When members of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) and the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA), met last week during their associations’ joint legislative conference, they had the opportunity to travel to Capitol Hill to talk to Congressional members and their staffs regarding important issues affecting the industry.

Addressing WDMA members before their visits with legislators, WDMA president Mike O’Brien highlighted what he thought the goals of the meetings should be:

1. Restore and expand a residential door and window tax credit. O’Brien encouraged individuals to ask congressional members and their staffs how they feel about a tax credit and how to make it more robust when the issue comes up again toward the end of the year.

“There will be a tax vehicle later this year for the tax credits,” said O’Brien.

2. Lead Rule—Don’t make a bad rule worse. Much of the discussion centered around the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) lead rule and Jeff Inks, vice president, codes and regulatory affairs, told WDMA members the key points to discuss during their meetings.

“Our fundamental message is that we don’t want to make a bad rule worse,” said Inks. “The original intent of the rule was to protect pregnant women and children under six and we are fine with that but the EPA changed the scope of the rule. The way the rule is being implemented is not achieving its original objective.”

The EPA currently is looking at expanding the residential rule into the commercial arena.

“If this rule moves to the commercial industry that will probably ensure that renovations don’t happen,” said Inks.

In addition to possible expansion into the commercial market, the EPA also is looking at requiring clearance testing, and that final rule is expected in the summer. Inks summed up the message he thought that members should take to the Hill.

“Ask the House and Senate members to petition EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to not approve the proposed lead rule for clearance testing and not to expand the lead rule into the commercial market,” said Inks.

3. Repeal the 1099 Reporting Requirement. As part of the massive health care bill, there is a requirement that would stipulate that companies who purchase more than $600 in services from any vendor (for example, FedEx, United Airlines, etc.) would have to file a 1099 form.

“There is general agreement to repeal this,” said O’Brien. “The problem is that it would pay for $17 billon in costs related to the health care bill. They have to find somewhere else to get the money if they repeal this.”

O’Brien said the measure was passed initially due to widespread tax evasion but that “even the IRS says they don’t know how they will process all the 1099s.”

View from the Meeting Rooms

Roger LeBrun, representing VELUX, had various meetings with Congressional staffers and said, “Overall they were sympathetic to our issues and realize the need to create jobs.”

Regarding the tax credits, he added that the “conservative” staffers he met with were not really enthusiastic.

“We received a lukewarm response to extension of the window and door tax credit,” said LeBrun.

However, other WDMA members may have fared better in their visits, according to O’Brien.

“Members of both parties were receptive to our message about the 2009-10 tax credit working as intended to save jobs and improve energy efficiency and are open to discussions about possibly extending and revising it beyond 2011,” he said.

The topic of the EPA also was a positive one, LeBrun said.

“We had a real good reaction from those we met with on this issue,” said LeBrun. “Administrator Jackson will get inundated with letters at least from conservative side.”

Members of the NLBMDA also met with legislators, and the EPA lead rule is a hot-button topic for them as well.

“The government is passing laws [outside of Congress] and once they are in place they are almost impossible to remove,” said NLBMDA member Christopher Yenrick, chief operating officer for Smith Phillips Building Supply in Winston-Salem, N.C. “They are creating a lot of regulations we have to comply with without studying all the ramifications.”

Finally, regarding the 1099 requirement, those in attendance reported that most congressional members are in agreement with the repeal, but that they have to agree on who is going to pay for it.

“Repeal of 1099 seems to have support from both sides,” said Yenrick. “The question is how to pay for it.”

“They are still arguing about paying for something [1099] in a bill [health care] that may never get implemented,” added LeBrun.


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