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SBE Council News: Over 1,000 Bills Introduced in the 114th Congress

Wednesday, February 11, 2015  
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SBE Council eNews




• 7 Big Problems with the Obama Budget

• FCC Chairman Wheeler’s Plan Regulates the Internet as a Public Utility • Action on Capitol Hill: ObamaCare Repeal, Section 179 Permanency, Regulatory Reform • Business Success Strategies: What to Do About Section 179 Uncertainty • FACT OF THE WEEK:  Updated Census Bureau Data on Small Business • Center for Regulatory Solutions:  Reg Reform on the Move – H.R. 527 and H.R. 50; EPA Seeks Small Business Input on “Clean Power Plan”; SBE Council Provides Feedback to EPA on EPA’s Ozone Rules • 2015 Inner City 100 – Nominations Being Accepted • GIPC International IP Index Released: 30 Economies Measured Open Letter on “IP Guidelines for the 114th Congress”

• Keating’s Corner: The Latest on GDP and the FOMC • Business Success Strategies on  Is Your Business Ready to Scale?



7 Big Problems with the Obama Budget


A blog post by chief economist Ray Keating <>  reports on President Obama’s proposed budget. He writes: “The federal budget has been a mess for a very long time. Unfortunately, the new budget proposed by President Obama only promises to make matters worse.” Keating outlines seven major problems with the Obama budget plan, including on the spending, taxing and borrowing fronts. He adds that this is trouble for entrepreneurship, small business, investment and the economy.



FCC Chairman Wheeler’s Plan Regulates Internet as a Public Utility


As SBE Council president & CEO Karen Kerrigan said in a media statement <>  about FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan to regulate the Internet as a public utility, “It’s a sad day for innovation and entrepreneurship.”  Indeed. Under political pressure from the White House, Chairman Wheeler moved forward with Title II regulation of the Internet – “the toughest rules possible” as President Obama called for following the mid-term elections.  Wheeler’s proposal (announced in an Op-ed in Wired <> ) will change the broadband Internet as we know it.


SBE Council has consistently argued that regulatory action by the FCC is not warranted because, first and foremost, there’s been no market failure to correct or address requiring such action.  The “net neutrality” movement has been built on a baseless theory that broadband service providers will somehow hamper, reduce or eliminate access to, or prohibitively raise costs of certain information or content on the Internet unless government stops them. The facts that current broadband service and ongoing innovations have occurred under a light-regulatory-touch regime, and that service providers have no incentives to undermine service to anger their own customers, matter not to those who advocate for invasive and destructive government regulation.  As Kerrigan said recently: “Those private sector businesses calling for this massive regulation will someday wish they hadn’t.”


Title II regulation will undermine investment and innovation, and quality broadband access for many small business consumers.


See SBE Council’s “Regulating the Internet: Big Impact on Small Business.” <>


What’s next? For certain, the new rules will be challenged in the court once approved by the FCC at the end of February.



Action On Capitol Hill


Last week, the House and Senate both advanced key energy measures supporting growth of the U.S. economy and small businesses. (Read more about the positive movement on legislation here <> .)


An Op-ed by SBE Council’s Ray Keating was also published in The Hill – Obama and Energy: Building on the State of the Union <> , which touches on the President’s acknowledgement in his speech about the energy industry’s economic contribution. The piece outlines the policies needed to leverage the positive momentum on investment, business creation and job growth in the industry. <>  


DYK: During the month of January for the start of the 114th Congress, more than 1,000 bills were introduced. Read more about the make-up of these bills at Washington Watch <> .


The U.S. House is focusing on important regulatory reform measures this week (see Center for Regulatory Solutions news item below). On February 3, the U.S. House also repealed ObamaCare by a vote of 239-186.  (See SBE Council’s support letter here <> .)


