The Committee explored telecommunications issues that are important to small firms, including net neutrality, broadband deployment, Universal Service Fund reform efforts, and wireless spectrum availability. The Honorable Thomas Wheeler, Chairman of the FCC, testified about efforts to promote wireless connectivity and ensure reliable systems. Members of the Committee repeatedly conveyed the importance of an FCC agenda that analyzed the intended and unintended consequences of their actions on innovation and rural access for small businesses.
“American small businesses depend more than ever on communications, and advances in technology have opened doors to distant marketplaces from rural America,” said Chairman Graves. “Access to these opportunities is indispensable for small businesses to grow and compete. The technology revolution in the telecommunications industry has fundamentally changed the way small firms do business not only nationally, but worldwide. Continued congressional oversight of the FCC is critical to ensure that burdensome or unnecessary regulation does not hamper innovation and growth for small firms, which are key to our economic recovery.”
Materials from the hearing are available on the Committee’s website HERE.
Walberg Statement: Hearing on the EEOC Transparency and Accountability Act (H.R. 4959), the Litigation Oversight Act of 2014 (H.R 5422), and the Certainty in Enforcement Act of 2014 (H.R. 5423)
We are here because every member of the committee recognizes the EEOC is a vitally important agency. It has a responsibility to protect the right of all workers to a fair shot at employment opportunities and a workplace free of discrimination. This is a fundamental human right each and every one of us holds dear. No one should be denied a job, have their wages cut, or be passed over for a promotion because of their race, gender, religion, or disability.
We are here because we want the EEOC to do its job, and more importantly, to do its job effectively. That is why in recent months we have made oversight of EEOC a priority, because we know men and women are being discriminated against; we know bad actors would rather put their own hateful prejudice before the talent and experience of each individual worker. It isn’t right and it is EEOC’s mission to help stop it from happening.
Unfortunately, in recent years, the EEOC has shifted its focus away from that vital mission. Instead, it has spent a great deal of time and resources advancing a deeply flawed enforcement and regulatory agenda. Employers have fallen under EEOC’s intense scrutiny without any allegation of employment discrimination. Charges are being filed in federal court with little to no evidence of wrongdoing. Federal judges have harshly and appropriately criticized the agency for its shoddy legal work.
Each day the agency harasses employers without cause and every case tossed out of court for legal malpractice is another lost opportunity to help victims of employment discrimination. It means the veteran, injured and disabled while serving our country, will continue waiting forhis day in court. It means the single mom, who worked long and hard to earn a promotion, will continue waiting for her day in court.
More than 70,000 individual complaints are sitting in front of the commission. The backlog represents thousands of private-sector workers who believe their rights were violated and who are waiting anxiously for the commission to do its job. As the old saying goes, “justice delayed is justice denied.” It’s time to stop denying these men and women the justice they deserve.
Not only is the EEOC dropping the ball with its misguided enforcement priorities, it is also pursuing a regulatory scheme that is making it more difficult for employers to protect employees and consumers. In recent years, states and localities have adopted policies to protect Americans in vulnerable situations who come in contact with workers, such as at home and in the classroom. The EEOC has eviscerated these efforts. Quite simply, the agency’s edict restricting the use of criminal background checks is putting people in harm’s way, including women and children.
It’s time the agency changed course and that’s precisely what the legislation before us is intended to do. Among other provisions, the proposals will help shine more sunlight on EEOC activities, compel the agency to work with employers in good faith to resolve complaints, force the commissioners to do their jobs and oversee the agency’s enforcement actions, and provide a safe harbor to employers complying with federal, state, and local mandates, such as laws requiring criminal background checks during the hiring process.
These are commonsense reforms that should enjoy overwhelming bipartisan support. By supporting the legislation, you are supporting transparency at a vitally important federal agency. By supporting the legislation, you are supporting the ability of states to promote a safe and responsible workforce. By supporting the legislation, you are supporting an effort to get this agency back on track to better protect the rights of America’s workers.
I urge my colleagues to support a more effective, accountable Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by supporting the legislation. I would like to thank my colleague, Representative Hudson, for his leadership on this important issue. Again, we are grateful to our witnesses for joining us and I look forward to our discussion.
