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SBE Council News: Reg Flex Improvements Act Introduced, LNG Exports Get Boost

Wednesday, January 28, 2015  
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SBE Council eNews

In This Edition:

U.S. House to Act on LNG Exports Bill
Natural Gas Permitting Reform Bill Passes U.S. House
January 28 is DATA PRIVACY DAY: Share with Care
AT&T Aspire Accelerator:Apply to join the inaugural class
Chabot Introduces Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act
SBA Office of Advocacy Hosts Roundtable on EPA’s Proposed Ozone Regulation
Energy & Entrepreneurs: State of American Energy, Votes Continue on Keystone
More Time for Full Time: U.S. Senators Urged to Co-Sponsor “Forty is Full Time Act”
FACT OF THE WEEK: Small Business Transactions Up in 2014
Capital & Credit Watch: What Does the Fed Survey Tell Us About Small Business Credit?
Deeper Dive on President Obama’s SOTU Proposals: Taxes, Energy, Trade and Internet Regulation
Biz Tips & Trends News Highlights

U.S. House to Act on LNG Exports Bill

The U.S. House is expected to vote on H.R. 351, the LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act on January 28. The economic and geopolitical benefits of exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) are significant, yet Department of Energy bureaucracy and red tape unnecessarily hamper the construction of LNG export facilities. H.R. 351 is a bipartisan bill to improve, streamline and bring certainty to the process. The bill is an important one for the growth of U.S. small businesses and entrepreneurs.

See SBE Council's new Infographic Natural Gas Production Supports Small Business Growth.

In a support letter to Congressman Bill Johnson (R-OH), chief sponsor of H.R. 351, SBE Council President & CEO Karen Kerrigan noted the dominant role innovative small firms have played in America’s energy renaissance. She cited SBE Council’s recent energy report, which found that new business creation in the energy sector is strong while entrepreneurship overall remains weak. For example, among small firms with less than 20 workers: construction businesses related to oil and gas pipeline and related structures grew by 12.2 percent; oil and gas extraction businesses grew by 4.1 percent; businesses drilling oil and gas wells grew by 7.9 percent; businesses supporting oil and gas operations grew by 29.1 percent; and manufacturing businesses related to oil and gas field machinery and equipment grew by 8.5 percent. During this same period, the total number of small and mid-size employer firms declined, but the opposite is true in the energy sector.

In a media release about the legislation, Congressman Johnson said: “Exporting our natural gas not only provides significant economic benefits here at home, but important geopolitical ones as well. The U.S. can curb the influence of rogue countries like Russia and Iran who use their natural gas reserves as leverage against our European allies.Simply increasing our LNG exports will provide our allies across the globe with a safe and trustworthy trading partner, while providing more jobs here at home.”

Small businesses will benefit when markets are opened to U.S. energy, and they will benefit from construction projects related to LNG export facilities. SBE Council looks forward to passage by the U.S. House, followed by action in the U.S. Senate.There is a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, January 29 on S.33, the Senate companion bill to H.R. 351.

Related SBE Council resources:

Increased LNG Exports=Increased Economic Growth
Who Benefits from America’s Energy Revolution?
U.S. Energy Exports a Big Economic Plus
LNG Exports Good for Small Business and the Economy

Natural Gas Permitting Reform Bill Passes U.S. House

The SBE Council supported “Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act,” H.R. 161 passed the House on January 21, 253-169. (See how your U.S. House member voted here.)SBE Council’s education and advocacy work has focused on the serious need to build and modernize energy infrastructure, particularly given the explosive growth in this sector and the opportunity to solidify U.S. global leadership over the long term.

As SBE Council president & CEO Karen Kerrigan noted in her letter to Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS), chief sponsor of the bill: “H.R. 161 solves a real issue for the economy and job creation by expediting the permitting process. According to a February 2013 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the average time between prefiling an application and certification by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) was 558 days. H.R. 161 would require FERC to act on completed application for a natural gas pipeline project within 12 months. In addition, your bill would require federal agencies responsible for project-related licenses or permits for locating, building, or operating projects to make decisions within 90 days of FERC issuing a final environmental review. Failure to act would deem the permit approved, and create additional opportunities to small business to invest, expand and hire more workers.”

Our nation’s energy infrastructure must keep pace with growth in development. A more efficient and responsive permitting process is critical to that end.

