April Policy Watch #HillUpdate: The House Has Been Busy Tackling IRS Reforms, Financial Rules, the Next NDAA & More

HSBC Chairman Chabot Urges Inclusion of Small Business Bills in FY19 NDAA

Last week before the House Committee on Armed Services, Chairman Steve Chabot of the House Small Business Committee urged members to incorporate a package of 13 bipartisan small business bills in the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. The bills include legislation addressing SBA loan programs and technical assistance programs such as Women Business Centers, small business lending, cybersecurity, government contracting, and other issues impacting small business.

Read a full accounting of bills included in the package can be found here.

Watch Chairman Chabot’s testimony.

Legislation to Reform & Modernize the IRS Makes it Out of House Ways & Means

The House Ways and Means Committee last week approved the passage of the Taxpayer First Act (H.R. 5445), legislation sponsored by Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and ranking member John Lewis (D-GA). The bill would improve the independent appeals process, taxpayer services and enforcement. It also updates the IRS and Tax Court structure.

Click here to learn more about the legislation and other recent bills relating to IRS reform passed out by the House Ways & Means Committee.

House Passes Bill to Ease Financial Regulations with Goal of Improving Lending

The House approved H.R. 4790, the Volcker Rule Regulatory Harmonization Act by a vote of 300-104. The legislation would exempt banks with total assets of $10 billion or less and comprised of 5% or less of trading assets and liabilities from the Volcker Rule. The rule prohibits banking agencies from engaging in proprietary trading or entering into certain relationships with hedge funds and private-equity funds. The bill would also grant exclusive rulemaking authority under the Volcker Rule to the Federal Reserve Board. The intent of the legislation is to alleviate the compliance burden on small banks, which would help improve capital markets and lending, especially to small business.

Read more

With Possible Trade War Looming, HSBC Holds hearing on the State of Trade for Small Business

The House Small Business Committee heard from a panel of business owners and experts on the state of international trade for small businesses. The hearing’s focus was the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Grant Program and the federal government’s overall efforts to increase small business exports. However, with tariffs proposed by the administration and discussion of a possible trade war with China, witnesses highlighted how recent activity would impact their businesses and small business exporters at large.

Read submitted testimony or watch the full hearing here.

National Small Business Week is Coming!

Spring is upon us and with spring comes … National Small Business Week!

SBA Administrator Linda McMahon announced that this year’s National Small Business Week will be held from April 29-May 5. Every year since 1963, the country spends a week recognizing the critical contributions of our small business owners. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and small businesses create about two out of every three new jobs each year. And, of course, women business owners are a significant part of that small business story—growing at a rate four times faster than their male counterparts!

This year’s events kick off in Washington, D.C., where the administrator will recognize and award outstanding small business owners and resource partners from around the country. It will continue with a bus road show stopping in various cities, where Administrator McMahon and SBA staff will meet with small business owners and hold roundtable discussions. Read more here.

Speaking of small business owners who really contribute, we want to give you the opportunity to get to know WIPP’s board better. This month, we’re featuring Board Vice Chair Angela Dingle, owner of Ex Nihilo Management. Read on for a short Q&A with Angela

Q. Why did you join Women Impacting Public Policy?

Angela Dingle

Angela Dingle, WIPP Vice Board Chair

A. I joined WIPP because I was and continue to be impressed with its non-partisan approach to advocacy. The issues that are being discussed on Capitol Hill are important to me as a woman business owner and membership in WIPP means I have a seat at the policy table during the discussions. Someone once said to me, “get into politics or get out of business.” Well, I jumped in with both feet and haven’t let up yet.

Q. What about WIPP is most beneficial for your business?

A. Thanks to my WIPP membership, I’ve testified before policymakers, received help navigating federal contracting and benefitted from networking opportunities and media exposure. Being a part of WIPP makes me feel connected to issues affecting women entrepreneurs and women in the workforce.

WIPP and WBENC Join Forces to Further Support Women Entrepreneurs, New WIPP President Announced!

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Today, Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) are announcing a new partnership that will enable both organizations to strengthen their education and advocacy efforts to support women business owners across the country and at the public policy table.

Candace Waterman

Candace Waterman

WIPP and WBENC have forged a National Partner Organization agreement that will make WIPP’s public policy advocacy and federal procurement education programs a key part of the benefits that WBENC’s 14 Regional Partner Organizations offer to their members. In return, WBENC will add the voices of its 14,000 certified women-owned businesses to WIPP’s national advocacy work in Washington.