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WASHINGTON, D.C.— The U.S Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance will hold a hearing on Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 2:30 p.m. titled, “Oversight of and Policy Considerations for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” chaired by Subcommittee Chairman Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
The Subcommittee hearing will examine the implementation of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act or MAP-21, as well as assess the efficacy and needs of NHTSA&rsqu...
***MEDIA ADVISORY*** Subcommittee to Examine Legislation to Provide Greater EEOC Transparency and Accountability
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. At a recent oversight hearing, witnesses shared growing concerns with various EEOC regulatory and enforcement actions. For example, “guidance” finalized in 2012 limits employers’ use of criminal background checks during the hiring process. The subcommittee also examined EEOC’s increasing reliance on systemic discrimination cases and the commission’s delegation of its litigation authority to the Office of General Counsel. In response to these concerns, a number of legislative proposals have been introduced:
- H.R. 4959, introduced by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC), would increase EEOC transparency by, among other provisions, requiring the commission to post on its website and in its annual report any case in which the commission was required to pay court sanctioned fees or costs.
- H.R. 5422, introduced by Rep. Walberg, would require EEOC commissioners to approve by majority vote all EEOC-initiated litigation involving multiple plaintiffs or allegations of systemic discrimination.
- H.R. 5423, also introduced by Rep. Walberg, would provide a safe harbor to employers complying with federal or state mandates, such as a law requiring criminal background checks.
Wednesday’s hearing will provide members the opportunity to examine these proposals and ongoing concerns over EEOC’s regulatory and enforcement practices.
To learn more about the hearing, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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Ms. Lynn A. Clements
Director, Regulatory Affairs
Berkshire Associates, Inc.
Mr. Eric S. Dreiband
Mr. Michael L. Foreman
Director, Civil Rights Appellate Clinic
The Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson School of Law
State College, PA
Mr. William F. Lloyd
New York, NY
On Thursday, the Small Business Subcommittee on Health and Technology will conduct an oversight hearing to examine the ongoing implementation problems with the Obamacare Small Business Health Option Program (SHOP) exchanges.
Unfortunately, the program has created more uncertainty and confusion for small businesses, on top of the rising health insurance costs that are increasing for nearly two-thirds of small businesses that provide health insurance to their employees. The Committee has conducted extensive oversight of SHOPs this Congress. In January, House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) requested enrollment numbers and related information from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. And again in June, Graves wrote to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner to request information about the SHOP enrollment. To date, the information has not been produced.
The SHOPs have experienced numerous delays and mismanagement, going back to April 2013. Here is a list of all the changes that small businesses are trying to keep up with:
You have heard the stories…a car falls on a son or daughter…the father grabs the bumper, lifts the car, and the child slides out to safety. The father has not lifted a weight in years and if you had asked him yesterday, he would have told you he could not pick up 100 pounds off the ground. How in the world could he lift a car? Well, adrenaline for sure, but it’s because he had too.
When we talk about the keys to success, at anything in life, it is almost never a case of whether someone can or can’t do what is necessary…it is a case of whether they will or won’t do what is necessary. The most successful people in the world WILL do whatever it takes. The masses say they CAN’T.
For most people, we never really know what we are capable of until our backs are completely against the wall….really against the wall…when all of our options are gone and the only choice is to do whatever it takes and survive or don’t and perish. Like an addict that hits rock bottom.
The fortunate and unfortunate thing about that is most people never let themselves get there…we never let our backs get completely against the wall. The fortunate thing is we don’t need to make a survive or perish decision. The unfortunate thing is that because we never need to make that decision we never really know what we are capable of. So many people hover just off the wall…barely hanging on and do just enough so they don’t have to make that life or perish decision…life or death action. The bummer is there is always this void…this feeling deep down inside that we know more is possible. And we go to our grave never knowing what we were really capable of.
We are all capable of sooooo much more than we think is possible if we just quit thinking of things in the frame work of whether we can or can’t and start looking at things in the frame work of we will or we won’t.
Get out there and do it…you CAN, you WILL…you WIN!!!!!!
“The Child Care and Development Block Grant program is a vital lifeline for parents trying to build a better future for their families,” said Chairman Kline. “Whether going to work or school, a lot of parents have to decide who will care for their children and worry if they’ve made the right decision. This bipartisan legislation will strengthen this important program to give working moms and dads greater access to quality, affordable child care. I want to thank my Republican and Democrat colleagues in the House and Senate for their work in crafting this legislation, and hope it will be sent to the president’s desk as soon as possible.”
