Chabot, Connolly Introduce Bill to Help More Small Businesses Export
WASHINGTON – Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) have introduced H.R. 2586, the Export Coordination Act of 2015, a bill to improve the coordination of federal export promotion resources and to streamline the export process so that more small businesses can sell goods overseas.
“When it comes to exporting, most small businesses don’t know where to start,” said Chabot. “The process can be incredibly complex and the federal resources that are supposed to help them navigate the process are just as intimidating. The Export Coordination Act would streamline these resources and take steps to make the process easier for businesses.
Chabot added, “It is my hope that this bill – and other solutions that the Small Business Committee is currently working on – will open the door for more small businesses to sell their goods overseas, which ultimately provides more opportunities for working families.”
Congressman Connolly said, “The federal government stands ready to help small businesses access foreign markets and create jobs through exports. This bill will ensure that federal trade promotion agencies are reaching out to state and local partners and making access to these resources as straightforward as possible.”
U.S. exports support more than 38 million American jobs – including 1 in 3 manufacturing jobs. Despite the fact that 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States, only 2 percent of all small businesses export their goods.
H.R. 2586 would require the United States Department of Commerce’s Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) to clearly define each federal agency’s role in the export process, establish a central listing of all trade events, give state trade agencies a voice in setting our national export strategy, and reduce overlap of current export resources.
The recently-enacted FAST Act included provisions to improve our nation’s infrastructure and establish a strategic national freight policy. The field hearing will focus on implementation of the FAST Act, the impact of freight transportation to rural economies, and ways to strengthen local and regional transportation networks.
· Mr. Kyle Schneweis, Director, Nebraska Department of Roads
· Mr. Don Overman, Chairman, Western Nebraska Regional Airport Authority Board
· Ms. Deb Cottier, Executive Director, Northwest Nebraska Development Corporation
· Mr. David Freeman, Senior Vice President of Transportation, BNSF Railway
· Mr. Kevin Kelley, President, Kelley Bean Company
· Mr. Brent Holliday, Chief Executive Officer, Nebraska Transport Company
Monday, May 2, 2016, 10:00 a.m. MT/12:00 p.m. ET.
Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security Subcommittee Field Hearing
Plex Room, The Harms Advanced Technology Center
Western Nebraska Community College
Witness testimony and opening statements will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.
In passing the Every Student Succeeds Act last year, we took important steps to support and encourage greater school choice for students and their families. These reforms empower parents to do what’s best for their child’s education, and help ensure that all children are able to receive the excellent education they deserve—regardless of their family’s background, income, or zip code.
Helping students escape failing schools so they can pursue a brighter future is an important priority, and that’s exactly what the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program does for children in our nation’s capital.
For more than 10 years, the program has enabled thousands of students to pursue the quality education necessary to excel both in the classroom and later in life. And excel they do. In fact, last year, 90 percent of 12th graders who received a scholarship through the program graduated from high school, and nearly 90 percent of those students went on to pursue a college degree.
These are impressive results that speak volumes about the importance of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. They’re also a big reason this program has long enjoyed bipartisan support. Sure, there are critics who argue these vulnerable children shouldn’t have the opportunity to pursue a better education. But, fortunately, a strong majority in Congress remains committed to supporting this program. This bill will renew that commitment to the students and families the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program serves.
The legislation also authorizes support for D.C. public schools and will provide critical resources for D.C. public charter schools. In my home state of Minnesota—the birthplace of charter schools—we have seen the many benefits of providing parents an alternative public school option that better meets their child’s needs. The bill will help the District of Columbia continue to do the same for its students.
Together, these measures will make a positive impact in the lives of students across the District and create much-needed education opportunities for children who might not otherwise have them. I’d say that is a very worthwhile investment. I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation.
Kline Statement: Markup of H.R. 4843, the Improving Safe Care for the Prevention of Infant Abuse and Neglect Act
Today, the committee will take an important step in preventing the abuse and neglect of infants born with opioid addiction. As we all know, an opioid epidemic has swept across the country. This epidemic is destroying communities; it is destroying families; it is destroying lives; and perhaps most tragically, it is destroying the lives of the most vulnerable among us.