“WIPP’s legislative and regulatory successes directly impact the success of women business owners. Our presence in Washington is enhanced by WBENC’s powerful network of women businesses beyond the Beltway. WIPP’s education and advocacy tools will strengthen the fastest growing business sector of our nation’s economy,” said WIPP Board Chair Lisa Firestone.

WBENC is the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled, and operated by women in the United States. WBENC provides business development opportunities for member corporations, government agencies and more than 14,000 certified women-owned businesses at events and other forums.

“I am so excited about this new partnership opportunity and strengthening our relationship with WIPP,” says Pamela Prince-Eason, president and CEO of WBENC. “I have no doubt this will have a positive impact on our network of women-owned businesses and those who support them.”

In addition, Candace Waterman, WBENC’s vice president of certification and program operations, will join WIPP as its President on May 1, 2018. Waterman’s tenure at WBENC ensured a world-class certification standard now relied upon by thousands of corporations and government agencies, and that leadership experience in the development of women-owned businesses will provide immediate value to WIPP.

“Through its tireless advocacy efforts and valuable educational offerings, WIPP has been a true leader in the effort to give women entrepreneurs a seat at the table. I’m thrilled to be joining an organization that has accomplished somuch,” Waterman said. “I look forward to building on those accomplishments and working to ensure women’s entrepreneurship continues on an upward trajectory of growth and success.”

“Candace has proven herself a fierce advocate for women business owners over the years,” Firestone said. “The breadth of expertise and experience she will bring to WIPP is invaluable and we’re honored to have her join our team.”

WIPP Works in Washington: The Complicated Business of Changing Investment Behavior

I don’t know if you watch the Oscars, or like me, go to a party having barely seen any of the movies. I am usually pretty bored with the thank-you speeches from the winners, but this year one acceptance speech got my attention. It was the speech from the winner of

Anne Sullivan

Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate

Best Actress, Frances McDormand, for her role in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Referencing women in the audience who “had stories to tell and projects to finance,” she said, “don’t talk to us at the parties tonight, invite us to your office in a couple of days…and we’ll tell you all about them.” She asked the women to stand and told Meryl Streep, “if you do it they’ll all do it.”

The speech caught my attention because women entrepreneurs in all industries including Hollywood share the same vexing problem—access to capital. A damning statistic, women only receive 4% of all commercial loan dollars and 2% of venture capital, shows women entrepreneurs struggle with obtaining adequate capital. Yet, over 36% of businesses are women-owned and are growing at four times the rate of businesses owned by men, so it appears there is no shortage of women seeking operating or investment capital.

Asked why women get so little VC money in Fortune article, Julie Wainwright, founder and CEO of a consignment website The RealReal, thinks it comes down to the lack of female VCs. “When you have different businesses that aren’t proven that may appeal more to a female [customer], a female investor is going to be able to evaluate that” better than a male investor could, she says. “I think in general, most VCs are trying to do their jobs, but there are a lot of unconscious biases.”

A study from Harvard Business Review also points to an additional reason for this deficit—male and female entrepreneurs are asked different questions by VCs, which in turn affects the level of funding they receive. According to the study, when investors asked male entrepreneurs questions they used a promotion orientation, meaning they focused on their hopes and achievements. Alternatively, when questioning women entrepreneurs, they mostly used a prevention orientation, which focused on questions regarding responsibility, security and vigilance. Researchers found that this has a substantial impact on funding outcomes, thus helping to explain the large disparity in VC funding for women entrepreneurs.

Given these barriers, why are so many women starting businesses? It seems to boil down to two reasons: they were either inspired or frustrated. Inspired because they had a good idea, built a better “mousetrap” or decided to create wealth for their families by taking the risk of entrepreneurship. Frustrated because they weren’t getting equal pay for equal work, were tired of a hostile work environment or saw no ability to advance.

A case study by the National Women’s Business Council highlights both of these. The study examined reasons why women become necessity entrepreneurs and of the nine women interviewed, eight cited gender-specific issues, thus making entrepreneurship a necessity. The study also highlights the financial need as the driver to start businesses. “I can relate to many of these women because I’m a prime example of a necessity entrepreneur,” said Kari Warberg Block, NWBC council member and founder and CEO of EarthKind®. “I was fresh out of alternatives with no job options, and I had to do something, anything, to take care of my family. I had an idea to create a safe, natural option for pest control, and 10 years later that has turned into a $20 million-dollar business.”

