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In conjunction with the 2013 SHRM Leadership Conference, over 400 SHRM members went to Capitol Hill on Nov. 21 to meet with their senators and representatives to discuss pending legislative proposals and what those proposals mean for HR professionals.

Specifically, SHRM volunteer leaders met with lawmakers and their respective staffs to discuss three HR-related legislative issues: (1) comprehensive tax reform, (2) immigration reform, and (3) a compensatory time-off option for private-sector employees. While Congress might not take up any of these issues before year-end, SHRM volunteer leaders took matters into their own hands to help shape the dialogue on these HR public policy proposals. SHRM members conducted a total of 224 House meetings and 94 Senate meetings. In addition, other SHRM advocates took to the social media airways by participating in the “virtual Hill Day” and sent over 400 letters to Capitol Hill while members were meeting with lawmakers in person.

Nevada Members with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (right) Maine Members with Senator Susan Collins (center)Senator Claire McCaskill (center) Talks with Missouri SHRM Members Senator Rand Paul (right) Talks With Kentucky SHRM Members 

During the meetings, HR professionals urged legislators to “do no harm” to the current tax treatment of retirement plans as they consider proposals to reform the U.S. tax code. SHRM believes that every U.S. employee should be given the opportunity to save for retirement and that the government should facilitate and encourage voluntary employer-sponsored retirement plans and individual savings programs. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., who oversee the two congressional committees with jurisdiction over taxation matters, have indicated that comprehensive tax reform will be a priority in 2014.

OK SHRM Members Visit Rep. Tom Cole's (R-OK) Office  Florida SHRM Members Visit with Rep. Rich Nugent (right)

Turning to immigration reform, on which the Senate passed a comprehensive bill in July, SHRM advocacy efforts were focused in the House of Representatives. In particular, SHRM members advocated for improving the current employment verification process (Form I-9, along with E-Verify) by urging their representatives to support an amendment that would create an entirely electronic, integrated verification system (virtually eliminating the Form I-9); utilize knowledge-based authentication to combat identity theft in the employment process; and strengthen the safe harbor provisions for employer hiring decisions made on the basis of information provided through the electronic verification system. It is expected that the House will consider immigration reform proposals in 2014.

Last spring, the House passed the SHRM-supported Working Families Flexibility Act (H.R. 1406), a bill that proposes to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow private-sector organizations the option of offering their hourly employees who work overtime the choice of compensatory time off or pay. Just a few weeks prior to the SHRM Leadership Conference, Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., introduced a similar proposal called the Family Friendly and Workplace Flexibility Act of 2013 (S. 1626). In addition to allowing for comp time in the private sector, S. 1626 proposes to establish a Flexible Credit Hour Program, which would give part-time employees a way to accrue hours to use at a later time. In their Senate meetings, SHRM members urged their state senators to support private-sector employers and employees by adding their name as a co-sponsor of S. 1626. The proposal is currently pending before the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions awaiting further consideration.

What is the SHRM Leadership Conference? The SHRM Leadership Conference is an annual event for volunteer leaders to prepare for their role by obtaining information about SHRM’s initiatives, sharing successful practices, and networking with colleagues and SHRM staff. Conference sessions are designed specifically around leadership and professional development.

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