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Federal Issues

Taxes and the Economy: The 2018 tax reforms included 100 percent accelerated depreciation, lower corporate, pass-through and individual tax rates, and in the end, retained the IC-DISC provisions.

However, those tax reforms will expire in four more years if they are not extended. House Republicans had proposed a “Tax reform 2.0” package to make these provisions permanent. 

But, but, but given the 2018 election results and a very short window of opportunity before adjournment for the 115th Congress, the likelihood of passage is very slim. The likelihood of these tax reforms becoming permanent in the 116th Congress are similarly slim especially as the reforms were unanimously opposed by the Democrats in both congressional chambers. Instead, the many Democrats ran on allowing these tax reforms to expire or to repeal them and use the revenues for infrastructure spending. Since the U.S. Senate remains in Republican control and the President is certain to oppose any repeal efforts, the tax reforms are probably safe until their expiration. 

Energy and the Environment
Changing the regulatory treatment of recyclables and the activity of recycling will continue to be one of ISRI’s priorities. ISRI will continue to look for legislative and regulatory opportunities   to solve the problem of recyclables being treated as solid or hazardous waste. ISRI will be pushing the Administration, using Congress when necessary, to complete the federal study about crumb rubber used in synthetic playing fields and surfaces. ISRI will continue with the Department of Energy to advance REMADE efforts to help develop new markets for recycled materials and to solve technical issues related to recycled content. 

Infrastructure
Both parties and both branches of government want some type of infrastructure package before the 2020 elections. Improving the nation’s infrastructure is high on most organization’s priorities. 

The key questions are what will be the details and how it will be funded. To fund an infrastructure bill, both parties may have to accept an increase in the gas tax. There is also talk of finding ways of uniquely taxing electric vehicles. Using recycled content in infrastructure projects including roads and bridges, ports and waterways, and other large transportation projects (e.g., airports), will be among ISRI’s priorities in an infrastructure bill. Additionally, using rubberized asphalt and plastics in infrastructure projects will be a specific priority. Both political parties have signaled their receptiveness towards passing infrastructure bills. As always in fashioning legislation, however, the “devil is always in the details.” ISRI members have been brainstorming about additional ideas they would like to see included in infrastructure legislation including, but not limited to, workforce development and solutions for public-sector and private-sector operated materials recovery facilities (MRFs and PRFs). 

Transportation
Transportation is adversely impacting every sector of the nation’s economy including the scrap recycling industry. The continuing shortage of truck drivers, long-time rail service issues and a lack of regular ocean shipping makes it difficult to receive or ship scrap to customers. As the new Congress convenes in Washington in January, there will be a push to get the Surface Transportation Board (SBT) members confirmed to achieve proper oversight of the railroads, get workforce development funding for more truck drivers, and improve inland waterways and ocean port facilities. 

Conclusion
With the results of the mid-term elections come new opportunities to advance the scrap recycling industry’s goals and priorities. Because ISRI takes a bi-partisan approach to its legislative activities, we will work with both sides of the aisle to advance ISRI’s interests. The Congressional Recycling Caucus is an example of how we have fostered a bi-partisan group of policymakers to find solutions and highlight the important role that recycling plays in both environmental protection and economic growth. Our issues are not Republican or Democratic. In fact, recycling is one of the few issues that can truly transcend the partisan divide. 

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