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2022 Public Policy Quarterly Update

Tristan North - Dec 15 2022
Published in: Public Policy
The primary areas of policy interest this report includes are immigration, reinstatement of the moving tax deduction and reduction, e-notarization, data privacy and security, and a new law in Canada prohibiting the purchase of real estate by foreign nationals

Worldwide ERC® is providing its members with a series of quarterly reports on public policy issues important to workforce mobility. The reports outline rotating key mobility policy issues and the recent involvement of Worldwide ERC on those issues. The primary areas of policy interest this report includes are immigration, reinstatement of the moving tax deduction and reduction, e-notarization, data privacy and security, and a new law in Canada prohibiting the purchase of real estate by foreign nationals.

The policy priorities of Worldwide ERC are determined through our government affairs structure, beginning with the four Public Policy Forums, which cover the areas of Global Immigration, Global Tax, Global Compliance, and North American Real Estate. Earlier this year, Worldwide ERC created Working Groups for each of the Forums comprised of small groups of Worldwide ERC members with expertise and experience within one of the respective issue areas. Each of the four Forums have leaders who oversee the direction and policy issues of the Forums.

For more information on the Worldwide ERC Forums and public policy issues, please go to the Worldwide ERC Public Policy webpage.

  1. Immigration – EAGLE Act
  2. Prohibition on Purchase of Real Estate by Non-Canadians
  3. American Data Privacy and Protection Act
  4. Protecting Personally Identifiable Information of Transferees
  5. Reinstating the Moving Tax Deduction and Reduction
  6. E-Notarization – SECURE Ac

 

1. Immigration – EAGLE Act

 

Position of Worldwide ERC

Worldwide ERC has long supported a wide array of policies that enhance the ability of corporations around to world to access global talent. This includes legislation to eliminate country caps on the number of green cards available to workers from one country and allowing the utilization of unused visa allocations.

Background of Issue

The Equal Access to Green cards for Legal Employment Act (EAGLE Act) would phase out the country cap limitations on the number of green cards available to high-skilled workers from a particular country. Under current policy, only 7% of green cards can be issued in a year to nationals from a given country, regardless of its population. The EAGLE Act (H.R. 3648) would also strengthen the H-1B temporary program and allow individuals who have been in the queue for a green card for two years to file an application with approval pending the availability of a visa.

For more background on the EAGLE Act, please read our blog on the EAGLE Act.

Supporting Organizations

Numerous immigration and business organizations and high-tech corporations with operations in the U.S. support eliminating the country caps.

Status

For over a week, the EAGLE Act (H.R. 3648) had been on the calendar for consideration on the House floor. The bill would remove the 7% cap on the number of U.S. green cards that can be issued to nationals from any one country each year. On 6 December, the House passed the rule (H.Res. 1508) for consideration of H.R. 3648 by a vote of 215 to 201, but the bipartisan bill should have passed by a much wider margin. Outside groups recently voiced concerns with the bill, which led to all Republicans voting against the rule and some Democrats taking issue with it. With its passage in question, House Democratic leaders have now postponed proceedings on the bill likely through the end of the year.

 

2. Prohibition on Purchase of Real Estate by Non-Canadians

 

Position of Worldwide ERC

Worldwide ERC is directly involved with the efforts led with the Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC) to exempt non-Canadian transferees and foreign-owned companies involved in mobility from the new law.

Background on Issue

The Canadian Government has enacted legislation to prohibit the purchase of residential real estate by non-Canadian nationals and companies. The prohibition applies to companies operating in Canada that are controlled by a foreign parent company. The intent of the legislation is to address the high prices of residential properties in particular Canadian real estate markets. The law takes effect on 1 January 2023.

The law does exempt foreign nationals with temporary residency status in Canada; however, we believe that the transferee would need to be working in Canada for several years in order for it to apply. A primary problem is non-Canadian relocation management companies and employers providing services in Canada will not be able to offer home purchase programs to both foreign nationals as well as Canadians being relocated within Canada or to another country. The prohibition will be in place for a two-year period.

Worldwide ERC has been in continual contact with our colleagues at the Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC), which is spearheading the effort to exempt RMCs. We are currently supporting their efforts through educating our members about the issue, which we have done through member communications and adding to the agenda of several of our Public Policy Forum meetings at the upcoming Global Workforce Symposium.

Supporting Organizations

The Canadian Employee Relocation Council, Worldwide ERC, RMCs, and destination service providers with operations in Canada.

Status

CERC President Steve Cryne has been educating the Canadian Ministries responsible with implementation of the law as to its unintended consequences on workforce mobility and has been advocating for a relocation exemption. On 7 December, CERC, Worldwide ERC, as well as several relocation management companies and destination service providers sent a letter to the Canadian Ministries of Finance and Housing and Diversity Inclusion requesting an exemption from the law for home sales to transferees and companies involved with their relocation. The ministries are expected to issue a regulation by the end of the year with the details of implementation of the law.

