EPA, NHTSA Introduce Greenhouse Gas Standards
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have finalized their "National Program to Reduce Greenhouse Gases (GHG) and Improve Fuel Economy for Cars and Trucks."
California's Air Resources Board has expressed support for the first federal program that restricts greenhouse gas emissions for vehicles, the Clean Cars Regulation. The new standards apply to new passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles, covering model years 2012 through 2016.
The EPA GHG standards require these vehicles to meet an estimated combined average emissions level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per mile in model year 2016, equivalent to 35.5 miles per gallon (mpg) if the automotive industry were to meet this CO2 level all through fuel economy improvements.
The administration touts that the initiative aims to clean the air we breathe, strengthens the automotive industry, creates new jobs and decreases the amount that consumers pay at the pump. The administration's proposal does not impact super warranty provisions that are included in California's clean car program. ASA opposes super warranties that are present in California's state restrictions.
House Amends McCarran-Ferguson
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 4626, the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act, which amends the McCarran-Ferguson Act to exclude health insurers.
H.R. 4626 aims to protect consumers and competition by restoring federal antitrust laws to health insurance.
H.R. 4626 is sponsored by Rep. Thomas Perriello, D-Va., and is co-sponsored by 72 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The vote passed by a wide margin of 406-19.
Since 1945, insurance companies have had a "limited" exemption from federal antitrust laws that apply to most other industries assured to them through an act of Congress. The McCarran-Ferguson Act provides that federal antitrust law applies to the "business of insurance" only to the extent that such business is not regulated by state law.
The anti-competitive consequences of McCarran impact both consumers and small businesses that have to deal with insurers. ASA supports a full repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act so that property and casualty insurers are also exempt.
OSHA Finalizes Rule for Employers to Report Injuries on the Job
The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is currently trying to finalize its proposed "Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements Rule."
OSHA proposed to change the pre-existing standards so that employers with 10 or more employees (unless exempt) would be required to record certain work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in their OSHA 300 Log. The rule would require employers to place a check mark in a column for all MSDs they have recorded.
The small business community contacted the Small Business Adminstration's Office of Advocacy to express concern about potential small business costs and the complexity of the proposed rule. The SBA Office of Advocacy filed comments representing the views of small businesses with OSHA.
An OSHA 300 Log is a record of work-related injuries and illnesses that certain employers are required to maintain. MSDs are defined by OSHA as disorders of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage and spinal discs, but do not include injuries caused by slips, trips, falls, automobile accidents or similar accidents. OSHA's goal is to have a rule in place Jan. 1, 2011.
Senate Committee Reviews Vehicle Safety
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