118th Congress Confronts Tech Issues

As manufacturing floors become more integrated and companies increase investments in technology, technology oversight has become an increasing area of interest to the membership of the  Flexible Packaging Association (FPA).

The 118th Congress has been aggressive with bipartisan legislation, and the Biden administration has moved on regulations.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI), or machine learning, is revolutionizing manufacturing by providing companies with numerous ways to become more efficient, safer for workers, and, in turn, profitable. However, the breadth of AI as a policy concern is seemingly endless, and jurisdiction issues are a challenge.

AI issues have been taken up across committees in the legislative branch. In the U.S. Senate, these efforts have come under the umbrella of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s AI Regulation Framework he released in June.

It was followed by a series of bipartisan briefings over the summer. The U.S. House has a plethora of bills and has garnered extensive committee oversight. While these efforts are focused on national security and China-related concerns, FPA is mindful that overarching policies can have a direct impact on the day-to-day operations of member companies.

For manufacturers, keeping up with discordant state laws and international laws is a compliance challenge.

Meanwhile, a good starting point for understanding the Biden administration’s positioning on AI is the White House’s “Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights: Making Automated Systems Work for the American People.” The document was published by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in October 2022. It has been a launching pad for movement on AI policy formation from the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s “AI Risk Management Framework (AI RMF 1.0)” that was released in January to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s “AI Accountability Policy Request for Comment” that garnered over 1,400 responses, to the joint statement by the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Department of Justice, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “outlining a commitment to enforce their respective laws and regulations to promote responsible innovation in automated systems.”

With AI, we are at the beginning of policy development and implementation. FPA’s related advocacy efforts on this topic will continue to evolve for many years.

Cybersecurity/Data Privacy/Security

We saw the adoption of new cybersecurity reporting requirements over the past several years and are tracking efforts to further increase those requirements.

Also, companies are creating and storing increasing amounts of sensitive data. Accordingly, data privacy and security policies are increasingly impactful. At the federal level, Congress continues to work on a patchwork of laws that address different industry sectors. For manufacturers, keeping up with discordant state laws and international laws is a compliance challenge. This is a priority initiative for many of the large trade associations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers. FPA will continue to support joint efforts that provide conformity for businesses and promote innovation while providing data protection.

Federal Funding Opportunities/Tax Incentives

The past several years have seen major federal investment in funding for companies to modernize and expand manufacturing efforts. Through packages such as the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, Congress established many loans, tax incentives, and grant programs for manufacturers to stimulate the economy. FPA is continuing to track the implementation of these programs and efforts to alter/rescind some of these programs. Most notable are programs that accelerate the adoption of energy efficiencies in manufacturing.