WDMA Preps for Congressional Discussions

March 19th, 2013 by DWM Magazine

The Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) Spring Meeting and Legislative Conference, held concurrently with the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA), which opened yesterday and runs through tomorrow in Crystal City, Va., included issues briefings for members of both associations preparing to take to the Hill to discuss legislative matters with House and Senate staffers today.

Three main talking points were the focus of the briefing for WDMA members: Energy Star, the lead rule and Lacey Act reform. Energy Star was the main topic of discussion; most specifically, Version 6.0 of the Energy Star program for doors, windows and skylights.

“As a result, draft two of Version 6.0 retains overly stringent performance criteria with successive payback periods … [this] will needlessly result in Energy Star products that are less cost-effective, less affordable and less available to consumers,” said Jeff Inks, vice president, code and regulatory affairs in the briefing.

According to Inks, WDMA’s primary focus during the legislative sessions will be to propose new standards which are more focused on delivering energy-efficient products that are affordable for consumers. The current proposed standards, he said, will result in substantial cost increases.

Additionally, payback periods, or return on investment, may take too long for most consumers to ever see under the proposed criteria.

“Even under the methodology they use, if we agreed with it, the payback periods are excessive and they are unacceptable to consumers,” Inks said.

One attendee summarized the point by saying, “The new payback is twice as long as the average homeowner lives in a home.”

WDMA is recommending the effective date for version 6.0 should be no earlier than January 1, 2015, to allow time for reform plus 18 months before implementation.

Lead paint regulations were also a topic of discussion for members of both associations. Current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standard testing proves too inaccurate to use with false positive rates allowable up to 10 percent. WDMA proposes restoring the opt-out option while noting that pregnant women and children will still be protected by testing, as well as providing a de minimis one-time extension to certified contractors. Prohibiting expansion of testing to public and commercial buildings is another point WDMA plans to discuss.

Lacey Act reform was the third topic on which WDMA members were briefed.

Recommendations WDMA plans to discuss include narrowing the scope of foreign laws that can trigger a violation under the act and replacing current filing declaration requirements with declaration in demand.

In a separate issues briefing held for NLBMDA members, Ben Gann, WDMA director of legislative affairs, discussed the preservation of the mortgage interest deduction as well as the marketplace fairness act.

Gann insisted members going to the Hill “ask [representatives] to preserve the deduction” saying it “encourages homeownership.”

Gann also discussed the marketplace fairness act—cited as legislation to fix the current competitive imbalance, ensure a viable marketplace for all retailers and promote a more stable and efficient revenue stream for state and local governments—saying “local retailers must collect sales tax at the time of purchase while out-of-state online retailers do not” which “distorts the marketplace and local companies are at a competitive disadvantage … The amount of online transactions keeps going up.

“This is costing states and localities billion in revenues,” said Gann. “There is a need for a legislative solution … state governments are losing 23 billion annually.”

Members of the NLBMDA and WDMA visited Capitol Hill today and plan to return tomorrow morning to finish their discussion about regulation reforms with staffers.

Casey Neeley is assistant editor for DWM magazine.

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