The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act has long provided grants to states to help prevent child abuse and neglect, as well as identify, assess, and treat the victims. In order to receive federal funding, states have to provide some basic assurances about their child welfare policies. For example, states have to assure there are policies in place to notify child protective services when a newborn is identified with the symptoms of illegal substance abuse, as well as policies for the development of a safe care plan for the newborn. Sadly, an unwillingness to follow and enforce the law is leading to tragic consequences.
In 2015, Reuters spent a year investigating cases of infants born to parents struggling with opioid addiction. As is often the case with addiction, the parents’ struggle had repercussions for those around them, including their newborns. According to Reuters, more than 130,000 babies born in the United States in the last decade entered the world addicted to drugs. That is a startling statistic on its own, but even more startling are the stories of those infants who, after suffering through the pain of withdrawal, later suffered deaths that should have been prevented.
Of the fatalities the report examined, more than 40 children died of suffocation. Thirteen others died after swallowing toxic doses of opioids. Some of the stories are simply too painful and disturbing to mention, and again, the saddest part of this all is that these tragedies should have been prevented.
Needless to say, this report raised a number of red flags. It prompted us to write to the Department of Health and Human Services in an effort to better understand the process for reviewing and approving state applications for federal funds. It’s fair to say that the response we received was disappointing, suggesting that changes to the law somehow absolve the department from its enforcement responsibilities. Regardless of any changes to the law in recent years, it was never Congress’s intent to cut a blank check to states who fail to follow the law.
These parents and their children deserve better. Fortunately, efforts are underway to provide real help and hope to these families. Programs like Lily’s Place, an infant recovery center in West Virginia, are not only helping to wean children off of the drugs they are born addicted to, but also teaching mothers how to care for infants suffering through withdrawal. This is just one of a handful of similar programs across the country and an excellent example of the work being done to address the country’s growing opioid epidemic.
While these community efforts are vitally important, there are also steps we in Congress can take to help ensure these vulnerable women and children no longer slip through the cracks. The Improving Safe Care for the Prevention of Infant Abuse and Neglect Act is part of that effort.
This commonsense measure will require the Department of Health and Human Services to better ensure states are meeting current child welfare requirements. It makes clear the department’s responsibilities in confirming states have policies in place to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect, particularly infants exposed to illegal substances before birth. The bill also includes provisions that will improve accountability and help states develop plans to keep infants and their families healthy and safe. In short, it strengthens the current system and helps address a real, immediate need.
I want to thank Representatives Barletta and Clark for their leadership on this issue and for working together to deliver the bipartisan proposal under consideration today. I’m confident their work will be an important part of the House’s larger effort to combat the country’s growing opioid epidemic. Too many American families are struggling with the consequences of this national crisis, and it’s time we, as policymakers and as a nation, said, “Enough.”
Barletta Statement: Markup of H.R. 4843, Improving Safe Care for the Prevention of Infant Abuse and Neglect Act
Substance abuse is a problem that afflicts millions of Americans, and it is something that I consistently hear about when I am back home in Pennsylvania. While its damaging effects are felt across our society, the most tragic cases are those involving newborns. Children who are exposed to illegal substances before they’re born are helpless in avoiding the pain and suffering caused by addiction, and so many infants enter this world without even a fighting chance.In fact, every 25 minutes in this country, a baby is born having already been exposed to drugs and suffering from opioid withdrawal. These children will pay the price for something they had absolutely no control over—something they were defenseless against. That’s why it’s so important we do everything we can to prevent these heartbreaking situations and ensure all children have the protection and care they need. This priority is one that reaches across party lines, and it’s the reason we are here today.
