Check out the latest at Omaha NARI and more information on this month's meetings.
64 Omaha NARI members and guests attended the February 23rd luncheon at Omaha Public Schools Career Center to hear from Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert.
Mayor Stothert gave her the State of City Address covering a range of topics that impact the city, as well as the future of the remodeling and construction industry. Mayor Stothert opened up the room to Q & A and answered a variety of questions pertaining the city inspections, permits and planning. Mayor Stothert plans to work with and address the following questions with the Permits & Planning Department:
How can the time it takes fo residential remodel plan review be redcued?
How can the CEU hours for licensed contractors be tracked?
How can contractor licensing and pulling permits be enforced? What happens if a contractor is found doing work and isn't licensed or isn't pulling permits?
We were very excited and appreciative of Mayor Stotherts time with our group and thankful for her support of the Association and dedication to the industry.
Thank you again to our host, Omaha Public Schools Career Center.
Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert is in her fourth year as mayor. Elected in 2013, she is the 51st Omaha mayor and the city's first woman to be elected to the office.
Mayor Stothert's priorities are public safety, managing the city budget, job growth and economic development and improving the taxpayer experience -- so that every citizen receives excellent customer service when they interact with city government.
In her first three years in office, Mayor Stothert has reduced the property tax rate twice, increased funding for the police department to hire dozens of new officers, improved city services and worked with the Omaha City Council to grow the city's population and tax base through annexation.
She believes in open, transparent government and gets the most satisfaction from helping people solve problems.
Stothert grew up in the St. Louis area and worked as a critical care nurse and later as head nurse and department head of cardiovascular surgery at St. Louis University, where she met her husband, Joe Stothert, M.D.
In 1993, the Stothert family moved to Omaha from Galveston, Texas, when Dr. Stothert accepted a new position at Creighton University.
When the Stotherts' two children, Elizabeth and Andrew, were old enough to go to school, Mayor Stothert became involved in their schools as a volunteer. Later, she was appointed and then elected to the Millard Board of Education and served 11 years, including three as President. In 2009, she was elected to the Omaha City Council, representing District 5 in southwest Omaha.
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Verizon's, "Can You Hear Me Now?" Being Used by Scammers to Capture You Saying the Word, "Yes!"
Your BBB is warning businesses/consumers about an old scam with a new twist. The "Can You Hear Me?" scam has long been used to coerce businesses into purchasing office supplies and directory ads they never actually ordered, but now it's targeting individual consumers, as well.
For the past few weeks, more than half of the reports to BBB Scam Tracker have been about this one scam. People are telling us that the calls are about vacation packages, cruises, warranties and other big ticket items. So far, none have reported money loss, but it's unclear how the scams will play out over time, or if the targets will be victimized at a later date.
Here's how it works: You get a call from someone who almost immediately asks "Can you hear me?" Their goal is to get you to answer "Yes," which most people would do instinctively in that situation. There may be some fumbling around; the person may even say something like "I'm having trouble with my headset." But in fact, the "person" may just be a robocall recording your conversation... and that "Yes" answer you gave can later be edited to make it sound like you authorized a major purchase.
BBB offers the following advice to you and your employees:
Use Caller ID to screen calls, and consider not even answering unfamiliar numbers. If it's important, they will leave a message and you can call back.
If someone calls and asks "Can you hear me?", do NOT answer "yes." Just hang up. Scammers change their tactics as the public catches on, so be alert for other questions designed to solicit a simple "yes" answer.
Make a note of the number and report it to bbb.org/scamtracker to help warn others. BBB also shares Scam Tracker information with government and law enforcement agencies, so every piece of information is helpful in tracking down scammers.
As a consumer, consider joining the Do Not Call Registry (DoNotCall.gov) to cut down on telemarketing and sales calls. This may not help with scammers since they don't bother to pay attention to the law, but you'll get fewer calls overall. That may help you more quickly notice the ones that could be fraudulent.
Check bank and credit card statements regularly for unauthorized charges. It's also a good idea to check your telephone and cell phone bills, as well. Scammers may be using the "Yes" recording of your voice to authorize charges on your phone. This is called "cramming" and it's illegal.
For more information:
Report scams to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker).
Check out bbbinc.org to research a business, file a complaint, write a customer review, report a scam, read tips, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google+!
3 Steps to Selecting a Remodeling Professional
Tax credit proposal in Nebraska Subject: Unicameral requested for employers of apprentices...
Check out everything NARI this month, in the February Newsletter.
