|Senate Readies Surface Transportation Bill – Bipartisan Infrastructure Discussions Continue
EMA Members Should Urge Lawmakers to Protect Small Business Fuel Marketers in Future Legislation
Over the next month, the House and Senate will consider reauthorization of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and continue negotiating a potential large-scale infrastructure package with the Biden Administration. With a historic infrastructure package possible, it is imperative for Congress to hear from EMA member companies and ensure that small businesses are part of the conversation.
Senate EPW Advances Surface Transportation Legislation
As EMA Members highlighted during our Virtual Fly In: Section 1303 of the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2 - 116th Congress) proposed creating an alternative fuel infrastructure grant program, which would provide funds for states to deploy electric vehicle (EV) charging and natural gas, propane, and hydrogen fueling infrastructure along designated alternative fuel corridors. The Senate's Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act includes similar language. As proposed, the program could authorize over two billion dollars in grants – all while placing small business energy marketers at a competitive disadvantage as award preference could be given to large companies with multiple locations along major transportation routes. Further, the proposed language could allow utilities to access ratepayer funds to own and operate EV charging stations while also receiving federal grant funds for installation. Ultimately, small businesses should be protected by dedicating a portion of federal grant money to small businesses and by including guardrails to ensure that utilities and non-utilities play on the same field. EMA encourages our members to TAKE ACTION by sending a letter to their Congressional delegation.
On May 27, Senate Republicans announced a $928 billion infrastructure counteroffer to the Biden Administration’s most recent $1.7 trillion counter offer. The GOP’s revised proposal is significantly higher than its initial $568 billion proposal. Also this week, Sen. Manchin expressed skepticism of the Biden Administration’s EV proposals, arguing that the private sector should bear more of the cost to expand EV charging infrastructure. Manchin said: "What we can do is stimulate and mature the market quicker, but throwing $82 billion towards the private sector to sculpt it? […] I just said, ‘I don’t remember Henry Ford — when he built the Model T — that we went out and built filling stations for him.’ I don’t remember that happening. We should give them incentives and help them mature it. We’re willing to do it, but it shouldn’t cost as far as the debt to the nation.
While robust infrastructure discussions continue, Congress continues work to reauthorize surface transportation legislation. On May 26, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously approved the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021 (STRA-21), the highway title of the surface transportation reauthorization. STRA-21 provides $303.5 billion for federal-aid highway programs for fiscal years (FY) 2022-2026, a 34 percent increase over current law. It is important to note that while this bill is not the same as the “infrastructure” bill being discussed by the White House and Senate Republicans right now. Rather, this bill is the first step towards surface transportation reauthorization in the Senate. It is possible that surface transportation will be rolled into a larger infrastructure package, but for right now, the two efforts are running parallel.
IRS Maintains Interest Rate Paid to Taxpayers for Delayed Refund Processing
STRA-21 continues the current highway formula programs with funding increases, and authorizes new programs focused on bridge projects, climate change, and reconnecting communities. STRA-21 also invests more than $5 billion over five years in programs targeting the effects of climate change and provides $2.5 billion, over a five year period, for EV charging and other alternative fuel infrastructure, including hydrogen, natural gas, and propane.
Although STRA-21 represents the first steps in the Senate on surface transportation reauthorization, significant work remains. Additional Senate committees with jurisdiction over various transportation matters still need to draft their respective sections. Further, it is unclear how quickly the legislation could move to the Senate floor and whether it will be combined with a larger infrastructure bill. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is set to consider their version of surface transportation reauthorization on June 9.
The Internal Revenue Service announced this week that interest rates will remain the same for the calendar quarter beginning July 1, 2021. The rates are important to energy marketers who have outstanding refunds (underpayments) due from the IRS for the sale of clear untaxed diesel to state and local governments and other exempt groups. The IRS continues to process the backlog of delayed refunds caused by COVID-19. Those rates include:
3% for overpayments (two (2) % in the case of a corporation),
0.5% for the portion of a corporate overpayment exceeding $10,000,
3% for underpayments and
5% for large corporate underpayments.
