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GSA Launches Online Gallery of Public Art

GSA news releases - Tue, 10/13/2015 - 1:00am
GSA launches Fine Arts Collection online.

USA Today: The Purchaser-in-Chief

House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 10/13/2015 - 12:00am

Over the weekend, USA TODAY took a look at how President Obama uses executive power over federal contracts to carry out his agenda.

"It's completely in line with his sort of pen-and-phone philosophy. Obama is trying to impose his will through his bureaucracy," said Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, the chairman of the House Small Business Committee. "The shame of it is that the people who are going to suffer are small businesses and families all across this country. The large corporations will find a way to deal with these new rules and regulations. ... Hiring a few more lawyers or accountants to deal with these things is not a huge deal for them."

See the rest of the article and what Chairman Chabot had to say here, and see what the Small Business Committee's Contracting and Workforce and Investigations, Oversight, and Regulations subcommittees recently found about just some of these regulations on contracting practices here

Commerce Committee Shares Resources to Improve Online Safety for Cyber Security Awareness Month

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, released the following statement in recognition of National Cyber Security Awareness Month.
“The Internet is a powerful tool that the government, businesses, and the public increasingly use to innovate and manage their daily activity. Since it is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, I would like to highlight resources to avoid scams, secure electronic devices, and protect personal information. Our society’s shift to the Internet Age means that the risk will only increase for future cyberattacks and data breaches. Now more than ever, the public must be aware of how to protect their identity and operate safely online.”
Resources that provide tips on how to be cyber aware:

Keep the web a safer place with tips from the STOP.THINK.CONNECT. campaign, organized by the National Cyber Security Alliance, the Anti-Phishing Working Group, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
- National Cyber Security Alliance StaySafeOnline.org
Protect yourself, your family, your business, and your devices with tips and resources to promote safe online behavior from the National Cyber Security Alliance.
- Federal Trade Commission’s OnGuard Online
Learn how to avoid scams, secure your computer, protect your identity, and protect kids online with tips from the Federal Trade Commission’s OnGuard Online.
- FCC’s Smartphone Security Checker
Follow ten steps from the Federal Communications Commission’s Smartphone Security Checker to secure your mobile device.

- Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center
File a complaint with the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center or your state Attorney General Office if you have been victim of cybercrime or Internet fraud.  
- FTC’s Guide to Recovering from Identity Theft
Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s site if you are a victim of identity theft for steps to guide you through the recovery process.

As part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, Sen. Thune will be participating in a “Good to Know School Roadshow” at West Central Middle School in Hartford, S.D. on Tuesday, October 13 at 9:45 a.m. CDT. Google sponsors the "Good to Know" Roadshow to educate schoolchildren about staying safe and successful on the web.

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has shared legislative jurisdiction for cyber security. For more information on National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2015 (#CyberAware), visit the DHS website.

FCC Should Not Remain Silent on Berkeley’s Junk-Science Wireless Warnings

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 10/09/2015 - 10:05am
Guest Commentary By Harold Furchtgott-Roth and Arielle Roth, The Hudson Institute* In a victory for pseudo-science and a loss for the First Amendment, federal judge Edward Chen recently upheld a regulation by the City of Berkeley compelling retailers to warn customers about the supposed risks of wireless radiation. CTIA-The Wireless Ass’n v. The City of […]
Categories: Latest News

Chabot Statement on WOTUS Ruling

House Small Business Committee News - Fri, 10/09/2015 - 12:00am

Today, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Waters of the United States rule. Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) issued the following statement in response to the decision:  

“Few rules have been as far-reaching and as threatening as this EPA power grab. If implemented, family businesses and farmers would be left to sort out a bureaucratic mess and deal with new costs and liabilities. They can breathe a sigh of relief with this decision. The Small Business Committee will continue to fight this type of overreach and work to reduce the regulatory burdens facing American families.”

Over the past year, the Committee has examined the impact that this rule would have on small businesses and identified significant problems with rule and the rulemaking process. Most recently, Chairman Chabot sent a letter urging the Office of Management and Budget to return the rule to the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers for reconsideration. A previous letter to the EPA Administrator and Assistant Secretary of the Army outlined the Committee’s findings and urged withdrawal of the rule, and in May of 2014, the Committee held a hearing to highlight small business concerns. In July, the Committee hosted the EPA Deputy Administrator for another hearing on the matter, and in November of 2014, the Committee filed formal comments on the proposed rule, to once again voice the concerns of America’s small business community. 



