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  • Overtime Rule Changes

    The Lubbock Chamber of Commerce has joined a broad coalition of business groups in a legal challenge filed September 20 to block the Department of Labor’s (DOL) new federal overtime regulations. The DOL’s rule is currently slated to take effect December 1. Along with the Lubbock Chamber, the legal effort includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Texas Association of Business, and more than 50 other national and Texas business groups and chambers of commerce. 

    USDOL formally issued the final rule regarding changes to overtime regulations on May 23. The most significant change, doubling of the salary threshold, was finalized without an extended comment period.

    The suit charges that, by setting an excessively high salary threshold for determining who qualifies as “executive, administrative and professional employees,” the rule departs from the intent established by Congress in the Fair Labor Standards Act and consistently administered by DOL for more than 75 years. Furthermore, DOL ignored regional and industry differences that have previously been acknowledged, resulting in a “one size fits none” salary threshold. The suit also argues that the provision to automatically update the salary threshold every three years without a rulemaking or taking input from affected parties is not authorized by the Fair Labor Standards Act or any other relevant statute.  On November 23 a preliminary injunction was granted to block the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) new overtime regulation nationwide. The new regulations are 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:

    DOL was granted two extensions of time to consider whether the agency wished to proceed with an appeal of the Eastern District of Texas injunction of the Overtime Rule. The most recent extension was set to expire on May 1. However, the Fifth Circuit has granted another 60-day extension. In granting the extension, the Fifth Circuit continued the DOL’s deadline to file its reply brief to June 30, 2017. This most recent extension gives additional time to the DOL to evaluate its options, which includes abandoning the appeal and any further efforts to implement and enforce the overtime rule. However, although Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta does not appear to support the revisions to the Overtime Rule, he has expressed opinions that suggest he would support updating the overtime rule to some degree, possibly increasing the salary threshold to mirror inflation.


    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 new regulations are being 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.

    We are pleased to announce that on November 16, Senior United States District Judge Sam R. Cummings ruled 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:
    DOL has filed a motion to extend the deadline to file their brief on the permanent injunction granted by Senior U.S. District Judge Cummings last year.  Plaintiffs’ counsel agreed this would give DOL time to get a DOL secretary confirmed before taking our next steps in the case. Secretary of Labor Alexender Acosta has since been confirmed. 


    Fiduciary Rule
    The Lubbock Chamber and eight other plaintiffs have sued to overturn a new rule expanding the definition of “fiduciary investment advice” provided to retirement plans, plan participants, and IRA owners. The rule exposes financial services providers to lawsuits, creates an entirely new regulatory regime for IRAs, limits 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 makes 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. A hearing has been set for mid-November before the Dallas Federal Court. An opening brief was filed by USDOL on August 19, and the Chamber and other plaintiffs will file an opening brief by September 16.


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


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


    Update:

    DOL in April extended the implementation of the Fiduciary Rule for 60 days; however, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals denied plaintiffs’ request for an actual stay of the legislation pending litigation. Plaintiffs submitted opening briefs in our appeal to the 5th Circuit on May 2.


    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 is seeking to intervene in support of a lawsuit against the EPA filed by the State of Texas. On July 15, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stayed 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.


    Will 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 late-March 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. As of the last week in May, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals decided to bypass oral arguments scheduled before a three-person panel June 2, and instead hear the case before the full court September 27. Meanwhile, the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) released initial data related to its 2016 Annual Energy Outlook projecting the CPP to have significantly greater economic impacts than projected by EPA and others. 


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


    Update:
    In late March, President Trump issued an executive order directing the EPA Administrator to immediately review the agency’s so-called Clean Power Plan regulations. 


     

  • 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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