Department of Health and Human Services Proposes to Extend Short Term Health Insurance

In response to an Executive Order, HHS proposed a change to the maximum duration of short-term health insurance from three months to 12 months. Short-term, limited-duration health insurance is designed to fill temporary gaps in coverage when an individual is transitioning from one plan to another form of coverage, for example, when a person is in between jobs. This type of coverage does not qualify under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), so ACA protections, like for pre-existing conditions do not apply. HHS invites comments on the rule through April 20.

View the proposed rule here.

House Small Business Committee Releases Funding Recommendations for FY18

The House Small Business Committee has released its 2018 Views and Estimates for FY2019 SBA funding. The Committee recommends zero appropriations for SBA pilot programs, and requests funds needed to cover additional costs to the Entrepreneurial Development Program imposed by SBA pilot programs come from the SBA’s general salaries and expenses account. It defers to the White House Budget Request for the Capital Access Program and will work with the SBA to improve the agency’s information technology (IT) systems, and implement reforms to the HUBZone Program included in the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

View the Committee’s 2018 Views and Estimates here.

President Trump Releases Details on Infrastructure Plan

President Trump released his 53-page infrastructure plan that outlines his vision for generating $1.5 trillion for infrastructure over the next 10 years. The plan depends on funding from multiple sources, including state and local governments and private investment. Federal spending over this period totals $200 billion, while the remainder would come from state/local at a 4:1 ratio. The breakdown of the $200 billion is as follows:

  • $100B – Incentives to local government entities to give non-federal funds (to reach the $1.5T Trump promised on the campaign trail)
  • $20B – Set aside to advance “major infrastructure projects”
  • $50B – Earmarked for rural block grants, which will be given to states based on the amount of rural area and population
  • $20B – ‘Infrastructure related undertakings’
  • $10B – Federal Capital Financing Fund

View the President’s full plan here.

Congress Agrees on 2-year Budget Numbers-Now the Hard Work Begins

Congress removed a stumbling block to funding the federal government on an annual basis by agreeing to budget numbers for the next two years by raising both defense and non-defense spending by the staggering number of $300 billion. This clears the way for Congressional appropriators to fund specific programs. Comprehensive funding for FY18 is now facing a deadline of March 23. The agreement also suspends the debt ceiling through March 1, 2019, which allows the government to continue to borrow money to pay its bills without Congressional approval. The budget deal allocated funding for disaster aid, Community Development Block Grants, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Community Health Centers.

View the Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2018 here.

Yvonne Ballard: Construction Mode

I graduated from Turner Construction’s 12-week Construction Management Course on November 15, 2017. It was a great accomplishment for my brand!

The program refreshed important aspects of the industry that I learned in college about 12 years ago, and it’s good to know that some of the same rules apply. Plus, I was able to learn a lot about new and improved safety measures, validating contracts, teamwork and project management. And I loved the feeling of good intent from others!

As a minority, I’ve seen a lot of programs that say they offer support, but in truth there are a lot of risks: bad customer service, unlimited loopholes, and being degraded for asking for help.

Turner, on the other hand, has a genuine team that is motivated by good will, and a support system to help my brand sustainability. The class had a culture of diversity and offered business opportunities to partner for more work. This was an awesome experience especially since my goal is to align my brand and expertise with like-minded developers so I can style the interior spaces of new structures.

During the months leading up to graduation, I attended another great event called ChallengeHER. I wasn’t sure how I would apply it to my business, but the name grabbed my attention. The September 2017 ChallengeHER event was held at the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA), a familiar place that supported me years ago. The program offered a plethora of education for women-owned small businesses, procurement leads and a directory of face-to-face supporters. The link directly related to my certifications and gave me the confidence to approach new business ventures.

Looking back, it reminded me of when I began activating my gift into a career mindset in 2004. Initially, the odds were against me. At the time I was a young mother of three children with very little income. I enrolled in the Section 8 program at CMHA; this gave me the opportunity to attend college. I also qualified for daycare vouchers to send my children to school. It was the beginning of a great start for my independence, education and a better outcome for our future success.

