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New Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Revives Excise Taxes on Over 40 Chemicals

Stephanie Salmon

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), signed into law on November 15, 2021, will lead to roughly $500 billion in new spending in the span of five years on critical new infrastructure projects, which will be beneficial to U.S. metalcasters. 

Notably, the IIJA also includes a revenue provision that revives the chemical superfund excise taxes for 42 different chemicals, which AFS strongly opposed. AFS members use a number of these chemicals in the metalcasting process.  These excise taxes were originally established in 1980 by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) but later expired in 1995. 

The excise taxes range from $0.48 per ton to $9.74 per ton—double what they were before under the CERCLA. The sales taxes, which will be effective for almost 10 years beginning July 1, 2022, will apply to all manufactures, producers, or importers of the applicable items that are sold for consumption, use, or warehousing in the U.S. A complete list of the 42 chemicals, as well as their corresponding tax amount per ton, is located at https://bit.ly/3dXuDTm. 

Metalcasters should take inventory now to determine the impact of the revitalized chemical tax.       

EEOC Clarifies When COVID-19 May Be a Disability

In mid-December, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its COVID-19 technical assistance, adding a new section to clarify under what circumstances COVID-19 may be considered a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. EEOC has updated its technical assistance concerning COVID-19 and employment nearly two dozen times during the pandemic.

The new questions and answers focus broadly on COVID-19 and the definition of disability under Title I of the ADA and Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, which both address employment discrimination. The updates also provide examples explaining how an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 or a post-COVID condition could be considered to have a disability under the laws the EEOC enforces.  

Key information includes:

  • In some cases, an applicant’s or employee’s COVID-19 illness may cause impairments that are themselves disabilities under the ADA, regardless of whether the initial case of COVID-19 itself constituted an actual disability.
  • An applicant or employee whose COVID-19 results in mild symptoms that resolve in a few weeks—with no other consequences—will not have an ADA disability that could make someone eligible to receive a reasonable accommodation.
  • Applicants or employees with disabilities are not automatically entitled to reasonable accommodations under the ADA. They are entitled to a reasonable accommodation when their disability requires it, and the accommodation is not an undue hardship for the employer. Employers can choose to do more than the ADA requires.      

Department of Labor to Update Overtime Pay Threshold in 2022 

On December 10, the U.S. Department of Labor confirmed its plan to propose new rules to its overtime exemption regulations this spring. That process could take nine months or more.  The announcement was made as part of the Administration’s semi-annual regulatory agenda, which lists regulatory actions under active consideration. 

The DOL’s last increase to the salary threshold for exempt employees came in 2019 under the Trump administration, when it raised the level from $23,660 to its current rate of $35,568/year or $684/week. This rule, which took effect in 2020, did not include a provision to automatically raise the threshold.

In 2016, the Obama administration sought to raise the threshold to approximately $47,500 and included a provision to automatically increase the salary limit every three years. However, this rule was blocked by a federal judge before it took effect. It’s not clear yet what the new proposed overtime threshold levels will be.

AFS will continue to be engaged on this issue.    

For additional information, contact Stephanie Salmon, AFS Washington Office, 202-842-4864, ssalmon@afsinc.org.

Click here to view the column in the January 2022 digital edition.