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December 2015

Congress races to the "finish" line as new deadlines approach...

Both chambers of Congress returned from their Thanksgiving recess facing tight deadlines for key spending bills and additional pressure to produce major legislation free of controversial provisions from both the right and left.

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NLRB "ambush" election rules show mixed results…

The new rules issued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to speed union representation elections have achieved one expected result:  The average time from an election petition to the actual election has been reduced by nearly 40%, from 38 days under the old rules to only 23 days with the new rule.

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Workplace safety fines will increase for the first time in 25 years…

Hidden in the 1,600-page Bipartisan Budget Act signed into law by President Obama last month was a provision dramatically increasing the fines that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can levy against employers found to violate workplace safety rules.

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Some question the cost of Obama's proposed overtime pay rules…

President Obama’s plan to “shore up the middle class” by more than doubling the salary at which employees become exempt from overtime pay will cost far more than the promised $2 billion a year, according to some experts.


In fact, a top Florida official says the president’s plan will cost almost $2 billion in that state alone.

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Employee handbooks can't create enforceable obligations on workers…

Employers cannot necessarily rely on provisions in an employee handbook to create enforceable obligations on their employees.

That’s the ruling of a federal appeals court, which held last month that an arbitration requirement contained in an employee handbook was not enforceable. 

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Appeals court affirms holding that conflict minerals rule violates free speech…

The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has now refused to rehear a decision by one of its three-judge panels, which held that the conflict minerals regulation requiring companies to publicly report on whether their products contain conflict minerals violates their First Amendment rights. 

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Congress considers reforms to popular foreign worker programs…

Two key senators last month introduced legislation aimed at fraud and abuse in the H-1B and L-1 visa program used by U.S. companies to temporarily hire highly skilled foreign workers in this country.

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TSCA reforms will wait until next year…

A traffic jam of must-pass legislation and a roadblock erected by two senators appears to have kept a long stalled update of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) from congressional approval this year.

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Footnotes…I look forward to hearing from you. Please let me know about issues of interest to you or questions you may want me to answer. There will always be room to include your comments. Please email me at gsgoldenberg@gmail.com with your comments or issues of interest.


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Gene Goldenberg

Gene Goldenberg has joined us in Washington, D.C., as a consultant on federal, legislative and public policy issues. Gene is an accomplished Washington professional with three decades of experience in business, government affairs, public relations and journalism.

Most recently, he has operated his own consulting business specializing in government affairs and business consulting for corporate and association clients. Prior to that, Gene served in senior management positions with Wolters Kluwer (CCH Tax and Accounting) and H&R Block, Inc. following an award-winning career as a Washington journalist with newspaper and magazine publishers.

In his corporate positions, Gene played a key role directing relations with numerous federal and state government agencies and twice has served as president of the leading association in the tax software and tax preparation industries. His many years managing business-to-business sales and marketing have given him a broad understanding of the problems and challenges facing small to medium sized companies.

His earlier journalism career included writing about Congress, the White House and numerous federal agencies for the Scripps-Howard Newspaper group as well as the Kiplinger Washington Letter and other business publications. Gene holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a master’s degree from Northwestern University.