On October 6,  the one-year anniversary of the D.C. Council’s introduction of a “Universal Paid Leave” Bill, a coalition of D.C. employer groups presented to the Mayor and the D.C. Council an alternative that would benefit both employers and employees: an employer mandate model. 

A letter to the Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) from the coalition stated, “Although well intentioned, the paid leave legislation currently being considered by the Council has significant flaws.” The letter expressed concerns that a 1% tax on employers will result in slowed growth and employers moving outside of the District. No other paid leave program in the country is funded this way.

Chairman Mendelson indicates he is moving forward on his legislation. His current bill creates a new bureaucracy to administer this program. In this model employees would go to the DC government to have leave approved and to secure a portion of their paycheck. While Mendelson is expected to revise his legislation he still indicates he plans to move the bill this year. “My commitment is that the Council will vote on the package this year,” Mendelson said.

The alternate Employer Mandate plan put forth by the coalition includes full wage replacement for eight weeks for employees who have been employed for at least one-year and have worked at least 1250 hours. Like the Council’s plan, the Employer Mandate will be phased in beginning with large employers. Employers with 50 or more employees will have one year to comply.

Small and medium organizations will have two years to implement the benefit. A shared risk insurance pool will be created through a private insurance market as an option for small organizations (with fewer than 20 employees) and medium organizations (with between 20-49 employees). The $20 million already put forth by the Council would be redirected to subsidize insurance premiums for small and medium organizations



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.”

After finalizing an agreement in July to buy the 66-acre former Walter Reed medical campus, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has just announced the site will have a school up and running by September 2017. The District will expedite construction on the District of Columbia International School so that 775 students can use the facility by the start of next school year.
“The US Army has worked with my office to ensure that we diligently progress with the redevelopment of the Walter Reed campus to benefit the community to the greatest extent possible,” Bowser said in a release. “We appreciate the urgency and diligence of the US Army, the District of Columbia International School and the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development to bring DCI students to their new home on the Walter Reed campus by 2017.” The school will move into Delano Hall on the campus.  Construction is expected to begin next month.
The final transfer of the campus to allow the full project to begin will occur around Oct. 31, the release said. A development team of Hines, Urban Atlantic, Toll Brothers and Triden Development won the bid in 2013 and plan to build 2,000 housing units, 250k SF of retail, offices anchored by George Washington University, MIT and bioscience/pharmaceutical companies and a Hyatt hotel and conference center. It won’t be, however, anchored by a Wegmans, as many hoped.

Washington Gas partners with the District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) to help D.C. businesses save energy and money through energy efficiency programs and rebates. The DCSEU provides rebates to business owners for the installation of energy-efficient appliances.

Washington Gas is now offering commercial rebates to Maryland customers for eligible water heaters, boilers, ovens and more.
1. Eligibility

Check all requirements for your rebate. Your rebate form will list exactly what you need to purchase and have installed to be eligible for a rebate.

Be sure to check for the exact equipment, make, model and serial number before you make your purchase. Also, appliances must be purchased and installed by a licensed contractor.
2. File

Rebate programs have a specific time period for when you can purchase and submit your rebate application form and proof of purchase.
Maryland application deadline: December 31, 2016
3. Complete

Complete the information requested on your rebate form. Don’t leave anything blank as all information requested is required to verify your purchase. Print clearly, preferably with black or blue ink, and be sure to sign the application form.

4. Mail

Mail your completed rebate forms and all required information, to the address provided on the form.

Rebates are processed within six to eight weeks of receipt of a complete rebate application form along with all materials necessary to qualify. If it has been 12 weeks since you mailed your submission and you have not yet received your rebate, please call 877-240-9183.

Note: At times, rebate applications are randomly selected for procedure audit. Such audits may extend the payment time referenced above by three to six weeks.

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 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*