Geoff Davis

Geoff Davis

Regulation, litigation and taxation are three big issues faced by business, according to Geoff Davis, former Congressman and founding partner of Republic Consulting.

Speaking at Heavy Duty Aftermarket Dialogue in Las Vegas, he cited the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which says that regulation’s economic impact is nearly $2 trillion, or about 12% of GDP.

Davis believes that the White and the Republicans are likely to battle over trucking, safety and regulations.

He also believes that Congress is likely to move ahead on litigation issues this year. Tort reform could become an issue with the possibility of the reintroduction of the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act. Davis expects patent reform to heat up in an effort to reduce the use of patent trolls.

As for taxation, Davis says Republicans are looking to advance tax reform legislation. A permanent fix to tax extenders could come in a reform bill. The big issues in the tax reform debate are: reducing the corporate tax rate, repatriation of foreign profits and transitioning to a territorial tax system.

Davis explained the calculus of the current political environment as 218 + 60 + 1 = Enactment. Meaning it takes 218 votes in the House of Representatives, 60 votes in the Senate and the president’s signature to get a bill enacted. But today the two chambers are divided from the White House.

Although “it is possible to get stuff done in Washington, American manufacturing has got to be involved in the supply chain of Washington," he told the audience of heavy-duty suppliers and manufacturers.

He encouraged the meeting attendees to interact with their elected representatives to ensure they understand they issues faced by those firms involved in the transportation industry. He says that business owners need to build goods relationship with politicians, but says, “Drive by visits are not helpful. You need to build personal relationship.” He says business executives need to explain how legislation will impact them and “not in sound bites.”

Turning specifically to transportation, Davis reminded attendees that the Highway Bill expires on May 31, but says there seems to be broad agreement on the structure of a new bill. However, funding is a big issue. Ideas for funding the Highway Bill include increase in the gas tax, reduced repatriation rate on foreign profits and a miles-traveled tax. “People are trying to be creative because we have challenges with our infrastructure. I would like to see more highway dollars go to roads and bridges,” Davis says, “Currently one third is getting held off for things, like bike paths and sustainable development.”

Other important dates for the 114th Congress are:

  • February 2: President’s budget request due to Congress for fiscal year 2016
  • March 15: Debt limit suspension expires
  • April 15: Deadline for Congress to product a fiscal year 2016 budget
  • June 1: The Patriot Act Expires
  • June 30: The Export-Import Bank authorization expires