Seven Small Business Bills Approved by the House of Representatives

This month, the House voted to pass seven of nine small business bills under suspension of the rules— a procedure used to quickly pass non-controversial bills. The seven bills that passed:

  • Small Business Development Center Cyber Training Act (H.R. 3170):  The Small Business Administration would offer cybersecurity and related planning assistance. The bill would require the SBA to train Small Business Development Center employees in counseling small businesses on cybersecurity questions.
  • Change Order Transparency for Federal Contractors Act (H.R. 4754):  Small business contractors and subcontractors seeking bids for federal construction projects would receive improved information from agencies including performance data and policies on change orders.
  • Women’s Business Centers Improvements Act (H.R. 1680):  The Office of Women’s Business Ownership’s responsibilities would be modified and it would be authorized to make larger grants to women’s business centers.
  • Small Business Development Centers Improvement Act (H.R. 1702): The SBA’s Small Business Development Center grant program would be modified and given new reporting requirements.
  • Spurring Business in Communities Act (H.R. 4111):  The creation of new Small Business Investment Companies in underserved states would be promoted under this bill.
  • Main Street Employee Ownership Act (H.R. 5236):  Employee cooperatives would become eligible for loans backed by the Small Business Administration. The bill would also allow loans to be made to a small business to facilitate employees’ purchase of the firm. The measure also would require additional agency outreach to promote employee purchase of companies.
  • Small Business 7(a) Lending Oversight Reform Act (H.R. 4743):  The Small Business Administration’s Office of Credit Risk Management would be codified and given new oversight responsibilities for the 7(a) program.

The two bills that did not pass were Small Business Advanced Cybersecurity Enhancements Act (H.R. 4668), which would create a central small business cybersecurity assistance unit and small business cybersecurity assistance units in each small business development center, and the SCORE for Small Business Act (H.R. 1700), reauthorizing the SCORE program.

The Trump Administration Sends Request to Congress for Over $15 Billion of Spending Cuts for This Year

Using an obscure federal law, the White House sent a sweeping $15.4 billion rescission package to Congress which requests spending cuts this year across 10 federal departments.  This request comes from the Trump Administration in an effort to address the rising federal deficit.

Some programs in which cuts were requested include:

  • $50 million from the Rural Business-Cooperative Service (Department of Agriculture)
  • $30 million from the Economic Development Administration (Department of Commerce)
  • $4.3 billion from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program (Department of Energy)
  • $683 million from the Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program (Department of Energy)
  • $800 million from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (Department of Health & Human Services)
  • $179.1 million from the Federal Highway Administration (Department of Transportation)
  • $53.4 million from the Federal Railroad Administration (Department of Transportation)
  • $46.5 million from the Federal Transit Administration (Department of Transportation)
  • $22.7 million from the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund (Department of Treasury)
  • $151 million from Capital Magnet Fund, Community Development Financial Institutions (Department of Treasury)

These cuts, if approved, could impact current government contracts depending on the agency. In addition, cuts to the CDFI Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund will have a big impact on lending to minority and women-owned businesses and those in economically disadvantaged areas.

The House Appropriations Committee has 25 days to address the request by crafting its own bill based on the White House recommendations or decide not to act.  After 25 days, other House members can introduce their own rescissions legislation. Congress must act within 45 days of the request, which was made on May 8th.  If the House passes a bill, it would be taken up next by the Senate. Rescissions bills require only a simple majority for passage.

WIPP Members Speak Out on Minimum Wage

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WE Decide 2016, Powered by Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) and Personal BlackBox, is uniting women in business across the country to raise their voices and engage in the 2016 presidential election to educate the candidates, the media and voters on the issues of importance to women entrepreneurs.

This week we focusing on the minimum wage and its impact on women-owned small businesses and their workers.  We have a guest blog post by Ceil McCloy and Brenda Barwick, two women business owners and WIPP members with differing viewpoints on the minimum wage.

Share your thoughts on this topic, and many other that impact women in business, by taking our poll:  http://wedecide2016.org/get-involved/todays-quick-poll/

Ceil McCloy

Raising the Minimum Wage Stabilizes Workforce  

By Ceil McCloy, CEO / President, Integrated Science Solutions, Inc.