 

3. American Data Privacy and Protection Act

 

Position of Worldwide ERC

Worldwide ERC supports federal legislation on data privacy to allow companies to adhere to one or a few sets of standards as opposed to different standards for each state.

Background on Issue

Several pieces of legislation on federal data privacy standards have been introduced in the past, and hearings have been held on the topic. However, the leadership of the House and Senate committees of jurisdiction have been unable to reach consensus on a federal framework. This has led states such as California, Colorado, Connecticut, Utah, and Virginia to enact their own data privacy laws. While the state laws share certain components, the state laws are different, which makes it difficult for companies to adopt uniform standards to adhere to all the laws, especially when in some cases the laws don’t align.

Supporting Organizations

The legislation is supported by the Information Technology Industry Council, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Fair Play for Kids, Common Sense Media, Google, and Meta, to name a few.

Status

On 3 June, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-NJ), and Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS) released a bicameral, bipartisan draft bill on national data privacy standards. The House Energy and Commerce Committee reported out favorably The American Data Privacy and Protection Act (H.R. 8152) on 20 July by a vote of 53 to 2.

On 7 December, Chairman Pallone and Ranking Member McMorris-Rodgers were interviewed by ABC News in which the two leaders stated, “We remain 100 percent committed to passing the American Data Privacy and Protection Act this Congress.” There are concerns from members of the California delegation, however, about the law not being as strong as the California Data Privacy Law and allowing states to be able to address future data concerns. With only a limited number of days left in this Congress, it is unlikely that there will be sufficient time for the Congress to consider the bill, which will need to be reintroduced next Congress.

 

4. Protecting Personally Identifiable Information of Transferees

 

Position of Worldwide ERC

Worldwide ERC is actively advocating for the passage of the Moving Americans Privacy Protection Act (S. 1449) or similar language, which would help protect the personally identifiable information (PII) of transferees and military personnel.

Background of Issue

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) presently sells the manifest data on vessel shipments into the U.S. to data brokerage firms that post the information online to paid subscribers. The relocation overseas of a transferee can often require the shipping by vessel of personal goods. Making public the personally identifiable information (PII) of the transferee including military personnel exposes them to identity theft, fraud, and unwanted solicitations.

For the past five years, Worldwide ERC has joined with the American Trucking Association and the International Association of Movers (IAM) to support efforts to protect the PII of military personnel and transferees. These efforts have centered around the Moving Americans Privacy Protection Act by Senators Daines (R-MT) and Peters (D-MI) and Representatives Crist (D-FL) and Waltz (R-FL) in previous Congresses. During the 115th Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by voice vote the Moving Americans Privacy Protection Act. However, the United States Senate did not act on the legislation before the end of that Congress.

While it is not the intent of the CBP to release the sensitive data of individuals, the manifests currently provided to data brokers often includes the personally identifiable information of transferees and military personnel shipping household goods the U.S. The CBP does not believe it has the authority under statute to remove the PII. The data brokers post the manifest information online to provide an analysis and trends on shipments not intending to expose the PII of transferees. This provision, if enacted, would correct this problem.

Supporting Organizations

The coalition pursuing the protection of PII includes the Moving and Storage Conference of the American Trucking Association, International Association of Movers, National Association of Realtors, the Senior Executives Association, and Worldwide ERC.

Status

On 8 June 2021, the Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 (S. 1260) by a bipartisan vote of 68 to 32. Senators Daines and Peters worked with Senators Wyden (D-OR) and Crapo (R-ID) as chair and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Finance Committee to include similar language to the Moving Americans Privacy Protection Act as Section 73005 in S. 1260.

On 20 January, the ATA, IAM, and Worldwide ERC sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) advocating that the House support legislative language to protect the PII of military personnel and transferees who are shipping their personal household good to the U.S. Specifically, the three organizations requested that Section 73005 of S. 1260 be included in the America COMPETES Act (H.R. 4521), which is the House companion bill to S. 1260.

During consideration of H.R. 4521, Congressmen Crist and Waltz offered the language of Section 73005 of S. 1260 as an amendment but, unfortunately, the language was not adopted. The House subsequently passed H.R. 4521. The U.S. Senate and the House never reached an agreement between H.R. 4521 and S. 1260.

In yet another effort to pass the PII language, Senator Daines offered an amendment to the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2023; however, the Senate and House reached an agreement on a final package without Senate consideration of their own bill. Senator Daines was also pushing to get the PII language in the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2023.