Greater Omaha NARI is pleased to announce that Megan Bratetic, Bratetic Construction, Inc. (Omaha, NE) has been elected as the first female Chapter President to lead the Association. The Omaha chapter emerged in 1991.
“I feel very fortunate to be a part of this organization. This is an exciting time and I'm very proud to lead this great group as President,” says Bratetic. “The work that NARI is doing to enhance the professionalism of the remodeling industry means so much to me as a remodeler and business owner. I'm fully committed to help continue the growth of our chapter and support NARI's mission.”
Bratetic lists contractor education as one of her top NARI priorities in 2017, as she feels strongly that this organization is filling a very important need on behalf of homeowners in our community. That being, the cultivation of knowledgeable remodeling professionals and industry experts who advocate for high quality craftsmanship and ethical business practices. “I'm very passionate about this and is one of the reasons that I'm so committed to this organization. We are lucky to have so many members of our chapter who are equally as committed and together we are making a positive impact on our industry,” says Bratetic.
Along with Bratetic's local involvement, she is also serving on the NARI National Board of Directors as Chair of the National Marketing & Communications Committee. With Bratetic's leadership roles within NARI comes an opportunity to shed light on the many opportunities and need for more women to join the construction industry. Interestingly, women make the majority of the decisions in a home remodel yet only a small percentage are part of the construction labor force. By focusing on this opportunity for diversity along with increasing awareness of NARI's strong new branding "Remodeling Done Right," NARI is on-set of some very exciting times and is being launched to a level like never before.
Reminder to all builders and landlords...
Beginning Jan. 1, 2017 you are required to provide carbon monoxide detectors per the attached Nebraska law.
Chapter 76 Section 603 (76-603).
Carbon monoxide alarm; installation required.
Any multifamily dwelling or single-family dwelling constructed on or after January 1, 2017, that has a fuel-fired heater or appliance, a fireplace, or an attached garage shall have a carbon monoxide alarm installed (1) on each habitable floor of each dwelling unit in a multifamily dwelling and on each habitable floor in a single-family dwelling or (2) in a location specified in any building code adopted by the state or by the political subdivision in which the dwelling is located.
Chapter 76 Section 603 (76-604).
Seller of single-family dwelling; duties; interior alterations requiring permit; owner; duties.(1) The seller of a single-family dwelling that is offered for sale or transfer on or after January 1, 2017, and that has a fuel-fired heater or appliance, a fireplace, or an attached garage shall ensure that an operational carbon monoxide alarm is installed on each habitable floor of the dwelling or in a location specified in any building code adopted by the state or by the political subdivision in which the dwelling is located.
(2) If the owner of a single-family dwelling that has a fuel-fired heater or appliance, a fireplace, or an attached garage makes any interior alteration, repair, fuel-fired appliance replacement, or addition on or after January 1, 2017, where a permit is required, the owner shall ensure that an operational carbon monoxide alarm is installed on each habitable floor of the dwelling where the alteration, repair, replacement, or addition occurs or in a location specified in any building code adopted by the state or by the political subdivision in which the dwelling is located. This subsection applies only to interior alterations. This subsection does not apply to exterior alterations which require a building permit.
(3) No person shall remove batteries from, or in any way render inoperable, a carbon monoxide alarm except as part of a process to inspect, maintain, repair, or replace the alarm or replace the batteries in the alarm.
Check out the December newsletter for upcoming events and more!
The Presidential Election
In a turn of events that surprised many, on November 8, 2016 the nation elected Donald J. Trump to be the 45th President of the United States. In addition, while Republicans lost seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, the Party still managed to keep a majority of seats in both chambers. That means when President-elect Trump takes office on January 20, 2017, the Republicans will lead both the Executive and Legislative branches. As a result, the current Republican leadership in Congress has decided to postpone action on a number of major legislative bills until 2017.
Congress is now expected to wrap up its work for the year by the end of next week. The only two major pieces of legislation that are scheduled to get done are a “must pass” appropriations bill to continue funding the government as well as the 21st Century Cures legislation. The appropriations bill will be a Continuing Resolution that will keep the government funded at current levels. The 21st Century Cures bill is a major health care research and disease prevention bill. There are a number of other health related items included in this legislation, such as the Small Business Health Care Relief Act (SBHRA). NARI has long supported SBHRA and has joined with a comprehensive coalition of business and healthcare groups to push for its enactment. The legislation will provide relief to an Internal Revenue Service guidance that was issued in 2013. In that publication, the IRS dictated that all employers that fail to offer a group health plan, but provide tax preferred dollars through a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) for their workers to pay health insurance premiums or other direct medical expenses, will be fined $100 per day, per employee. Over the course of a year, that’s $36,500 per employee and up to $500,000 in total. This $100 per day penalty went into effect on July 1, 2015. NARI believes that small businesses should have the ability to offer HRAs to employees with health insurance. These HRAs will permit businesses to offer pre-tax dollars to insured employees to help pay premiums and/or other out of pocket costs associated with medical care and services. There is strong bipartisan support for this legislation and NARI encourages the Congress to enact this bill.
