexi Stock to Director of Marketing and Communications for the agency. Lexi has been with IA since 2012 and is proud to have developed their strategic marketing plan from the ground up. Her marketing responsibilities include increasing brand awareness, agency newsletters, social media, e-blast campaigns, and the company website. In addition to marketing responsibilities she also demonstrates our interactive portal to clients and manages all public relations activities for the agency. In her spare time she represents IA as Chairman for Associated Builders and Contractors of Metro Washington (ABC)’s Young Professionals Group, ABC.XYZ.

Lexi received both her BBA and MBA from Loyola University Maryland.

We are also pleased to announce the promotion of BJ Westner to Senior Claims Consultant. BJ has been a significant part of our claims team for over four years and has made a huge impact in our ability to provide top notch, value-added service to our clients. With over sixteen years of claims experience, his technical skills, education, and eye for detail, BJ has been an aggressive advocate for our clients. Since joining the agency, BJ has assisted clients with large and complex claims as well as helped clients lower their experience mod and implement proactive back to work programs. Whether he’s using case law to get a claim paid or using his wealth of multi-lines claims knowledge to answer many “what if” scenarios, BJ is always available to help a client with their claims needs.

BJ graduated from the Associated Builders and Contractors of Metro Washington’s Leadership Development Program in 2015.

Founded in 1956, Insurance Associates is an independent insurance agency serving the Mid-Atlantic region with offices in Rockville, Fairfax, Laurel, and Towson.  We are a locally owned company that prides itself on having one of the most competent, experienced, and tenured workforces of any agency in the area.  We advocate for our clients across a diverse range of products and services including Surety Bonding, Commercial Insurance, Employee Benefit Plans, Personal Insurance and Life Insurance.

For more information about our passion and the rest of our team at Insurance Associates, please visit us at www.insassoc.com, follow us on LinkedIn and like us on Facebook.

 

Before adjourning for election season, the House passed a bill that would postpone the December 1 effective date of the Department of Labor’s new overtime rule until the middle of next year. Senate action, if any, won’t come till after election day.

A possible delay in the implementation of a controversial new rule governing eligibility for overtime pay drew a step closer this week, though it’s unclear whether it will be stopped before the effective date of December 1.

Late Wednesday night, the House passed bill H.R. 6094, which would delay implementation until June 1, 2017.

The bill passed on a mostly party-line vote of 246-177, though five Democrats did vote in favor of the bill. The Senate adjourned the same night after passing a stopgap spending bill to avert a government shutdown, meaning the Senate will not vote on the overtime bill until after the November elections at the earliest.

The final overtime rule, announced by the Department of Labor in May, raises the threshold for employees who are exempt from overtime pay to $47,476—more than double the current salary threshold of $23,660.

“We all agree we need to modernize our nation’s overtime rules, but small businesses, nonprofits, and colleges and universities should not be hurt in the process,” Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), who introduced the bill said. “The department needs to abandon this flawed rule and pursue the balanced approach we’ve been fighting for from the start. Instead, they are forcing those who have to deal with the real-world consequences to make significant changes before an arbitrary December deadline.”

Without further congressional action, the overtime rule will take effect December 1. And with Congress adjourned until November 14 so that lawmakers can campaign for reelection, there will be little time for the Senate to act before the rule becomes effective. In addition, the White House threatened to veto Walberg’s bill earlier this week.

While continuing to press for a legislative solution, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and numerous other organizations have joined together in a lawsuit to block the rule from taking effect on December 1.

The lawsuit, filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, argues that the Labor Department exceeded its authority under the Fair Labor Standards Act by drastically altering the minimum salary requirements for exemption and by establishing an automatic salary threshold increase every three years, to take place without notice or public comment.

“The costs of compliance will force many smaller employers and nonprofits operating on fixed budgets to cut critical programming, staffing, and services to the public,” the complaint says. “Many employers will lose the ability to effectively and flexibly manage their workforces upon losing the exemption for frontline executives, administrators, and professionals.”

        
 
NUCA is pleased to announce the settlement of a class action lawsuit challenging AT&T’s bills for repairing damage from cable cuts. Please click on the link below for important details.

