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Playing Offense Looks Like Fun To Packaging Industry

"We have been fighting a defensive battle for a long time," said Richard Thornburg, director of government relations for the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA), in assessing the impact of the November elections.

"It will be nice to be on the offense for a change." Packagers are hopeful that the new Republican majority in Congress will mean more pro-business policies, less regulation and more flexiblity in everything from environmental laws to worker safety. At the least, business concerns will be given a more sympathetic hearing. The House leadership has already moved to trim the number of committees and the size of their staffs. Several committees have been renamed and overlapping responsibilities transferred. For example, the Commerce Committee relinquished food inspection oversight to the Agriculture Committee. That could have implications on future labeling issues. It likely would mean one less committee that would approve any new labeling proposals. On the labor front, Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, (R-KS), chairman of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, favors turning over a number of regulatory programs to states. She has indicated Congress shouldn't be involved in regulation of either smoking in the workplace or repetitive motion injuries, both high priorities for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA's comprehensive proposed new regulations on ergonomics are likely to get a second look, and most observers believe OSHA reform legislation is dead. Several major environmental programs are due for renewal, including the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Clean Water Act. Packaging may get a break from previous efforts to impose stiff new recycling requirements now that the Democratic, more pro-environment chairmen of key environmental committees have been replaced by Republicans with a more pro-business outlook.

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