NARI continues to support three energy efficiency tax credits and deductions that are scheduled to expire at the end of this year. The three provisions are: (1) Sec. 25C Residential Energy-Efficiency Tax Credit; (2) Sec. 45L Energy-Efficient New Home Tax Credit; and (3) Sec. 179D Commercial Building Tax Deduction. NARI is a member of the Energy Efficiency Coalition that not only supports energy tax credits but also supports comprehensive energy legislation and energy efficiency legislation. Most recently NARI joined with a coalition of manufacturers, trade associations, and other stakeholder to send a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate tax committees asking that they renew these three provisions. Click here to see a copy of the letter.
While it appears that action on tax legislation is going to be pushed back until the next Congress, NARI remains committed to pushing for the reenactment of these provisions.
Judge Stays Overtime Rule
On Tuesday, November 22nd a federal judge in Texas granted a preliminary injunction, which would delay the December 1st implementation of the new Department of Labor Overtime rule. The judge, who is a President Obama appointee, stated that “The State Plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits because the Final rule exceeds the Department’s authority.” The injunction is only temporary, but the decision is considered a strong signal that the judge is likely to eventually side with the 21 state attorney generals and business groups that brought the suit.
Following is an article that was written by Greenberg Traurig LLP attorneys Robert H. Bernstein, John R. Richards, and Michael J. Slocum. Greenberg Traurig is the law firm that represents NARI’s lobbying interests in the nation’s capital.
Court Stays DOL Overtime Rule, Holds Increased Salary Test Impermissibly ‘Supplants’ Duties Tests
The proposed overtime rules will not go into effect on Dec. 1. In a closely-watched case brought by 21 states (and joined by numerous business organizations) challenging the Department of Labor’s (DOL) rule amendment which would have roughly doubled the minimum salary threshold for many employees to be considered exempt from federal overtime requirements (set to take effect Dec. 1, 2016), a Texas federal court, on the evening of Nov. 22, issued a nationwide order enjoining the DOL “from implementing and enforcing” its new rule. Importantly, for employers who have spent considerable time and resources auditing their workforces in anticipation of the new rule, and on the basis of that have determined to reclassify previously exempt employees because their duties are not sufficient to have the individual qualify as exempt, the injunction does not impact any potential reclassification decisions that were based on the duties employees perform. Rather, the injunction impacts only those employees who are performing exempt duties, but would have fallen below the new salary threshold. Nonetheless, while many questions remain, for now at least employers can “stand down” from steps they were preparing to take to come into compliance with the amended rule.
Since 2004, DOL regulations have required that employees earn a minimum salary of $23,660 annually and meet certain “duties tests” to qualify for most so-called “white collar” exemptions from federal overtime requirements. Earlier this year, however, the DOL promulgated a new rule that would have raised that minimum for most exemptions to $47,476, effective Dec. 1, 2016. Twenty-one states, joined by more than 50 business organizations, filed suit in Texas federal court challenging the DOL’s amended rule and seeking an emergency preliminary injunction. The Court granted their request last night.
The Court rejected the states’ argument that the DOL’s rule was unconstitutional under the Tenth Amendment. The Court agreed with the states, however, that the DOL’s rule exceeded its authority under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. While the Court studiously stopped short of “making a general statement on the lawfulness of the salary-level test” for white collar exemptions overall, it observed that “Congress intended the [white collar] exemption to depend on an employee’s duties rather than an employee’s salary.” Therefore, because the DOL’s “significant increase to the salary level creates essentially a de facto salary-only test” that “supplants the duties test,” the Court concluded the new rule may well be unlawful. Critically, the court reasoned that the rule “is applicable to all states” and “[c]onsequently, the scope of the alleged irreparable injury extends nationwide,” and held that a nationwide injunction staying the DOL’s rule was required.
For now at least, the Dec. 1 implementation date is no longer effective, and employers now have additional “breathing room” to consider their options:
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