Further information is available at www.attrepairclaimlitigation.com. You may also contact our lawyers, Ken Canfield and David Hagy.
 
On behalf of NUCA’s national organization and our 26 state and local chapters, including NUCA of DC, we are proud to advocate for our industry and serve as your association of choice.

INSURANCE ASSOCIATES CELEBRATES 60 YEARS IN THE BUSINESS!

Insurance Associates is proud to celebrate their 60th Anniversary in June of this year.  As the agency reflects on this significant milestone we look at the legacy of our founder, Ted Barker.  Ted bought a small insurance agency in Washington, DC in 1956.  He aptly named it Insurance Associates, as he wanted all employees to feel valuable to the organization.  Ted’s vision was to build the agency based on loyalty to employees, clients, and insurance carriers.  Over time the agency grew and IA expanded the client base to include contractors of all types, real estate firms, government contractors and non-profits.  Ted’s vision that was instilled within the agency in 1956 is still with us today as we now number 58 outstanding “Associates” in our four offices serving the entire Washington-Baltimore region.

“Our success is a result of many factors:  our loyal client base, the many associates who deliver exceptional service and our outstanding group of insurance company partners and business colleagues who have supported us over the years.  I firmly believe that Ted would be pleased of what we have achieved as we still operate the agency with the values of unparalleled service, integrity, and professionalism that he valued when he started the agency,” said Stephen A. Spencer, President of IA.

Insurance Associates realizes that they cannot lose sight of the responsibility to the community that has supported the business over the years, so to recognize this important milestone IA is donating $5,000 to six different charities that have a special meaning to the agency for a total donation of $30,000.

Founded in 1956, Insurance Associates is an independent insurance agency serving the Mid-Atlantic region with offices in Rockville, Fairfax, Laurel, and Towson.  We are a locally owned company that prides itself on having one of the most competent, experienced, and longest tenured workforces of any agency in the area.  We advocate for our clients across a diverse range of products and services including Surety Bonding, Commercial Insurance, Employee Benefit Plans, Personal Insurance and Life Insurance.

For more information about our passion and the rest of our team at Insurance Associates, please visit at www.insassoc.com, follow on LinkedIn and like on Facebook.

From DC Water:

“After more than 10 years in the planning and approval process, DC Water is moving forward with the St. Elizabeths water storage tower. Construction is slated to begin in the coming weeks, and is scheduled for completion in 2018.

Some areas east of the Anacostia River have historically experienced low water pressure. DC Water planned years ago to improve the pressure with a new pumping station, water tower and transmission mains. Together, these elements would create a new water service zone (new pressure area) south of the Ft. Stanton area. While the pumping station was built in 2008, the water storage tower was delayed in approvals and permitting.

Commenting on today’s announcement, DC Water CEO and General Manager George S. Hawkins said, “The completion of this tower and water mains will bring the area much-needed water pressure and will improve fire protection and water pressure in homes, schools and businesses. This is important for the area east of the Anacostia River to support the families, agencies and businesses there.”

The tower can provide a small amount of emergency water storage. The pumps in the pumping station can also move water in between pressure zones in an emergency.

The new 170-foot-high storage tank at St. Elizabeths will store two million gallons of water. It is the first water tower DC Water has built in 71 years and will cost about $14 million. The water tower is located near the Saint Elizabeths Hospital National Historic Landmark (NHL), adjacent to the newly constructed hospital facility, east of Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave., SE and north of Alabama Ave., SE. The new water tower will allow for demolition of the existing tower, which was originally built in the 1930s and is no longer adequate.

DC Water coordinated with nearly a dozen agencies for approvals or permits for the tower. These included the Federal Aviation Administration, District Department of Transportation, Historic Preservation Board, DC Mayor’s Office, and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Work will be performed on weekdays between the hours of 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. Traffic impacts are expected to be light since the site is located near the hospital campus, though residents can expect truck traffic, some noise and lighting.

How water towers work
Gravity helps water towers create pressure because the water falling from a height causes (hydrostatic) pressure that transmits through the pipes and pressurizes the entire zone. Pumps are turned on to maintain water elevation in the tank to keep the system pressurized. Water can cycle through the towers several times per day.

