This week, the House passed legislation that provides a two-month extension, through May 31, for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications. There is bipartisan Senate support to pass the extension, but Republican Senators introduced a modified version, which would prevent the SBA Administrator from prioritizing certain businesses without approval from Congress. News reports speculate this effort is intended to pre-empt Biden Administration plans to direct certain funds specifically to minority-owned businesses. While the Senate is still expected to pass an extension, this development could delay passage, which will require the support of at least 10 Republican Senators to meet the Senate’s 60-vote threshold.
AP Report: Autos Request a Compromise on Fuel Economy Standards
Congress and the Biden Administration continue considering potential vehicles for a broad infrastructure package. However, battle lines are forming due to disagreements regarding potential tax increases. Democrats and the Biden Administration would prefer to pay for a package by raising corporate taxes, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Republicans would not support tax increases. While senior Senate Democrats and President Biden would prefer a bipartisan package, fundamental disagreements over the scope of a package and how to pay for a package may force Democrats to pursue a smaller package through budget reconciliation – the same process used to pass the most recent COVID-relief package. Alternatively, Democrats could negotiate a tailored bipartisan package with Republicans, likely focusing on surface transportation, and passing additional provisions through a partisan budget reconciliation process. This effort is supported by more moderate Senate democrats such as Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). While the House will be out of session the next three weeks, the powerful Ways and Means Committee plans to begin mapping out an infrastructure approach soon. There has been some discussion over a per-mile tax on commercial trucks, however, singling out trucking is a non-starter for conservatives unless the left agrees to repeal the EV tax credit and impose fees on EVs to shore up the highway trust fund. Bill Sullivan, the American Trucking Associations’ executive vice president of advocacy, said the trucking industry “currently pays half the receipts into the Highway Trust Fund, while we’re only 4 percent of vehicles and 9 percent of miles traveled” and they don’t want to be “singled out with discriminatory truck-only fees to pay for our nation’s infrastructure needs.”
Also, this week, the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate Energy Committee cautioned the Biden Administration on its promises for Electric Vehicle (EV) deployment. Chairman Joe Manchin said he supports EVs overall but is concerned with U.S. reliance on China for critical minerals integral to EV components. Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-WY) said he was “concerned that [President Biden] wants to regulate the internal combustion engine out of existence and insist that all Americans use electric vehicles.”
The AP reported this week that a coalition of automakers told the Biden administration it would agree to raise fuel economy standards but with tradeoffs and at rates lower than those brokered by California with five other car manufacturers. Fuel economy rules are important to energy marketers because federal fuel efficiency standards have a direct impact on consumer demand for transportation fuels.
Washington Post Opinion: Electric vehicles won’t fix our carbon dilemma without some hard choices along the Way
The Biden Administration is likely to seek an increase in fuel economy standards, however, the autos are pushing back. The Trump Administration finalized a rollback of the standards last year to require a 1.5 percent annual increases in fuel efficiency through 2026, far below the Obama Administration’s 5 percent requirement. The 1.5 percent improvement requirement matches auto manufacturers historic efficiency rate achieved by voluntary technological advancements.
During the Trump Administration, Ford Motor Company, BMW AG, Volkswagen AG and Honda Motor Company, reached an agreement with California on emissions standards which would increase the average fuel economy of their fleets to around 50 miles per gallon by the end of the 2026. The bottom line is that the autos would rather have a nationwide fuel economy standard rather than having a California standard that several liberal leaning states would match. Click here for the story.
A Washington Post Opinion article gives the electrification movement a reality check on what this means for cutting carbon emissions — starting with two numbers. The first is 281.4 million, which is how many vehicles there are in the United States’ light-duty fleet, 99 percent of them powered by internal combustion engines. The second is 19.6, which is how many years it would take for this fleet to become 90 percent electric — assuming it stayed at around 280 million and that every new vehicle sold from now on is an EV. Click here to read more. (Subscription required)
Multi-State Hours of Service Waiver Extended Again, With Addition of Tennessee
Late Tuesday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) extended and modified a regional Hours of Service waiver for the following states due to winter storms: KENTUCKY, LOUISIANA, OKLAHOMA, TEXAS, VIRGINIA, TENNESSEE AND WEST VIRGINIA through March 31.
EMA Again Urges Congress to Pass the PPE Extension Act of 2021
The emergency declaration applies to all states and jurisdictions listed above. This waiver covers all fuel deliveries (heating fuels, including propane, natural gas, and heating oil, and other fuel products, including gasoline) in the states and jurisdictions listed because they support the "emergency," which in this case, is maintaining adequate fuel distribution in those areas.
