Stephanie Buka on Legislative and Postal Developments Affecting the Printing Industry
What notable federal legislative activity took place in 2023?
A significant win for the PRINTING United Alliance’s apparel community was the enactment of the bipartisan Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers Act, also known as the INFORM Consumers Act. The law will make it harder for criminal enterprises to operate in the shadows of the Internet. The Act took effect on June 27, 2023, and will crack down on criminals selling stolen, counterfeit, or unsafe items in online marketplaces. It requires online marketplaces to collect, verify, and disclose certain information about “high-volume third-party sellers.” The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) can issue civil penalties of $50,120 per violation.
In terms of magnitude, the global counterfeit industry as a whole is estimated to be worth over $3 trillion annually. And apparel is the most counterfeited product. The staggering costs of counterfeiting combined with the health and safety risks to consumers is alarming.
The American Apparel & Footwear Association’s (AAFA) 2022 counterfeit study found 17 out of the 47 products tested failed to comply with U.S. product safety standards, introducing dangerous levels of arsenic, cadmium, phthalates, lead, and more that have been shown to cause adverse health outcomes.
Thankfully, this policy will begin to stem the influx of illicit products and safeguard consumers from the dangers of counterfeits that extend across industries.
What should printers be aware of in terms of federal legislation in 2024?
The Alliance is closely watching whether the advertising tax deduction will be taken up by Congress. The Alliance has a history of advocating for preserving the full deductibility of print advertising as an ordinary and necessary business expense.
Our contracted lobbying firm, ACG Advocacy, is keeping a pulse on the matter, and the Alliance is partnering with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) to ensure the ad tax deduction is preserved. We will continue to be vigilant to ensure that the helpful ad tax deduction is not eliminated in 2024.
What are five hot topics printers need to know about?
2024 is going to be the year of sustainability. On the federal legislative front, the Alliance supports the Recycling and Composting Accountability Act (RCAA), and the Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act (RIAA). The proposed recycling infrastructure would reduce the push for states to enact Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws, which impose liability on producers for the lifecycle of their products.
Consumers are demanding sustainability and recyclability of products, so every printer needs to evaluate where they are in terms of their sustainability journey.
The printing industry’s shortage of labor is also top of mind. The Alliance joined Tomorrow’s Workforce Coalition to advocate for the passage of the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act. The legislation would transform the 529 college savings program to a “career savings plan” allowing the tax-exempt 529 account funds to be spent on obtaining and maintaining postsecondary credentials, including professional, voluntary certifications, licenses and other training and credentials. The Alliance offers training and credentialing that would be covered under the legislation. It’s not a cure-all but it will help develop new talent.
The trend on Capitol Hill is to pursue aggressive policy changes through regulation rather than congressional legislation. Overly burdensome and costly federal regulations continue to hamper investment and job growth in the printing industry. To counter this, the Alliance joined the Manufacturers for Sensible Regulations (MFSR) coalition to advocate for balanced regulations.
According to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), a small manufacturing firm with 20 employees bears more than $1 million in compliance costs. And since 80% of the printing industry is composed of small businesses, this is a sobering statistic.
The coalition is calling on the Administration to appoint a senior-level adviser to coordinate efforts within the White House to ensure that federal regulators are implementing policies that align President Biden’s promise to promote the growth of manufacturing in America.
The Alliance will continue to work proactively to establish a public policy environment that is more predictable, more certain, and more conducive to economic growth and job creation.
Postal reform is one of the most important issues facing our industry. Unfortunately, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is in trouble. U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year Delivering for America plan forecast that the USPS would breakeven in 2023, but that has not come to fruition. In fact, the USPS reported a $6.3 billion net loss in 2023 and forecasts an $8 billion net loss in 2024. The Postal Service Reform Act was a huge legislative win that delivered major benefits to the USPS and the mailing community. Despite the much-needed boost to USPS, the latest financial results reveal there is more work to do to sustain this vitally important institution that the printing industry relies upon.