What are some of the solutions to this vexing problem? Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet but rather a host of solutions necessary to turn this tide. For starters, investors and lenders can start asking the right questions and including women in their review process. Women who sit on the boards of these companies can monitor lending/investing in women-owned companies. And on the policy front, WIPP’s Economic Blueprint suggests a host of policy changes that will help.  They include understanding the data from lending institutions with respect to lending to women, freeing up a regulatory environment that discourages smaller banks from lending to small businesses and developing a track for women to become investors through government backed programs like the Small Business Investment Companies. Lastly, Congress should require a comprehensive review of the Small Business Innovation Research program, which awards only 16% to women.

Even though access to capital for women business owners requires changing cultural biases and policies, all of us can start by educating those around us. If one of us stands up, everyone will stand.

This Women’s History Month, Show the Power of Women Business Owners

Happy International Women’s Day—let’s celebrate by showing our might online! March is Women’s History Month, and throughout the month WIPP will be coordinating a Twitter campaign that highlights those who make the women’s business community an economic powerhouse. Join us in demonstrating how important women business owners are by tweeting about women business owners you find inspiring, either from history or the modern day, and tagging @WIPPWeDecide. We’ll amplify your post with our audience. Keep an eye on Twitter as WIPP members discuss the women they find inspiring. There are sure to be some great stories!

Speaking of inspiring women, we want to give you the opportunity to get to know WIPP’s board better. We’re starting with Board Chair Lisa Firestone. Here is a short Q&A with Lisa.

Lisa_Firestone.jpg

Lisa Firestone, WIPP Board Chair

Q. How long have you been a member of WIPP?

A. I have been a member of WIPP since 2009.

Q. Why did you join WIPP?

A. In 2005, my company Managed Care Advisors, won its first government contract and it quickly became very clear that contracting with the federal government was incredibly complex—from understanding its culture to navigating its regulations and best practices. After receiving certification through WBENC, I was told WIPP was “the organization to belong to if you were interested in government contracting.” I went to my first WIPP annual meeting and was immediately impressed with the speakers, the caliber of women who attended, and resources that are available. I knew that if I had time to get involved with one organization, WIPP was it!

Q. What about WIPP is most beneficial for your business?

A. When I first joined, I needed to get educated in federal contracting. WIPP provided me with educational resources, access to technical experts and introductions to other women business owners who were experienced contractors and willing to mentor, educate and guide me. In addition to becoming well-versed in government contracting, I had the opportunity to work with WIPP members with expertise in cyber security, contracting law and government relations. They all played significant roles in the continued growth and maturity of my company. Personally, WIPP has also given me the opportunity to do things that I would have never dreamed possible—testifying on Capitol Hill, meeting legislators, and mentoring other entrepreneurs.

WIPP has not only supported the growth of my company, it has supported my growth and confidence as a leader. This organization is special—its culture is supportive, positive and uplifting and one of advocating on behalf of ALL women entrepreneurs. At WIPP, you are among people who you truly enjoy and trust and you are in an environment where you will celebrate each other’s success.

Proposed Rule Issued to Expand AHPs

Healthcare.jpgIn October, the Trump Administration issued an Executive Order directing the Department of Labor to expand access to Association Health Plans (AHPs).
On January 5, a proposed rule was published that would expand participation in AHPs for small employers and the self-employed. Specifically, the proposed rule would:
  • Treat AHPs as large employers (flexibility on pricing and products)
  • Relax the requirement that associations must exist for a reason other than offering health plans
  • Relax definition of “commonality of interest” as:
  • 1) Being in the same trade, industry or profession; or
  • 2) Being in the same principal place of business within the same state or common metropolitan area (even if the metro area extends across state lines) to make it easier for employers to group together
The proposed rule would also adopt non-discrimination protections that bar all health group plans from conditioning eligibility, benefits or premiums on health status.
The deadline to submit comments to the Employee Benefits Security Administration within the Department of Labor is March 6. Comments can be submitted here.

Need For 7(a) Lending Addressed in CR

WIPP and SBALinda 2.jpgAdministered by the Small Business Administration, the 7(a) loan program is a loan guarantee program designed to encourage lenders to provide loans to small businesses that might not be able to otherwise obtain financing. During the first half of FY17, the 7(a) loan program saw an increased demand with approvals 9% higher than in the first half FY16. This lead Congress to include an appropriations provision to increase the program’s authorization limit to $27.5 billion for FY17 from $26.5 billion in FY16.