Important: The FMCSA waiver covers interstate shipment of fuel in and out of the states and jurisdictions listed in the waiver letter. The FMCSA waiver does not cover intrastate only shipments (deliveries that stay within the boundaries of a single state). State governors must issue waivers for intrastate shipments within their boundaries. State Governors typically issue such waivers as part of their Emergency Declaration, or when FMCSA waivers are put into effect. Most of these states have already issued intrastate HOS waivers. Click here to read the notice.
The Energy Marketers of America will continue to work closely with the FMCSA, DOE, DHS/FEMA and other federal agencies to ensure emergency preparedness and response waivers and solutions to problems that arise in response to the recent winter storms.
This week EMA and 93 other organizations wrote to thank Senate sponsors of the PPP Extension Act of 2021, which will extend the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application period beyond the March 31, 2021 sunset date, to May 31, and to urge Congress to extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) filing deadline by two months, to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the current health crisis.
House Hearing on the Business Case for Climate Solutions
EMA is concerned by the lack of progress on major Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) processing issues, including hold/error codes and application rejections due to Taxpayer Identification Number (“TIN”) issues or mismatches, in addition to many unresolved technical problems with the current PPP process. These delays and denials may put many applicants in danger of not making the March 31st authorization deadline.
Nearly one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the continued liquidity challenges of the small business sector are acute, especially for those business limited by dramatic capacity restrictions and other critical health and safety protocols in place to protect the public, consumers and workers from COVID-19.
On Wednesday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing, “The Business Case for Climate Solutions.” With eight witnesses the hearing was long.
Visa and MasterCard Postpone Swipe Fee Increases Another Year
Shameek Konar, Chief Executive Officer Pilot Flying J, testified on behalf of the National Association of Truckstop Operators (NATSO) who said, “Federal incentive policies should harness the core competencies of the utility and retail fuel sectors. Neither sector can create a sustainable, nationwide EV charging network without the other, especially in an expeditious, efficient and economical way. The utility sector is best suited to perform the requisite generation development and power grid restructuring work. Fuel retailers are best positioned to own and operate EV charging stations (especially along Interstate highway locations) and provide transportation energy – including electricity – to consumers.”
Mr. Konar also cautioned against adding EV charging stations at rest areas and allowing utilities to use ratepayers to expand EV infrastructure. “You’ve gone from two minutes to fuel a car to 40 minutes or 30 minutes to charge your car. If you can keep people more engaged and give them more things they can do—like at our travel centers or at retail stops, where you can eat, you can shower, you can do other things,” he said. “It will only help the adoption of EVs. We need to keep that in mind. If you are stuck for 40 minutes in some place and it does not have a lot of amenities, it will be challenging.” Mr. Konar also encouraged Congress to create a strong government programs and tax incentives for retailers, similar to the RFS and the biodiesel tax credit, for electrification to succeed.
Other witnesses included Frederick W. Smith, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of FedEx Corporation, who testified that FedEx is designating more than $2 billion of initial investment in three key areas: vehicle electrification, sustainable energy, and carbon sequestration. Mr. Smith pushed for lifting the ban on 33-foot truck trailers could reduce annual motor fuel use by 225 million gallons per year and reduce carbon emissions by 3 million tons per year.
Charles Hernick, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions who advised members that the federal “…policy playbook should first and foremost harness the power of free markets—by encouraging transparency and accountability— and empower companies to achieve their self-set goals, not pursue heavy-handed, top-down mandates that drive up costs or reduce options.”
In response to pleas from retailers and pressure from Congress, this week Visa and Mastercard announced that because of the pandemic they are again delaying planned fee increases. The delayed increases have been moved to April 2022.
Fantastic Contributions for EMA Spring Silent Auction
Last week, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) sent a letter to VISA and MasterCard urging the companies to refrain from increasing swipe fees by $1.2 billion scheduled to take effect in April. An increase in processing fees could be especially hard for convenience stores now that cash has become a less popular payment option with the COVID-19 pandemic. “Just as increased vaccination efforts start to give our Main Street business hope for a summer reopening, your companies propose slamming struggling merchants, and by extension consumers, with fee increases,” Durbin and Welch said in the letter. “Raising your fees would undermine efforts to help the economy recover and further reduce Americans’ purchasing power.”
To read more, click here.
EMA SBC PAC Co-Chairs Brad Bell and Tim Keigher would like to thank Emily LeRoy and the Tennessee Fuel & Convenience Store Association for donating His and Her Ray-Ban sunglasses, and Ned Bowman and Florida Petroleum Marketers Association for donating a Tom Brady football collage, a Dustin Johnson golf collage, Tiffany Co. Akoya Pearl earrings and diamond point square cufflinks!
