WEEKLY UPDATE: ACTIVITIES, RESOURCES & MORE
This Needs to be a Small Business Election
Following Super Tuesday and reflecting on what’s ahead, SBE Council chief economist Ray Keating writes in a blog post that we need to hear more about small business issues.If we want a strong economy, then strong entrepreneurship and small business growth is needed. He reviews the key issues and what needs to be done.
CNBC: Main Street Speaks Out. In a February 29 CNBC article, Elaine Pofeldt covers the positions of the presidential candidates on key small business issues.SBE Council president & CEO Karen Kerrigan is quoted: “Small-business owners are really concerned about the economy, and only 1 in 5 feel they have recovered from the Great Recession.” She adds: “Many of our 100,000 members tell us they are still in survival mode, and they are looking at the candidates’ policies to see how each plan will spur economic growth.”
The Candidates and Small Business.Prior to every presidential debate, SBE Council has updated each of the candidate’s pages on where they stand on key small business issues. You can access the latest GOP page here, and the Democrat page here.
WE DECIDE 2016. SBE Council is a partner with Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) on the WE DECIDE 2016 campaign. WE Decide 2016 is working to mobilize thousands ofwomen in business to raise their voice this election season.As a WE Decide 2016 Partner, we encourage women small business owners and entrepreneurs to engage in this effort.The campaign is working to get 500 women business owners participating in WE Decide 2016 polls & surveys to share results with candidates and the media about the issues critical to women entrepreneurs, and the solutions they support. Please share this information with your colleagues, friends and family members.
Resources and Business Intelligence
9 Ways to Use Twitter to Become An Industry Influencer. SBE Council’s small business expert and advocate Susan Solovic covers tips and guidelines for using Twitter to amplify your voice and competitive position.
This Week in Small Business. Among other important topics, Susan Solovic looks at important trends in content marketing, SEO and the economy and shares curated content from across the web.
SCORE Webinar: Keeping Your Company’s Name, Brands and Logo from Being Ripped Off. You can watch this March 3 webinar, or join a live event on March 15, 1:00 p.m. ET with expanded Q&A. Many small businesses fail to protect their intellectual property (IP), which can become the most important and valuable asset of a business. This webinar covers the basics of IP and how to protect it. Click here to register or to watch the March 3 event.
FREE IP Webinar Series for SBIR/STTR Program Participants: A Free Intellectual Property Webinar Series on Patents, Trademarks, & Copyrights is being offered for SBIR/STTR participants. Understanding Intellectual Property (IP) - Patents, Trade Secrets, Trademarks, and Copyrights - is necessary to protect your ideas, products and product names in today’s knowledge economy. Seven 90-minute webinars have been designed specifically to address the most common IP issues facing small businesses funded by the SBIR/STTR program. Webinars start March 21 and run through March 30. Space is limited to 75 people per webinar.
The SBIR Road Tour 2016: This is a national outreach effort to convey the non-dilutive technology funding opportunity provided through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Individual program managers from 11 participating federal agencies representing $2.5 billion in early stage funding will embark on an across the country road tour, participating in a series of events alongside technology entrepreneurs and innovation supporters from across the United States. If you’re aninnovator, entrepreneur, researcher, or small technology firm,don’t miss this opportunity. Every SBIR/STTR event provides an in-depth understanding of agency technology funding priorities, and one-on-one meetings with high-level decision makers. Visit www.sbir.gov and www.sbirroadtour.com for more updates and details about these nationwide events, which begin April 4 in New Orleans.
Small Business Progress On Capitol Hill
Access to Capital: Two SBE Council supported bills championed by Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) were approved by the Financial Services Committee on March 3, and now await action by the House of Representatives. The Helping Angels Lead our Startups (HALOS) ActandMain Street Growth Act make important reforms and open doors for small businesses to access the capital they need to get started or grow.
Read SBE Council’s support letter on HALOS here, and the Main Street Growth Act here.
Heading off “Midnight Regulations:”Rep. Tim Walberg’s (R-MI) “Midnight Rule Relief Act,” H.R. 4612, passed the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on March 1. The legislation would prevent any Administration from promulgating major “midnight” regulations in the waning days of a president’s term in office. As noted in SBE Council president & CEO Karen Kerrigan’s testimony before the House Science Committee on midnight regulations (Feb. 10): “The heightened level of regulatory activity obviously creates uncertainty for entrepreneurs, which limits risk-taking, investment and expansion. Another year of too much regulation from Washington means another year of lackluster growth for the economy. This is not what small business owners are hoping for or need.” Read SBE Council’s support letter for H.R. 4612here. A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI).
Effort Grows to Quash IRS Penalties for HRAs: SBE Council joined more than 166 organizations to sign a letter to House and Senate supporters of the Small Business Healthcare Relief Act(H.R. 2911/S. 1697). The legislation would end IRS penalties on employers who offer tax-free Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) that help their employees purchase health insurance. On July 1, 2015 the IRS deemed these arrangements impermissible, and said employers could be fined $100 per day, per employee for providing HRAs.
Saving American Brickmakers: The House passed the Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns (BRICK) Act on March 3, which would delay compliance with an EPA rule on brickmakers until courts complete its judicial review. Small businesses dominate this industry. The legislation was introduced by Reps. Bill Johnson (R-OH), Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA). The EPA rule imposes strict standards on brickmakers, which would cost businesses upwards of $100 million per year. The BRICK Act, if enacted, can help protect brickmaking businesses from costly compliance measures and layoffs while courts determine the legality of the rule.
