2010 Lame Duck Session of Congress - Anything but "LAME"

Unlike in past years, the 2010 Lame Duck session of Congress is proving anything but lame. In the first two weeks alone, and coming off of a major defeat in the 2010 elections, the democratically-controlled 111th Congress has addressed several issues of vital importance to franchisees. While some threatening legislation has failed, keep your eyes and ears open for their “re-introduction” in the 112th Congress; once introduced, these bills will have plenty of time (through the end of 2012) to be signed into law.

The Coalition of Franchisee Associations has been following these important issues during the 2011 Lame Duck Session:

Expiring Tax Cuts – The current tax cuts, established by the Bush administration in 2001 and 2003, are currently set to expire at the end of the year. Allowing the tax cuts to expire will result in an increase in estate taxes, the alternative minimum tax, capital gains taxes and personal income taxes. It appears that Congress and the White House have come to an agreement wherein the tax cuts would be extended for two years to all Americans, regardless of income. Liberal democrats, however, vow to oppose this legislation and believe that the cuts should only be extended to the “middle class.” Click here to learn more about the expiring tax cuts.

Expanded 1099 Reporting – Section 9006 of the health care law created new requirements where businesses must file an IRS Form 1099 for all payments of more than $600 a year paid to providers that supply tangible property and services. Recently, leaders from both parties have acknowledged that these new 1099 reporting requirements are overly burdensome and will not solve the problem of underreporting. In the last several months, several unsuccessful amendments have been introduced to repeal this onerous provision. While it currently does not appear that this issue will be addressed during the Lame Duck session, both the White House and congressional leaders have agreed that this provision will be revisited early next year. Click here for the most updated information on 1099 reporting requirements.

Paycheck Fairness Act – the Paycheck Fairness Act (S.3772) mandates that employers can only overcome a claim of gender discrimination if they can demonstrate that a “business necessity” demands it. Opposing this bill has been a legislative priority for CFA, as it prohibits employers from considering factors such as previous experience and prior salary to justify pay differentiations. This bill was one of the first passed by the 111th Congress early in 2009. During the 2010 Lame Duck session, the Senate voted on whether to move forward with the bill; while 60 votes were needed to continue, the final vote was 58-41. Click here for a summary of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Employee Free Choice Act – The Employee Free Choice Act, also known as “Card Check” or “EFCA,” replaces private-ballot elections with public card check elections, letting unions organize a workplace if a simple majority of workers sign a card. The bill also requires parties to settle disputes via binding mandatory arbitration. After the August recess, both the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (“HELP”) Committee Chairman Tom Harkin and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka have hinted that a vote on Card Check will be taken during the Lame Duck session of Congress—while Democrats still have a greater majority of the votes. CFA opposes any efforts to pass Card Check, since it violates employees' rights to private ballots and puts government regulators in charge of business employment decisions. Learn more about the Employee Free Choice Act Here.

Misty Chally is the Deputy Executive Director of the Coalition of Franchisee Associations (CFA). To learn more about CFA, click here. To learn more about CFA's legislative efforts, click here.