Under the Internal Revenue Code, the rate of interest is determined on a quarterly basis. For taxpayers other than corporations, the overpayment and underpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points. Generally, in the case of a corporation, the underpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points and the overpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 2 percentage points. Please see the attached Revenue Ruling 2021-10 PDF, for more information.
EMA Joins FBETC in Support for Continuation of Stepped-Up Basis
This week EMA joined the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition (FBETC) in a letter to the Hill stating our support for the continuation of stepped-up basis and a study from EY illustrating that GDP would decrease by $100 billion over 10 years if stepped-up basis were repealed by imposing a tax on unrealized gains at death.
Senate Finance Committee Addresses Energy Tax Credits
Repealing stepped-up basis by imposing capital gains taxes when assets transfer ownership at death would force many family-owned businesses to liquidate assets or lay off employees to cover the tax burden. This new tax would be imposed on top of any existing estate tax liability, further compounding the negative impacts and creating a second tax at death.
Biodiesel Tax Credit Bill is Introduced
On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee advanced a $260 billion package reforming and consolidating energy tax credits. The Clean Energy for America Act, which advanced on a party-line vote, would consolidate a variety of federal incentives into technology-neutral investment or production tax credits. The bill also increases benefits for EVs, adding a separate $2,500 credit on top of the existing $7,500 credit if the vehicle was manufactured at a union or domestic facility. In addition, the bill creates a ten percent bonus above the production / investment tax credit for technologies with less than three percent market penetration, which would include sustainable aviation fuel and clean hydrogen. Committee Republicans criticized the bill for removing deductions for oil and gas investments, though Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) countered that “drillers and individuals could still claim deductions over a longer period of time.”
Biden Administration Further Delays OSHA Emergency COVID-19 Workplace Health Standard
Of note, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced legislation this week to extend the current federal biodiesel tax credit program through 2025. “The biodiesel tax credit has proven to work by reducing our dependence on foreign oil and lowering greenhouse gas emissions,” Grassley said in statement. Reps. Cindy Axne (D-IA) and Mike Kelly (R-PA) also introduced companion legislation to extend the $1.00 per gallon biodiesel blenders’ tax credit for 3 years.
The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is extending its policy review of an OSHA temporary emergency rule that would require employers to follow workplace health protocols designed to protect workers from contracting COVID-19. The emergency rule is controversial because it is believed to impose a one-size-fits-all health standard onto employers across many different industry sectors. The standard is also expected to require employers to conduct COVID-19 risk assessments and follow OSHA guidelines to prevent workplace infections. The emergency rule is being proposed at a time when the pandemic is subsiding and state and local social distancing and mask mandates are being phased-out nationwide. Employers are concerned that if the emergency rule is implemented, they will be forced to follow an employee health standard that is unnecessary and ill-suited for their industry and workplaces. Employers are telling OIRA that instead of a one-size-fits-all standard, they prefer to follow existing CDC guidelines that can be easily adapted to the needs of individual worksites.
FMCSA Issues Warning to CDL Drivers About Use of Hemp and CBD Products
OIRA has been holding listening sessions with stakeholders on the emergency rule since April. However, little is known about OSHA’s COVID-19 standard because it has not been released to the public. Emergency rules are not subject to the normal public notice and comment period that typical federal rulemakings must follow. In addition, OIRA is only holding listening sessions where stakeholders testify before a panel and no questions are asked or answered. Nevertheless, interest in testifying remains so high that OIRA has extended the sessions more than a month past their expected end date. The Biden Administration initially set March 15 as deadline for the OSHA rule, but didn’t send it over to OIRA for final review until April 26th. A final rule is likely to be issued this summer.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a “Clearinghouse Update” on May 27, 2021 reminding commercial motor vehicle drivers who are regulated by the FMCSA that they should exercise caution when considering whether to use hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) products. Specifically, the update stated that it is important for all employees who perform safety-sensitive functions, including CDL drivers, to know:
The use of CBD and Hemp products could lead to a positive drug test result. The U.S. DOT-regulated CDL drivers should exercise caution when considering whether to use CBD products.
The U.S. DOT requires testing for marijuana and not CBD.