The just passed continuing resolution to fund the government included a provision on the program. It authorized SBA to use more funding so they could administer the 7(a) program with increased demand.

Government Shutdown Comes to an End

capitol building.pngAfter a three-day shut down, Senate leaders reached an agreement to fund the government through February 8. The Senate voted 81-18 to pass the measure, shortly followed by the House, which passed it 266-150. The deal was based on a commitment by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to find a solution for Dreamers to remain in the U.S. until February 8. The agreement includes:

  • Authorizes the Small Business Administration to shift funding to administer increased 7(a) loan demand
  • Delays the re-implementation of the Obamacare medical device tax through 2019
  • Delays the re-implementation of the tax on “Cadillac” health plans through 2022
  • Suspends the Obamacare tax on insurance providers for 2019
  • A provision to provide back pay to workers who were briefly furloughed
  • A six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

The continuing resolution (CR) includes other provisions which can be found here.

This is the fourth CR for FY18. As a reminder, a CR funds the government at current levels, in this case, FY17 levels. Having trouble keeping track of the CRs for FY18? See below.

CRs for FY18

  • September 30, 2017: First Deadline for FY18 – CR extended funding through December 8, 2017 (passed by Congress on September 8)
  • December 8, 2017: Second Deadline for FY18 – CR extended funding through December 22, 2017 (passed by Congress on December 7)
  • December 22, 2017: Third Deadline for FY18 – CR extended funding through January 19, 2018 (passed by Congress on December 21)
  • January 19, 2018: Fourth Deadline for FY18 – CR extended through February 8, 2018 (passed by Congress on January 22)
    • Note: The House passed a CR on January 18 to fund the government through February 16. After House passage, the Senate amended the CR by changing the expiration date from February 16 to February 8 and including the back-pay provision. The Senate then passed the amended bill yesterday afternoon, with the House following suit on January 22.  President Trump signed the bill into law that night.
Members Answer WIPP’s Call to Action!
On January 19, as the Senate was trying to find a way to keep the government open, we issued and Action Alert asking WIPP members to contact their senators about the shutdown. We’re proud to report that the Action Alert resulted in nearly 50 letters sent to Senators urging them to keep the government operating and telling them that shutdowns are bad for women business owners.
Thank you for making your voice heard and watch for future opportunities to engage!

2018 will be a big year for WIPP. Please join us!

January Letter From WIPP President Jane Campbell

Happy New Year!

Washington was hit by a deep freeze at the beginning of January, causing a bit of a slow start for Congress. But national politics has already resumed its’ torrid pace.

Jane Campbell photo

WIPP President Jane Campbell

Don’t worry, Women Impacting Public Policy, with cool heads and thoughtful deliberation, will continue to advance and advocate for meaningful public policy that has a positive impact on women business owners. 

We are off to a great start. This week, we held an informative and well-attended policy briefing to help our members understand the intricacies and impacts of new developments, like the tax law, in Washington. This will be a new monthly series where members can ask WIPP’s Chief Advocate Ann Sullivan and me questions about the rapidly shifting policy landscape.

On top of our policy work, we are planning a new series of ChallengeHER events across the country to deliver the information and connections women need to succeed in government contracting. We are also busy lining up an informative slate of GiveMe5 webinars to provide members with government contracting knowledge delivered by experts in the field. From taking the first steps into contracting to learning what to do once you’ve landed a big government contract, these webinars are an indispensable resource!

As you can see, WIPP is on track to accomplish many amazing things this year. But it’s your voice and membership that makes us powerful in Washington. And it’s more important than ever that women entrepreneurs make their voices heard. After all, if we are not at the table, we will only get the scraps.

WIPP is a nonpartisan organization that brings women from all walks of life and both sides of the aisle together to speak with one voice about what women in business need to succeed. Please consider joining us today.

Jane Campbell
WIPP President

2017: A Banner Year for WIPP & Women Business Owners

WIPP was busy this year educating policymakers, women business owners, the media and the public about what women business owners need to succeed. From bringing women entrepreneurs directly to some of the most powerful lawmakers in the country, to meeting women entrepreneurs where they live and do business to educate them on how to bolster their businesses, WIPP was at the forefront of issues impacting women in business in 2017.

