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Administration Conducting Supply Chain Review

Stephanie Salmon

The Biden Administration has launched several reviews to determine the supply chain vulnerabilities in key sectors as a result of shortages of essential products in recent years due to trade disruptions, natural disasters, and the COVID-19 pandemic. These reviews could ultimately lead to efforts to shift sourcing for products in these sectors to prevent future disruptions. 

Under a Feb. 24 executive order, federal agencies launched an immediate 100-day review of the supply chains of pharmaceuticals and active pharmaceutical ingredients, critical minerals (including rare earth minerals), semiconductors and advanced packaging, and large-capacity batteries (e.g., those used in electric vehicles). AFS submitted comments regarding the impact of the shortage of semiconductor chips on the metalcasting industry. This review will identify near-term steps the government can take to address vulnerabilities in the supply chains for these goods.

The executive order also directs a one-year review of supply chains in the defense, public health and biological preparedness, the information and communications technology, the energy sector, the transportation industrial bases, as well as the supply chains for agricultural commodities and food production. These reviews will identify critical goods and materials within these supply chains, the manufacturing or other capabilities needed to produce those materials, locations of key manufacturing and production assets, the availability of substitutes or alternative sources, and the role of transportation systems in supporting supply chains and industrial bases. Agencies will also make specific policy recommendations to address risks as well as proposals for new research and development activities.       

AFS Joins Over 100 Associations in Letter to Congress Opposing Death Tax for Family-Owned Businesses

A long-standing part of the tax code known as the stepped-up basis would be repealed as part of the Biden Administration’s proposed infrastructure/jobs spending plan. With the proposed repeal, family members who inherit something when a family business partner dies, such as a manufacturing plant, would need to pay capital gains taxes on it. Additionally, the Administration’s proposal would nearly double this capital gains tax rate to 43.4%. 

These two changes have the power to prevent family-owned businesses, including those in the metalcasting industry, from adding jobs, re-investing in equipment, and further investing in their employees as they plan for expected tax bills. Not only that, surviving family members may be forced to close or sell their family’s business to cover the larger tax bill. 

The letter sent in May by the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition (FBETC) and signed by over 100 associations, including AFS, underscored the importance of protecting family-owned businesses from tax increases and urged members of the tax-writing committees “to defend stepped-up basis and oppose any changes to current law.”    

OSHA Directs Employers to Follow New CDC Mask Update 

Until a new guidance is complete, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has directed employers to follow the guidelines set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on May 15 regarding mask use and social distancing for fully vaccinated workers.

The CDC has recommended “fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”

What the exception means is that the new guidance does not supersede existing, conflicting state or local laws, like governors’ executive orders, State OSH Plan emergency temporary standards (ETS) in California, Virginia, Michigan, Oregon, and Washington, and state and county health department mandates. AFS is tracking this issue very closely, as many questions about the continuation of mask mandates and social distancing in the workplace have emerged. Additionally, the administration is in the process of reviewing the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard, which is expected to be issued by June. However, as the number of COVID-19 vaccinations has grown—and demonstrated high rates of effectiveness, particularly at preventing serious illness and death—the harder it will be for OSHA to justify that an “emergency standard is necessary to protect employees from grave danger.”    

EEOC 2019 & 2020 EEO-1 Data Collection Due July 19 

After delaying the opening of the 2019 EEO-1 Component 1 Data Collections in 2020 due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced that the 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection is now open. The EEO-1 report provides employment data by race/ethnicity, gender and job categories 

The EEO-1 is an annual survey that requires all private employers, including metalcasters and their suppliers, with 100 or more employees and federal government contractors or first-tier subcontractors with 50 or more employees and a contract/subcontract of $50,000 or more to file the EEO-1 report.  The deadline for submitting 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 Component 1 data is Monday, July 19, 2021. For additional information, visit the newly launched EEO-1 Component 1 website at EEOCdata.org/eeo1.