Senate Bill 86 Update

Senate Bill 86 became law on Sunday. Governor Cooper had the options of either vetoing the bill, signing the bill, or simply letting 10 days pass without issuing his signature after the piece of legislation hit his desk. SB86 allows small businesses to use associations, such as chambers of commerce, to obtain association healthcare plans (AHPs). These arrangements permit a grouping of employers in the same trade, industry, or line of business to access healthcare. AHPs can only be offered by a nonprofit with at least 500 members, and the organization must have been in existence for at least two years for reasons other than providing access to insurance.

Opponents of AHPs believe that giving small employers access to plans usually reserved for larger companies might lead to smaller employers choosing plans that do not contain the 10 essential health care benefits required in the federal marketplace under the Affordable Care Act. The 10 essential healthcare benefits are items such as ambulatory or outpatient services, hospitalization, and maternity and newborn care. Proponents of the bill laud AHPs because of their cost and believe it will allow greater access to healthcare for small businesses and individuals priced out of traditional healthcare coverage.

SB86 passed by votes of 32-9 in the Senate and 82-32 in the House with bipartisan support. However, a Federal District Court judge ruled against the U.S. Labor Department’s rule to loosen restrictions on AHPs. Officials at the Department of Labor filed an appeal in April. Despite these challenges, the Department of Labor will not enforce violations stemming from good faith reliance on the validity of the AHP rule, if businesses in an AHP meet their responsibilities to pay health benefit claims as promised. Governor Cooper wants more North Carolinians to have access to coverage, and this Republican-sponsored and bipartisan supported bill may help accomplish this for our state.

HB 74 Tax Refund

State legislators are pushing bills aimed to serve as stopgaps during the budget impasse of 2019. One such bill is HB 74. House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger plan to advance a bill that would give refunds to more than 5 million taxpayers. NC collected $897 million more than was expected in the year ending June 30. However, only $660 million would be mailed out to taxpayers because some of the money will be used to pay postage and administrative fees. If the bill is passed, most checks would be sent to recipients in mid-December and the rest would be sent out in February.

Trade Wars

Trade Wars, unlike Star Wars, are fought with diplomacy rather than lightsabers. American consumers are the “force” behind the U.S. economy. Consumer spending comprises roughly 70% of that sector. These spenders have been shielded from stormtrooper-like tariffs in the trade war battlefield, but American families may feel the pain of the impending rounds of new tariffs on Chinese goods.

U.S. stock futures took a hit on August 23 after China announced retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion in U.S. goods and reinstituted levies on American auto products. China’s announced levies range from 5% to 10% and would take effect on September 1 and December 15 which overtly coincide with the dates of President Trump’s latest tariff start dates. U.S. tariffs would affect $300 billion in Chinese goods. Additionally, a 25% tariff on automobiles and a 5% levy on auto parts would start on December 15.

JPMorgan researchers calculated that after the 10% levies go into effect, American families will face about $1,000 in additional costs from all tariffs on Chinese goods annually. If the upcoming tariffs are raised to 25%, as the President has claimed, consumers’ costs could go as high as $1,500 a year, according to economists.

Recently, the yields on short-term U.S. bonds eclipsed the yields of long-term bonds. This phenomenon, which suggests investor faith in the economy is faltering, has preceded every recession in the past 50 years. This is the first time this has happened since the Great Recession. Below is a schematic from the BBC which shows what could be impacted by the tariffs. It is worth noting that the Dow rose more than 150 points on Monday after Mr. Trump remarked that China will return to the negotiating table.

Tariff graph

Impact Hour with Chief Thompson & Sheriff Kimbrough

Our next installment of the Impact Hour series features Police Chief Catrina Thompson and Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough. Chief Thompson leads a department with 570 sworn officers, 173 civilian positions, and an annual budget of $74.5 million. Sheriff Kimbrough has more than thirty years of law enforcement experience, and is the first African-American Sheriff of Forsyth County. It will be great to hear their perspectives on keeping our community safe.

Winston Salem Chamber | September 10 | 3:30pm


September 13 Government Affairs Meeting

The next Government Affairs meeting will be at a new time and offsite. Many of you have expressed interest in having a meeting that was less formal and more social. We heard you, and we are excited to announce that our September 13 meeting will take place at Small Batch (241 W 5th St) at 4:30PM. We will not have a formal agenda. However, as we enter fall, we are interested in hearing from our committee members and want to use this meeting as a precursor to this fall’s Listening Tour. Our Listening Tours are an opportunity to help us shape our Legislative Agenda by hearing about what our members need, gaining an understanding of what advocacy actions you would like to see in the future, and having some lighthearted fellowship. Small Batch will have some appetizers for us to share, and we look forward to seeing you.

Contact Calvin McRae, Director of Government Affairs

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