“Today, I’m proud to reauthorize the Child Care Development Block Grant program with changes that strengthen parental choice, increase safety standards for providers, rein in an over-zealous federal government, and maintain the program’s essential purpose as work support with state flexibility,” said Rep. Todd Rokita.
The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act provides funds to states to help low-income families pay for child care while a parent works or is in an educational or job training program. The law has not been reauthorized since 1996. The bipartisan, bicameral agreement is based upon legislation introduced in 2013 by Senators Mikulski and Burr that passed the Senate earlier this year and includes reforms to:
• Enhance parental choice by providing information about available care options from all providers, including faith-based and community-based providers, and allowing parents to choose the child care provider that best suits their family’s needs.
• Strengthen safety in child care settings by requiring all providers to comply with state health, safety, and fire standards and undergo annual inspections.
• Promote high quality child care by reserving funds at the state level to improve the quality of care, enhancing states’ ability to train providers and develop safer and more effective child care services.
To learn more about the bill, click here.
To read letters of support, click here.
Across the country countless men and women are trying to build a better life for their families. Some are working more for less in order to make ends meet. Others are pursuing a degree at a local university or improving their skills at a nearby community college.
Whether going to work or school, most parents face a difficult question: Who will care for my child? Is there a trusted child care provider who will keep my son or daughter safe? And if there is, can I afford it?
For nearly two decades, the Child Care and Development Block Grant program has helped low-income families answer these tough questions. The program funds state efforts to provide vulnerable families access to child care. Parents receive assistance in the form of a voucher or certificate to pay the child care provider of their choice.
Approximately one and a half million children under the age of 13 are in a child care arrangement funded through the program, including over 25,000 children in my home state of Minnesota. It is a vital safety net for moms and dads trying to lift their families out of poverty.
At a hearing held earlier this year, one witness told the story of a woman named Rita. Speaking of the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, Rita said, “These federal investments were a quite serious lifeline for me…I know where I came from and I do not want to go back.”
Rita’s experience is shared by countless Americans. Yet despite the importance of the program, it has been almost 20 years since Congress reformed the law. As with any federal program left on auto-pilot, problems will emerge and this program is no different.
Poor coordination across related services and a lack of information make it difficult for parents looking for the best provider to know the full range of options. Perhaps most troubling, a patchwork of state licensing, monitoring, and related safety requirements means some children aren’t protected like they should be.
These families deserve better, which is why I am proud to support this important legislation. The bill before us includes a number of commonsense reforms that will strengthen the program and our support of these at-risk families.
For example, the legislation requires all participating child care providers to undergo, at a minimum, an annual inspection to ensure compliance with health, safety, and fire standards. The bill enhances existing training for providers and their workers, so every child is under the care of a well-trained professional. The legislation also reins in the authority of the secretary of Health and Human Services, to prevent this and future administrations from writing onerous rules that would limit access to this important service.
We have a long way to go before every American enjoys the opportunity and prosperity they and their families deserve. By supporting this bipartisan legislation, we have a chance to help these families succeed and set their children on the path to a bright future.
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Child care and community leaders are voicing support for the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act, a bipartisan, bicameral bill to help low-income families access child care while a parent pursues an education or job-training.
