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  • Anti-Arbitration Rule

    In 2017, the Lubbock Chamber and 10 local Texas chambers of commerce joined several other business organizations in filing a legal challenge to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) anti-arbitration rule in the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division. Left unchecked, the CFPB’s rule would have harmed consumers and businesses alike.

    The legal challenge, which also included the Texas Association of Business, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Bankers Association, American Financial Services Association, Consumer Bankers Association, and Financial Services Roundtable, rests on several grounds, including that the rule violates the requirements of the Dodd-Frank Act because the CFPB study was flawed and based on biased data.

    How would the anti-arbitration rule impact me?
    While arbitration is faster and cheaper for consumers, the Bureau chose to release this rule, which would eliminate the option of arbitration for consumers. Arbitration has been common practice for decades and provides consumers, employees , and other injured parties with accessible and fair procedures for obtaining redress for claims that cannot be vindicated in court. The Rule Would harm consumers and businesses by effectively banning arbitration and increasing speculative class action litigation. 

    Update:
    The Rule was ultimately overturned by Congress.


    Overtime Rule Changes

    USDOL formally issued the final rule regarding changes to overtime regulations in May 2016. The most significant change, doubling of the salary threshold, was finalized without an extended comment period.

    In November 2016, a preliminary injunction was granted to block the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) new overtime regulation nation wide. The new regulations were being challenged in federal court in a case filed by 21 states and consolidated with a lawsuit filed by a coalition including the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce and led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce along with the Texas Association of Business, several national business organizations and almost 40 other local chambers of commerce in Texas.  
     

    Update:
    U.S. District Court Judge Amos Mazzant in late August 2017 granted summary judgment invalidating the controversial proposed changes to overtime regulations. The Fifth Circuit then granted DOL an unopposed motion asking the court to dismiss its appeal of the nationwide preliminary injunction ruling. DOL has proposed a new, more reasonable rule in place of the 2016 figures in order to update the current $455 weekly / $23,660 annual salary requirement for the executive, administrative, and professional exemptions.


    Persuader Rule

    The Lubbock Chamber of Commerce joined forces with four other business organizations to sue the Department of Labor for a regulation known as the “persuader rule.” The lawsuit asks the courts to impose an injunction on the new rule and ultimately to overturn it.

    The regulations were challenged on constitutional grounds in Lubbock federal court by the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce in a coalition led by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and joined by the Texas Association of Business, National Association of Home Builders and Texas Association of Builders.


    How does the persuader rule impact me?
    Business owners could be deprived of the right to consult a lawyer about workplace policies. Changing the language takes a rule that kept a balanced playing field for decades and tilts favor toward the side of the unions. The new rule clearly infringes on the rights of businesses, and does not at all change the reporting requirements for labor unions.

    In November 2016, Senior United States District Judge Sam R. Cummings issued a permanent nationwide injunction and closed the case at the trial court level against the U.S. Department of Labor’s new “Persuader Rule” executive order.

    In his June 27 ruling, Judge Cummings wrote of the need for preliminary injunctive relief: “The chilling of speech protected by the first Amendment is in and of itself an irreparable injury…DOL’s New Rule is not merely fuzzy around the edges. Rather, the New Rule is defective to its core…”


    Update:
    In summer 2017, the agency issued a notice of proposed rule making to rescind the rule. Later, the 5th Circuit granted the DOL's request to stay DOL's appeal before DOL ultimately revoked the rule.


    Fiduciary Rule
    The Lubbock Chamber and eight other plaintiffs sued to overturn a new rule expanding the definition of “fiduciary investment advice” provided to retirement plans, plan participants, and IRA owners. The rule would expose financial services providers to lawsuits, create an entirely new regulatory regime for IRAs, limit the types of investment advice an adviser may provide, effectively makes DOL the primary regulator of financial professionals already extensively regulated by federal and state laws.

    Basically, at a time when people should be focusing more on personal retirement savings, the new fiduciary rule made it more difficult for people to effectively invest and save for retirement.

    The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court - Northern District of Texas. 

    What does this mean for my retirement?
    For those putting their retirement savings into IRA’s and 401k’s, this rule would likely mean that you have less access to advice from expert financial planners.


    What does this mean for my business?
    This rule would make it much harder and more expensive for employers to provide retirement planning. And, this rule did not create an even playing field. Small business would not have access to the same exemptions as big companies, and as a result, their retirement plans would be much more expensive.


    Update:
    The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2018 ultimately struck down the rule.


    Regional Haze Rule
    The Lubbock Chamber of Commerce is challenging the EPA’s federal takeover of the regional haze air permitting process in court to help protect Texas businesses from a likely $2 billion cost to implement. By teaming up with the Texas Association of Business, the U.S. Chamber and 25 other Chambers from across Texas, the Lubbock Chamber sought to intervene in support of a lawsuit against the EPA filed by the State of Texas. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an injunction, putting the brakes on implementation of the regional haze air permitting process in Texas and Oklahoma.


    What is an intervenor?
    An intervenor is an organization that is not a plaintiff or defendant in a case but may be affected by the issues involved, that submits specialized information or expertise to the court.


    Would the Regional Haze Rule affect my business?
    Yes, the implementation process will cost at least $2 billion for companies to carry out over the next few years. As a result, the rule could force some power plants to go offline and drive up electricity costs for Texans.  


    Update:
    A ruling made by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit left intact Texas’ stay of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Regional Haze Rule.


    Clean Power Plan: Carbon Regulations
    The Lubbock Chamber of Commerce joined an amicus brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in concert with 166 other state and local chambers of commerce and business associations from 40 different states. The brief explains the economic impact posed by the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon regulations and supports the overturning of the rule. 

    What is an amicus brief?
    Amicus briefs are legal documents filed in appellate court cases by non-litigants with a strong interest in the subject matter. 
     

    How would these new rules impact my business?
    The new rule posed significant harm to regional and local communities, particularly in economically challenged rural areas. In issuing these regulations, the EPA attempted to regulate how states generate, transmit, and use electricity without any authority from Congress to do so. 


    Update:
    President Trump issued an executive order directing the EPA Administrator to immediately review the agency’s so-called Clean Power Plan regulations. EPA in 2019 issued a much more reasonable Affordable Clean Energy Rule. 


     

  • TX Attorney General Paxton and 9 other states filed a request to intervene in support of our lawsuit challenging the US Department of Labor at a press conference on May 10th
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