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Stephanie Salmon, AFS Washington Office; Jeff Hannapel & Christian Richter, The Policy Group, Washington, D.C. WASHINGTON ALERT

Labor Department Rule Expands Small Business Health Plan Options


Te U. S. Department of Labor

(DOL) released a final rule in June expanding the opportunity for employers of all sizes (but particularly small businesses) to offer employment-based health insurance through Association Health Plans (AHPs). AFS submitted comments in support of AHPs as a common-sense solution to expand access to affordable health coverage and lower the cost of health care for small manufacturers. Under the rule, AHPs may

be formed by employers in the same trade, industry, line of businesses, or profession. Tey may also be formed based on


OSHA Begins Enforcing New Crystalline Silica Rules

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began enforcing its respirable crystalline silica rule for general industry on June 23, 2018. OSHA will evalu- ate good faith efforts taken by employers to comply with the new standard during the first 30 days of enforcement. In other words, in these circumstances, citations will likely not be issued for noncompliance. However, if an employer makes no effort to comply, OSHA may inspect, collect air samples and consider employers for citation. At the end of June, OSHA posted its “Interim Enforcement Guidance for the Respirable Crystalline Silica in General Industry, 29 CFR 1910.1053” which pro- vides interim enforcement guidance to compliance safety and health officers for enforcing the new silica rule.

Administration Initiates Section 232 Investigation on Imported Automobiles and Auto Parts

The U.S. Department of Commerce

started an investigation to determine whether imports of automobiles including SUVs, vans, light trucks, and automo- tive parts into the United States threaten to impair the national security. Imports account for 48% of cars sold in the U.S., compared with 32% 20 years earlier, according to Commerce officials. A public hearing will be held July 19-20 in Washington, D.C.

This marks the third Section 232 in- vestigation that the Trump administration has self-initiated, including the recently completed Section 232 investigations into imports of certain steel and aluminum products.

Under Section 232, the President has broad authority to impose trade rem- edies, including tariffs and quotas, on imports on a global basis.

EPA to Consider Changes to Ozone Standard

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in June it plans to review its ground-level ozone stan-

dard, asking the public for input on whether the current standard pro- tects public health—and if it hurts the economy as well. The EPA last tightened the ozone standard in 2015, under the Obama administration, at 70 parts per billion (ppb), citing public health concerns if not lowered. States had to be- gin meeting the new standard last October. EPA has designated 51 areas as nonattainment across 22 states and the District of Columbia. Being designated ‘nonattainment’ triggers a cascade of impacts for local econo- mies. State and local officials will have to seek emissions reductions from cars, fuels, consumers, and com- mercial activity.

Federal highway and transit fund- ing could be at risk, since projects must conform with state implementa- tion plans.

For additional information, contact Stephanie Salmon, AFS Washington Off ice,

202/842-4864, July 2018 MODERN CASTING | 17

a geographic test such as a common state, city, county or same metropolitan

area. Te final AHP rule retains the consumer protections and healthcare anti-discrimination protec- tions currently applicable to large businesses and therefore will also apply to AHPs orga- nized under this rule. State regulatory oversight

U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta hosts a roundtable discussion with apprentices and their sponsors.

of AHPs will continue without a federal exemption, but the DOL promises to work closely with state insurance commis- sioners to share enforcement authority. Te rollout of the plans will be phased, allowing some to start offering cover- age as soon as Sept. 1, with additional rollout dates going through to next year.

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