CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Monday, November 14, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 985, Concrete Masonry Products Research, Education, and Promotion Act of 2015, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 985 was introduced on February 13, 2015, by Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and was referred to the Committee on Energy and Congress, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, on July 8, 2016.
H.R. 985 enables concrete masonry products manufacturers to establish, finance, and carry out a “check-off” program for concrete masonry products. A “check-off” program is a coordinate program of research, education, and promotion to improve, maintain, and develop markets. Specifically, the legislation directs the Secretary of Commerce to establish a Concrete Masonry Products Board. The Board will pursue activities surrounding the generic research, education, and promotion of concrete masonry products. The bill authorizes the collection of mandatory assessments to pay for such activities, and any fees would be based on the number of masonry units sold each year.
In addition, the bill directs the Secretary to conduct a referendum among manufacturers required to pay the assessment, provides necessary authorities to issue regulations and investigatory powers, and allows for any necessary suspension, amendment, or termination of provisions to ensure the Act is carried out effectively. Finally, H.R. 985 directs the Government Accountability Office to report on the efficacy of the program, and directs the Department to study the appropriateness of applying the Department of Agriculture’s check-off program model to other non-agricultural industries.
“Check-off” programs enable cooperation among generic commodity products to support generic research, education, and promotion campaigns. These programs are established at the request of the affected industry and funded by mandatory fees assessed on members of the affected industry. A governing “Board” comprised of members from industry carry out the program’s activities while the appropriate federal agency oversees the Board’s compliance.
Most check-off programs cover agricultural commodities. The activities of each are carried out and governed by a board appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture from producer’s nominations. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), every $1 dollar spent in a check-off program can yield an investment return as high as $18. In addition to USDA administered programs, the Department of Energy oversees two heating fuel check off programs.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that enacting H.R. 985 would increase direct spending by $111 million and increase net revenues by $85 million over the 2016-2025 period. The cost to the Department of Commerce would be reimburses by the Board from initial collections of assessments. Pay-as-you-go procedures apply because enacting the legislation would affect direct spending and revenues.
For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-1828.