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Senate Passes Bill to Protect Consumers and Integrity of Online Reviews

The U.S. Senate passed by unanimous consent S. 2044, the Consumer Review Freedom Act.

Chabot Talks 2016 Small Business Outlook on MSNBC

House Small Business Committee News - Mon, 12/14/2015 - 12:00am

Chabot Talks 2016 Small Business Outlook on MSNBC

 

House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) stopped by MSNBC’s "Your Business with JJ Ramberg" this weekend to discuss the outlook for small businesses in 2016 and his work on tax and regulatory reform to help America's entrepreneurs.

           

Watch the full interview here

Senate Approves Bill to Child-Proof Liquid Nicotine Bottles

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate last night approved a measure to require manufacturers to put child-proof caps on the small bottles of liquid nicotine available for purchase in stores across the country. 

It’s the first time the Senate has taken up and passed a bill aimed at regulating liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes and other vaping devices. 

“Just a small amount of this stuff can seriously injure or even kill a small child,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who authored the legislation. “Making these bottles child-proof is just common sense.”

Nelson’s legislation would require child-resistant packaging for any liquid nicotine vial sold in the United States. Nelson first introduced the bill last year after increased reports of children falling ill, and in at least one case, dying from liquid nicotine poisoning. It was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee, but never made it to the full Senate for a vote. So the Florida lawmaker introduced it again this year, vowing to push even harder for its passage.

Liquid nicotine, sold in concentrated form for use in e-cigarettes, often comes in brightly-colored, easy-to-open vials with enticing flavors such as Fruity Loops, Peppermint Patty, and Gummi Bear. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, a single teaspoon of this product could kill a small child.

Calls to poison control centers for liquid nicotine exposure have spiked in recent years, according to the AAPCC, going up from just one call per month in September 2010 to 318 calls per month in March of this year.  Many of these calls involved children five years old or younger.

The Senate approved Nelson’s legislation by unanimous consent late yesterday. It now goes to the House for final passage.

Darryl L. DePriest Confirmed as Chief Counsel

Office of Advocacy - Fri, 12/11/2015 - 9:57am

For Release: December 11, 2015

SBA Number: 15-07 ADV

 

Contact: Elle Patout

Elle.Patout@sba.gov

 

Darryl L. DePriest Confirmed as Chief Counsel

U.S. Senate confirms Chief Counsel for Advocacy by voice vote.

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

Small Businesses Benefit from Customs Legislation

House Small Business Committee News - Fri, 12/11/2015 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON—Today, Congress finished its work on legislation to improve America’s customs and trade programs, opening more doors for the hundreds of thousands of small businesses who seek to export their goods.

The final version of H.R. 644, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, included original text from H.R. 2587, a bill HouseSmall Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) introduced earlier this year. These provisions aim to make various federal and state trade agencies coordinate instead of duplicate their efforts, and to make them more accountable to small businesses and taxpayers.

In my home state of Ohio alone, more than 1.5 million jobs are tied to international trade, many of them with small firms,” Chabot said in a speech supporting the bill.“The bipartisan customs reauthorization bill before us today will give small businesses the confidence and security they need to compete in a global marketplace.”

Chabot added, “That’s why I’m pleased that this finished bill incorporates language we helped craft to ensure we’re doing everything we can to keep the doors of trade open to small businesses."

For more on the role of small businesses in international trade, see Chairman Chabot’s speech in full:

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Thune Applauds House Passage of Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, applauded the House of Representatives’ approval by voice vote of S. 808, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) Reauthorization Act of 2015.

Rebuffed Twice in Texas, the NLRB Takes its Crusade Against Arbitration to California

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 12/10/2015 - 11:01am
After successive defeats at the hands of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has taken its crusade against class-action arbitration agreements to California. In a recent decision, Bristol Farms, the NLRB once again held that an arbitration agreement that would require individual arbitration violated the National […]
Categories: Latest News

Chairman Chabot in The Hill: Tax Reform for America's Small Businesses

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 12/10/2015 - 12:00am
A great gift idea: Tax reform

By Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio)
December 10, 2015
The Hill

Nobody has more at stake in the tax reform debate than America’s small-business owners.

As chairman of the House Small Business Committee, I am fully committed to making sure their voices are heard.

There are over 28 million small businesses in America today, which employ half of all working Americans and are responsible for creating seven out of every 10 new jobs. 

These economic powerhouses pay 42 percent of the payroll of private sector employees in the United States and generate nearly half of private sector output. Moreover, they constitute 98 percent of goods-exporting firms, establishing the United States as the world’s leader in international trade.