Federal policies have long supported state efforts to identify, assess, and treat children who are victims of abuse and neglect. One of those policies is the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, or CAPTA. Enacted in 1974, CAPTA provides states with resources to improve their child protective services systems—provided they assure the Department of Health and Human Services that they have put in place certain child welfare policies. Those policies include requiring health care providers to notify state child protective services agencies when a child is born with prenatal illegal substance exposure, as well as requiring the development of a “safe care plan” to protect these newborns and keep them and their caregivers healthy.
That’s unacceptable, and it’s why Representative Clark and I—along with a number of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle—introduced the bill before us today, the Improving Safe Care for the Prevention of Infant Abuse and Neglect Act. This proposal demands that HHS do better when it comes to enforcing policies meant to protect children from abuse and neglect. It requires the department to review and confirm states have put in place policies required by CAPTA; it strengthens protections for infants born with illegal substance exposure; and it improves accountability related to the care of those infants and their families. It also includes provisions to provide states with best practices for developing plans to keep infants and their caregivers healthy and safe and to encourage the use of information made available through other child welfare laws in verifying CAPTA compliance. Finally, the bill will prevent HHS from adding new requirements to state assurances and plans.
The substitute amendment I am offering today is the product of discussions with lawmakers and stakeholders to provide additional clarification and make technical changes to the underlying bill. These changes would clarify that the HHS secretary should provide states information on safe care plan requirements, that substance use disorder treatment needs should be considered as part of those plans, and that states should monitor their use. The amendment would also make it clear that the secretary cannot create new requirements for states under CAPTA and change the title of the bill to the Infant Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act. I urge my colleagues to support the substitute, as well as the underlying legislation.
Send It Back: Small Biz Committee Urges OMB to Reject Harmful DOL Overtime Rule
WASHINGTON – House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Republican Committee Members today urged the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to reject a new Department of Labor (DOL) rule that will destroy jobs, lower wages, and reduce benefits for the millions of Americans who work for small businesses and other small employers.
In a letter to Howard Shelanski, the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at OMB, Committee members cited significant problems with adequacy and accuracy of DOL’s analysis of the impacts of the new “overtime rule” and concerns they have heard from small businesses about the harm DOL’s one-size-fits-all rule will do to them and their employees.
OIRA has the authority to return a draft final rule to DOL for reconsideration if DOL’s analysis is inadequate or the rule is inconsistent with Executive Order 12,866 or statutes. In their letter, the Committee members urged them to use this authority to help small employers.
Chabot, who is also co-chairing House Speaker Paul Ryan’s task force on reducing regulatory burdens, has pushed back hard against the overtime rule. The Committee has held numerous hearings and roundtables and sent multiple letters explaining to the Obama administration the damage that will be done to America’s 28 million small businesses as a result of the overtime rule.
You can view the signed letter HERE.
Full text of the letter below.
April 28, 2016
The Honorable Howard Shelanski
Dear Administrator Shelanski:
We are writing to urge the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to return the rule revising the existing Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA or Act)regulations that implement the exemption from minimum wage and overtime pay for executive, administrative, professional, outside sales or computer employees (the “overtime rule”) to the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor (DOL) for reconsideration. The DOL received nearly 300,000 comments on the proposed overtime rule, many of which describe the profound negative consequences for American workers and small employers. In addition, serious concerns have been raised about the adequacy and accuracy of DOL’s analysis of the overtime rule’s impacts on small employers.
When promulgating regulations, the DOL must comply with the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 601-12 (RFA), Executive Order (E.O.) 12,866,and President Obama’s Memorandum on Regulatory Flexibility, Small Business, and Job Creation (President’s Memorandum). The RFA requires the DOL to determine whether a proposed rule will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small businesses. If DOL determines that the proposed rule will have the aforementioned impact, it must perform an initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) that describes the impact of the proposed rule on small businesses, small non-profits, and small governmental jurisdiction and any significant alternatives that would minimize any significant economic impact on them. A similar assessment, a final regulatory flexibility analysis, is required at the final rule stage. Simply stated, these analyses require DOL to take the commonsense steps of assessing the effects of the rule on small employers and evaluating options to reduce significant economic impacts.
