2024 Federal Legislative Priorities Survey Findings

The 2024 PRINTING United Alliance Federal Legislative Priorities Survey gathered information from members to determine which federal policy issues have the most impact on print service providers (PSPs) and the printing industry. More than 200 Alliance members contributed to this effort, including commercial printers, wide-format printers, apparel decorators, and package printers/converters, among others. Based on the responses, the top policy issues impacting the printing industry were as follows: 


  1. Labor and Employment 

  2. Economy and Taxes 

  3. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Privacy 

  4. Environment and Sustainability 

  5. Regulatory and Legal Reform 

  6. Supply Chain and Logistics 

Interestingly, environment and sustainability, regulatory and legal reform, and supply chain and logistics were evenly ranked. But labor and employment clearly took the number one spot among those surveyed, followed by economy and taxes, and AI and data privacy.   


Labor and Employment 

Survey answers revealed that recruiting and retaining qualified workers remains a significant challenge for the printing industry. The lack of skilled labor was the printing industry’s major challenge even before the pandemic, and the survey findings show it is still a major concern.  

The labor market challenges facing the printing industry are expected to continue, but there are actions employers can take to remain competitive to attract and retain talent. PSPs can increase their hiring pools by removing barriers to entering the workforce, such as expanding childcare access, offering innovative benefits, participating in second chance hiring, and providing opportunities for new and existing staff to be upskilled and reskilled on the job. 

To engage and inspire the next generation of print professionals, the Alliance and the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation (PGSF) is hosting an official Manufacturing (MFG) Day event at the 2024 PRINTING United Expo on Wednesday, September 11, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Student Day at the Expo is a registered event with The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). Students, educational institutions, and those working toward a career in printing and graphic arts will enjoy free admission to the Expo; tours on the show floor; the opportunity to meet with industry leaders, and the chance to view live demonstrations of new products and solutions.  

In addition to supporting MFG Day, as a member of Tomorrow’s Workforce Coalition, the Alliance is advocating for passage of the bipartisan, bicameral Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act (S. 722/H.R. 1477). This federal legislation would transform 529 savings plans from “college savings plans” to “career savings plans.” If enacted, certifications and training offered by the Alliance would be a permitted use of 529 funds. We will continue to urge Congress to swiftly pass this Act. To learn more, read the Alliance article here

The Alliance’s Adriane Harrison, vice president of human relations consulting, provides expert assistance in labor and employment issues and may be reached at aharrison@printing.org. 

Economy and Taxes 

The printing industry is not immune to economic fluctuations. Economic downturns can lead to reduced advertising budgets, impacting the demand for printed marketing materials. On the other hand, economic recovery and growth can stimulate business activities, prompting increased investment in print advertising and promotional campaigns. While challenges persist, the industry has demonstrated resilience by embracing innovation and adapting to changing dynamics. 

The good news is inflation is slowing. The overall Consumer Price Index (CPI) was flat in May compared with April, the first time in almost two years that it didn’t climb. In May 2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported headline CPI at 3.3%. On June 12, 2024, the U.S. Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged and forecast only one rate cut this year. Federal officials expect to lower rates to 5.1% before the end of 2024. But Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell made clear that things could change. Powell said, "The economic outlook is uncertain. We remain highly attentive to inflation risks." Powell acknowledged that there has been modest progress toward the Federal Open Market Committee's 2% inflation objective.

On the tax policy front, survey respondents reported that compliance costs and tax code complexity are significant challenges facing their business. The National Federation for Independent Businesses (NFIB) reports that tax compliance costs are 67% higher for small businesses than for big businesses. Compliance costs small-business owners $18-$19 billion per year, and the paperwork costs come to $74.24 per hour. And while pass-through businesses are unaffected by corporate tax rates, they are sensitive to individual rates. For example, one study showed that a 5% increase in the individual tax rate reduced by 10% the number of owners making capital investments. 

Many survey participants reported that payroll taxes are especially burdensome. Payroll taxes increase the cost of labor, striking especially hard at printing businesses with thin profit margins. Payroll taxes must be paid even when the business is going through a period of unprofitability which eats into cash flow and increases financing costs. 

Estate taxes are also problematic. Estate taxes make it difficult for relatives to retain ownership of a family business when the owner dies or retires. Family assets often consist primarily of the land, building, and equipment of the business. Paying the estate tax means selling off parts of the business. Preparing for the estate tax requires time and money that could otherwise be used for investment and job creation. The Alliance and its coalition partners, the NFIB, the Family Business Coalition (FBC), and the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition (FBETC), support federal legislation known as the Death Tax Repeal Act. For more information, see this Alliance article here.   