“This bill sets the standard all families expect for their children by requiring providers to undergo comprehensive background checks, annual and pre-licensure inspections, and training... [and] includes significant measures to improve the quality of child care and ensure that all children in child care settings are safe.”– Child Care Aware of America
“Your substitute amendment retains that critical provision and even adds language in various sections that supports the availability of a variety of approaches to childhood development.” – Council for American Private Education
“CCDBG ensure[s] parents continue to have the capacity to choose from a broad diversity of delivery models – including faith-based models – in early education.” – Association of Christian Schools International
"The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Program helps low-income working families and parents transitioning from welfare to work find safe, supportive, caring environments for their children.” – National Education Association
“CCDBG serves as essential support to working families who need to ensure their children are cared for and learning in a safe and high-quality setting during parents’ hours of employment, which often exceed the regular school day.” – Early Care and Education Consortium
“Working families with young children depend on child care so that they can obtain and retain a job … The Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization Act will combine important safety protections for children in child care with more accountability for the expenditure of public dollars.” – First Children’s Finance
“The quality improvements in the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 will work to ensure that more children of low-income working families have access to a high-quality early care and learning experience that best meets their needs.” – Knowledge Universe
“The CCDBG Reauthorization Act is truly historic.” – Early Learning Policy Group
“We support the proposed CCDBG improvements focused on safety, health, and quality.” – Save The Children
“Child care assistance is an essential work-support for low income parents … [CCDBG] is unique among federal programs in that its two-generational focus has the ability to support both parents’ economic success and children’s healthy development.” – Center for Law and Social Policy
“The bicameral, bipartisan Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization Act will combine important safety protections for children in child care with more accountability for the expenditure of public dollars." - Child Care Aware of Virginia
"Working families with young children need child care, and children need a place to be safe and a setting that promotes their healthy development. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of working families.” – Child Care Resources
"Nemours enthusiastically supports S. 1086, as we believe it will create a solid foundation to increase access to and improve the quality of child care for families and children benefitting from the CCDBG program." – Nemours
"Quality child care is critical for working families. However, parents can't have choices among quality settings unless children are safe and the child care workforce has the training they need to promote quality care. Thank you for supporting working families and for working to strengthen the quality of child care.” – OCCRRA
"Your efforts will have a positive impact on a program critical not only to working parents but to the 6 million infants and toddlers who currently spend some portion of their days in child care." – Zero to Three
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“Every year, the tax burden becomes more costly for America’s 28 million small businesses. The tax code is increasingly complicated and changes often. Most small businesses spend 40 hours or more preparing their taxes, and four out of ten businesses spend two full workweeks on compliance. That is a high cost in lost time and productivity for a small business. One in three small firms spends $10,000 on compliance. Jobs are still scarce, and the combined burdens of complex taxes and high rates are obstacles to growth. The jobs-stifling tax code is not just a Tax Day problem for small companies, but a year-round burden on their budgets that can impact their entrepreneurial decisions. Small businesses overwhelmingly support sensible reforms for lower rates, simpler preparation and clearer guidelines.”
Last week, the Small Business Committee examined these very challenges for small businesses. The growing number of tax provisions means that owners must spend significant resources on compliance that could otherwise be spent growing their companies. According to the Internal Revenue Service’s own National Taxpayer Advocate, there were over 500 changes to the tax code in 2010 alone, an average of more than one per day. And the steep tax rates mean small firms have less capital to invest back into hiring or expanding.
The National Small Business Association released a survey on April 9, 2014, in conjunction with the testimony of NSBA member Tim Reynolds, a small business executive. The growing complexity of the tax process causes 86 percent of small businesses to pay tax preparers.###
Recently on a Sunday, my husband suggested we “unplug”…no cell phones, no computers, nothing electronic. Instead, we talked, read (paperback) and paused. We enjoyed nature and stayed active. I have to admit, I did go through a little withdrawl from my connectivity with the outside world. I felt irresponsible to my clients and staff. I had this sense that the world might fall apart and I wouldn’t know anything about it. How ridiculous this sounds writing it, but in the moment, it felt real!
After my very wonderful detached day which took me only a short time to relax into, I felt more connected to my surroundings and my relationship. I noticed the sounds of the birds, the breeze through the leaves, felt the sun on my skin. I listened more attentively to my husband and we talked about fun silly stuff instead of looking at calendars and scheduling. We had fun.
I woke up the next day recharged and ready to open my email and texts. I realized that to be totally “on”, I needed to take a step back and disconnect. I didn’t know this until I tried it!
I think this practice was one we can use in many areas of our lives. So many of us go full speed ahead with work, obligations, travel, our workouts and everything else which keeps us running from one event to another without pause.
Where in your life do you get so immersed, you forget so many other aspects of your life?
Where can you disconnect for a day so you can step back into it recharged?
Who in your life are you forgetting about because you are so busy with filling up every moment?
Do you even know what it’s like to unplug (I forgot myself!)?
Consider taking a pause and embracing your surroundings.
Consider if you unplugged, disconnected and went off the grid for even a few hours how you might feel refreshed the next day. Would your friends and family be inspired by this? Might be something to try!
A bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders today announced a legislative agreement to improve and reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act. Negotiated by Representatives John Kline (R-MN), George Miller (D-CA), Todd Rokita (R-IN), and David Loebsack (D-IA), and Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Richard Burr (R-NC), the agreement will enhance transparency, strengthen health and safety protections, and improve the quality of care.
