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December 27, 2019 1:16pm

Major GLI wins in year-end federal spending bill

Tucked into Congress’ year-end spending bill were two major GLI federal priorities, both of which stand to have significant impacts on the greater Louisville economy. 

On December 20, President Trump signed into law two spending bills that will fund the federal government through September 30, 2020, and, in turn, stave off another government shutdown. The spending package totaled $1.4 trillion and funds an array of different initiatives but also includes several policy provisions as well. Within those policy provisions are two key GLI initiatives:

  • Congress raised the federal minimum purchase age for tobacco and nicotine products from 18 to 21.
  • Congress repealed anti-business taxes imposed by The Affordable Care Act.     

Raising the minimum purchase age for tobacco & nicotine products

Increasing the minimum purchase age for tobacco and nicotine products have been long-term GLI priorities at both the state and federal levels. The prevalence of smoking in the greater Louisville region negatively affects workforce development and burdens our health care system. It also drives up costs for employers. One study concludes that smokers cost employers, on average, $6,000 more per year than non-smoking employees. Raising the minimum purchase age will help reduce youth and adult smoking rates in our region, which will make our workforce healthier and more competitive and help lower costs for businesses.

Leadership from GLI’s congressional delegation on raising the minimum purchase age for tobacco and nicotine products underscores the impact of GLI’s advocacy efforts in Washington. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell played a lead role in securing passage of this provision in the spending bill, along with Senator Todd Young who introduced legislation raising the minimum purchase age earlier this year. 

Repealing ACA Taxes

Repealing anti-business taxes imposed by The Affordable Care Act has also been a long-term GLI priority. In particular, GLI has aggressively advocated for the repeal of the Health Insurance Tax. Congress has routinely delayed the implementation of this tax, also known as HIT. Without action by Congress, HIT was scheduled to go into effect at the start of 2020 with a projected price tag of $15 billion — much of which would have fallen on employers that provide health care coverage for their employees. Repeal of HIT and other Affordable Care Act taxes will help keep health care costs affordable and accessible for businesses and workers. 

The Impact of GLI Advocacy

Leader McConnell speaking with GLI members at D.C. Fly In 2019

These major wins for the greater Louisville business community in the year-end spending bill illustrate the positive impact of proactive and persistent advocacy. GLI has persistently advocated for these changes directly to members of the greater Louisville congressional delegation, most recently in GLI’s 2019 D.C. Fly In. That trip — which saw more than two-dozen regional business leaders head to Washington — provided opportunities for GLI investors to speak with members of Congress and advocate for the business community’s priorities. The year-end spending bill shows that GLI’s representatives in Congress are paying close attention to the voice of business. 

Looking ahead to 2020, GLI members will have further opportunities to influence federal policy and build on this momentum. In April, GLI’s Issue Advisory Committees will convene to develop the greater Louisville business community’s 2020-2021 federal priorities. Next summer, GLI will once again lead a group of business leaders to Washington for D.C. Fly In 2020. Keep an eye out for more information on these forthcoming opportunities.