 

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 which among other provisions established a minimum wage.  Roosevelt, when he sent the bill to Congress in 1937 stated “all our able-bodied men and women should be able to have a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.  In the more than 75 years since Congress first enacted a federal minimum wage, at 25 cents an hour,  lawmakers have increased it many times, reaching the current level of $7.25 an hour in 2009. And with every increase the same objections have been raised.  It will increase unemployment.  It will hurt small businesses and put them out of business. It will slow the economy. These doomsday predictions have never come to fruition.

Employers are recognizing that an increase in minimum wage is good for business. Workers earning low wages tend to be less committed to their jobs than better paid workers and are less likely to stay at their jobs. The accommodations and food services sector, with a majority of minimum wage workers, has an annual turnover rate of nearly 63 percent, while “limited service restaurants” (fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s) have a turnover rate of well over 100%. The retail trade, which employs cashiers, customer service representatives, stock clerks and other low-wage workers, has a turnover rate of nearly 50 percent.  Employee turnover forces businesses to constantly find and train new workers, costing firms significant amounts of money and time. In the fast food industry, the cost of turnover is approximately $4,700 each time a worker leaves his or her job. Studies show that higher wages can substantially reduce turnover and the costs associated with replacing lost workers. The benefit from lower turnover explains why large companies as well as many small businesses have chosen to invest in higher wages as part of a highly competitive business strategy.

Job loss is often stated as a reason not to increase the minimum wage.  This is simply not true.  As Goldman Sachs analysts (2016) recently noted, citing a 2010 study by University of California economists that examined job-growth patterns across every border in the U.S. where one county had a higher wage than a neighboring county, “the economic literature has typically found no effect on employment” from recent U.S. minimum-wage increases.  This report’s findings mirror decades of more sophisticated academic research, providing simple confirmation that opponents’ predictions of job losses when minimum-wage increases are not rooted in facts.

Can raising the minimum wage help the economy? Yes!  Research has shown that raising the minimum wage boosts consumer spending, increasing the demand that drives economic growth. A 2011 study by the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank found that minimum wage increases raise incomes and increase consumer spending.  The authors examined 23 years of household spending data and found that for every dollar increase for a minimum wage worker results in $2,800 in new consumer spending by his or her household over the following year. A 2009 study by the Economic Policy Institute estimates that President Obama’s campaign to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2011 would inject $60 billion in additional spending into the economy.

We should enact legislation to increase the federal minimum wage and peg increases to the annual inflation rate.


brenda jones

 

Econ 101: Free Markets Raise Wages, Not Government

By Brenda Barwick, APR, President of Jones PR and Oklahoma Chair of Maggie’s List.

 

One of the biggest misconceptions about conservatives on the issue of minimum wage is that we want the lowest wage, when in fact we want to pay our people as high as possible.  One of the principles that makes America unique from almost all other countries is that our economy was founded on a free market system, or simply, supply and demand.

An economy with minimal government regulation allows for businesses to grow and prosper naturally, which results in wage growth.  For examples of where market forces have dramatically increased base wages, look no further than some of America’s cities that have strategically replaced traditional low-paying industry jobs by recruiting high-tech and health-sciences companies with higher wage positions, resulting in greater prosperity and transformational change.

Federal mandates prohibit the free market from functioning properly as intended.  Government interference is particularly disruptive and harmful to small business owner’s ability to make the best decisions for her employees.  Business owners and managers know their business better than anyone else and are naturally incentivized to see their employees succeed.  There should be a floor for common decency and respect, but it is all together different to mandate high wages that business owners cannot meet.

Now that it is summer, most of us reading this blog cannot make up for a $15 mandatory increase when we have budgeted $8 or $10 for a summer position.  We all remember the joy and excitement of our first job in high school or college where we learned basic job skills.  We need to ensure teens and young adults have the same opportunities we enjoyed and inspired us to strive beyond entry-level jobs so we can make a living wage for our families.  By taking this opportunity away from young ambitious Americans by pricing them out of the marketplace, America’s future could be comprised of a workforce who never learned basic job skills before they arrive at their first real job.

The most prosperous path forward for all Americans of any age is to allow the free market to work properly. This system provides boundless opportunities for all Americans who desire to work and contribute to our society.  Give our young people the same opportunities that benefited and prepared us for prosperous careers.


