Congress: Lather. Rinse. Repeat. After scuttling plans last month to vote on both a $1.2 trillion bipartisan “hard infrastructure” bill that the U.S. Senate approved, 69–30, on August 10, 2021, and a proposed $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package of social programs focused on “human infrastructure,” Democrats huddled this week to hammer out their differences regarding the size and scope of the latter package. The current legislative schedule would bring both measures up for votes…
On July 29, 2021, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto signed a COVID-19 paid sick leave ordinance granting emergency paid sick leave for certain employees for COVID-19–related reasons. The ordinance will remain in effect for one year and will expire on July 29, 2022. The new ordinance closely resembles the city’s December 8, 2020, temporary emergency paid leave ordinance, which expired on June 17, 2021, and supplements Pittsburgh’s Paid Sick Days Act. Its preamble calls…
On October 20, 2021, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (known as Cal/OSHA) issued proposed language for the second readoption of Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) for COVID-19 Prevention. The readoption would provide for the proposed regulation to be in place from January 14, 2022, to April 14, 2022. Highlights of the Proposed ETS Revision The new proposal does not change the definitions of the ETS but does include substantive changes, including the following. COVID-19…
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued some much-needed guidance surrounding the application of deadline extensions that the IRS and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) previously issued for initial elections under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) and initial and subsequent premium payments. On May 4, 2020, the IRS and DOL announced relief which provided that, for a period beginning on March 1, 2020, certain Employee Retirement Income Security Act of…
The pandemic may be waning, but the requirement for Colorado employers to provide supplemental public health emergency leave to employees under certain COVID-19–related circumstances continues. On October 15, 2021, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra announced another extension of the nationwide COVID-19 public health emergency, effective October 18, 2021. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) first issued a COVID-19 public health emergency declaration on January 31, 2020, and HHS…
Healthcare and healthcare-related employers have not just been at the heart of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, they have also recently been on the battleground in the fight over mandatory vaccination. Multiple states and locales have enacted some form of a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirement. Many of these vaccination mandates are directed at healthcare workers and state employees. These mandates vary by locality as to where the mandates apply, to whom the mandates apply…
As a follow-up to its September 20, 2021 announcement, the White House announced on October 15, 2021, that it would lift the travel ban for fully vaccinated foreign nationals starting November 8, 2021. The lifting of COVID-19–related travel restrictions will apply to land border entries as well as for air travel to the United States. The new travel policy, which will affect the travel bans currently in place for persons entering the United States…
Congressional Update: Debt Limit Crisis and Reconciliation Plans. Both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives were officially out this week, but the U.S. Congress still made some news. The House on October 12, 2021, passed a $480 billion increase in the debt limit to narrowly avoid a first-ever default on the nation’s debts. The Senate approved the increase on a party-line vote last week. As the Buzz previously mentioned, the fix is…
Holiday season and the end of the year are both quickly approaching, and with the turning of the calendar from 2021 to 2022 come several employee benefit plan amendment deadlines and implementation requirements. Some of these changes are optional for plan sponsors to adopt so now is a good time to discuss and plan for the upcoming year. For retirement plans, hardship distribution amendments are due by December 31, 2021. For welfare plans, flexible spending…
On October 13, 2021, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson allowed a new law addressing mandated COVID-19 vaccines for employees to go into effect without his signature. Senate Bill 739’s primary sponsor, Senator Kim Hammer, made it clear that the bill was a response to President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 action plan and the Biden administration’s forthcoming emergency temporary standard requiring employers with more than 100 workers to mandate vaccinations or test them for the virus weekly.…