 

5. Reinstating the Moving Tax Deduction and Reduction

 

Position of Worldwide ERC

Worldwide ERC and the Moving and Storage Conference of the American Trucking Association (ATA) (formerly the Moving and Storage Association) had advocated against the elimination (through the end of 2025) of the moving tax deduction and exclusion as part of the Jobs and Tax Act of 2017. The ATA, International Association of Movers (IAM), and Worldwide ERC have now formed a coalition to push for the reinstatement of the deduction when the elimination expires, and we are currently in discussions with other national organizations about joining the effort.

Background of Issue

As part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the moving expense deduction, and the exclusion from income of moving expense payments by employers to move their employees, were eliminated through 31 December 2025. The deduction and exclusion together make up a vital tax relief tool that makes relocation for work more affordable and supports worker mobility—the lynchpin of a strong economy—and a moving industry that supports 480,000 jobs annually. Worldwide ERC advocated in its letter of 20 March for reinstating the tax relief retroactively to the beginning of 2019 as a way to provide approximately $1 billion in immediate relief to employees and the companies moving them.

Under the Jobs and Tax Cuts Act of 2017, Congress eliminated the long-standing moving tax deduction and exclusion. The deduction is eliminated for tax years 2017 to 2025. During the efforts for COVID-19 pandemic relief, Worldwide ERC, along with the American Trucking Association (ATA), sent letters to congressional leaders in which we have advocated for the reinstatement of the deduction to promote workforce mobility and strengthen the U.S. economy.

The moving expense deduction was first established by Congress in 1964 and had enjoyed bipartisan support. In its last form, the deduction was already severely limited as to eligible costs and subject to stringent tests that limit its use to those employees moving substantial distances for legitimate business reasons. Specifically, it could only be claimed on an individual’s (or an employer’s) costs to move more than 50 miles for a full-time job. It is estimated to provide $1 billion in tax relief each year, which is significant to those businesses and individuals involved in a relocation but a small price to help address the economic impact of the coronavirus.

Supporting Organizations

The coalition pursuing the reinstatement of the moving tax deduction includes the Moving and Storage Conference of the American Trucking Association, International Association of Movers, National Association of Realtors, the Senior Executives Association, and Worldwide ERC.

Status

In the letters to congressional leaders during the COVID-19 public health emergency in which Worldwide ERC pressed for financial relief for business and individuals involved with mobility, Worldwide ERC also advocated for the reinstatement of the tax deduction and exclusion.

Congress ultimately did not include any provisions in the CARES Act or subsequent relief packages that would reinstate provisions eliminated or suspended as part of the Jobs and Tax Cut Act of 2017. While it was unlikely that Congress would reinstate the tax provisions as part of economic relief efforts, it was important for Worldwide ERC, ATA, and IAM to remind lawmakers of the importance of the positive impact of the provisions on workforce mobility and helping the global economy return to its pre-COVID-19 level.

Efforts to address expiring provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will begin in earnest in 2023 with the coalition planning to ramp up its coordination and education of Congress next year as well.

 

6. E-Notarization – SECURE Act

 

Position of Worldwide ERC

Worldwide ERC supports the SECURE Notarization Act to establish a minimum set of standards for the use of e-notarization and the recognition of e-notarization across state lines.

Background

The SECURE Act Coalition, of which Worldwide ERC is a member, has been advocating for passage of the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic (SECURE) Notarization Act (H.R. 3962, S. 1625). The SECURE Notarization Act would allow notary publics to remotely notarize electronic records and also require states and the courts to recognize e-notarizations conducted in other states. The use of e-notarization, especially as part of real estate transactions, has been accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of social distancing requirements.

Supporting Organizations

The SECURE Act Coalition is led by the American Land and Title Association and includes dozens of organizations including Worldwide ERC, whose members are involved in online real estate and similar transactions.

Status

On 22 November, the language of the SECURE Notarization Act was included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2022 (H.R. 4350) during its consideration on the House floor and subsequently passed by the House. Negotiators of the NDAA did not ultimately agree to include the language in the final agreement (S. 1605), which the Senate passed on 15 December 2021 by a vote of 88 to 11. However, significant progress was made on the provision and educating members of Congress on e-notarization.

Champions of the SECURE Notarization Act made a similar effort to get the language of H.R. 3962 included in the House version of the NDAA of 2023, 2but instead the language moved shortly thereafter through regular order. On 23 June, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce reported the bill favorably by a vote of 22 to 0, and on 20 July, the full committee reported the favorably by 56 to 0. On 27 July, the House of Representatives passed the bill under the suspension calendar. As a member of the SECURE Act Coalition, Worldwide ERC has been involved with several letters to congressional leaders in support of passage of the bill.

Efforts were subsequently made by the SECURE Act Coalition to move the bill in the Senate but faced pushback from the two senators from California following a letter to them by the California Attorney General expressing concern about the impact on California.