It’s remarkable that these businesses can continue to create jobs and grow even as the federal government saddles them with a massive tax burden every year.

Adding insult to injury, small businesses have to contend with a climate of confusion and uncertainty as Congress scrambles to pass a package of “tax extenders” every year. 

Effective only for a few years, or sometimes just a few months, these provisions leave small-business owners guessing at their tax liabilities and fearing that this will be the year they are not renewed.

Just last week a panel of small-business owners stressed to our committee that this uncertainty over their tax liability makes it extremely difficult for them to plan for the coming year, hire new employees and grow their business.

“Washington’s inaction on comprehensive reform and Congress allowing the continued expiration of key tax provisions creates a globally uncompetitive environment for small-businesses manufacturing in America,” said Todd Kriegel, a precision parts manufacturer from Van Wert, Ohio.

“Congress needs to end the annual extenders debacle and make permanent those provisions that belong in the underlying code,” added Rich Shavell, the president of Shavell & Company, P.A. in Boca Raton, Fla. “Until these issues are addressed, small business is playing with one hand tied behind its back.”

Tom Nichols, an attorney and CPA from Wisconsin who advises the small-business owners, probably said it best when he pointed out that many small businesses file as “S corporations” to protect themselves as best they can from the tax burdens. He told the committee: “I had a client who wanted to sell his business but could ill afford to do so if the double-tax built-in gains regime was applicable. I recommended that he and the buyer reach agreement and have all the documents prepared but wait until actual passage of the extenders legislation to sign and close the deal,” Nichols recounted. “His response was that he was in poor health and may not be able to wait.”

We must extend and make permanent those temporary provisions in the tax code, which are vital to the success of these small businesses and millions of others like them, including bonus depreciation, Section 179 expensing and the Research and Experimentation tax credit. 

Our tax code is fundamentally broken and America’s small businesses are paying the price.

As Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) noted in his speech last week, our neighbors to the north in Canada tax their small businesses at 15 percent, but in some parts of the United States, the top tax rate on a successful small business is over 40 percent.

This is outrageous, and it must not be allowed to continue. By making the small-business extenders permanent, we will set the stage for broader, more comprehensive tax reform that will enable all individuals to prosper.

The best gift we can give our entrepreneurs this Christmas is meaningful tax reform that will provide them with clarity, certainty and peace of mind. 

Chabot has represented Ohio’s 1st Congressional District since 2011 and previously from 1995 to 2009. He is chairman of the Small Business Committee and also sits on the Foreign Affairs and the Judiciary committees. You can follow him on Twitter @HouseSmallBiz.

FTC Takes Scissors to Staples/Office Depot Merger

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 12/09/2015 - 3:58pm
Featured Expert Column – Antitrust/Federal Trade Commission Andrea Agathoklis Murino, Goodwin Proctor LLP On December 7, 2015, the Federal Trade Commission voted 4-0 to file suit against Staples Inc.’s acquisition of Office Depot, Inc. (“OD”), finding that it would combine the number one and number two market participants and therefore lead to an anticompetitive reduction […]
Categories: Latest News

Bipartisan Pipeline Safety Bill Passes Committee

SAFE PIPES Act Would Reauthorize PHMSA Through 2019...

Commerce Committee Approves Legislation to Tighten Screening for Airport Workers

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, along with Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) the chair and ranking member of the Aviation Subcommittee today voted in committee to approve S. 2361, the Airport Security Enhancement and Oversight Act, which they jointly introduced.

Supporting Success: Empowering Small Business Advocates

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 12/09/2015 - 11:00am
Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce

The Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce will meet for a hearing titled "Supporting Success: Empowering Small Business Advocates” at 11:00 A.M. on Wednesday, December 9, 2015, in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.            

Witness List

The Hon. Angela B. Styles
Chair and Partner
Crowell & Moring LLP Washington, DC
*Testifying on behalf of the Defense Industry Initiative on Business Ethics and Conduct

Mr. Davy G. Leghorn
Assistant Director
National Veterans Employment and Education Division
The American Legion
Washington, DC

Ms. ML Mackey
Chief Executive Officer
Beacon Interactive Systems
Cambridge, MA
*Testifying on behalf of the National Defense Industrial Association             

<p>"Before we move to consider

"Before we move to consider today’s business agenda, I would like to take a few minutes to underscore the significant work this Committee did as part of the long-term Transportation Reauthorization bill that the President signed into law last Friday. 