January 28 is DATA PRIVACY DAY

Today marks the eighth annual Data Privacy Day in the United States. The day centers on “Respecting Privacy, Safeguarding Data and Enabling Trust,” and is dedicated to encouraging consumers to learn to protect their personal information and businesses to be more transparent about how they collect and use data. Data Privacy Day is led by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), the nation’s leading nonprofit public-private partnership promoting the safe and secure use of the Internet, and SBE Council is a partner in the event. We previously shared privacy tips for small businesses to help create a culture of privacy. Here are general tips for everyone:

Share with Care

Whatyou post can last a lifetime: Before posting online, think about how it might be perceived now and in the future and who might see it.
Ownyour online presence: Set the privacy and security settings on web services and devices to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s ok to limit how and with whom you share information.
Beaware of what’s being shared: Be aware that when you share a post, picture or video online, you may also be revealing information about others. Be thoughtful when and how you share information about others.
Postonly about others as you have them post about you: The golden rule applies online as well.

Personal Information Is Like Money. Value It. Protect It.

Thinkbefore you act:Be wary of communications that implore you to act immediately, offer something that sounds too good to be true or ask for personal information.

Gettwo steps ahead: Switch on two-step verification or multi-factor authentication wherever offered to prevent unauthorized access.

Be a Data Privacy Champion! For more information about Data Privacy Day, please click here.

AT&T Aspire Accelerator: Are you advancing education technology? Apply to join the inaugural class.

As part of the Aspire program, which helps equip students with the skills they need to lead the digital, global economy, AT&T recently launched the Aspire Accelerator. The Aspire Accelerator will work with companies and non-profits looking to make exponential change and improvements to the education system. (See a quick overview of the program here.)

The accelerator is accepting applications for its inaugural class.Those selected receive a $50,000 investment, mentoring, collaborative partners and a national platform (the broader AT&T Aspire program). Location is flexible, which means you do not have to move to participate in this accelerator program. The application period closes on February 20.

Chabot Introduces Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act

U.S. House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (Photo courtesy of House Small Business Committee)

New House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) introduced the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act (H.R. 527) on January 26. This important bill will update and improve the Reg Flex Act (RFA) of 1980. As noted by a committee press release on H.R. 527, but federal agencies have exploited RFA “loopholes” to get around the statute's intentions: “The Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act closes those loopholes by requiring more detailed analysis of proposed regulations, providing greater opportunity for small business input, and ensuring agencies regularly review regulations already on the books for their economic impact on small businesses. Additionally, it expands the scope of the required economic impact analysis to consider those effects which are often indirect but reasonably foreseeable.”

SBE Council strongly supports H.R. 527.

Last week, members of the small business community welcomed Chairman Chabot and new GOP members of the committee. SBE Council president & CEO Karen Kerrigan attended a meet and greet with the Chairman and members on January 21, which was hosted by the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the Small Business Investors Alliance. The chairman and committee members outlined an agenda focused on growth-oriented policies, regulatory relief and reform, fixing the onerous provisions of Obamacare and other measures to bolster small business growth and U.S. entrepreneurship.

Democrat members of the committee are listed here.

SBA Office of Advocacy Hosts Roundtable on EPA’s Proposed Ozone Regulation. SBE Council president & CEO Karen Kerrigan and chief economist Ray Keating participated in a roundtable discussion with Advocacy staff on EPA’s proposal to increase the ozone threshold under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). It was a robust discussion focused on the significant concerns small businesses have about compliance under the new regime, formidable new costs and expensive barriers to business expansion, growth and startup. Many of the participants remarked that the proposed standard is not consistent with a modern, industrial economy and that small businesses in particular will be hard pressed to deal with “modeling” and “offsets” analysis to determine whether they are a “major stationary source,” and how they may be penalized if that is the case. Many businesses in non-attainment areas would be forced to purchase expensive offsets to expand operations. An entrepreneur who plans to open a business could be forced to do the same. The EPA proposal has been pegged as the most expensive in history. It will have a profound impact on new business formation and business growth, and key sectors of the U.S. economy. Economic development could come to a standstill in non-attainment areas (which is most of the country). On January 29, Keating is scheduled to speak before the EPA on the issue at a public outreach event. Stay tuned for more information and action items from SBE Council.

Related Resources:

Baton Rouge Business Report: “How to Kill a Renaissance.”
U.S Chamber of Commerce: “How Costly Ozone Standards Will Affect You.”
YellowHammer News: “Alabama Industry Spent Billions to Make State’s Air Cleaner Than Ever, EPA Wants More.”

Energy & Entrepreneurs: State of American Energy, Votes Continue on Keystone

State of American Energy: Ray Keating looks at the American Petroleum Institute’s “State of American Energy Report 2015” report, which truly is an all-of-the-above assessment. Keating points out: “This report can be read in rather straightforward fashion as to what’s been going on and what is the outlook for key energy sectors. But there is another message to be derived from the information provided, that is, the power of private-sector innovators and investors to create value, and the power of government to do the exact opposite.”

