WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) issued the following statement on the federal appeals court decision not to delay the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) controversial Title II Internet regulations while the lawsuit against them moves forward:
"This decision underscores the need for Congress to find a bipartisan legislative solution to protect, preserve, and promote the free and open Internet. I will continue my work w...
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, issued the following statement in response to the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to allow the FCC’s net neutrality rules to move forward.
“The rules are now poised to go into effect,” said Nelson. “While the court conducts its review, I remain committed to finding true bipartisan consensus to take the import...
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Leading members of U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), subcommittee ranking member Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and subcommittee chairmen Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) today introduced S. 1551, the DOTCOM Act. The DOTCOM Act requires certifications, and an opportunity for congressional review to ensure that any transfer of U.S. involvement over the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) does not empower foreign powers to gain increase...
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, will convene the subcommittee for a hearing entitled “Oversight of the Consumer Product Safety Commission” on Wednesday, June 17, 2015, at 10:00 a.m.
“Oversight of independent agencies is one of Congress’ primary responsibilities,” Sen. Moran said. “This hearing will give us an opportunity to examine the Consumer Product...
Small Business Subcommittee Examines Challenges Facing Citrus Industry
WASHINGTON -- On Thursday, the Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade examined the challenges affecting small growers and other small businesses in the citrus industry.
“Florida is one of the top producers of citrus in the world,” said Subcommittee Chairman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL). “It has a significant impact on our economy and for many growers and their families, it is a way of life, passed down from one generation to the next. However, the U.S. citrus industry is facing significant challenges, such as HLB disease in Florida, the Mexican fruit fly in Texas, and a prolonged drought in California. All these factors have decreased acreage and production while increasing operating costs for small citrus growers which comprise 90% of citrus farms. I’d like to thank the Small Business Committee for the opportunity to highlight these challenges and the witnesses for sharing their perspectives.”
Full Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) praised Subcommittee Chairman Curbelo for calling attention to these threats:
“Today’s hearing revealed the challenges facing an industry that reaches every American family’s breakfast table: small citrus growers. I want to thank him for his leadership in bringing these issues into focus. Mr. Curbelo said it best: ‘This Committee cares about small business, which means we care about families and the people they employ.’ Our Committee will continue to work with the family businesses in this industry towards solutions that protect this economically and culturally significant crop.”
Notable quotes include:
“Nature has created the current crisis but neglect and unbalanced environmental policies have made it a true disaster. The way the Endangered Species Act is currently being implemented has, as many farmers would attest, put many a family farmer in the category of endangered. If we don’t find a more balanced approach to the ESA, not only will fish be endangered, but many smaller family citrus farms will become extinct.” - Mr. Kevin Severns, Owner, Severns Farm, Sanger, CA (testifying on behalf of California Citrus Mutual)
“The citrus industry is a core part of America’s agricultural heritage. 62,000 Floridians produce a nutritious product that is part of a healthy diet. The industry is comprised of small family farms and associated businesses. The industry also supports many associated businesses, ranging from vehicle and farm equipment dealers, banks, insurance companies, etc. Our industry has experienced challenges before, most weather related. I am confident our industry will manage through the current crisis and emerge as an even stronger industry.” -Mr. N. Larry Black, Jr., General Manager, Peace River Packing Company, Fort Meade, FL (testifying on behalf of Florida Citrus Mutual)
“In short, the United States citrus industry as you know it, is in extreme trouble. We are fighting to preserve our very way of life and are doing everything in our power to prevent total eradication of an essential U.S. industry. With agency collaboration and much needed support, it is our hope that we will soon be able to eradicate [Asian Citrus Psyllid] and [Huanglongbing] from our vocabulary entirely.” -Mr. Dale Murden, President, Texas Citrus Mutual, Mission, TX
More information on this hearing can be found HERE.
“For more than 75 years, the Fair Labor Standards Act has been the foundation of our nation’s wage and hour protections. It establishes important rights for American workers and continues to guide employers in protecting those rights,” Chairman Walberg said. “However, the workplace looks very different today than it did in 1938 when the law was enacted, and the rules and regulations defining the law are failing to meet the needs of a 21st century workforce.”