Defending Small Business with 21st Century Energy Policies

House Small Business Committee News - Fri, 10/09/2015 - 12:00am

During debate on the House floor over H.R. 702, Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) championed the benefits that lifting the ban on oil exports would have for small businesses.

"The untold story of this ban is how it's hurting small businesses," said Chabot. "If America is going to lead the world in energy production, let's not leave one hand tied behind our back."

Earlier this summer, the Small Business Committee held one of the first hearings on the subject of how lifting the ban would have a positive impact on job creation and energy production.


What's the future of wireless broadband?

Without wireless broadband infrastructure, smartphones are nothing more than an expensive paperweight. That’s why it is important that the Commerce Committee continues its path forward to foster wireless broadband deployment across America

<p>"This hearing is the

"This hearing is the Subcommittee’s second of this Congress as it relates to oversight of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and I am pleased to welcome back both CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye and Commissioner Ann Marie Buerkle for our first panel today. Later on, we will be joined by a second panel of experts who are intimately involved in the consumer protection community and particularly the issues before us today.    "Product safety is not a Republican or Democrat issue – it something we all care about.  This hearing will focus on CPSC recalls, the Commission’s efforts to spot emerging hazards and remove potentially dangerous products from the marketplace quickly.  Specifically, I look forward to discussing the Retailer Reporting Program, a voluntary program through which participating retailers submit weekly and product-specific incident reports to the Commission.  We will also discuss the Commission’s proposed rule on Voluntary Remedial Actions and Guidelines for Voluntary Recall Notices – commonly known as the “Voluntary Recall Rule.”  We will also discuss how that proposed rule may impact the longstanding Fast Track Product Recall Program.   "CPSC has a long history of success in its mission to keep Americans safe.  The Commission’s track record, specifically on consumer product recalls has been marked by innovative thought and engagement with the relevant stakeholders.  A prime example of this “out-of-the box” thinking was the creation of the Commission’s Fast Track program in the 1990s, where it instituted alternative recall procedures to work closely with companies to expedite the recall process.  The result of this program was to allow for an open exchange of critical information between the Commission and the recalling company and to create needed flexibility to remove potentially-harmful products from shelves more quickly.  Ultimately, it was American consumers and their families who benefited. The Ford Foundation and Harvard University named CPSC the winner of the Innovations in American Government Award for its work on this program, and it has received high marks from consumer groups and industry stakeholders alike.    "CPSC adopted a similarly innovative approach to its market surveillance and emerging hazards identification activities when it instituted the Retailer Reporting Program more than a decade ago.  This program created incentives for participating retailers to hand over detailed and product-specific incident reports to the Commission in exchange for recognition by the Commission that participation in this program satisfied statutory reporting obligations.  This recognition was a true benefit to participating companies, as it provided a measure of certainty on how to meet these obligations.  In exchange, the Commission gained access to a trove of near real-time data about consumer product trends in the marketplace.

"Recent Commission activity, however, indicates a potential shift with respect to CPSC’s tact on these matters.  With respect to Fast Track, recent attempts to advance the proposed voluntary recall rule have drawn overwhelming bipartisan concern that the proposal would unnecessarily delay the recall process. Last year, Senators Casey and Toomey sent a letter to then-Acting Chairman Adler stating that the proposed changes, “seem to jeopardize the efficacy of the existing process, which could increase the risk of harm to consumers.”   "In a letter dated May 30, 2014, former CPSC Chairwoman Ann Brown – a Democrat – voiced similar concerns. Chairwoman Brown described the Fast Track program as “hugely successful” resulting in recalls being “announced faster [and] better protecting consumers from injury.” She believed this proposed rule would undermine the Fast Track program, removing incentives for firms to participate in the first place. I ask unanimous consent that these letter be entered into the record.