The DOL also must comply with E.O. 12,866 and the President’s Memorandum. E.O. 12,866 requires the DOL to assess the costs and benefits of the regulation, including the “costs and benefits of potentially effective and reasonably feasible alternatives to the planned regulation.” Furthermore, it requires DOL to “design its regulations in the most cost-effective manner to achieve the regulatory objective” and “tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society, including individuals, businesses of differing sizes, and other entities (including small communities and governmental entities).”The President reiterated that point in his Memorandum issued on January 21, 2011 directing agencies to “give serious consideration to whether and how it is appropriate . . . to reduce regulatory burdens on small businesses, through increased flexibility.”
Unfortunately, DOL has not fully met its obligations under the aforementioned statute and presidential directives, and the negative ramifications will be felt most acutely by small employers and their employees. While the DOL correctly determined that the overtime rule will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small employers and performed an IRFA, the analysis has serious flaws. Furthermore, the overtime rule is poised to cause significant disruptions in American workplaces that are likely to harm small employers and their employees.
The Chief Counsel for Advocacy at the Small Business Administration sent a comment letter to DOL that described serious problems with its analysis of the overtime rule’s impacts on small employers. DOL relied on numerous unsupported assumptions that obscure the number of affected small businesses, did not examine the effects on different types of small businesses by industry sub-sectors, regions, and revenue sizes, did not assess the effects on small governmental jurisdictions or small non-profits, significantly underestimated the compliance costs, did not account for non-financial effects, and failed to consider alternatives that would reduce impacts on small employers. The Chief Counsel for Advocacy recommended that DOL published a supplemental IRFA to reanalyze the impacts on small employers.
The concerns with DOL’s analysis and the overtime rule’s effects on small employers were echoed by three small businesses – a restaurant owner, a home builder, and a retail store owner – that testified before the Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations last October. Small employers, particularly those in rural areas, will be unable to increase their workers’ salaries to the proposed salary threshold, which will increase 113 percent under the overtime rule, and remain economically viable. As a result, small employers will have no choice but to move salaried workers to hourly status, reduce hours, and trim benefits, which will hurt their employees.
Serious concerns have been raised about the negative repercussions for small employers and their employees. Moreover, the rule must be adequately assessed, as required by the RFA, so that the true consequences of the overtime rule are understood and considered before the DOL proceeds. Thus, we respectfully request that OIRA return the draft final rule to the DOL for reconsideration.
"Good morning. Thanks to everyone for being here today. I’d first like to once again thank Senators Nelson, Ayotte, Cantwell, and the entire Committee for the work we did on the FAA Reauthorization Act. With 95 “yes” votes on the floor, this bipartisan measure is truly a product we can be proud of. I look forward to working with the House of Representatives now to ensure we can get a reauthorization to the President as soon as possible.
"Today we are going to consider a number of other measures, which for the most part, are similar to the FAA Reauthorization Act in that they are consensus bipartisan measures intended not only to pass this Committee, but to pass the full Senate and hopefully become law.
"First and foremost is the FCC Reauthorization Act of 2016.
"During our oversight hearing in March of last year, I expressed my amazement that an agency as important as the FCC had not been reauthorized by Congress in 25 years—making it the oldest expired authorization within the Commerce Committee’s expansive jurisdiction. It has been a priority of mine throughout this Congress to restart the FCC’s authorization cycle, and I am glad that today this Committee is finally considering a long-overdue, noncontroversial measure to formally reauthorize the FCC.
"It has been important to me that this reauthorization package be both bipartisan and noncontroversial, and I think we have achieved that. It is my hope that we can report this bill with the full support of the Committee and move it through the Senate floor by unanimous consent in quick fashion.
"Another communications-related bill on today’s agenda is the FCC Process Reform Act of 2015, introduced by Senator Heller and co-sponsored by Senator Daines.
"While it does not appear we have achieved consensus support for the FCC Process Reform Act, yet, I believe it is important that we go on record as a Committee today and continue to work together to improve the Federal Communications Commission, which we all agree is too important an agency not to make as efficient and credible as possible.
