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Miscellaneous

BUILDING CODES

Ready Mixed Concrete Industry Position: The ready mixed concrete industry supports passage of legislation to reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that will help break the cycle of flood damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. On June 29, 2012, Congress passed a new 5-year authorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which was attached to the transportation bill. Of importance to the ready mixed concrete industry, the new NFIP authorization contains NRMCA drafted language directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to study whether more robust building codes can be used as criteria for participation in the NFIP. The passage of this language is the culmination of NRMCA’s 5-year effort, among several other efforts, to shape a new environment open to greater use of stronger building codes. The FEMA study will be completed and presented to Congress within the next six months.

How It Affects Our Industry: Support of stronger building codes would address what is perhaps the most significant underlying cause for the flood program’s insolvency, substandard construction.  Code compliant construction systems provide builders with the economies of scale to produce the volume of homes and buildings that are needed at a price that residents can afford. These systems are grounded in established engineering principles and have been thoroughly tested to ensure safe, predictable building performance in wide-ranging situations.

Background: Since the original enactment of the National Flood Insurance Act in 1968, communities understood that to be eligible for flood insurance they would be responsible for reviewing proposed development in flood hazard areas to ensure that structures have the integrity to withstand hydrodynamic forces and are constructed using methods and practices that minimize flood damages. However, the old mitigation standards have proven to be inadequate and now the NFIP is more than $18 billion in debt.

Recent cost/benefit studies indicate that each dollar spent to comply with stronger natural-hazard focused code provisions results in long-term savings of $3 to $16. Moreover, a 2005 FEMA study, which was contracted to the Multi-hazard Mitigation Council (MMC) of the National Institute for Building Sciences, indicated that the cost-benefit ratio for FEMA mitigation grants involving building codes was 4 to 1, meaning for every dollar spent by FEMA to support adoption of improved building codes, losses are reduced by 4 dollars.

The building codes study language promises to help reduce losses from storms, lessen public and private disaster aid, and enable individuals and communities to recover more rapidly from disasters.  

Health Care Reform and Your Business

How the New Law Will Impact Your Bottom Line
Now that health care reform legislation with a true price tag of nearly $2 trillion is the law of the land, many small business owners are asking how they will be impacted. The answer is to expect higher costs and more mandates.

Mandates
The new law forces small businesses to provide health insurance whether or not they can afford it. Beginning in 2014, employers with more than 50 employees will be required to offer coverage or pay a $2,000 fine per employee if just one employee receives a subsidy to purchase insurance through newly created state health insurance exchanges. A firm’s first 30 employees will be subtracted from this penalty payment calculation.

Even businesses with more than 50 employees that do offer health benefits will face a $3,000 fine for each full-time employee who opts out and receives a subsidy to purchase coverage through an exchange. Part-time employees are taken into account as full-time equivalents, defined as working 30 hours per week. The total employer penalty is capped at the maximum penalty amount it would face if it did not offer any coverage at all. An employer plan must cover a specific set of services to be determined by the government and meet actuarial standards laid out in the law.

It is estimated that nearly 220,000 small businesses employing more than 26 million workers could be subject to the employer mandate. As premiums rise, some businesses will decide that it makes sense to drop coverage and pay the fine. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that employers will pay $52 billion over 10 years in penalties for noncompliance. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that 3 million fewer Americans will be covered through employer plans in 2019.

Health Care Toolkit