"One of the most notable facts is that this Committee was responsible for over 600 pages of the 1,300 page conference report.  This included a host of important motor vehicle safety, research, freight, passenger rail and other provisions that will pay dividends for years to come.

"This long-term transportation bill was something that many critics claimed was not possible due to recent Congressional gridlock.  However, with the good work of many members of this Committee, we were able to address critical gaps when it comes to motor vehicle safety oversight at NHTSA, much needed reform to Amtrak, and other commuter rail needs.

"We also made significant strides by partnering with the Senate EPW Committee regarding a more coordinated approach when it comes to freight transportation priorities at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

"We can be proud of the many accomplishments in the FAST Act, which range from Senator Heller’s work with Senator Markey on updates to the 5-Star Rating system to provisions encouraging the use of crash avoidance technologies to  bipartisan reforms to NHTSA following the scathing Inspector General Report this past year.

"I know both the full committee and our six subcommittees have stayed incredibly active this year, not to mention other on-going Committee inquiries and investigations, but all of this wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for subcommittee chairmen and ranking members who were interested in rolling up their sleeves to get the job done.  So, thank you, and let’s work toward another productive year in 2016."

Executive Session - Multiple Agenda Items

Click to watch live stream starting at 10 a.m. ET.

Helping the Helpers: Empowering Small Business Advocates

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

WASHINGTON – Today small federal contractors stressed to the House Small Business Committee the need to modernize and reform the federal rules for small business advocates so they can better advise and assist small companies who do business with the federal government.

The diverse panel of stakeholders told the Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce that while some progress has been made, much more needs to be done to empower small business advocates such as the Procurement Center Representatives (PCRs), the Offices of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBUs), the Business Opportunity Specialists (BOSs) and the Commercial Market Representatives (CMRs).   

The hearing comes shortly after President Obama signed into law the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act which contains significant reforms to the defense acquisition process to help small contractors work with the Department of Defense.  

 “As we’ve discussed numerous times this year, we know that we are losing small contractors, and it will be difficult if not impossible to replace these sectors of our technological and industrial base,” said Subcommittee Chairman Richard Hanna (R-NY). “Supporting the advocates who support small businesses is a crucial element of small business success.”

Key quotes from witness testimony below:

“In an ideal world, all businesses that participate in the federal marketplace would have the wherewithal to understand and comply with all the regulations that go hand-in-hand with federal contracting. This is not an ideal world,” said Angela B. Styles, Chair and Partner of Crowell & Moring LLP in Washington, DC. “The scope and complexity faced by contractors are enough to regularly challenge even the largest federal contractors with robust compliance and ethics programs.”

“The government contracting process is complex and confusing,” said Tracy Balazs, the Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Federal Staffing Resources in Annapolis, MD. “Most small businesses do not have the time or the money it takes to fully understand how to succeed as a government contractor.”

“Unfortunately, the level playing field is as difficult to create as it is important to maintain for the well-being of the government contracting ecosystem,” noted ML Mackey, CEO of Beacon Interactive Systems in Cambridge, Mass. “Fortunately for those of us that advocate for Small Business interests, we have strong advocates like this Committee. Your efforts in the recent legislation regarding Small Business Federal Contracting in the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act demonstrates once again that Small Businesses can depend on Congress to work for a fair and healthy acquisition system.”

You can view video of the full hearing HERE

Walberg Statement: Hearing on “How the Administration's Regulatory Onslaught Is Affecting Workers and Job Creators"

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 12/09/2015 - 12:00am
The end of the year is an important time to reflect on what has been accomplished and what work remains to be done. As members of the Education and the Workforce Committee, this is especially important as we consider the significant challenges many workers continue to face.

Recent months have shown signs of economic improvement and signs of continued concern. Roughly eight million Americans are still unemployed and searching for work, and an additional six million are working part-time hours when they really need and want full-time jobs. And that doesn’t include the millions of individuals who are so discouraged by meager job prospects that they have dropped out of the workforce entirely. Meanwhile, those with jobs are facing fewer opportunities to advance and earn higher wages.

Some will say the problems facing workers and job creators can be solved with more spending, more government mandates, and more regulation. Perhaps we will hear some of those claims today, but that’s the same failed approach the Obama administration has pursued over the last seven years. The results have been an anemic economy, sluggish job growth, and most importantly, less opportunity and prosperity for millions of hardworking men and women.

Time and again we have called on the administration – including those at OSHA and the Department of Labor more broadly – to pursue a different, more responsible course, and time and again our calls have been rebuffed. The most recent example was the release of the administration’s regulatory agenda, which doubles-down on the same extreme regulatory approach that has made the problems plaguing the country worse at the expense of those struggling the most.