CBD products can contain much higher levels of THC than specified on the product label leading to a positive test result for marijuana.
The U.S. DOT’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation, does not authorize the use of Schedule I drugs, including marijuana, for any reason.
CBD use is not a legitimate medical excuse for a marijuana positive result. Therefore, Medical Review Officers will verify a drug test confirmed at the appropriate cutoffs as positive, even if an employee claims they only used a CBD product.
An EMA Compliance Bulletin on this subject can be downloaded here.
EMA Joins Coalition Urging Governments Not to Require Employees to Validate That Maskless Customers are Vaccinated
This week EMA joined a coalition of 10 associations in sending a letter to the CDC, DHS and OSHA asking them to urge states not to put the onus of verifying vaccination status on employees, as Oregon has done, as that will put employees at risk.
Federated Insurance is Presenting a 1-Day Risk Management Seminar at a City Near You
The letter said retail and other employees are not equipped to enforce state and local health restrictions. If required to do so, it could expose employees to dangerous confrontations with customers and put their safety at a far greater risk than allowing an occasional mask-less entry. Last year, EMA worked with DOE and CDC on language to protect employees from having to enforce mask wearing by retail customers. Similarly, this new effort to protect employees from having to validate the vaccination status of maskless customers is critical for their safety.
You are invited to attend an exclusive, complimentary Risk Management Academy session hosted by Federated Mutual Insurance Company. A short video about this session is meant to help you learn more about:
Losses impacting our industry,
Connect with industry peers facing similar challenges, and
Apply risk management best practices that make a difference at your business.
Owners, Human Resources Managers, and Designated Risk Managers are encouraged to attend.
EMA Member Services Spotlight Featuring: National Purchasing Partners (NPP)
Click here to register for any of these sessions on this flyer. If you have questions regarding the event or the registration process, please feel free to contact Federated at 507-455-5315 or email.
One (1) Registration per Company. Space is limited, so please register today! Federated is an EMA Corporate Platinum Partner.
Uniform Service Discounts
Energy Marketers of America members can enroll for free with NPP and save on UniFirst uniform and facility services. Please visit to enroll.
Federated Insurance: It’s Your Life
NPP members save up to 60 percent OFF rental and leasing rates, plus discounted personalization and setup costs.
Sign up your business with NPP and save on products and services you use every day, like office supplies, technology, travel, and even uniforms. NPP also has deals you can share with your employees.
NPP membership is free and there is no obligation to purchase. Restrictions may apply.
Understanding the Value of Your Business
If someone were to ask you what the value of your business is, would you know the answer?
EMA Platinum Partner Spotlight Featuring: Meridian Associates, Inc.
There are different methods that can be used to value a business: book value, adjusted book value, Earnings Before Interest Taxes Depreciation & Amortization (EBIDTA), multiplier of sales, and straight capitalized earnings, to name a few. Which method makes the most sense for your business will depend on the type of business – it might be based on the things that you have, such as assets or liabilities, or maybe the profits that the business produces.
Please click here to learn more about the most common methods.
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 an 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. © 2021 Federated Mutual Insurance Company.
Accountability for Future Profits by Betsi Bixby
If a business consultant asked you today, “In the next three to five years, which of your current business segment(s) will provide your company with the greatest profit?” could you answer with reasonable certainty? Assuming you could, if that same consultant then asked, “Does the way you allocate time and resources to each of your business sectors match proportionately to the future profit potential of each sector?” could you honestly say it does?
One of the most humbling experiences as a business owner is determining future profits and then examining your use of current time and resources devoted to those most important segments of your business. Most marketers are too busy with daily crises to tackle sector profit forecasts, much less analyze their time and resources. But doing so could be critical to your company's long-term success.
To read about a logical and methodical way to analyze profit potential (and risk) in each of your business sectors, and then look at time and resources, please click here.
To learn more about EMA’s Corporate Platinum Partner, Meridian Associates, please visitor contact them at 800.728.9005. For information on how EMA Masters, powered by Meridian, can help you more rapidly achieve your goals, please visit our site https://emamasters.com/ or contact Lesley Merlino in our service center directly at 512.994.5905.