Policy Update September 15, 2014
Monday, September 15, 2014
WIPP Policy Briefing - September 15, 2014
Money Matters: Congress Set to Pass Short Term Funding Bill
The Congress is poised to pass a short-term, 11-week continuing resolution (CR) this week. The CR, H. J. Res 124, will fund the government at current FY2014 spending levels until December 11, 2014. Fun fact: the last time Congress has not need a CR was almost 20 years ago in 1997.
After the disastrous fallout from the government shutdown last year, Congressional leaders are eager to pass the CR with as few policy changes - known as “riders” or “anomalies” - as possible. The CR includes the following changes: new military force authority, an extension of the Export-Import Bank until June 30, 2015 (set to expire at the end of September), an extension of moratorium on taxing internet access, and an increase of $88 million for the Centers for Disease Control to boost efforts in the fight against Ebola. It is expected to pass this week before Representatives and Senators break to go back to their states to campaign.
Small Business Saturday Resolutions March Forward in Both Houses
With the Senate expected to introduce a resolution on Monday, September 15, and the House shortly thereafter, the Congress is gearing up to support Small Business Saturday (SBS). Small Business Saturday takes place on November 29, 2014. WIPP’s SBS Coalition of 369 organizations and 1,450 communities and business owners will begin its work in earnest to generate support for locally-owned small businesses in communities across the United States. WIPP is encouraging all of its members to reach out to their Congressional delegation to support the resolutions.
The Road to Sole Source: September Update
In the final weeks before Congress began their summer recess, two bills in the Senate were introduced to bring sole source authority to the WOSB Procurement Program. Information on both bills, S. 2481 and S. 2693, can be found in WIPP’s Action Center.
The House has already passed sole source legislation as part of the FY15 Defense Authorization bill. The Senate is expected to consider their version in December. WIPP is engaging Senators to support the introduced legislation and include sole source authority in the Senate defense bill.
Five States Get A Jump on Small Business Health Insurance Marketplaces
While most of the country will have to wait until November 15th to begin the 2015 health insurance enrollment process, small businesses (under 50 employees) in five states will get an early look at the revamped Small Business Health Option Program, also called the “SHOP” marketplace.
Companies in Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey, and Delaware will be able to create an account, select an agent or broker, check their eligibility for plans, and upload employee information. HHS officials selected these five states by following an analysis of existing plans and a high level of stakeholder engagement.
Enrollment nationwide begins November 15th for both the small business and individual market. For more information, join WIPP’s Healthcare Committee or register for an upcoming webinar on the 2015 enrollment period and its impact on women-owned businesses.
Congress Focuses On The State of Small Business
The House Small Business Committee wasted no time after the August recess to hold hearings on the state of small business. The full Committee met to hear from Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, who made her first appearance before the House Small Business Committee since her confirmation in April. Administrator Contreras-Sweet reported to the Committee that SBA One, a new online tool that will both simplify loan applications as well as perform automated credit scoring for loans under $350,000, will come online in the second quarter of 2015.
During Q&A, Administrator Contreras-Sweet addressed two overriding concerns raised by multiple Members of the Committee: women’s access to federal contracts and access to capital. Administrator Contreras-Sweet, noting her recent participation at the ChallengeHER event in Los Angeles, called on Congress to grant sole-source authority to the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Procurement Program. The House passed legislation that would do so, while the Senate has not. With respect to access to capital, she noted that since the SBA began waiving fees on loans below $150,000 last year, SBA lending to women-owned business is up more than 35%.
A second hearing, convened by the Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce focused on a drop in new business creation -- which has hit a 30 year low. According to Subcommittee Chair Richard Hanna (R-NY), the rate of new business creation has dropped nearly 50% from 1978, when there were 12 new businesses created for each existing business. In 2011, that number dropped to 6.2 new firms per existing business. The hearing witnesses focused their recommendations to five key areas: lack of skilled workers, immigration policies that make it difficult to retain technical specialists, difficulty accessing capital, burdensome regulations, and tax complexity.