Let me be clear: Federal policies do play an important role in ensuring safe and healthy workplaces and protecting the basic rights of hardworking men and women. That’s not what we are here to discuss today. The question isn’t whether there should be rules of the road for workers and employers to follow. The question is how we ensure those rules are implemented fairly, responsibly, and in a way that promotes the best interests of both workers and their employers.

Unfortunately, more often than not, what we’ve seen from this administration is an overly punitive and unnecessarily burdensome approach. Adding insult to injury, often these rules and regulations are being developed and changed without any public input. This regulatory approach is holding us back, and that is the focus of today’s hearing.

We know there are areas where we can make meaningful change without creating costly consequences and unintended harm. For example, Chairman Kline and I have said we are open to modernizing current overtime rules to strengthen protections for workers and help employers fulfill their legal responsibilities. Instead, we have to confront a proposal that will limit workplace flexibility, make it harder for workers to advance up the economic ladder, and impose a significant burden on small businesses.

Earlier this year, Nicole Berberich, director of Human Resources at the Cincinnati Animal Referral and Emergency Center, testified about the challenges employers are already facing because of complicated federal wage and hour regulations. She also explained that small businesses like the one she works for are likely to experience the burdens of these regulations disproportionately. And she added that those burdens will continue to worsen with the expected overtime changes.

At a separate hearing, Eric Williams – who worked his way up from a crew member at a fast-food restaurant to become a franchisee and chief operating officer of CKE Restaurants – shared his fears that the administration’s overtime proposal “will severely limit hardworking, talented Americans from realizing their dreams.” He worries that, because of the proposal, some employees “may never reach their potential.”

The overtime proposal is just one example of this administration’s misguided approach to regulating. At another hearing, Drew Greenblatt, a steel wire manufacturer from Baltimore, spoke to us about how government policies are hindering growth and how he and others in his industry find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. He explained his situation as between, “A rock of harsh and unforgiving global economic competition and a hard place of inflexible and ever-proliferating regulations.”

It should be clear to anyone who is listening that the current regulatory onslaught is making life harder for working families and small businesses owners, not better. According to a study commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers, federal regulations cost more than $2 trillion in lost economic growth annually. And the American Action Forum estimates that the administration imposed more than $181 billion in new regulatory costs during 2014 alone. These are staggering statistics that, in many ways, represent lost wages and fewer jobs for American workers.

Today we will hear from our witnesses how this unprecedented regulatory approach has created troubling concerns for workers and small businesses during the past year. My hope is that by demanding more responsible regulatory policies, we can ensure a prosperous 21st century workforce.

# # #

Statement on DOT’s Inclusion of Crash Avoidance Technology in 5-Star Auto Ratings

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Commerce Committee members Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), released statements on the Department of Transportation’s announcement it will begin the rulemaking process for incorporating crash avoidance technology into its 5-Star crash rating program that helps make individuals who are shopping for an automobile aware of the crashworthiness and safety technologies that can prevent accidents as part of the window sticker that’s displayed on new vehicles.

Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, will convene a hearing titled “Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate” on Tuesday, December 8 at 3 p.m. The hearing will focus on the ongoing debate over climate science, the impact of federal funding on the objectivity of climate research, and the ways in which political pressure can suppress opposing viewpoints in the field of climate science.
 
Witnesses:
 
Dr. John Christy
Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Center, University of Alabama in Huntsville
 
Dr. Judith Curry
Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology
 
Dr. William Happer
Cyrus Fogg Bracket Professor of Physics, Princeton University
 
Mr. Mark Steyn
International Bestselling Author
 
*Additional witnesses may be announced
 
Hearing Details:
 
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
3:00 p.m. ET
 
Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness hearing entitled “Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate”
 
This hearing will take place in Senate Russell Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.


Washington Post: Chabot one of small business's most influential advocates

House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 12/08/2015 - 12:00am


Washington Post
“On Small Business” columnist Gene Marks is out today with his list of the 19 most influential people in Washington who impact small business, naming Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) one of the top advocates for America’s small businesses in the nation’s capital.

Chairman Chabot rounded out the list’s top three slots as “one of the most pro-taxpayer members of Congress,” using his role at the committee to meet “frequently with small business owners and policy makers to raise awareness and support House bills that impact the small business community.” 

The list, including only a few of Members of Congress, also notes the influence wielded on small business by Administration officials, trade organization leaders, Speaker Paul Ryan and President Barack Obama.

See “the 19 most influential people in D.C. who can affect your small businesshere.

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