After months of lobbying by the Society of American Florists (SAF), S.B. 1809, the Simplifying Technical Aspects Regarding Seasonality (STARS) Act was introduced in the Senate in late July by Sens. Kelley Ayotte (R-NH), Angus King (I-Maine) and Roy Blunt (R-MO).
The bill would provide relief to seasonal employers in the floral industry who have been struggling to understand and comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The legislation is a companion to H.R. 863, introduced in the House last February by Reps. Jim Renacci (R-OH) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR).
Leading a coalition representing various industries, SAF has worked with a bipartisan group of members of Congress to introduce the legislation.
Under current law, different definitions of seasonal, with different lengths of service, are used to determine whether a business is defined as large or small under the ACA and whether the employees in question must be offered health insurance.
“The result has been confusing and often incorrect compliance information that puts seasonal employers at risk for potential tax liabilities,” says SAF Senior Director of Government Relations Shawn McBurney.
Left unchanged, the law would create greater confusion and more costs for seasonal employers attempting to properly comply with the ACA. The STARS Act seeks to align definitions of what constitutes a seasonal worker with Treasury Department regulations and provide clarity so employers can understand and comply with the law.
In July, members of the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) took the issue to Capitol Hill after McBurney briefed the group. NALP has been involved in SAF’s efforts to pass the STARS Act almost since its inception, according to McBurney.
At SAF’s Congressional Action Days (CAD) in March, about 90 floral industry members expressed similar concerns about the term and how it’s defined to their lawmakers.
SAF’s 36th Annual Congressional Action Days is March 14-15, 2016.