Let us know what you think! Take WE Decide 2016’s minimum wage quick poll here:

http://wedecide2016.org/get-involved/todays-quick-poll/ 

Small Things Come In Big Packages

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May 2016 WIPP Works In Washington

Small Things Come In Big Packages

By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Government Relations Team

 

In an epic week fueled by bipartisanship, the Senate Small Business Committee and the House Armed Services Committee put small business issues front and center in a way that was nothing short of amazing. This just goes to show that the “do-nothing Congress” does in fact do plenty when it comes to small business.

Let’s first talk about the Senate Small Business Committee. Members of the Committee introduced and are expected to pass three bills important to WIPP. One bill would extend the Small Business and Innovative Research program (SBIR) and a related program the Small Business Technology Transfer program (STTR) and included a mandate to do better outreach to women and minorities (thanks to Michigan’s Senator Gary Peters). The government funds innovative products and services through federal grants to bring the products to commercialization. Don’t know about it—look into it at: SBIR.gov. By the way, this is part of WIPP’s access to capital platform – so another accomplishment for our advocacy.

Are you a contractor? Then you might be interested in the introduction of The Small Business Transforming America’s Regions Act of 2016. If you aren’t aware of the HUBZone program, you should look into it. The government gives a bid preference to companies who invest in low-income areas. It could supplement the WOSB program you already belong to. At least check it out at SBA’s HUBZone Page.

Need capital? The Committee is expected to modernize the Microloan Program administered by the SBA. The program lends $50,000 and below to companies who need capital. In case you didn’t know it, there is a whole nationwide network of lenders who stand ready to lend, backed by the government’s guarantee against failure.

Now onto the House Armed Services Committee. This Committee and its counterpart, the Senate Armed Services Committee, prepare a bill each year, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that funds all military operations. It is a must-pass bill because the military requires certainty in funding. In order for the US to keep its competitiveness, it must have a strong and diverse industrial base. That’s where small businesses come in.

To that end, a whole section of the bill is devoted to small business contracting changes and strengthening resources for women entrepreneurs including women’s business centers. The bill:

 

  • Requires an annual report on the share of contract dollars awarded to small businesses without any exclusions
  • Establishes a pilot program that enables contractors to receive a past performance rating by submitting a request to the contracting officer and/or prime contractor
  • Requires the SBA to develop a list of no-cost programs that assist small businesses in compliance with Federal regulations.
  • Strengthens agency small business offices to recommend which small business set-aside programs should be used for each contract at their agency.
  • Requires commercial market representatives (CMRs) to assist prime contractors in identifying small business subcontractors and assess the prime’s compliance with their subcontracting plans
  • Adds HUBZone and SDVOSB to small business office oversight (previously not listed in statute but already happening in practice)

 

In case you do not remember, the Women’s Business Center reforms would raise the funding authorization level by 50% from $14.5M to $21.75M and increase grants to individual centers as well as streamline the program. Better program, better training for women.

How did all of this happen? Champions. The leadership of the House Small Business Committee, which passed the provisions now part of the NDAA, worked together hand-in-glove to assist our businesses. Chair Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Ranking Member Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) set the gold standard of getting things done without a partisan fuss. Similarly, the Senate Small Business Committee, under the guidance of Chair David Vitter (R-LA) and Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) worked together to introduce reforms good for small businesses.

The real story behind all of this activity is the power of small businesses uniting to ask for changes in contracting and better resources to succeed. Organizations, such as WIPP are the champions, walking the halls of Congress to press for better programs and fairness in contracting.

While I would agree that Congress is more partisan than ever before, there are bright spots. This past week was certainly one—all made possible by elected officials crossing party lines for the good of women-owned companies. If you ever wondered what your WIPP membership is paying for or if you need a reason to join WIPP, look no further. The advocacy WIPP provides on your behalf is the best return on investment you may ever find. It requires almost none of your time, requires a minimal monetary investment (dues) and you get a whole team dedicated to advancing your agenda to the Congress on a daily basis.

I call that value.

 

Access to Angel Investors Just Got Easier

By: Jake Clabaugh, WIPP Government Relations

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Seeking to clear up a gray area triggering securities registration, the House of Representatives passed The Helping Angels Lead Our Startups (HALOS) Act pushed by Small Business Committee Chair Steve Chabot (R-OH).

