WASHINGTON — As the Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA) wrapped up its Leadership & Legislative Conference Wednesday afternoon, attendees departed satisfied that they had learned more about maneuvering the nation’s political machine in their best interests and recognizing the risks to their businesses from their adversaries’ manipulations.
It was the second of two days of meetings and seminars designed to launch an era in which TRSA members increase their political involvement wherever they operate, the association says in a press release. Some 125 attendees participated in the conference in suburban National Harbor, Md.
The program included meetings of 10 committees and the Board of Directors to consider new and ongoing programs.
Much of Wednesday morning was spent visiting congressional offices to advocate the industry’s pressing regulatory issues. On Tuesday, the group prepared for these 18 meetings by attending seminars on rulemaking procedures and effective personal interaction with legislators.
Freshman Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) critiqued federal policies at a Capitol Hill breakfast. Too many regulators still believe it’s their place to command and control American industry, he says, so “the government frequently gets in the way of your running a successful business.”
He cited examples specific to textile rental services:
Regulating shop towels as hazardous waste. While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has formally proposed maintaining this exclusion since 2003, this rule still hasn’t been enacted.
Phase-out of nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) from commercial laundry detergent. EPA has indicated that it will accept launderers’ voluntary phase-out of NPE by 2014 rather than banning it immediately. This sounds good, Harris says, but many who work for federal agencies are still prone to believing that “You don’t work with industry, you work against it.”
- Deductibility of textiles purchased for rental. This is another longstanding practice the IRS seeks to curb through onerous recordkeeping requirements; failure to comply could remove favorable tax treatment or require these goods to be amortized.
Conference attendees also received insights into the most recent EPA and Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) rulemaking and enforcement practices from Washington attorneys John Wittenborn and Kathyrn McMahon-Lohrer, who have contributed to industry victories in dealing with the agencies.
Wittenborn says that the shop-towel rule is now scheduled for publication in summer 2012. It might be sooner, but the measure requires an “environmental justice review” to ensure that its passage will not inadvertently result in pollution of disadvantaged communities.
He is confident that TRSA’s efforts with EPA have addressed any concerns about the land filling of laundry pretreatment system waste (i.e., sludge) from shop-towel processing.
Wittenborn also addressed the EPA’s records of environmental-rule violations by laundries—mostly state actions under the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act. Violations of the latter statute have become more problematic lately, he says, as more plants are subject to new-source rules and requirements to keep records of discharges.
McMahon-Lohrer reviewed the onset of OSHA’s Illness and Injury Prevention Program (I2P2) rulemaking. This proposed rule would require employers to identify all workplace hazards and control them. While this task might seem like second nature for a business operator, it may not be so easy to determine some risks such as possible musculoskeletal hazards.