January, 2017 —
The Home Furnishings Association was a strong advocate for retailers in 2016. We hosted our second annual Washington fly-in, a successful Long Beach port tour during our annual Home Furnishings Networking Conference, and government relations-focused webinars on mattress recycling and the new [on hold] overtime rule.
We worked with coalitions and industry organizations to educate legislators and key influencers on myriad issues important to retailers and the industry including deferred interest products, remote sales tax, formaldehyde in furniture, swipe fees, upholstered furniture flammability, furniture safety standards and more.
The Association was recognized in 2016 by the Consumer Product Safety Commission as an AnchorIT! Advocate for its efforts to educate members about the importance of preventing furniture tip-overs.
We achieved a lot last year, and we’re looking forward to affecting even more change in 2017.
Politically speaking I think we can all agree, 2016 was quite a year. It’s like that novel you read—overall it was ok, nothing spectacular, maybe not best-seller material, but boy did it have a plot twist at the end. We’re certainly in for some changes in 2017.
A Republican-led White House and U.S. House and Senate holds the promise of being good for the home furnishings industry.
One of the initial policy focus areas for President-elect Donald Trump will likely be repealing the Affordable Care Act, or at least parts of it, which would be a step in the right direction of lowering healthcare costs, a major expense for employers.
Tax reform is another high priority, and if Trump follows through on his campaign promise of lowering tax rates for businesses and individuals that’s another plus for retailers. Tax reform could also be a potential vehicle for one of the issues the Home Furnishings Association members have been advocating for years—a federal remote sales tax.
The new administration will also change the tone across the Cabinet, Supreme Court, Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and other regulatory agencies. And, while it will take time for these changes to take hold, the HFA expects a dramatic shift around key issues.
There’s an opening to change the NLRB; this five-member board currently has three members, two Democrats and one Republican. Trump has an opportunity to transform the board, which would reverse several of its interpretations that have been difficult for retailers. The highest profile actions would be the definition of joint employer and the union election rule that went into effect last year. The union election rule has led to an acceleration of union elections by almost 15 days; the total number of union elections remains unchanged as well as the success rate but they are occurring at a faster pace.
The CPSC, another five-member commission, is currently slanted Democratic. Traditionally the Chairman steps aside under a new President; there’s also an expiring term in 2017 so Trump could use that to change the numbers at the agency.
There are exciting times ahead.