Center for Regulatory Solutions Update
Regulatory Reform Task Force Mission: Make it Easier to Invest, Build, Produce in America: SBE Council president & CEO Karen Kerrigan reviews the mission and principles of the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Task Force, one of six new U.S. House groups that will tackle issues and provide solutions to get the U.S. back to a position of strength. In her blog post Kerrigan writes: “Over the last 7 years, the federal government has amassed an abysmal record of regulatory overreach, not to mention its poor record of indifference to the significant regulatory burdens that these rules impose on small businesses. The task force has outlined ten key principles to help alleviate these burdens and promote capital formation, new business creation, innovation, and entrepreneurship.”
REG ALERT: DOL Proposed Paid Sick Leave Rule for Government Contractors.
The Department of Labor (DOL) is requiring federal contractors, subcontractors and certain parties who contract with the Federal Government to provide their employees with up to 7 days of paid sick leave annually, implementing President Obama’s Executive Order 13706. The SBA’s Office of Advocacy is asking the DOL to extend their comment period an additional 30 days (comments are due March 28). DOL estimates that the proposed rule will cost each small business $150-$650 for the first year in implementation costs and payroll costs. If you are a government contractor, does that cost estimate appear accurate to you?
If you would like to be heard on this issue, the Office of Advocacy is hosting a roundtable on March 14, 2:00-4:00 p.m. at the SBA in Washington, D.C. to hear small business feedback about the proposed rule. Space is limited, and there is a call-in option. If you plan to attend, or have additional information, please contact: JanisReyes@SBA.gov.
Comments about the proposed rule are due to DOL byMarch 28, 2016.
Read and Comment on this rule on Regulations.gov.
Overview of the Proposed Rule, Fact Sheet, and FAQs from the DOL Website.
Link to the Executive Order from the White House Website.
Seems Everyone is Questioning the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule:As you know, SBE Council has been active in pointing out the deep flaws in the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) proposed fiduciary rule. The proposed regulation will undermine the ability of small businesses to afford and provide retirement plans for their employees, which undermines saving by Americans. (Read our joint comments here.) The proposed rule is at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for final review.A recent report by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, chaired by Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), found the DOL rejected helpful suggestions from the SEC, Treasury Department and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) on the rule.Nearly 100 Democrats have also expressed concerns about the impact of the proposed rule.
According to the report: “The majority staff found that the Labor Department frequently prioritized the expeditious completion of the rulemaking process at the expense of thoughtful deliberation. Additionally, the majority staff found indications that political appointees at the White House played a key role in driving the rulemaking process at the inception of the redrafting effort.”
The SBA Office of Advocacy also found fault in the proposed rule ,and urged the DOL to take into account the concerns of small businesses about the rule and conduct additional analysis with respect to small business impact.
Arizona Citizens, Elected Officials, Business Express Concern and Alarm over New Ozone Standard at EPA Workshop: SBE Council chief economist Ray Keating joined a range of interested parties to express concerns about the EPA’s new ozone standards, expressing particular alarm at the agency’s failure to fully consider and provide a solution for “background ozone” – that comes from naturally occurring sources or cross-border pollution. Western states will be unfairly punished for these emissions, throwing many into “non-attainment,” which carries restrictions and penalties. Here is a review of what took place at the “workshop.” Prior to the event, the Center for Regulatory Solutions also produced a new report “A Natural Disadvantage: Punishing Arizona for Ozone Levels Beyond its Control,” which found that 97 percent of the state’s economy, 95 percent of the state’s jobs, and 93 percent of the state’s population could be impacted if nine Arizona economies are found in violation (non-attainment) of the EPA’s new standard. The report and Keating’s observations received extensive media coverage.
Overtime Regulations: A group of Senate Democrats sent a letter to the DOL secretary calling for a quick finalization of proposed overtime regulations. The small business community, including SBE Council, has been very engaged in voicing its opposition to the proposed rule, and explaining its impact to White House officials, on Capitol Hill and to DOL.Read coalition comments previously submitted to DOL and signed by SBE Council here.
The Oscar Goes To…Small Business!
The 88th Academy Awards is now in the books. Along with the attention Oscar winners received this past Sunday night, a report by SBE Council also shared some of the spotlight, which shows small business has significant influence in Hollywood. SBE Council chief economist Ray Keating, author of the report, said: “Hollywood is a small business town. Indeed, the movie, television and video industries, from top to bottom, are about small business. At the Academy Awards, we’ll hear the phrase ‘And the Oscar goes to…’ many times. From a business perspective, the numbers make clear that the Oscar goes to small business.”
Keating’s Corner: Economic Analysis, Data and Commentary
Good News on Jobs: In the latest Fact of the Week, SBE Council chief economist Ray Keating takes note of positive jobs data, and wonders what would be possible in terms of sustaining and accelerating such gains if policymaking pointed in a pro-small business direction.
Bad News on Trade: In a Global Markets blog post, Keating looks at grim data on exports and imports, while also noting that trade talk on the campaign trail is quite worrisome.
The Broken Record Economy: Keating posted a recent piece on the Fed’s latest Beige Book report and notes: “The under-performing economy continues like a broken record.”The story has been the same since the recovery started in mid-2009.For nearly seven years the U.S. has experienced economic growth that, on average, has run at about half of what it should be during a recovery/expansion period. We need a new tune, but the Fed’s outlook points to more of the same
GDP Growth Revised Upward…to 1 Percent: On February 26, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released its second take on fourth quarter 2015 GDP growth. It turns out that real GDP did not grow at a mere 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter, but according to this latest estimate, it expanded at 1.0 percent. Keating reviews the data.
Support or join SBE Council today!
Please make a contribution to help strengthen the environment for entrepreneurship and small business success.