A sampling of our (many) accomplishments are highlighted below:

Educating Thousands of Women Business Owners Nationwide

  • WIPP held 12 ChallengeHER events in cities across the country, training more than 2,100 women on the best practices for success in federal contracting; including 5 match making events with federal agencies and primes.  WIPP has educated more than 10,000 attendees through its classes that range from those who are new to the process to those highly experienced. Learn more about ChallengeHER, and read about some of the success stories that have come out of the program.
  • WIPP produced 30 Give Me 5 training webinars increasing the free, on-line curriculum to approximately 120 downloadable recordings.  Reaching over 3,000 people this year, these training webinars were taught by industry specialist and federal contracting experts.
  • More than 200 women business owners joined WIPP and Chicago Treasurer Kurt Summers for a discussion on venture funding and women owned small business. The discussion explored how to encourage venture capital investment in women, the process of lending for SBICs, and how women business owners can approach venture capitalists.

Impacting Policy at the Highest Levels

  • The president signed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law, which includes a provision directing the Small Business Administration to study small business participation on Multiple Award Contracts. The SBA study is in response to a WIPP report revealing that women small business owners are being shut out of large government contracts. Learn more about WIPP’s study.
  • WIPP surveyed 515 WIPP-affiliated women business owners nationwide on how they use the tax code and worked with American University’s Kogod Tax Policy Center to use the survey data to research how the tax code impacts women business owners. The survey data – together with Kogod’s review of existing tax research on the topic – suggests that many women-owned companies are unable to fully access more than $255 billion worth of tax incentives Congress has designed to help small businesses. The study was picked up exclusively by the Associated Press and was featured in hundreds of papers across the country. Learn more about the report in an op-ed WIPP President Jane Campbell authored in Entrepreneur magazine.
  • WIPP brought women business owners to Washington to testify at tax hearings and help inform the framework for the House Small Business agenda.
  • WIPP’s Economic Blueprint, which outlines a range of economic policy recommendations lawmakers can follow to help women entrepreneurs thrive, was featured in Forbes. Read WIPP President Jane Campbell’s op-ed outlining WIPP’s Economic Blueprint in The Hill.
  • WIPP secured powerful politicians to speak at WIPP’s annual conference so they could hear directly from women business owners on what they want out of Washington. Lawmakers included House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), House and Senate small business committee tax experts and Senate Small Business Committee leadership.
  • WIPP’s advocacy efforts throughout the tax reform debate—which included submitting comments to the Senate Finance Committee urging parity for pass through entities and repeal of the estate and AMT taxes—were instrumental in securing a pass-through carve out, along with the agreement to double the estate tax exemption from the current $5.6 million per individual to $11.2 million ($22 million for couples). WIPP members authored op-eds, letters to the editor and did interviews with reporters on the issue to ensure the women-owned business perspective was breaking through.
  • WIPP’s advocacy team worked to maintain funding for programs important to WIPP, such as the Women’s Business Centers, microloan lending programs and more.
  • WIPP submitted testimony to Congress and statements to the media urging stability of the small business health insurance marketplaces and that Congress keep in place a pooling mechanism for small businesses to buy health insurance.
  • WIPP encouraged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to support the implementation of Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act requiring financial institutions to gather and report data on small business lending, including applications made by women and minority owners. Read our press statement and our comments to the CFPB.
  • WIPP supported the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act.
  • WIPP was mentioned in more than 60 news articles in 2017, ensuring the women business owner perspective was heard throughout national debates around tax reform, the federal budget, entrepreneurship and more. We had articles in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Financial Times, The Hill newspaper, The Atlantic, the Business Journals, Reuters, the Associated Press, Morning Consult, Bloomberg, the Chicago Tribune, NBC and many more.

Supporting Small Businesses on Small Business Saturday

  • 2017 saw record support from business organizations through the Small Business Saturday Coalition, the national grassroots initiative that WIPP leads to promote Small Business Saturday, with more than 575 organizations nationwide supporting small businesses on Small Business Saturday—an 18% increase over previous years.
  • Organizations WIPP engaged to support Small Business Saturday included the National Retail Federation, Association of Women’s Business Centers, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., and SCORE, as did local organizations such as the Chicago Public Library, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Iowa and many, many others.
  • WIPP’s leadership around the Small Business Saturday Coalition was instrumental in promoting 7,200 events and activities celebrating Small Business Saturday nationwide, engaging more than 2.2 million small businesses.
  • The Coalition secured 653 mayoral proclamations in support of Small Business Saturday nationwide and ensure numerous public service announcements were issued promoting the day.
  • WIPP secured passage of a Senate Resolution designating Small Business Saturday and introduction of House Resolution and engaged 240 Members of Congress in Small Business Saturday activities.