Summary: H.R.985 — 114th Congress (2015-2016)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (11/14/2016)

Concrete Masonry Products Research, Education, and Promotion Act of 2015

(Sec. 4) This bill directs the Department of Commerce to issue orders applicable to manufacturers of concrete masonry products.

An order regarding the generic research, education, and promotion of concrete masonry products may be:

  • proposed by Commerce at any time, or
  • requested (and submitted to Commerce) by an existing national organization of concrete masonry product manufacturers or any person that may be affected by the issuance of such an order.

(Sec. 5) Any order issued under this bill shall provide for establishment of a Concrete Masonry Products Board to carry out a program of generic promotion, research, and education regarding concrete masonry products. The order shall specify the powers and duties of the board.

The board may not engage in any action, nor use any funds received under this bill, to:

  • influence legislation, elections, or governmental action;
  • engage in any conflict of interest;
  • engage in advertising that is false or misleading; or
  • engage in any promotion, research, or education that would be disparaging to other construction materials, or any promotion or project that would benefit any individual manufacturer.

Manufacturers and importers shall maintain, and make available for inspection, specified records.

(Sec. 6) Any order must also require that quarterly assessments be paid by manufacturers for any concrete masonry products manufactured at least 180 days before remittance of the assessment to the board.

The bill establishes an initial assessment rate of $0.01 per concrete masonry unit sold. The board may increase or decrease such rate but any change may not exceed $0.01 per unit, and be made no more than once per year. The maximum rate shall be $0.05 per unit.

At least 50% of the assessments (less administrative expenses) paid by a manufacturer shall be used to support research, education, and promotion programs and projects in support of the manufacturer's geographic region. The bill divides the states into five specified regions, whose composition Commerce may adjust on the board's recommendation.

(Sec. 7) During the 60-day period preceding the proposed effective date of an order, Commerce shall conduct a referendum for order approval, according to specified procedures, among the manufacturers required to pay assessments under it.

(Sec. 8) The bill prescribes requirements for petition and review of an order, including order enforcement through U.S. district courts. Commerce may assess a civil penalty on any person willfully violating such an order or regulation.

(Sec. 10) Commerce may also conduct appropriate investigations to administer this bill (with power of subpoena).

(Sec. 11) Commerce must suspend or terminate any order, or a provision of an order, that obstructs or does not tend to effectuate the purposes of this bill, or that is not favored by a majority of all votes cast in a referendum.

(Sec. 15) Funds appropriated to carry out this bill may not be used for the board's payment of expenses or expenditures in administering the order.

(Sec. 16) In each fiscal year that begins on the enactment of this bill and ends on the last day of the 11th fiscal year that begins on or after such enactment, the board may not obligate an amount greater than the sum of:

  • 73% of the amount of assessments estimated to be collected in such fiscal year;
  • 73% of the amount of assessments actually collected in the most recent fiscal year for which an audit report has been submitted as of the beginning of the fiscal year for which the amount that may be obligated is being determined, less the estimate made for the most recent fiscal year; and
  • unobligated amounts permitted in the preceding fiscal years.

This bill prescribes a special rule regarding this prohibition for the amount of assessments estimated to be collected in the 9th and 10th fiscal years that begin on or after such enactment.

(Sec. 17) The Government Accountability Office shall study how the board spends assessments collected, the impact of board activities, and other matters relating to the demand for concrete masonry products.

(Sec. 18) Commerce shall examine the appropriateness and effectiveness of applying the commodity check-off program model to a nonagricultural industry. (A commodity check-off program collects funds through a checkoff mechanism from producers of a particular agricultural commodity and uses them to promote and do research on that particular commodity.)