Pitch events or demo days are common methods for business owners to showcase their companies and products to a room full of investors. Right now, there is confusion about whether these events are allowed because the Securities and Exchange Commission’s rules prohibit “general solicitations.” The HALOS Act would clarify that pitch events hosted by angel investors are not general solicitations and do not require securities registration – a complex and expensive process for both angel investors and companies seeking investment.

Angel investment is particularly important for women-owned businesses. Recent data indicates that one in four angel-backed companies are led by women. The number of women-led companies receiving angel investments has increased by 234% in just the last decade. Since women-owned businesses receive only 4% of conventional small business loan dollars, it is vital to cultivate other sources of capital.

This bill will now move onto the Senate for consideration. WIPP will continue to engage Members of Congress on access to capital issues. An additional recommendation in WIPP’s access to capital platform, Breaking the Bank, urges Congress to incentivize angel investments with tax credits.

 

 

Filing Frenzy: Tax Deadline Strikes Today

tax-day

By: Jake Clabaugh, WIPP Government Relations

Tax Day is upon us and woman business owners have been working overtime. Not on growing their firms, planning investments or making important hiring decisions, but on tax compliance. At least, that’s according the House Small Business Committee, which took a look at the burdensome tax.

Forgetting tax liability – the amount a business owes – the Committee focused on how difficult it is for small businesses to satisfactorily comply with dense tax rules. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses spend 5.5 billion hours preparing and filing taxes – time that should be spent growing the business. The costs and complexity of calculating tax provisions makes it difficult for smaller businesses to take advantage of incentives designed to reward investment. As a result, larger businesses that can incur the costs of calculation reap the rewards.

As we’ve heard from WIPP members across the country, tax certainty is a top priority. Clarity on what provisions and incentives will be enacted would provide businesses with the ability to plan ahead, rather than adjust to a changing environment. For the last few years, Congress has passed legislation solely for “tax extenders” – deductions and credits that were set to expire at the end of the previous year, but were extended to cover the current tax year. While many of these credits could provide some relief for small businesses, firms spent the entire year without knowing if these provisions would be available. Hardly an efficient way to have to run your business.

A simpler tax code would reduce compliance time and allow owners to focus on their business – not the latest tax rules. Also, small businesses should be able to take advantage of the same incentives that larger businesses can. WIPP will continue to focus our advocacy on the two guiding principles of simplicity and fairness for women-owned businesses.

Could comprehensive reform – not seen since the 1980’s – be on the horizon? House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX) announced last week that his Committee is planning to release a tax-reform “blueprint” this summer. Additionally, Members of the House and Senate have stirred over international tax reform in the wake of recent corporate mergers. While the conversations are ongoing, comprehensive tax reform in an election year, with an ardently divided Congress seems, at least in our view, unlikely.

For updates on tax policy and other finance issues, please visit WIPP’s Economy and Tax section and WIPP’s Economic Blueprint.

 

 

Join WIPP’s Chief Advocate Ann Sullivan for an Insider’s Look at the Presidential Candidates

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Will a new President change how Washington works?  Join me Thursday for an insider’s look at the Presidential candidates and their ability to work with a new Congress and the business community.  Not only will this year’s election decide the Presidency, but control of the Senate is also in play.
Join me on March 24th at 2PM for an analysis of the upcoming elections and how you as women business owners can weigh in on issues that matter most to your business and the future through WE Decide 2016.
And don’t forget to join We Decide 2016 before the webinar – together, we will make a difference.
See you on Thursday!
Ann Sullivan
Chief Advocate for Women Impacting Public Policy
Click here to join WE Decide2016.
Click here to register for Thursday’s webinar.

Venture Capital Pool Opens for Women Entrepreneurs

By: Jake Clabaugh, WIPP Government Relations

VCIf you are an entrepreneur seeking capital, the path to venture funding could be getting a little easier. Earlier this month, the House Financial Services Committee took action on two bills that make venture investments more attainable for entrepreneurs – The Helping Angels Lead Our Startups (HALOS) Act and the Main Street Growth Act. As women entrepreneurs only receive 7% of venture dollars, improving access to venture capital is a top priority in the women’s business community.