For fighting fires, very high water volumes and flow rates are needed, and water towers can provide both. And in emergencies, the storage tank can still send water without electricity by simply emptying through gravity.”

With all due respect to the employees of D.C.’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, wouldn’t it be nice to launch a business in the District without ever having to come in contact with them?

Now, city entrepreneurs, you can. At least some of you.

The District on Monday went live with its D.C. Business Center, a one-stop online portal through which most city businesses, existing and prospective, can apply for a basic business license, renew a license, and become certified as a certified business enterprise. The system also allows users to look up business and professional licenses, corporate registrations and certified business enterprises by license number or business name.

Two years and $4 million in the making, the portal was designed by D.C.-based Limbic Systems to be TurboTax-like. At its core is a licensing wizard: After answering the wizard’s series of questions, it tells the applicant what licenses are needed and what supporting documents are required by DCRA, the steps to follow and the order they must be completed.

Documents and payment can be submitted electronically.

“We want customers to have the best experience possible,” said DCRA spokesman Matt Orlins. “What we hear from businesses constantly is that they’d rather do it online.”

There are roughly 56,000 active registered businesses in the District, whose dealings with the city’s leading regulatory and licensing agency have not always been pleasant. The portal release comes on the heels of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s weeklong visit with DCRA, a department city leaders believe “can operate more efficiently.”

For now, the new system focuses on the basic business licenses most frequently issued by DCRA — contractors, restaurants, general businesses, single-family rentals, and so on. It is not yet designed to be used for occupational and professional licenses such as CPAs, lawyers and doctors, or for vending and special event licenses, or for highly specialized BBLs such as bowling alleys, candy manufacturing, driving schools and the horse drawn carriage trade.

And a visit to DCRA’s headquarters in Southwest, a call to its customer service center, or a stop by any number of other agencies may still be needed to obtain a certificate of occupancy, or a corporate registration, or tax registration, or a health-related license or a building permit. The ultimate goal for the portal is to “include all District agencies that issue licenses, permits, or certifications; or perform inspections,” per DCRA. It is unknown what the next phase will include, or when it will be released.

“We don’t want to over promise,” Orlins said, “but we do think it’s a very significant release.”

*Michael Neibauer covers economic development, chambers of commerce, transportation and politics for the Washington Business Journal*

DEEP DISCOUNT ALERT!
As you may know, NUCA’s 2017 Convention (March 4-6) will co-locate with CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017 (March 7-11), one of the biggest construction shows on earth, for a winning Las Vegas combination!  We are also pleased to announce that the dazzling and renovated Palms Casino Resort is our host hotel. 
Our 2017 Convention Committee is busy finalizing an outstanding NUCA Convention program, including keynote speakers, educational breakouts, policy meetings, general sessions, outrageous parties, a golf outing, and our always popular teambuilding shindig.  While registration for the NUCA Convention is not open quite yet, here are some things you need to know right away.
  1. For discounted show passes, be sure to register for CONEXPO-CON/AGG through unique NUCA code-embedded registration links available only at www.nuca.com/convention.  
  1. When you register for the 2017 NUCA Convention, you will be able to register for CONEXPO-CON/AGG at a 36% discount ($54 off the standard fee) through 2/3/17.  We will let you know when 2017 NUCA Convention registration opens online and this special link becomes available.  Don’t jump the gun and miss the discount by registering for the show elsewhere!   
  2. For NUCA members and employees who will not attend the 2017 Convention but will attend the CONEXPO-CON/AGG show only, you will be able to register for the show at a 20% discount ($30 off the standard fee) through 2/3/17.  This discount is available now at www.nuca.com/convention.
NUCA member discounts for CONEXPO-CON/AGG education tickets are also available.
  1. We are pleased to offer discounted room rates at the Palms Casino Resort.  The rates vary by day: $129 (3/3 and 3/4), $59 (3/5 and 3/6) and $200 (3/7 through 3/11).  In addition, NUCA guests will save $10 off the daily resort fee.  For those who would like to book rooms now, the special Palms link is live at www.nuca.com/convention.

We hope to see you in Vegas in March!  If you have questions or need assistance, please let us know.