Small Businesses Still Waiting on Promises of ObamaCare: Affordability, new taxes and navigating regulatory and compliance burdens are big issues for SBE Council members when it comes to ObamaCare. The law has done little to lower costs or stem the big increases in health insurance premiums.  As pointed out in a recent survey of National Association of Self-Employed (NASE) members, "Affordability of health care coverage continues to be a major concern of small business owners across the country," said Katie Vlietstra, Vice President for Government Relations and Public Affairs <>  for NASE. In addition, the survey reported that more than 80% of self-employed respondents do not qualify for subsidies. Survey Results can be viewed here <> .  These views were echoed by small business representatives, including SBE Council President & CEO Karen Kerrigan, who attended a meeting with HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell on January 29.  Another issue discussed was the futility of the tax credit for many small businesses, and its overall complexity.



Section 179 Permanency: The House Ways and Means Committee marked up America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2015, H.R. 636 <> , a bill that would make permanent the increased expensing levels that were “extended,” but more or less made retroactive, for 2014 in the last Congress. That means the expensing level has dropped back to $25,000.  H.R. 636 is sponsored by Representatives Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and Ron Kind (D-WI), and is strongly supported by SBE Council.  The full House is expected to act on the bill the week of February 9.  Here are the other measures that were marked up <> , including H.R. 629, which makes permanent the reduced recognition period for built-in gains of S corporations.



Business Success Strategies: What to Do About Section 179 Uncertainty



As noted above, the U.S. House is moving on legislation to make permanent Section 179 expensing at modern and practical levels for small businesses. Supporters want to promote certainty for small businesses and entrepreneurs, which is very much needed.  Still, there is no guarantee that permanency will occur early in 2015.  The U.S. Senate must act, then the White House must agree.  The Administration may want Section 179 rapped in a broader tax reform package, and they certainly believe it should be “paid for.”


In light of this policy and political uncertainty, what should business owners do?  Tax and small business expert Barbara Weltman provides guidance in the latest Business Success Strategies.   <> 



FACT OF THE WEEK:  Updated Census Bureau Data on Small Business <>


The latest SBE Council Fact of the Week <>  reports on updated data from the Census Bureau on the number of businesses, and the number of employees based on establishment size. The data (which is for 2012) provides a powerful reminder that the economy is all about small and mid-size businesses. Take a look at the data <> , which covers a variety of industries.



Center for Regulatory Solutions:

Regulatory Reform on the Move – Accountability and Transparency through H.R. 527 and H.R. 50; EPA Seeks Small Business Input on “Clean Power Plan”; SBE Council Provides Feedback on EPA’s Ozone Rules


Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2015, H.R. 527:  On February 5, the U.S. House will vote on this important legislation to strengthen the voice of small business in the federal rulemaking process and make agencies fully quantify the impact of major rules.  See SBE Council’s support letter for H.R. 527 here <> .  SBE Council also signed a coalition letter <>  from a broad cross-section of small business and industry organizations in support of H.R. 527. <>


Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2015, H.R. 50:  On February 4, the U.S. House passed H.R. 50 by a vote of 250-173 <> .  (See the FACT SHEET on H.R. 50 here <> .) The bill, sponsored by Virginia Foxx (R-NC), strengthens the Unfunded Mandate Reform Act (UMRA). It provides additional safeguards against unfunded federal mandates on entities (like local and state governments) and private sector businesses. The bill requires the disclosure of direct costs associated with regulations imposed by federal agencies, and enables greater stakeholder engagement, which is vital to regulators’ understanding of small business impact. The bill also provides for meaningful judicial review.  See SBE Council’s support letter here <> .


The bill has previously passed in the House, and SBE Council testified before Congress in support of the legislation in 2011 <> . <>


EPA Small Business Review Panel:  When the EPA seeks small business input, it’s big news <> . The EPA is establishing a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel for its proposed “Clean Power Plan” regulation of existing coal-fired power plants.  The panel will “provide advice and recommendations on behalf of their company, community or organization to inform the panel members about the potential impacts of the proposed rule on small entities.”  SBE Council encourages our members to apply for the panel – more information can be found here <>  – and the deadline is February 10, 2015.