Due to ambiguities in the law, pitch events or demo days that are sponsored by angel investors may or may not be legal. Yet, these events are a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to get themselves – and their products – in front of a room full of potential investors. The HALOS Act makes this easier by clarifying this ambiguity. Currently, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) prohibits “general advertising” and “general solicitation,” but the HALOS act would clarify that these events are permitted for groups of angel investors and not subject to the prohibition on general solicitations. The bill’s sponsor, House Small Business Committee Chair Steve Chabot (R-OH), remarked, “clarifying the law to give entrepreneurs and investors more certainty and opportunity is a step in the right direction.”

To further incentivize investment, The Main Street Growth Act (H.R. 4638) will create securities exchanges specifically for venture capital investments. Existing stock exchanges could create a new tier to specialize in venture capital investments or entirely new exchanges could be established. These securities exchanges will bring together buyers and sellers of venture capital and create a more liquid market, which will incentivize investors to support startups.

While no single policy change or piece of legislation will break down the barriers that prevent women entrepreneurs from accessing capital, these incremental improvements show that Congress is committed to leveling the playing field for women entrepreneurs. WIPP’s access to capital platform, Breaking the Bank, continues to gain traction with legislators and WIPP is dedicated to growing women entrepreneurs’ share of venture capital funding.

Business Issues Highlighted in WE Decide 2016

By: Ann Sullivan, WIPP’s Chief Advocate

WE-Decide-2016_editedIs it just me or are the candidates ignoring economic issues that are business women’s bread and butter? The election so far has largely centered on social issues and impossible promises such as free college. What about taxes, healthcare costs, employee issues, access to capital and access to markets? And what about a positive message? Business owners are optimists – if they didn’t believe America was great, they wouldn’t take the risk of investing in a business. Someone out there thinks America is still the land of opportunity—to the tune of 10 million women business owners.

In all my years of working with Congress and Administrations, Republican or Democrat, WIPP has always taken the view that women who are business owners are influencers in their communities and a trusted source of information. Their focus is on results, sensible regulations and an investment in small businesses. Therefore, they have the obligation and privilege to make a difference in elections and policy platforms.

Hence, the launch of WE Decide 2016, a collaboration with Personal BlackBox (PBB). WIPP has provided a platform for women entrepreneurs to have their voices heard during the 2016 elections. WE Decide 2016 engages women business owners and women entrepreneurs to focus our message. The opinions shared through this initiative will culminate in a policy platform, which will be shared with the candidates at both national conventions.

WE Decide 2016 utilizes an interactive online platform to conduct polling and outreach to women business owners on the issues that affect our lives and businesses everyday. Through quick polls and issue surveys, we will be able to ascertain women business owners’ views in a timely manner and we will share the results with the media.

What makes WE Decide 2016 different from all the other avenues to share your opinion? Thanks to our partner, Personal BlackBox, WE Decide 2016 gives women control of their personal data and a safe place to express opinions privately with peers. Unlike current Presidential polls run by CNN, the DNC and RNC and even Facebook, the information you share with WE Decide 2016 will never be sold to anyone.

So, let’s get started. First step: go to WE Decide 2016 and register. We need an initial number of 1000 registrants to do credible polls. Step Two: ask all of your friends and networks to join the effort. Since we are 10 million strong and an economic force, women business owners are in a unique position to shape the conversation around issues and approaches that resonate with us.

Act now. Our businesses and our future depend on it.

Stop New Taxes on Internet Access

internetThe Internet has revolutionized the way we communicate, learn, innovate and for business owners, it has been a game changer in their ability to manage and grow their businesses.  The Internet’s success and rapid growth is due in large part to a current law, the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA), which has kept Internet access free from state and local taxes and fees since 1998.

We believe that Congress should act now and permanently extend the moratorium on taxing Internet access. ITFA is critical to keeping Internet access affordable for business owners and consumers, enhancing Internet adoption rates and growing the digital economy.

Finally, after much delay, it looks like the vote on a permanent version of ITFA could be as early as tomorrow! We need your help to urge your Senators support the Customs Bill and keep the Internet Tax Freedom Act in the bill. 

Urge your Senator to Support the Internet Tax Freedom Act!

With communications taxes on telephone services already on average at 17%, we don’t need the potential for another tax of close to 20% added to our Internet bills. In a time when our economy is still recovering, any money saved from the monthly bills of women-owned small businesses is much welcomed.

Tell your Senator to permanently extend ITFA today and keep Internet access free from new taxes.