"Despite these concerns, the voluntary recall rule is explicitly included in the Commission’s FY 2016 Rulemaking agenda and Operating Plan, released just a few weeks ago. This rule would require that the terms of a corrective action plan, once entered into, be legally binding upon the manufacturer and would prohibit them from disclaiming the presence of a product hazard. Previously, the Chairman has indicated that this rule is not a priority for the agency, so I am anxious to hear from the Commissioners what prompted its inclusion on the FY 2016 Rulemaking agenda and discuss the merits of the rule as it pertains to the fundamental objective of the Commission and this Subcommittee: ensuring consumer safety.   "The Commission’s current Retailer Reporting Program allows participant firms to report, on a voluntary basis, timely, detailed and product-specific information. The Chairman has often said that he believes the Commission to be a “data-driven agency.”  At the same time, some on the Commission have expressed concerns about CPSC’s ability to handle large volumes of product safety data and to make sophisticated safety inferences from this reporting. This summer, CPSC staff went so far as to inform RRP participants that the Commission would no longer consider RRP submissions to satisfy the Commission’s statutory reporting requirements, and that it would no longer accord confidentiality to these reports.  The program remains a pilot program, despite having been initiated nearly a decade ago, and there is growing consternation among program participants who want clear guidance from the Commission on its intentions with respect to the RRP. 

"It is intuitive that this data could be used to identify trends on emerging product safety hazards and thus the program clearly has the potential to improve consumer safety and save lives.  But if the program is not functioning properly and generating positive results – if there is not a clear benefit to the Commission and to program participants – then we ought to have a serious discussion on how to improve it because it’s the Consumers who will ultimately benefit. 

"As the Commission weighs its decision, it will be useful to hear directly from Commissioners and other stakeholders today about the CPSC’s data analytics capabilities, and how it can best leverage existing resources, including cooperative partnerships with the private sector, to make critical safety inferences from retailer data.

"Before I turn this over to Ranking Member Senator Blumenthal, I want to reiterate that we all share the common goal of protecting consumers, and on these issues I have mentioned there is a clear and reasonable oversight role for this Subcommittee to provide toward that end. Thank you to all of our witnesses for being here today, I look forward to your testimony and having another productive conversation about protecting the safety of Americans."

Consumer Product Safety and the Recall Process

The hearing marks the subcommittee's second oversight hearing focused on the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Update: Major Media Management Company Signs on to Voluntary Effort to Deter Online Copyright Piracy

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 10/08/2015 - 10:09am
In a February 17, 2015 post, we applauded a new voluntary program developed by advertising trade associations, the Brand Integrity Program Against Piracy. The program’s goal is to deter the placement of advertisements for legitimate products on websites that help disseminate illegally-copied entertainment content or knockoffs of trademarked products. This voluntary property-rights protection effort received a […]
Categories: Latest News

The Consequences of DOL’s One-Size-Fits-All Overtime Rule for Small Businesses and their Employees

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 10/08/2015 - 10:00am

The Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations will meet for a hearing titled, “The Consequences of DOL’s One-Size-Fits-All Overtime Rule for Small Businesses and their Employees.”  The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 A.M. on Thursday, October 8, 2015 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building. 

On July 6, 2015, the Department of Labor issued a proposed rule to revise and update the existing Fair Labor Standards Act regulations that implement the exemption from overtime pay for executive, administrative, professional, outside sales or computer employees.  The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires agencies to conduct outreach to and examine the economic impacts of proposed rules on small businesses.  This hearing will examine the Department of Labor’s assessment of the impacts and the potential effects of this proposed rule on small firms and their employees.    


Mr. Kevin Settles
President and CEO
Bardenay Restaurants & Distilleries
Boise, ID
*Testifying on behalf of the National Restaurant Association

Mr. Ed Brady
Brady Homes Illinois
Bloomington, IL
*Testifying on behalf of the National Association of Home Builders

Ms. Terry Shea
Wrapsody, Inc.
Bessemer, AL
*Testifying on behalf of the National Retail Federation


Witness list

Committee Examines Impact of Flawed DOL Regulation

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 10/08/2015 - 12:00am
Today, the Small Business Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Regulations examined the consequences of the Department of Labor’s new overtime rule.

The Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy has criticized the Department of Labor for vastly underestimating the “small business compliance costs” and for not considering numerous “key small entities affected by the rule.”

“This rule does not recognize the geographic diversity of the American economy,” said Subcommittee Chairman Cresent Hardy (R-NV). “It will particularly hurt rural small businesses that are still recovering from the Great Recession. Simply put, a $50,440 per year salary threshold might be fine for an employer in San Francisco or Mid-Town Manhattan, not so much in Ely, Nevada.”

“Despite what Washington bureaucrats may think, one size does not fit all, and the Department of Labor’s overtime rule is case and point,” said Small Business Committee Steve Chabot (R-OH). “This is another regulatory action from the imperial presidency that is going to hurt small business employees most of all, who will see fewer hours and smaller paychecks."


