Wednesday, July 27, 2011

IAAPA Second Vice Chairman Will Morey to Testify Before House Committee Tomorrow

On Thursday IAAPA Second Vice Chairman Will Morey will testify before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, subcommittee on Health Care, District of Columbia, Census and the National Archives. The hearing, titled "Impact of Obamacare on Job Creators and their Decision to Offer Health Insurance", begins at 9:30 a.m. EDT.

Will's testimony will focus primarily on the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) on seasonal employers, and the administrative and financial challenges those employers will face if a "fix" is not put in place.

As you may remember, although every legislator we talked to expressed empathy on the seasonal worker issue, the PPACA does not include an exemption for seasonal workers. As the law stands, employers will have to offer health insurance to "full time employees" (those working more than 30 hours/week) after 90 days. There is a regulatory proposal to give employers up to a year to determine if an employee is consistantly working more than 30 hours per week, but that proposal has not yet been adopted.

UPDATE: The video of the hearing is now available on YouTube:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Upcoming CPSIA Deadline: Are you ready for lower lead levels?

On Aug. 14, 2011, it will be illegal to manufacture, import, or sell children's products with more than 100ppm of lead.

When the Consumer Product Safety Improvements Act (CPSIA) went into effect in 2009, the amount of lead allowable in children's products was reduced to 600ppm. Six months later, it was reduced to 300ppm. The final reduction under the CPSIA will occur in August. Just like the previous reductions, there will be no grandfathering or safe harbor for existing inventory.

There is currently legislation before Congress that would provide limited relief from the lower lead content levels for a select group of children's products such as ATVs and bicycles, where lead is absolutely necessary. However, that legislation is currently stalled due to partisan opposition, so it is unlikely it will be enacted before the lower lead levels take effect. IAAPA members should start checking their inventories to make sure they will be compliant next month.

Friday, July 8, 2011

IAAPA Submits Comment Letters on Proposed Visa Program and Menu Labeling Rules

While the U.S. Congress continues to debate budget issues, the Executive Branch is active and releasing proposed rules and other regulatory policies that could impact the attractions industry. In the past few weeks, IAAPA has submitted comment letters on the J1 Visa Summer Work Travel program, and menu labeling provisions under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

The interim final rule on the Summer Work Travel program incorporates many of the changes seen in the pilot program announced late last year, including pre-placement, employer verification, and prohibited job placements. In our letter to the U.S. Department of State, we explained the importance of the J1 visa program, not only to attractions and their employees but also to the surrounding communities, and how the changes made by the interim final rule will address some of the negative publicity the J1 program has recently received. The interim final rule is effective July 15, 2011. It is unlikely the state department will finish reviewing all of the comments before then. Once the review is complete, State may offer a revised final rule, or just allow the interim final rule to stand indefinitely.

IAAPA felt the proposed rule implementing the menu labeling provisions of the PPACA was favorable to the attractions industry. In our comment letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), IAAPA agrees with the FDA’s definition of retail food establishment as “an establishment whose primary business activity is the sale of food to consumers,” and the FDA’s example that, generally speaking, amusement parks are not restaurants. Since this was a proposed rule, the FDA will now consider feedback and publish an interim final rule at some point in the future. The PPACA dictated the Secretary of Health and Human Services implement this provision by March 23, 2011, so already the rule is delayed. My educated guess is we'll see a final rule by the end of the year.