"Senators Fischer, Ayotte, Booker, and Schatz worked together to introduce the final communication-related bill on today’s agenda, the DIGIT Act.
"I would like to thank them for working with me and my staff on this legislation to address a few issues in the lead-up to today’s markup. Their bill would establish a federal working group to examine policy ideas and needs dealing with the burgeoning Internet of Things.
"I would also like to thank Senator Udall for agreeing to work with me on his Youth Sports Concussion Act.
"I think I speak for everyone on this Committee when I say that we share Senator Udall’s concern about the possible long-term impact of concussions, especially on younger athletes, as well as the desire to hold those who make deceptive claims accountable, even when we do not always agree on the best solutions. I know our staffs have been working together to try to come up with a consensus product that maintains our shared objectives, but addresses the concerns outlined in my amendment, Thune 1.
"Specifically, my amendment seeks to address stakeholder concerns that the current bill is too broad, could hinder future innovation, and unfairly implicates retailers. In fact, I would like to submit for the record a letter from the National Retail Federation that highlights these concerns.
"While we have not yet been able to reach agreement at this time, I am comfortable moving forward with this bill today, and not offering my amendment, with an understanding that we will continue working on these issues before we move to the floor.
"For the second year in a row, Senators Fischer and Booker have introduced MARAD Reauthorization legislation, which we expect will be added to the National Defense Authorization Act. The bill strengthens sexual assault prevention and response at the U.S. Merchant Maritime Academy, provides MARAD with additional tools to more efficiently manage maritime resources, and addresses critical recommendations from the Department of Transportation Inspector General.
"I also appreciate the work of Senator Sullivan on the Digital Coast Act of 2015.
"This bill will codify NOAA’s constituent-driven program that provides a digital information platform capable of efficiently integrating coastal data with decision support tools for coastal managers. I am happy to offer an amendment to this bill that will require NOAA to establish and maintain a best practices document. I hope sharing best practices encourages the United States Geologic Survey to develop an easy-to-use tool for visualizing flood plains in states like South Dakota, a concern I have heard about from my constituents.
"The final legislative item for today is Senators Peters, Gardner, and Booker’s Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act. Space weather is often an under-appreciated phenomenon and their bill would make improvements to the understanding and forecasting of space weather events, so we are better prepared to minimize disruptions.
"On the nominations front, we are considering 13 Coast Guard promotions and one civilian nomination today.
"The civilian nomination we are considering today is that of Dr. Andrew Read, of North Carolina, to be a member of the Marine Mammal Commission. This post at the Marine Mammal Commission is a part-time position, and Dr. Read is not expected to serve more than 60 days in a calendar year. We anticipate all of these nominations will move forward by voice vote, though I appreciate that some Members may wish to be recorded as “no” on Dr. Read’s nomination, which is their prerogative.
"With that, I will turn to Senator Nelson for any opening remarks he would like to make."
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List
WASHINGTON – House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot’s bipartisan measure to help startup companies access early capital was approved today by the U.S. House. The Helping Angels Lead Our Startups (HALOS) Act, H.R. 4498, passed with a vote of 325-89.
“When entrepreneurs are looking for ways to access the capital they need to get off the ground and stay off the ground, they look at every avenue available to them,” said Chairman Chabot (R-OH). “If we’re going to help open doors for the next generation of job creators, we need to take the same approach. Clarifying the law in this area will help entrepreneurs and investors cut through unnecessary red tape and provide them with the stability and opportunity they need to succeed.”
H.R. 4498, the Helping Angels Lead Our Startups (HALOS) Act, builds on a provision of the 2012 JOBS Act by allowing angel investor groups established by organizations such as local governments, non-profits, and universities to hold events designed to let entrepreneurs showcase their work and connect with potential backers. It was approved by the House Financial Services Committee last month.
Chairman Chabot was joined in introducing this legislation by Rep. Robert Hurt (R-VA), Rep. Mark Takai (D-HI), and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).