“Converting salaried positions to an hourly wage adds pressure to get the job done in a 40-hour work week. An increase in overtime eligibility will not necessarily mean an increase in overtime pay for the workforce, but having to contain my managers to work a 40-hour week will take away their flexibility, both personally and operationally… Every dollar spent on compliance burdens is one less that we could have used to grow our business and invest further in our employees and community.”
-Ms. Terry Shea, Wrapsody Inc., Bessemer, AL

“[I]n the restaurant industry salaried employees enjoy a number of benefits not available to hourly employees…Thus, in addition to getting paid a salary regardless of the fact that they may not be working over 40 hours a week, these newly overtime-protected employees could lose flexibility as well as benefits, including substantive bonuses, paid vacation, flex time, paid holidays, and health insurance."
-Mr. Kevin Settles, Bardenay Restaurants & Distilleries, Boise, ID

"The DOL overtime proposal is a “one-size-fits-all” standard. Given the potential broad impact of the proposed rule, an obvious issue is that wage amounts vary greatly from location to location, as well as among business sectors… What one construction supervisor makes in Tennessee is different than what one earns in California—sometimes significantly."
- Mr. Ed Brady, Brady Homes, Bloomington, IL

Kline Statement: Hearing on “Reviewing the Juvenile Justice System and How It Serves At-Risk Youth"

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 10/08/2015 - 12:00am

Some may be wondering why the Education and the Workforce Committee is holding a hearing on an issue that might otherwise fall under the Judiciary Committee’s purview. After all, the words “crime,” “court,” “judge,” and “jail” are not terms we frequently hear in this committee. So why are we here today? Because keeping our communities safe and supporting at-risk youth requires more than an adjudication system and a detention facility. It requires education, rehabilitation, and family participation—a joint effort by parents, teachers, community members, and civic leaders to prevent criminal behavior and support children who have engaged in illegal activity.

The stakes are high for these youth and the communities they live in. Research shows children who have been incarcerated are up to 26 percent more likely to return to jail as adults. They are also 26 percent less likely to graduate high school. These are hardly the outcomes vulnerable children and their families deserve. They also have detrimental short- and long-term effects on our society, imposing costs onto taxpayers and jeopardizing the safety of others.

This is an issue that directly impacts our families and our neighborhoods, and we all have a role to play in addressing it. Recognizing the value of a collaborative approach to juvenile justice, Congress passed the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act in 1974. The goal of the law is to educate at-risk youth and rehabilitate juvenile offenders so they can become productive members of society.

The law is based on the premise that the juvenile justice system can create positive opportunities for children who would otherwise go without. As we will hear from our witnesses, many juvenile justice programs have helped children develop the life skills they need to hold themselves accountable and earn their own success. Of course, not all programs have experienced the same results. That’s why states and communities are constantly looking for new ways to better serve at-risk youth.                                                                         

For example, many states are investing in alternatives to juvenile detention facilities—such as community- and family- based support services—to help children get back on track. It appears these efforts are making a difference. Between 2001 and 2011, crime and incarceration declined dramatically across the country. The rate of incarceration fell by 46 percent, and the rate of juvenile offenses fell by 31 percent.

While these trends are heading in the right direction, we still face the stark reality that there are more than two million children involved in the juvenile justice system. Meanwhile, many more are at-risk of entering the system because of difficult circumstances that too often lead to juvenile delinquency, such as poverty, broken families, and homelessness.

As we discuss ways to better serve at-risk youth and juvenile offenders through education and rehabilitation, we have the privilege today of hearing from Sloane Baxter, someone who faced many of these challenges as a juvenile offender and who knows firsthand how community-based programs can set youth on a better path. Mr. Baxter, thank you for the example you’re setting. By sharing your story with us today, you’re helping make a difference in the lives of others. We look forward to hearing from you and the rest of our distinguished witnesses.

Before I conclude my opening remarks, I want to commend our colleague, Ranking Member Scott, for his long-standing leadership on this important issue. I look forward to hearing from him today and to working with him in the future.

Railroads, Shippers, Labor, and Retailers Agree that the Positive Train Control Deadline Needs an Extension. Here's Why.

Positive Train Control is advanced technology designed to stop or slow a train before accidents occur. As of September 2015, no railroad has yet met the legal requirements for complying with the PTC mandate. If railroads do not meet the current deadline, current law forces them to decide between stopping service and operating in violation of the law.