For Him, embarks on the quest for unconventionally cool style with the newest Ray-Ban icon that combines an iconic shape, classic materials and Ray-Ban DNA with the latest trend - round frames.
For Her, Ray-Ban Aviator Shooter sunglasses offer a vintage and unique twist to the Aviator Classic. In line with the history of the Aviator, which was designed for aviator pilots, Aviator Shooter RB3138 is crafted with additional aviation-inspired features such as the vanity bullet hole in the center of the frame and especially thin temples to enhance wide peripheral vision. These vintage sunglasses are built with a double bridge and acetate brow bar and traditional aviator pilot lenses.
Commemorate Tom Brady as the MVP of Super Bowl LV with this framed collectible. Each piece comes designed with a collage of images, a team logo, and an actual piece of game-used football from a game. This product is officially licensed by the National Football League and comes with a statement of authenticity. It is framed in black wood and measures 15'' x 17'' x 1''. This is a limited edition of 500.
Tiffany and Co. was first established in the 1830s. Tiffany’s collections are anchored in the jeweler’s philosophy of ‘everyday luxury’—the ideas that even the most exceptional designs can have a day-to-day sensibility.
Ladies, you are going to love these Tiffany Signature Akoya Pearls 18k white gold earrings. It adds a touch of elegance to your everyday ensembles, and it’s considered the best pearl.
Gentlemen, the diamond point square cuff links in sterling silver will give you the perfect look for the right occasion. The geometric style of the Diamond Point collection lends a contemporary edge to classic designs. Inspired by the bottom point of a diamond, the textured pattern of these cuff links adds a modern edge to this wardrobe staple.
Purchase PAC Raffle Tickets for a Chance to Own a Dustin Johnson Autographed Golf Collage
We want to remind you about our format for the Annual Silent Auction and Raffle. This will be our third year with C2Auctions. They will organize the EMA SBC PAC Silent Auction and the Raffle during our EMA Day on the Hill Virtual Conference. All EMA members will be eligible to participate from anywhere in the United States as long as they download the C2Auction App on their mobile phone. We will provide a mobile link to all EMA Association Executives prior to the event.
The purpose of mobile bidding is to make the EMA SBC PAC Silent Auction more competitive and fun by notifying bidders the instant they are outbid. A notification informs the bidder that they are no longer winning, and to increase their bid or begin bidding on a new item. The ability to react in real-time means more bids. If you would like to support the EMA SBC PAC and have items that you would like to contribute for the Silent Auction, please contact Sabrina Pitcher at 703-351-8000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Purchase your EMA Political Action Committee (PAC) raffle tickets now for an opportunity to win an autographed Dustin Johnson collage. He is an American Professional golfer who plays on the PGA Tour. He has been a success almost from the moment he showed up on the PGA Tour as one of pro golf’s longest drivers and he is ranked number 1 in the world of golf. It is also backed by SportsMemorabilia.com’s authenticity guarantee.
Federated Insurance: It’s Your Life
The EMA SBC PAC will hold the raffle during the Day on the Hill virtual meeting being held May 10-14 and the raffle winner will be identified during the Board Meeting on May 14. If you are not attending the conference, you will be notified the week following the May drawing if you are the fortunate owner of the Dustin Johnson’s Collage.
The proceeds of the raffle will benefit the EMA SBC PAC. The money distributed to the PAC is used to benefit federal legislators who support the industry and have a solid record on key industry legislative issues. Tickets are $25 each or five for $100. Advanced tickets are available until May 13 by contacting Sabrina Pitcher at 703-351-8000 or download the C2Auction App on your mobile device to participate. Tickets must be paid for with personal funds by MasterCard, VISA, American Express, or Check (checks should be made out to the EMA Small Business Committee).
Unlocking the Benefits of Key Person Coverage
As a business owner, you know your employees are an important asset of your business. Each business has individuals with specialized skills, knowledge, and valuable customer relationships who are critical to its success. If your business relies heavily on key employees, it may suffer tremendously without those individuals.
Please click here to learn more about the characteristics of key employees and how the loss of a key employee can affect your business.
Please always feel free to contact your Federated regional representative or EMA’s National Account Executive Jon Medo at 800.533.0472 for any additional information or risk management questions. Federated is a EMA Corporate Platinum Partner.
This article is for general information and risk prevention only and should not be considered legal or other expert advice. The recommendations herein may help reduce, but are not guaranteed to eliminate, any or all risk of loss. The information herein may be subject to, and is not a substitute for, any laws or regulations that may apply. Qualified counsel should be sought with questions specific to your circumstances. © 2020 Federated Mutual Insurance Company.