Keystone XL – The Votes Continue: The Senate has voted on about two dozen amendments on the Keystone XL pipeline legislation. At the end of last week, more amendments had been considered in the first weeks of the current Senate than in all of 2014. As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell explained: “We’ve actually reached a milestone here that I think is noteworthy for the Senate. We just cast our 15th roll-call vote on an amendment on this bill, which is more votes — more roll-call votes on amendments than the entire United States Senate in all of 2014.” Senate Republicans could not get enough votes to end debate on the bill, so they are back to voting on amendments on January 28, with up to 18 scheduled. Many more amendments are pending, with150 having been filed.(See SBE Council’s support letter here.)

Related Resource: Keystone Vote is a Vote for Small Business

More Time for Full Time: U.S. Senators Urged to Co-Sponsor “Forty is Full Time Act”

The U.S. House passed the “Save American Workers Act,” (H.R. 30) in early January by a vote of 272-152, a bill to restore the 40-hour workweek definition under Obamacare.A coalition of groups – the More Time for Full Time Coalition – of which SBE Council is a national partner, is urging the U.S. Senate to advance this important measure. SBE Council signed a letter sent to all U.S. Senators urging co-sponsorship of S.30, the “Forty Hours is Full Time Act of 2015.”

As noted in the letter: “Many employees are being hurt by lost wages and hours because the 30 hours per week definition in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is forcing employers to restructure their workforce by reducing their employees’ hours to alleviate the burden of compliance. Harmonizing the definition of full-time employment in the ACA with the traditional 40 hours per week definition would benefit both employees, through more hours and income, and employers, now able to focus on growing their business and creating jobs, rather than restructuring their workforce.”

FACT OF THE WEEK: Small Business Transactions Up in 2014

The latest SBE Council Fact of the Week reviews new data pointing to an increase in the buying and selling of small businesses in 2014. SBE Council chief economist Ray Keating noted, “This is a positive story for entrepreneurs of varying types – from those entering to those exiting the market, and serial entrepreneurs who start up and build businesses, and then move on to other new ventures.” Still, new business creation remains stagnate, something many policymakers and lawmakers have yet to grasp. This troubling trend is having profound consequences for our economy and job creation.

Capital & Credit Watch: What Does the Fed Survey Tell Us About Small Business Credit?

In the latest SBE Council Capital & Credit Watch, chief economist Ray Keating looks at some key data from the latest “Small Business Credit Survey” from Federal Reserve Banks of New York, Atlanta, Cleveland and Philadelphia.

Deeper Dive on President Obama’s SOTU Proposals

Already, President Obama has backed off of one his proposals presented in state-of-the-union address – taxing 529 college savings plans. Will he back off, or push forward, on others? Here’s a look at some other notable proposals that impact small businesses and entrepreneurs:

State of the Union and Taxes: SBE Council chief economist Ray Keating writes that President Obama did not surprise with his proposals on taxes. After all, he’s raised taxes and has been trying to raise taxes since the beginning of his Administration. Keating says the current proposals are based on political fiction and would hurt entrepreneurship, investment, incomes and the economy.

Regulation and the Internet: In his address, President Obama made a short statement on the “open internet,” which was a call for intrusive Internet regulation. As SBE Council has pointed out many times in the past, this regulation will seriously harm consumers and small businesses.

Stanford Report: Greater regulation not necessary for Internet. “The historical record is a cautionary tale when it comes to net neutrality, according to Stanford economist Bruce M. Owen. Too much regulation, he says, may repeat a policy error that causes harm to consumers and fails to promote innovation and competition.”

The Push for More Trade: International trade is a big deal for the economy, and for small businesses. So it was good news that President Obama made sound statements about expanding trade and the need for Trade Promotion Authority. Let’s look at the trade numbers, data on trade and small business, and the politics of the issue. On January 27, the House Ways and Means Committee hosted a hearing on this important issue for small businesses and economic growth.

The Energy President: We heard President Obama declare in the State of the Union: “We believed we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil and protect our planet. And today, America is number one in oil and gas.” Mr. Obama was taking credit for an outcome that his own policies explicitly opposed. Politics is interesting, isn’t it? Many of his policies continue to undermine, not uplift, the energy industry.

Biz Tips & Trends News Highlights

The latest “How To” articles, business new stories and educational material curated by SBE Council.Access these resources here.



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