Senators Demand Answers from T-Mobile and Experian Following Security Breach of 15 Million Customers’ Personal Data, Including Social Security Numbers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee, and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and the Internet, demanded answers from T-Mobile and Experian on actions the companies are taking to address the recent security breach that exposed the personal data, including social security numbers, of up to 15 million T-Mobile customers.

In letters to T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Experian CEO Brian Cassin, the senators stated that the breach is “is extremely troubling to us given the sensitive nature of the compromised personal data, and its particular value to identity thieves,” especially with the exposure of social security numbers. “Unlike bank account numbers, which can be deleted as soon as a bank identifies fraud, Social Security numbers are hard to change and are tied to tax forms, credit cards, mortgages, bank accounts, health insurance, and medical records…According to the Department of Justice, 64 percent of the 17.6 million victims of identity theft in 2014 experienced a direct financial loss resulting from personal information fraud. This is particularly distressing based on your companies’ reported breach, because victims of personal information fraud lost an average of $7,761 compared to victims of bank or credit card fraud who lost an average of $780.”

“We have been advocates for data security and breach notification legislation that would better protect consumers and improve corporate responsibility,” the senators continued. “Experian and T-Mobile’s recent incident demonstrates the need for legislation that addresses both consumer notification and sets minimum security requirements for companies that collect and store such sensitive consumer data.”

Full text of the letters is below.

Dear Mr. Legere / Mr. Cassin:

We write with regard to the recent reported data security breach at Experian, which may have exposed the names, address, birth dates and Social Security numbers of fifteen million T-Mobile customers.  This news is extremely troubling to us given the sensitive nature of the compromised personal data, and its particular value to identity thieves.  

Unlike bank account numbers, which can be deleted as soon as a bank identifies fraud, Social Security numbers are hard to change and are tied to tax forms, credit cards, mortgages, bank accounts, health insurance, and medical records. By learning someone’s Social Security number, a criminal can obtain credit cards in a victim’s name, wire money from a victim’s bank account, or even access tax and medical records. According to the Department of Justice, 64 percent of the 17.6 million victims of identity theft in 2014 experienced a direct financial loss resulting from personal information fraud. This is particularly distressing based on your companies’ reported breach, because victims of personal information fraud lost an average of $7,761 compared to victims of bank or credit card fraud who lost an average of $780.  

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has jurisdiction over commercial online practices and data security, and, as Ranking Members of the full Committee, the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security, and the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet, we have been advocates for data security and breach notification legislation that would better protect consumers and improve corporate responsibility. Experian and T-Mobile’s recent incident demonstrates the need for legislation that addresses both consumer notification and sets minimum security requirements for companies that collect and store such sensitive consumer data.  

We request that Experian’s information-security executives provide a detailed accounting to the Committee regarding your investigations and latest findings on the circumstances that permitted unauthorized access to the personal information of so many Americans. We expect that your security experts have had enough time to thoroughly examine the cause and impact of the breach and will be able to provide the Committee with detailed information.



Commerce Committee Launches New Website to Increase Usability and Transparency

“The Internet is a powerful tool and one that the Commerce Committee uses regularly to stream hearings and to engage with the public,” said U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman. “Changes to the committee website will make our work more accessible to the people we serve through features like the nominations matrix to help track the status and disclosures of nominees pending before the panel. I encourage the public to check out our new website and share feedback."

Removing Barriers to Wireless Broadband Deployment

The Committee will hold a second full committee hearing on wireless broadband.

Removing Barriers to Wireless Broadband Deployment

The Committee will hold a second full committee hearing on wireless broadband.

The EMV Deadline and What it Means for Small Businesses

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 10/07/2015 - 11:00am

The Committee on Small Business will meet for a hearing titled, The EMV Deadline and What it Means for Small Businesses. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 11:00 A.M. on October 7, 2015 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The Europay, Mastercard, Visa (EMV) chip payment system will be implemented nationwide this October. The upgraded technology is designed to protect against cybercrime and fraud. However, many small businesses are unprepared for the new payment structure. These businesses will not only be more vulnerable to cyber threats, but they will also be held liable for certain incidents of fraud. According to a recent study, less than forty-nine percent of small businesses are aware of the looming deadline and liability shift. This hearing will examine the implications of the EMV chip deadline for small businesses and the efforts that are being made to ensure America’s small businesses are in compliance with their financial service providers.

For press interested in covering this event, please contact Kelley McNabb or Adam Scheidler.


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