Reps. Curbelo (R-FL), Costello (R-PA), Hultgren (R-IL), Wagner (R-MO), Barr (R-KY), Sessions (R-TX), Delaney (D-MD), and Polis (D-CO) have also sponsored the measure.
WASHINGTON – Days before National Small Business Week, members of Ohio’s small business community stressed to lawmakers the importance of protecting and strengthening a plan used by many small companies to help their employees save for retirement.
"With National Small Business Week right around the corner, we must do all we can to support America’s 28 million small businesses which are responsible for seven out of every ten new jobs created," said House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH). "As part of that effort, I believe small companies in my home state of Ohio have an important story to tell about what has worked so well for them. In many ways, Ohio’s small businesses can serve as a model for small businesses nationwide."
“Our country was founded on the idea that free markets and free enterprise provide the best economic compass for a free people,” observed Chabot. “At the heart of this idea is the relationship between employers, their employees and the customers they serve. Too often, government red tape and our broken tax code interfere with this relationship, doing a disservice to all involved.”
BIPARTISAN PUSH TO STRENGTHEN
A major focus of today’s House Small Business Committee hearing was H.R. 2096, the Promotion and Expansion of Private Employee Ownership Act of 2015, bipartisan legislation to preserve and strengthen employee stock ownership programs (ESOPs).
“Our economy works best when America’s entrepreneurs are free to make their own decisions, take their own risks and run their businesses as they see fit. That is exactly what employee stock ownership programs – or ESOPs – do.” Chabot added.
“In 1990 the Messer employees were able to buy their future from the Messer family, using the ESOP structure,” testified Peter Strange, the Chairman Emeritus of Messer Inc. “I led the employee group through those negotiations, so I can tell you first hand that we employees could not have purchased the company if not for the important tax advantages that the ESOP model afforded us.”
“Our country's investment in ESOPs allowed ninety-nine Messer employees to purchase our future; and the engagement that opportunity created has resulted in growth,” Strange added.
“ESOP companies are 25% more likely to stay in business than non-ESOPs,” said Jay Hardy, the President of Hardy Diagnostics who testified on behalf of the Warren County, Ohio Chamber Alliance, citing recent studies. “Employee Owners have 2.5 times more money in their retirement accounts than non-ESOP employees.”
Hardy said that his company has grown by 78 percent since becoming an ESOP in 2012. In his written testimony, he also relayed statements from his employees about how important ESOPs have been to them personally.
“When you are both an employee and an owner you can really affect the bottom line for yourself and the company,” said Steve Smith, a Supervisor for the Ohio Distribution Center of Hardy Diagnostics, in written testimony.
“Being a partner in the business means lots more than just getting a paycheck. Anything I can do to help, improve or solve a problem directly affects my business partners and my family. In looking ahead to my retirement, I will see the difference that our individual contributions have made. It feels great to be in a successful partnership,” added Allen Millikan, a Maintenance Technician for Hardy Diagnostics.
- “S ESOPs offer a myriad of benefits to employers and employees in the realms of tax, financing, and retirement security,” noted Alex Brill, a Resident Fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, who has published research on the economic importance of ESOPs.
- The House Small Business Committee has been committed to safeguarding the various retirement plans used by millions of small business employees to save for their golden years.
- Earlier this month, the Treasury Department withdrew a proposed rule that would have resulted in increased costs for small businesses providing retirement plans for their workers after the Committee announced it would be holding a hearing on the rule’s consequences.
FACT: 99.7 Percent of Businesses with Employees are Small Businesses
WASHINGTON –Members of the Small Business Committee have joined together to introduce a bipartisan House resolution celebrating the first week of May as “National Small Business Week.”
“America’s 28 million small businesses are the backbone of our economy,” said House Committee on Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH). “This bipartisan resolution reminds these job creators that regardless of our political parties or ideologies, members of our Committee will continue to have their back and do everything we can to help them succeed. I want to thank my good friend, Ranking Member Velázquez, for her support of this measure to encourage all Americans to shop at their local small businesses next week.”