The economic footprint of the mailing and shipping industry is substantial. An updated Envelope Manufacturers Association (EMA) study found that the mailing and shipping industry accounts for 7.9 million jobs (representing 5% of the U.S. civilian labor force) and $1.9 trillion in sales revenue, nearly 7% of GDP. The mailing industry impacts every American, household, and community.
The unprecedented postage increases that were supposed to help the USPS regain financial solvency have instead led to a dramatic loss in mail volume and further debt. The next USPS rate hike takes effect on January 21, 2024.
In terms of advocacy, the Alliance will be involved with the 2024 Keep US Posted Lobbying Day, and we look forward to the potential opportunity to testify before the House Oversight and Accountability Committee in the first quarter of 2024. To further strengthen our postal reform efforts the Alliance joined the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service (C21) for 2024. Looking ahead, the Alliance would like to coordinate bringing these allies before the new Congressional Printing Caucus to work together to preserve a robust and effective postal service.
The Alliance supports a tax system that allows taxpayers and business owners to make smart decisions about how they work, save, and invest. Low tax rates and a stable tax code allow businesses to grow the economy, create jobs for Americans, and invest for the future.
Here are a few of the tax bills the Alliance is advocating for:
- The American Innovation and R&D Competitiveness Act and the American Innovation and Jobs Act, House and Senate versions, respectively, would eliminate the five-year amortization requirement for research and development expenditures, allowing continued expensing of such expenditures in the taxable years in which they are incurred.
- Title 1 of the Build It in America Act would temporarily extend three expiring business tax provisions through 2025, which would increase the ability of businesses to recover the costs of their investments and defer some tax until after 2025.
- The Death Tax Repeal Act and the Permanently Repeal the Estate Tax Act, Senate and House versions, respectively, would permanently repeal the federal estate tax to prevent significant adverse effects the tax inflicts on family-owned businesses.
- The Main Street Tax Certainty Act would make permanent the 20% small business tax deduction.
- The Small Business Jobs Act would amend sections of the tax code relating to the tax treatment of certain capital gains and allowable deductions for depreciation available to small businesses.
How can printers best prepare their business for the year ahead?
2024 is an election year ... need I say more? Members in both chambers in both parties will be distracted by primaries, fundraising, and the demands of campaigning.
The good news is the demand for printed political campaign materials should be strong, i.e., signs, banners, postcards, flyers, brochures, stickers, etc. Political mail is defined as any mailpiece sent for political campaign purposes by a registered candidate, a campaign committee, or a committee of a political party to promote candidates, referendums, or campaigns. This serves as an important reminder that printing is essential.
In general, there will be uncertainty for the printing industry until the general election takes place on November 5, 2024. As is customary, regardless of the outcome, the Alliance will welcome the new Congress in January 2025 when members are sworn into office. And 2025 is the year the Alliance plans to host a Washington, DC, Legislative Fly-In to allow printing industry advocates the opportunity to meet with the Congressional Printing Caucus, Members of Congress or their senior legislative staff, and advance our policy priorities.
To join the Alliance community and learn more about how to become involved and be informed of the vast Advocacy initiatives that the Alliance is conducting on the industry’s behalf, please visit: www.printing.org/membership.
PRINTING United Alliance’s Advocacy Center is a one-stop shop to help your company voice opinions to Congress. With easy-to-use tools to help find your legislators, search Congressional Committee rosters and get alerts to help you take action on key issues impacting print.
Stephanie Buka is the Government Affairs Coordinator at PRINTING United Alliance, the most comprehensive member-based printing and graphic arts association in the United States, comprised of the vast communities which it represents. The Alliance serves industry professionals across market segments with pertinent education, training, workshops, events, research, government and legislative representation, safety, and environmental sustainability guidance, as well as resources from the leading media company in the industry – NAPCO Media. Now a division of PRINTING United Alliance, Ideallianceis the global leader in standards training and certification for printing and graphic arts operations across the entire industry supply chain.