The Longest Election Ever is finally over. We hope you voted and participated in the process.
Barack Obama's election is historic by any measure, and we believe this is a positive event for the U.S. in many ways. We wish him all the best in the coming years.
The Democrats also gained seats in the House of Representatives and a half-dozen Senate seats, but may fall short of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster.
The time of good feeling may be short lived, however, as the Democratic leadership has many far-reaching goals. Front and center for the Democrats next month will be the controversial check-card legislation allowing unions to organize without holding elections.
Congressional leadership will also seek new regulations, mandates and higher taxes. (If you believe that taxes won't be raised, we have a bridge we want to sell.)
It seems to me Democrats believe spending more money on programs that don't work will somehow produce a different result. And the Republicans have hardly built a record of achievement except in helping to run up record deficits.
From a woodworking perspective, there are still unresolved key issues. What will be the next CARB? At a meeting of the Wood Machinery Manufacturers Assn.'s Public Policy Committee, it was determined that dust regulations, statute of repose, paid leave and the estate tax would be the priorities for the Woodworking Equipment and Wood Processing Public Policy Fly-In, Feb. 9-11, 2009 in Washington, D.C. Here's a summary of each issue:
OSHA dust regulations. Is this the next CARB? Adoption of NFPA Standard 654 is interpreting wood dust as an explosive dust. The cost of conforming to this regulation may be more than what some wood products manufacturer can pay, and they may have to close plants in the U.S.
Statute of repose. This is a long-standing liability issue for manufacturers of a variety of products and a historical WMMA issue.
Paid leave. An additional payroll tax may be levied under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Estate tax. The goal here is to maintain 2009 levels, which means an exemption of $3.5 million. If no action is taken, the exemption will be reduced to $1 million in 2011, and the tax returns to the 55 percent rate.
John Satagaj, WMMA's legislative counsel; Frank Kobilsek, chairman of the committee; and WMMA management are preparing education materials for WMMA members who will participate in the fly-in.
Other issues include the check card legislation already mentioned, cost of employee health care and direct expensing/depreciation bonus.
The election is over, but there's plenty of time to participate in the fly-in, which can be a worthwhile and rewarding experience.
Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.