“Entrepreneurship has always been a cultural cornerstone of our nation," said Ranking Member Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY). "With this bipartisan resolution we celebrate small businesses’ contributions to our broader economy and prosperity. I thank Chairman Chabot for his leadership in introducing this resolution and joining with me as we pay honor to the small businesses in every community throughout our nation.”
The resolution lays out the most recent statistics highlighting the importance of small businesses to the U.S. economy. Specifically:
-There are 28 million small businesses in the United States
-99.7 percent of businesses with employees are small businesses
-98 percent of American exporters are small businesses
-63 percent of new jobs created are by small businesses
-48 percent of private sector workers work for a small business
-46 percent of private sector output is produced by small businessesYou can read the full text of the National Small Business Week resolution HERE.
Roe Statement: Hearing on "The Persuader Rule: The Administration's Latest Attack on Employer Free Speech and Employee Free Choice"
I’d like to start by saying that we are now in the seventh year of the economic recovery—the slowest recovery in our nation’s history. Although we’ve made progress over the years, we have a long way to go for the economy to reach its full potential. Millions of Americans are still stuck in part-time jobs when what they really need is full-time work. Too many working families are struggling with stagnant wages, and the workforce participation rate is at its lowest point since the 1970s.
These are very real challenges facing middle-class families, and advancing responsible solutions to address them should be the top priority of this administration. Unfortunately, this administration has spent more time advancing the interests of Big Labor at the expense of American workers and employers, and the Department of Labor’s “persuader” rule is the latest example. This new regulatory scheme may boost union dues, but it will do absolutely nothing to boost our economy or expand opportunities for the middle-class.
Under the guise of promoting fair and democratic union elections, the persuader rule upends over half a century of labor policy by changing the interpretation of the well-established “advice exemption” of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. When it enacted the law in 1959, Congress wanted to ensure employers were able to receive basic legal advice on union-related matters in order to protect the ability of workers to hear from both sides of the debate. Now, over fifty years later, the administration is attempting to rewrite the law through executive fiat.
There are far-reaching consequences for this dramatic change in long-standing labor policy. First, this extreme and partisan rule will chill employer free speech. Union elections are complex matters, with a host of legal issues to navigate and understand. Many employers, acting in good faith, seek outside advice to ensure they’re in compliance with the law when communicating with their employees about union elections. But under the “persuader” rule, they’ll face onerous, costly, and invasive new requirements that will force them to report virtually all contact with advisors and undermine their ability to communicate with workers during union organizing campaigns. Adding insult to injury, union bosses remain exempt from the same requirements.
As the American Bar Association has expressed, this is an attack on the fundamental right of employers to seek legal counsel. We are fortunate to have Bill Robinson, former president of the American Bar Association, with us today to discuss this concern in more detail. It’s a concern shared by State Attorneys General across the country.
As is often the case with this administration’s flawed policies, small businesses will bear the brunt of the burden. Large businesses have teams of in-house attorneys to make sense of a confusing and complex set of labor rules. But small businesses don’t. With far fewer resources, small businesses will struggle to navigate the maze of federal labor rules and requirements. Some will become tied up in bureaucratic red tape and mistakenly run afoul of the law while trying to do what’s best for their employees.
But let me be clear. America’s workers will be hurt the most. Union elections aren’t just complex legal matters, they’re personal matters. The decision to join or not join a union is an important one that has a direct impact on the livelihood of millions of families—their paychecks, their benefits, and their work schedules. It’s critical that workers are able to hear from both sides and receive all the information they need to make a fully informed decision. But this rule will stifle debate and restrict worker free choice—with the sole purpose of stacking the deck in favor of organized labor.
As I alluded to earlier, the real shame in all of this is that the administration’s priorities are completely out of step with the needs of the American people. It’s time for the administration to focus on creating jobs and growing the economy instead of playing politics with the policies that shape our nation’s workforce. And with that, I yield to Ranking Member Polis for his opening remarks.