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Lankford Blasts Federal Overtime Rule, Offers Legislation to Provide Relief For Small Businesses, Colleges, and Nonprofits

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today delivered a speech on the floor of the Senate to call for a delay to the Department of Labor’s new federal overtime rule. During the speech, Lankford laid out the extreme burden this rule will cause to small businesses, colleges, and nonprofits. 

Today, Lankford, along with Senators Alexander (R-TN) and Collins (R-ME), introduced two bills to address the issues with the burdensome federal overtime rule. The Regulatory Relief for Small Businesses, Schools and Nonprofits Act would delay implementation of the rule six months from its current date of December 1, 2016 to June 1, 2017. Lankford also co-sponsored legislation to change the timeline for implementation of the overtime rule. The Overtime Reform and Review Act would direct the administration to make increases in four stages over a five-year period to give workplaces time to prepare for the rule implementation. 

Senator Lankford is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, which has oversight of the federal regulatory process and federal agency workforce falls under its jurisdiction. 


I am concerned, though, that the administration seems to have been deaf to the message that’s come up over and over again from many of us here in the Congress to be able to highlight these are serious issues, have you evaluated it? The Small Business Administration has real concerns that the data that they presented to the Department of Labor was not used. And the advocate for Small Businesses Administration even within the Department of Labor is challenging the Department of Labor to say: why didn’t you use the data that we provided to be able to evaluate this? There are a lot of questions about how the regulation was promulgated itself or what the end goal is. But let me tell you what the real consequences are on the ground. 

When I was at home in August traveling around the state, this overtime regulation was the number-one question that came up when I talked to any business owner, any business person, any manager. The first thing they raised was the coming overtime rule, both in its complexity in trying to figure out how to be able to actually implement this and the cost to their business and the conversations that were already occurring with employees, where they were moving someone from a salaried position to an hourly position. And their employees hated it because they liked working to a spot where they were in a salaried position. 

The Osage Nation, their HR folks said this. This is William Scott Johnson. He said, ‘I am an HR professional at the Osage Nation and concerned about what the impact of the regulations will have on my organization and employees’. The NAFOA has heard from tribal governments who are concerned about the use of a single nation salary threshold and how it would adversely affect limited resources, especially for tribes in rural areas.’  

The YWCA Battered Women’s Shelter in Oklahoma City wrote me. She said I am a human resource committee member at the YWCA Batter Women’s Shelter. I am concerned about the impact that changes in the overtime regulations will have on this nonprofit organization and its employees. All employees here make less than $50,000 except two top management. The impact of this new legislation could be catastrophic for payroll as employees will have to be moved from exempt to nonexempt status simply due to the salary base being proposed. 

as tuition goes up in universities, this administration needs to stop complaining about the high cost of tuition in higher education, because this overtime rule will directly increase the cost of tuition at every university in the country. The day the final rule was proposed, the first text message that I received about it was from a university president who text me and said, ‘Don’t blame me next year when tuition goes up. There’s no way I can stop it now’. To which I responded back to him, ‘don’t blame me for this overtime rule. This is not one we put in statute. This is one the administration created’. All of us want to see workers protected. All of us want to see things happen well in the United States. But the way this rule was implemented, the short period of time in the implementation, the size of the salary increase and the few exemptions that are put into place have created an incredibly toxic effect for business across the country. 

Whether you are a large business, medium, small business, university, nonprofit, and I haven’t even mentioned local government, which will be forced to raise taxes to be able to cover the cost of this — all of them are dramatically all of them are affected in this short period of time. That’s why Senator Collins and I proposed a bill, that lines up with what the House, has already passed to say delay this six months. Most businesses are just trying to figure out what in the world they’d do with this and how they handle the implementation. Delay it for six months. I would say there is a tremendous amount we have to deal with on top of just the delay. But at a minimum, let’s delay it. There’s no reason it has to go into effect right now. And it directly harms our economy in the days ahead.