WDMA Update

Legislative Look
WDMA Releases 2013 National Policy Agenda
by Ben Gann

Following an election that ensures divided government will continue in Washington for the next two years, the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) has finalized its national policy agenda for 2013.

Need for Balanced Tax Reform
President Obama has reiterated his commitment to extend tax relief for middle-class Americans while also reducing the budget deficit—a view shared by congressional Republicans. “I’m open to compromise. I’m open to new ideas. I’m committed to solving our fiscal challenges,” Obama said. “But I refuse to accept any approach that isn’t balanced.”

A leader for House Republicans on tax reform, Representative Dave Camp (R-MI), chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, has stated the he and his committee are committed to passing comprehensive tax reform in 2013.

Preserving the mortgage interest deduction remains an important part of any plan to reform the tax code and WDMA will vigorously oppose efforts to repeal or drastically scale it back. Changing the mortgage interest deduction would raise taxes on millions of homebuyers and homeowners thereby further depressing home values. Of the nearly 37 million homeowners who benefit from the mortgage interest deduction, 70 percent goes to middle-class homeowners who make less than $200,000, and now is not the time to harm the fragile recovery in housing.

Energy and Environmental Issues
Replacing our nation’s nearly one billion single-pane and dual-pane clear windows in existing housing stock, with readily-available higher efficiency windows, such as third-party verified Energy Star® products remains a top priority for WDMA. The industry has expressed concerns to EPA about the direction of the Energy Star program and the proposed updates scheduled for 2014. WDMA will be working with EPA and Congress to make sure that these periodic changes in qualifying criteria for fenestration products are based on sound Energy Star market penetration data, are affordable and more likely to result in increased energy savings.

WDMA is also advocating for reform of the EPA’s LRRP rule. Legislation expected to be introduced again this year would restore the “opt-out provision” allowing homeowners without small children or pregnant women present to decide whether to require LRRP compliance, suspend LRRP if EPA cannot approve one or more test kits that meet the regulation’s requirements for false positives and provide a de minimis exemption for first-time paperwork violations.

Sustainable Building Standards and Lacey Act Reform
Development of sustainable building standards under accredited consensus processes and scientific performance data remains an ongoing priority for WDMA. The association supports green building incentives that recognize all credible green building programs (e.g. LEED, ICC-700, Green Globes), and disagrees with efforts requiring that new wood products can only be certified to the Forest Stewardship Council standard and discourage the use of products with strong life-cycles, such as vinyl.

Reform of the Lacey Act is also needed to clarify the law’s regulatory guidelines and enforcement, bringing the declaration requirement in line with its intended purpose of prohibiting the trade of products made with illegal logged wood while reducing excessive and unnecessary costs to importers.

Congress needs to provide greater certainty for door, window and skylight manufacturers as the housing industry sector recovers from a long downturn. A good way to achieve that is by educating lawmakers on how policy decided in Washington will affect your industry. If you would like to weigh in on these issues with your members of Congress, you can make your voice heard in Washington by attending the WDMA Spring Meeting and Legislative Conference, March 18-20.

Ben Gann is director of legislative affairs and grassroots activities for the Window and Door Manufacturers Association in Washington, D.C.

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