We rented a little purple house at the time. The owner initially didn’t want to accept the Section 8 voucher, but I shared the benefits and promised to be a great tenant. We closed the deal. I practiced my design projects in that house. I later purchased a bigger home from the same owner with the assistance of the Section 8 homeownership program.

I was the first of my immediate family to own a home and complete college. I majored in interior design. My mindset was, and still is, “If I get an opportunity for support subsidies, I don’t use them to get comfortable but use them to further my education or improve my family situation—use them to improve our livelihood.” Even having faced discrimination, I maintain by focusing on the outcome.

Having a mindset to acknowledge support as an opportunity to propel forward and not as a crutch to get comfortable has afforded me nothing but success as a wife, mother, homeowner, college graduate, and entrepreneur. My objective is to be an inspiration to my family and community. That, in turn, enhances my drive.

Yvonne Ballard

President/Owner of NOVE home&body decor LLC

February Policy Update

It’s been a busy month on the policy front. Here are some of the highlights:

  • State of the Union: President Trump gave his State of the Union address on January 30. The speech highlighted the passage of the new tax framework, immigration, infrastructure, and the opioid crisis, among other topics. Trump recognized small business owners from Ohio to highlight the positive effects tax reform has had on their business.
  • Budget Watch: After missing the midnight deadline and a brief partial government shutdown, Congress passed a two-year budget agreement in the early hours of Friday morning that will raise existing budget caps on defense and non-defense spending and suspend the debt ceiling for a year. The Senate passed the measure 71-28 and the House 240-186. President Trump signed the deal. The agreement will temporarily finance the government at the current FY17 levels through March 23, allotting time for Congress to work out details for longer term spending. The bill also extends funding for disaster aid, Community Development Block Grants, Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Community Health Centers.
  • Immigration: In line with his promise to Democrats to end the last shutdown in January, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has scheduled a procedural vote for Monday on shell legislation to be used for a debate on immigration.
  • Census Annual Business Survey: The Census Bureau has proposed an Annual Business Survey (ABS), which will combine multiple surveys for the 2017-2021 survey years, in order to provide more current data to the public, more often, without minimizing quality. 2017 business numbers will be available in about three years.
    • Timeline for ABS:
      • Year 1: Research and development of data and models.  First beta product (2018)
      • Year 2: Refinement of models and data. Comparison to Other Sources. Additional years and Q/A of longitudinal properties (2019)
      • Year 3: Estimates of Non-employers by Demo Characteristics (2020)
    • Cyber Security: The House Small Business Committee held a hearing entitled “Small Business Information Sharing: Foreign Cyber Security Threats” last week, to examine R. 4668, the Small Business Advanced Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2017. The Small Business Caucus will hold a Cyber Security Event in February. Details TBA.

February Letter from WIPP President Jane Campbell

The first month of the year flew by and saw a lot of action in Washington, D.C. From two brief government shutdowns to the passage of a two-year budget deal with lots of new spending, our leaders have been busy tackling financial issues that have a significant impact on women entrepreneurs.

Jane Campbell photo.jpgWIPP is here to make sure women’s voices are heard during the hurly-burly of policymaking and help you to make sense of what is happening in our nation’s capital. The bottom line is the decisions our leaders make have an impact on you and your business, but it is not always easy to grasp what is happening from the headlines alone.

From creating a monthly series on policy issues where members can ask WIPP experts about the rapidly shifting policy landscape, to hosting ChallengeHER events across the country that will deliver the information and connections women need to succeed in government contracting, to producing informative GiveMe5 webinars, WIPP is dedicated to providing members with the information they need to thrive.

Please consider joining us today to reap the benefits of WIPP membership. After all, knowledge is power!

Tax Withholding Guidance Released

Taxes 2.jpegThe IRS recently released a notice providing the 2018 income tax withholding tables, showing the new rates for employees. The tables reflect changes made by the tax bill that was signed into law last month, including the increase in the standard deduction, repeal of personal exemptions, and changes in tax rates and brackets. They are designed to work with the Forms W-4 that employees have already filed with their employers.
The IRS is directing employers to implement the new withholding tables as soon as possible, but no later than February 15, 2018. This guidance is the first of several items that the agency plans to release this year in order to simplify the transition of the new rules.
For the IRS’s FAQ on the Tax Withholding Timetables, click here.

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.