The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act provides funds to states to help low-income families pay for child care while a parent works or is in an educational or job training program. The law has not been reauthorized since 1996. Today’s bipartisan, bicameral agreement is based upon legislation introduced in 2013 by Senators Mikulski and Burr that passed the Senate earlier this year.
“The Child Care and Development Block Grant program is a vital lifeline for countless Americans,” said Rep. Kline, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “Working moms and dads have pursued a career, earned a degree, or acquired new skills and training because of the support available through this program. The commonsense ideas included in this bipartisan, bicameral agreement will only strengthen our support of these working families. I want to thank my House and Senate colleagues for working together to forge this bipartisan agreement.”
“For working families in Iowa and around the country, access to safe and affordable child care is essential,” said Senator Harkin, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. “This bipartisan bill will help to ensure working parents have access to quality, affordable child care and provide rich early-learning opportunities for children, including infants and toddlers and children with disabilities. This bill is a strong example of what Congress can achieve by working together. I am encouraged by the HELP Committee’s growing record of bipartisan accomplishments and look forward to the President signing this critical bill into law.”
“Every parent, regardless of their income level, deserves to know that their child is well cared-for,” said Rep. Miller, senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “This bipartisan, bicameral bill improves child care access, makes critical new investments, and helps to ensure children are safe and are receiving quality care. Reliable care sets children on the path toward success in school and in the rest of their lives. While helping to prepare the next generation, good child care also supports working parents to promote greater workforce stability. These updates to CCDBG are vital for our children, our families, and our nation’s future.”
“This bill helps a working Tennessee mother be able to pay for child care while she earns a degree so she can pay for it herself,” said Sen. Alexander, the senior Republican on the Senate HELP Committee. “Every month, an average of 39,000 Tennessee children get child care through this program while their parents earn an education or build a career. Today’s agreement will continue success stories like the Memphis mother whose infant received care through this program while she earned a business degree and rose to assistant manager at a Walmart, enabling her to pay for the care of her second child at the same childcare center.”
“For families struggling to make ends meet, quality child care is a necessity,” said Rep. Rokita. “This significant agreement strengthens a child care program that has been untouched for nearly two decades. It does so by preserving provider choice, improving transparency, and most importantly, child safety. This bill could truly save lives, and I look forward to its passage.”
“Every working parent with children no matter their income level worries about child care,” said Sen. Mikulski. “What’s affordable? What’s accessible? Will my child be safe? Where can I get the very best care for my kid? It is not enough to simply ensure that kids have someplace to go. We must also ensure that they go someplace that is safe, that nurtures their development, that challenges their mind, and that prepares them for school. I am so pleased that the Senate and House have come together on a bipartisan basis to revitalize, refresh, and reform this vitally important program to support child care providers, give parents peace of mind, and better prepare our children for the future. It’s time to get this done for children, parents, and providers alike!”
“As the son of a single mother, I know how important quality, affordable child care is for working families,” said Rep. Loebsack. “The Child Care Development Block Grant provides a critical lifeline to families and allows them to work or attend school with the peace of mind knowing their children are safe and well cared for. This bipartisan agreement makes long needed updates and improvements to CCDBG that will promote healthy child development and enhance quality and safety. I am pleased that both Republicans and Democrats from both the House and Senate came together to improve the lives of working families.”
“Over three years ago Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and I made a commitment to reauthorizing the Child Care and Development Block Grant program so that kids could have safer environments in which to stay while their parents worked and taxpayers did not continue to subsidize providers who created unsafe settings and threatened their well-being. It has been a long time coming, but I’m proud we have reached this point," said Senator Richard Burr. "I am thankful for the work of my colleagues in the Senate and the House who stood together to ensure the passage of this legislation. This legislation will positively impact the lives of millions of children and their parents.”
The bipartisan, bicameral agreement includes reforms to:
- Enhance parental choice by providing information about available care options from all providers, including faith-based and community-based providers, and allowing parents to choose the child care provider that best suits their family’s needs.
- Strengthen safety in child care settings by requiring all providers to comply with state health, safety, and fire standards and undergo annual inspections.
- Promote high quality child care by reserving funds at the state level to improve the quality of care provided to children, enhancing states’ ability to train providers and develop safer and more effective child care services.
The text of the bill is available here.
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