Another Alliance advocacy initiative involves urging Congress to quickly pass the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024 to restore three sector-crucial tax provisions: immediate expensing for domestic research and development expenses, enhanced interest deductibility on business loans and 100% accelerated depreciation for capital investments. “The Big 3” tax incentives for businesses in the Act are now under consideration by the Senate, having successfully passed the House. To learn more, read this Alliance article found here

The Alliance will continue to advocate for a simpler tax code and lower tax rates to encourage businesses, particularly small businesses, to expand, to invest, and create jobs. Andy Paparozzi, chief economist for the Alliance, provides expertise on economic conditions and the printing industry’s performance and prospects. Andy may be reached at apaparozzi@printing.org.    

Artificial Intelligence and Data Privacy 

According to the survey findings, there are mixed feelings about AI and data privacy. The prevailing theme that emerged was “proceed with caution.” Printing companies will need to consider the value that using AI technology may bring, but also the importance of mitigating business risk. Experts agree that at this stage AI technology is best suited to enhancing human productivity, not replacing it. For example, ChatGPT developed by OpenAI, which relies on foundation models of data as a base to learn the inherent patterns and structure of the systems they intend to emulate, should be viewed as a potential tool, but not as a solution that can replace existing personnel.  

Notable concerns of those surveyed reported a lack of regulation over AI and data privacy, intellectual property (IP) protections and the ability for scammers to cause havoc. The U.S. does not have a national data privacy standard and instead has a patchwork of state data privacy laws. The latest Congressional effort to tackle the issue was released in April 2024 in a discussion draft of the federal American Privacy Rights Act of 2024. To learn more about the legislation and where the Alliance stands on the issue, please read the Alliance article here

Courts are still trying to establish how IP laws should be applied to generative AI. To mitigate risk, PSPs that use generative AI should ask their providers whether their models were trained with any protected content and avoid generative AI tools that cannot confirm that their training data is properly licensed from content creators or subject to open-source licenses with which the AI companies comply.  

The Alliance and NAPCO Research produced an April 2024 State of the Industry Report, The AI/Big Data Revolution, and for additional insights, this members-only, free resource can be found here.  

Environment and Sustainability 

One of the top issues identified at drupa was sustainability, and the survey findings concur. A business strategy focusing on sustainability can add brand value, meet customer demands, increase efficiency, reduce costs, attract valuable talent, improve your environmental footprint, and create new business opportunities. The printing industry is committed to responsibly providing for future generations. 

A key issue the Alliance is monitoring is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws which require the manufacturers, producers, or brands of goods, printed paper products and packaging to take responsibility for the end-of-life of those products. Producers are charged a fee or “tax” which is passed onto the consumer. The increased costs decrease consumer demand for printed products.   

Five states, including California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, and Oregon, have enacted EPR laws. Maryland and Illinois have developed need assessments to determine the feasibility of future EPR legislation. The potential for 50 different EPR state regulatory frameworks would present a significant burden on U.S. manufacturers. A federal standard would eliminate the patchwork of state laws which are creating compliance headaches for printing companies. While federal legislation has yet to be introduced, in March 2024, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing to discuss EPR in packaging.  

Some activity on recycling at the federal level has taken place this year. In April 2024, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved the Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act (S. 1189) and the Recycling and Composting Accountability Act (S. 1194), which will help build recycling and composting infrastructure projects, increase data collection, and explore a national composting strategy. The two bipartisan bills, which the Alliance supports, would help the U.S. reach its national recycling goal of 50% by 2030. For additional information, read the Alliance article here

The Alliance will continue to monitor federal and state legislative activity. For more information on environment and sustainability issues, contact Gary Jones, vice president of environmental, health and safety (EHS) affairs at gjones@printing.org or Sara Osorio, coordinator, EHS affairs at sosorio@printing.org

Regulatory Reform 

The survey found that printing businesses are exhausting time and resources to comply with inefficient, duplicative, and unnecessarily burdensome regulations. A National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) study found that the burden of complying with federal regulations costs small manufacturers (those with fewer than 50 employees) $50,100 per employee, per year. This is more than three times the cost borne by the average U.S. company. If the costs of federal regulations were reduced, printing companies could reallocate current compliance funds towards investments to grow their business.  

The Alliance is a member of NAM’s Manufacturers for Sensible Regulations (MFSR) coalition to address the impact of the current regulatory onslaught coming from federal agencies. NAM reports that 93 new regulations from across 30 agencies and offices are stifling growth and job creation. The Department of Labor (DOL), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are just a few of the agencies that have recently released new rules and regulations.  

The Alliance will continue to advocate for commonsense regulatory reforms that allow domestic manufacturing to grow and enhance U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace. This Alliance article provides additional information. 

Supply Chain and Logistics 

According to the survey, printing companies continue to experience supply chain challenges, such as disruptions and difficulties in obtaining materials. In addition to delays, high shipping and container costs are negatively impacting the printing industry. 

