The Transportation Brief®: A Quarterly Newsletter of Legal News, Summer 2017 - Dispatches
Prasad Sharma reports on July 17, the House Committee on Appropriations passed its version of the FY 2018 funding bill for the Department of Transportation, H.R. 3353. The bill eliminates $500 million in funding for TIGER grants (a program the funds national infrastructure projects) but increases funding for FMCSA by $113.6 million. The bill contains a provision to clarify that state meal and rest break laws are preempted, with an effective date going back to the 1994 enactment of the FAAAA. The accompanying report language, which is non-binding, asks the FMCSA to consider the readiness of ELD suppliers to meet the rule and to also consider the need for a delay. FMCSA has indicated it does see the need for a delay of the ELD rule. On July 27, the Senate Committee on Appropriations passed its version, S. 1655. Unlike its House counterpart, the Senate panel not only funded the TIGER grant program, but it increased funding by $550 million. Both panels funded highway programs at $45 billion, as authorized by the FAST Act. The Senate version did not contain any FAAAA relief.
The 2018 fiscal year begins October 1. Congress will have to resolve their differences and pass a funding measure or some form of extension by that time to avoid a funding lapse.
According to J.T. Young, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published a Request for Information (RFI) on July 26 indicating its intent to revisit the salary test the Obama administration had adopted for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) “white collar” exemption from overtime pay. The 2016 Final Rule increased the minimum salary necessary to meet one part of the FLSA test from $455 per week to $913 per week, which the DOL estimated would result in 4.2 million workers changing from exempt to non-exempt status. By a final order issued on August 31, a District Court has enjoined enforcement of the Final Rule. The RFI seeks input on 11 questions designed to aid the DOL in formulating a new rule, including whether there should be a salary component to the standard test. Written comments are due by September 25, 2017.
Despite efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, continued compliance with the ACA’s Employer Mandate is still necessary. Katie Feary-Gardner reports that in a Chief Counsel’s Office letter to a congressional representative, the IRS indicated that it intends to enforce this obligation, including the use of substantial penalties for failing to comply. The penalty amounts will vary depending on the number of full-time employees offered coverage by those employers subject to the ACA Mandate. Until there is further action with respect to the ACA, employers are advised to revisit their ACA compliance practices.