NLBMDA has been working diligently at the federal level during this time of incredible uncertainty and adjustment. Our goal, as it always is, is to best represent the lumber and building material dealer (LBM) industry as the government implements drastic steps to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. NLBMDA has been active in both Congress and the Executive Branch to ensure the industry is front and center in all negotiations and actions.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) published a memorandum regarding “essential critical infrastructure workers” (CISA Guidance). The CISA Guidance’s purpose, which is non-binding and purely guidance, is to assist both state and local officials when making decisions regarding essential workers in their own jurisdictions. NLBMDA scored a win when CISA designated the distribution of wood products as essential and has been in close contact with the Agency to ensure that any subsequent revisions protect the LBM industry.
Because the CISA Guidance is meant to be “overly inclusive,” states or other jurisdictions may apply narrower definitions of “critical infrastructures” and “essential workers.” Employers should refer to their state’s guidance and executive actions to ensure they are complying with all required directives.
The CISA Guidance lists fourteen categories of “essential critical infrastructure workers”.
- Health Care/Public Health
- Law Enforcement, Public Safety, First Responders
- Food and Agriculture (recommends the protection of the distribution of wood products)
- Water and Wastewater
- Transportation and Logistics
- Public Works
- Communications and Information Technology
- Other Community-Based Government Operations and Essential Functions
- Critical Manufacturing
- Hazardous Materials
- Financial Services
- Defense Industrial Base
This CISA Guidance provides only insight regarding which employees may be permitted and/or required to work regardless of broad isolation, quarantine, or “shelter in place” orders. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, state and local governments have been creating specific sets of guidelines that apply within the appropriate jurisdictions. As mentioned, businesses and other organizations should be sure to review state and local guidelines relating to broad isolation, quarantine, or shelter in place orders as they may differ from the CISA Guidance.
In addition, Congress has been working on legislation to provide relief to workers, businesses and the economy. NLBMDA has been an active participant in congressional negotiations, and has focused on several priorities that would be beneficial to members. Specifically, NLBMDA is lobbying for the following measures:
- Establish a minimum 4% Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) rate
- Temporary payroll tax elimination
- Increase the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 7(a) loan program by $50 billion
- Allow investors to utilize FHA 203(k) loans
- Qualified Improvement Property (QIP) Fix
These provisions, also supported by other industry groups, would assist businesses recover from the economic downturn, in addition to help support workers.
NLBMDA will continue our work to protect the industry and ensure lumber and building material dealers are represented with federal lawmakers.
Kevin McKenney is director of government affairs for NLBMDA in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit dealer.org.