To strengthen U.S. supply chains and make U.S. businesses more competitive globally, the Alliance supports the Tariff Reform Coalition (TRC) and the Americans for Free Trade (AFT) coalition, both of which call for an end to Section 301 China tariffs. While the intended purpose of the tariffs was a good one, namely, to get China to change its discriminatory behavior, this policy attempt has failed. Section 301 tariffs have cost Americans $129 billion, with an average monthly cost of $3.8 billion, according to AFT.  

The exclusions to the Section 301 tariffs provided limited but important relief for some U.S. businesses, especially for products delayed because of supply chain disruptions, but the exclusions expired at the end of May 2024. Also in May, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released its four-year statutory review of the Section 301 tariffs. The review, which took six years to complete, maintains the tariffs, and increases them in some categories. These tariffs are detrimental to American workers, consumers and businesses and fails to prevent China from engaging in unfair trade practices.   

NAM argues that the best way to end unfairness, protect U.S. assets and innovation, and raise standards is to establish a U.S.-China bilateral agreement to hold China accountable with strong enforcement tools. Subjecting all parts of the agreement to transparent and neutral dispute settlement procedures, ensuring all trade and economic commitments are subject to private rights of action, and establishing periodic agreement reviews to both identify and address existing problems and tackle new ones would go a long way towards leveling the playing field with China.  

In the logistics category, on top of mind is the impact of the unprecedented twice-a-year postal rate increases by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Effective July 14, 2024, the price of a First-Class Mail Forever stamp will increase from 68 cents to 73 cents. This will be the sixth price hike since January 2021. A USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) report found that between June 2018 and June 2023, the U.S. inflation rate rose by 21%, while USPS raised its stamp price by 26% — five percentage points above the U.S. inflation rate. 

Each time mail prices go up; USPS revenue goes down because demand for mail declines as mailers can no longer afford the price of stamps. This rate strategy and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year Delivering for America (DFA) plan is not working. The USPS lost $6.4 billion in fiscal year 2023, projects a $6.3 billion loss in fiscal year 2024, and a $5 billion loss in fiscal 2025. In addition to the financial losses, USPS has experienced a decline in mail volume and failed to meet service delivery standards. After repeated calls from lawmakers, in May 2024, DeJoy agreed to pause the restructuring of the USPS at least until January 2025. 

The printing industry depends on the USPS as a key mail delivery channel. It’s vital that Congress, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) and the Board of Governors (BOG) act now to preserve the USPS. To this end, the Alliance, in conjunction with the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service (C21) and Keep US Posted, is lobbying members of Congress and submitting comments to the PRC and BOG. We will continue to advocate for the preservation of the USPS — the only institution capable of going the last mile to reach, serve, and tangibly link every American. 

Final Thoughts 

The Government Affairs team would like to thank the more than 200 Alliance members that contributed to this effort. Our industry-wide survey helps us keep a pulse on federal policy issues that are having the most impact on your business. This important feedback allows us to develop a legislative agenda that helps us effectively elevate policies that benefit the printing industry, its employees and its customers, while at the same time combating policies that would be detrimental to industry innovation and success. 

In this article, Stephanie Buka, Government Affairs Coordinator, and Carly O’Neill, Communications Coordinator, PRINTING United Alliance, report on the 2024 Federal Legislative Priorities Survey findings. More information can be found at Business Excellence-Legislation or reach out to Steph should you have additional questions specific to how these issues may affect your business: sbuka@printing.org.  

To become a member of the Alliance and learn more about how our subject matter experts can assist your company with services and resources such as those mentioned in this article, please contact the Alliance membership team: 888-385-3588 / membership@printing.org.

Also Tagged: Congressional Updates, Economics, Human Resources, Legislation, Regulations, Sustainability
Stephanie Buka Government Affairs Coordinator

Stephanie Buka is the Government Affairs Coordinator for PRINTING United Alliance. In this role, she supports Ford Bowers, CEO, the Government Affairs team, and coordinates efforts with lobbying firm, ACG Advocacy. She manages all aspects of grassroots advocacy campaigns, including facilitating timely call-to-action alerts and updates to The Advocacy Center on key federal and state legislative issues. As a member of the Office of Corporate Communications, Buka manages the content and audience building responsibilities for the Government Affairs team. She is also responsible for the administration of the Alliance's political action committee, PrintPAC.

Prior to joining the Alliance, Buka served as a senior legislative researcher, and later as a constituent services coordinator, for the 15-member legislative body representing 1.3 million residents of Allegheny County, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In addition to drafting legislation and addressing constituent concerns, Buka cultivated strong relationships with appointed and elected officials at the local, state, and federal levels of government.

Buka holds a master’s degree in Public Policy and Management from the University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA). She also earned a master's degree in Criminology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, along with a Certificate in Forensic Science and Law from Duquesne University.

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