(Read SBE Council’s comments on the “Clean Power Plan” here <>  detailing our concerns about small business impact.)


Keating Provides Input on EPA’s Proposed Ozone Rules:  The EPA hosted a public meeting in Washington, D.C. on January 29 on the agency’s proposed ozone rules.  Keating detailed <>  the complexity, cost and overall insanity of the regulation, especially given that the EPA has not fully implemented it previous standard.  As Keating pointed out in his remarks, the rule would essentially outlaw new business development and expansion in non-attainment areas (which would be most of the country), and specific sectors would be greatly damaged.


Read SBE Council’s Q&A on EPA’s Proposed Ozone Regulations <> .



2015 Inner City 100 – Nominations Being Accepted




The Inner City 100 <>  is a national ranking of the fastest-growing businesses located in America's inner cities published <>  annually in FORTUNE. Winning businesses and nominators are invited to attend the Inner City 100 Symposium in Boston where they gain national visibility, access to a network of successful peers, and world-class management education.


Each year, ICIC <>  partners with business and economic development organizations to identify and support fast-growing urban businesses. For 16 years, the group has relied on nominating partners from across the country to be their eyes and ears on the ground in urban communities, to introduce them to fast-growing inner city companies.  Please submit a nomination today <> , or if you are business that wants to be nominated, please contact SBE Council at <> .


The deadline to submit nominations for the 2015 Inner City 100 is March 2, 2015.  For more information, or to access the nomination form please click here. <>



GIPC International IP Index Released: 30 Economies Measured

Open Letter on “IP Guidelines for the 114th Congress”  <>


The GIPC International IP Index <>  was released on February 4, by the U.S. Chamber’s Global IP Center <> .  The Index is a valuable tool that maps the IP environment in 30 economies based on 30 measures indicative of a robust IP system. The Index aims to help business and government leaders better understand how strong IP environments enable and attract investment, fuel economic growth, and foster innovation.  As noted by many speakers at the event, strong IP protections are an important part of the ecosystem that supports entrepreneurship and high-value job creation.


According to the Index <> , 20 economies made improvements to their IP regimes.  The U.S. ranks the highest, while Thailand ranks at the bottom. In many countries though, much work needs to be done.  For example, the U.S. scores poorly on enforcement indicators “due to ineffective border measures to seize counterfeit goods.”


IP Guidelines for the 114th Congress: In support of bolstering IP in America SBE Council signed an Open Letter to Congress <> , which outlines IP principles to strengthen U.S. competitiveness.  As noted by the letter signed by a diverse coalition of organizations: “American entrepreneurship, ingenuity and creativity lead the world and we believe that Intellectual Property rights are key to maintaining global competitiveness.”


SBE Council’s book “Unleashing Small Business Through IP: Protecting Intellectual Property, Driving Entrepreneurship” <>  is a great resource to understand why IP is critical to entrepreneurship, innovation and investment.  It is available free on SBE Council’s website here <> .


Keating’s Corner: The Latest on GDP and the FOMC <>


4 Points on U.S. Troubling Growth Numbers:  Chief economist Ray Keating reviews fourth quarter GDP data <> , and it turns out that 2014 was just another under-performing year in terms of economic growth. Keating highlights 4 key points about the ongoing worries and challenges regarding the U.S. economy.


The FOMC Speaks: In the latest Capital & Credit Watch <> , Keating analyzes the Federal Open Market Committee’s January 28 statement on monetary policy. Is anyone really paying attention? Keating explains that the policy mix for the economy has been off for at least six years now, and speculates whether things might be approaching a turning point.



Business Success Strategies on  Is Your Business Ready to Scale?



SBE Council business growth advisor Andrew Sherman penned an article for <>  providing practical advice for entrepreneurs on effectively scaling their businesses.  Sherman reviews the motivation for growth, and the building blocks for successful growth.







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