Capitol Briefs: Toomey-led legislation would require congressional approval of tariffs

By Bill O’Boyle - [email protected]
Toomey -

WILKES-BARRE — U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and several of his colleagues this week introduced legislation to require congressional approval of tariffs designated under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley proposed the bill that requires the president to submit to Congress any proposal to adjust imports in the interest of national security under Section 232.

For a 60-day period following submission, legislation to approve the proposal will qualify for expedited consideration, guaranteeing the opportunity for debate and a vote. The requirement would apply to all Section 232 actions moving forward, as well as those taken within the past two years.

“Tariffs are taxes on American consumers. They hurt American workers, families, and employers. Imposing them under the false pretense of ‘national security’ weakens our economy, our credibility with other nations, and invites retaliation,” Toomey said. “The decision to use these taxes should not be taken lightly or unilaterally.”

Toomey said by passing this legislation, Congress can reassert its constitutional responsibility on trade and ensure Americans can keep buying affordable products and keep selling our goods abroad.

Meanwhile, in an effort to resolve a trade case impacting the American newspaper industry, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, has called on U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to use his authority under the Tariff Act of 1930 to initiate a suspension agreement that would generate a resolution between American and Canadian paper firms. This letter comes as follow-up from a call Casey made to Ross last month on the issue.

“Local newspapers and a free press are a bedrock of our democracy and they must have the resources available to faithfully report and transmit the news,” Casey said. “I have heard from numerous newspapers in Pennsylvania expressing concern about the impacts of Commerce’s preliminary findings and I spoke directly with Secretary Ross to share those concerns. I have asked that he use his authorities under the Tariff Act of 1930 to initiate a suspension agreement to reach a swift resolution to this matter.”

Wolf, DEP take new steps

to reduce methane emissions

Gov. Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell this week announced the issuance of new general permits for unconventional natural gas wells and compression, processing, and transmission facilities that will reduce air pollution and establish a control threshold on methane emissions.

“These permits represent the first step of my Methane Reduction Strategy and my administration’s continuing commitment to cleaner, healthier air across the commonwealth,” Wolf said. “Cleaner air means healthier communities — for our citizens, and especially for our children.”

Wolf said the new permits are one example of a way that can have positive economic development without compromising public health. He said the permits are a win-win, helping industry control methane emissions that cost them money, while also helping defend our children and keep our communities healthier through cleaner air.

“Pennsylvania is the second-largest producer of natural gas in the nation behind Texas,” Wolf said. “We are uniquely positioned to be a national leader in addressing climate change while supporting and ensuring responsible energy development, while protecting public health and our environment.”

McDonnell said the permits incorporate the most current state and federal regulations for controlling air pollution.

“The permits for new unconventional natural gas wells and new compression, processing and transmission stations along pipelines are some of the first in the nation to comprehensively address methane emissions from all equipment and processes, and they also address other types of air pollution that contribute to poor air quality,” McDonnell said.

In addition to the methane controls, the permits also set thresholds on other types of air pollution, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), and nitrogen oxides (NOx).

L&I offers reminders about

summer job rules and teens

As the school year ends and students begin summer employment, Department of Labor & Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak reminds Pennsylvanians that the state’s Child Labor Law limits working hours and the types of work that may be performed by employees under age 18.

“Summer employment offers Pennsylvania’s young people the opportunity to gain valuable work experience, earn a paycheck, and potentially start a path toward full-time employment,” Oleksiak said. “Businesses that employ young people must follow the laws in place to protect younger workers and ensure they have a safe, positive experience.”

Pennsylvania’s Child Labor Law covers three age groups: less than 14 years of age, 14- and 15-year-olds, and 16- and 17-year-olds. All minors under 16 must have a written statement by the minor’s parent or guardian acknowledging the duties and hours of employment and granting permission to work.

• Children under age 14 may not be employed in any occupation; however, they are permitted to work on a family farm or in domestic service, such as lawn or house chores. Other exceptions are made for caddies, newspaper carriers and – with special permits – juvenile entertainment performers.

• During the summer, 14- and 15-year-olds may only work between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. and no more than eight hours a day, or 40 hours a week. For some occupations, such as newspaper delivery, caddies and some farm work, different standards may apply.

• During the summer, 16- and 17-year-olds may only work between 6 a.m. and 1 a.m. and no more than 10 hours a day, or 48 hours a week. A minor may also refuse any request to work that exceeds 44 hours per week.

• All minors may not work more than six consecutive days, and must be allowed a 30-minute meal period on or before five consecutive hours of work. Full- or part-time minors must be paid at least minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour.


By Bill O’Boyle

[email protected]

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.