Employees who are covered by the law’s requirements are referred to as “non-exempt” employees, and those who are not covered are considered “exempt” employees. Most professional, administrative, or managerial employees qualify as exempt as defined in regulations written and enforced by the Department of Labor. Concerns have been raised that the current regulatory structure is extremely complicated and was written before the advent of smartphones and telecommuting.
“The FLSA is a cornerstone among America’s workplace statutes,” stated Nicole Berberich, director of Human Resources at the Cincinnati Animal Referral and Emergency Center. “But the [law] was crafted for a different time, and should be evaluated to ensure it still encourages employers to hire, grow, and better meet the needs of their employees.” Berberich described the difficult process employers face trying to properly classify employees, noting, “An employer acting in good faith can easily mistakenly misclassify employees” and warned that “the stakes in improperly classifying employees are high.”
Leonard Court, an attorney with more than 40 years of experience dealing with wage and hour policies, echoed these concerns, explaining there is “ample opportunity for differing interpretations and misunderstandings of the law’s requirements in the contemporary setting.” Unfortunately, the enforcement policies of the current administration have only made these challenges worse, Court added, by shifting from an approach built on “cooperation and education to one of confrontation and coerced settlement.”
Expressing similar views, Jamie Richardson, vice president at White Castle System, Inc., explained his company’s concerns “in light of a regulatory regime that is increasingly proscriptive” and “seems increasingly disconnected from the needs and desires of the modern worker and contemporary business owners.” He noted, “Today, with many of our urban centers continuing to suffer record high levels of unemployment … regulatory actions go beyond providing protections for those employed and make it harder for employers everywhere to create more jobs.”
Witnesses also discussed a pending Department of Labor proposal that is expected to significantly alter existing overtime regulations. Berberich expressed concern that upcoming changes may “further exacerbate an already complicated set of regulations” and “further limit workplace flexibility.” Richardson agreed, stating, “Rather than providing more opportunities for individuals to earn overtime pay, it appears that the new regulations will only result in a more complicated law … and more litigation.”
Acknowledging concerns related to the department’s pending proposal, Chairman Walberg said, “Thanks to an administration notorious for overreaching and governing through executive fiat, I share many of those same concerns … it is my hope the department will heed these concerns and ultimately put forward a proposal that encourages – rather than stifles – productivity, personal opportunity, and economic growth.”
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Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH)
Passenger Rail Safety: Accident Prevention and On-Going Efforts to Implement Train Control Technology
Small Business Committee Advances Four Bills in Bipartisan Markup
WASHINGTON—Today, the Small Business Committee passed four pieces of legislation on a bipartisan basis that now await action in the House of Representatives:
· H.R. 2499: "Veterans Entrepreneurship Act of 2015" (Passed by voice vote)
· H.R. 208: "Superstorm Sandy Relief Act of 2015" (Passed by voice vote)
· H.R. 1023: "The Small Business Investment Company Capital Act of 2015" (Passed by voice vote)
· H.R. 2670: "Microloan Modernization Act of 2015" (Passed by voice vote)
At the start of today’s markup, Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) noted the connection between all four pieces of legislation considered by the committee. “I want to emphasize the importance of moving forward on these common sense reforms to Small Business Administration’s access to capital and disaster loan programs,” Chabot said. “When we improve these programs, we are stimulating the American economy by allowing our nation’s job creators, small businesses, greater access to a basic fundamental business need – capital.”
For more on the markup, amendments offered, and vote tallies, please click here.
Chabot: Small Businesses Need Trade Priorities and Accountability
As seen in the Washington Examiner
Ninety-nine percent of American companies are actually small businesses, and they employ over half of the entire American workforce. When you stop and consider the fact that only two out of every 100 of those companies participate in international trade, it's obvious we're just not thinking big enough anymore.
The Trade Priorities and Accountability Act doesn't just help us think bigger, it compels to us to do so.
Trade today already supports about one in five American jobs. More than 1.5 million people in my state of Ohio have jobs because of trade. The Trade Priorities and Accountability Act gives further international trade agreements their rightful place at the top of our national agenda and lifts the ceiling on American job creation. Since about seven of every 10 new jobs come from a small business, it's pretty clear who can benefit the most from more trade.
I consider myself lucky to have been a member of the Small Business Committee, which I now chair, since I first came to Congress. Years of small business visits, roundtables and hearings have given me an invaluable education in how ideas become innovations and then jobs. Every member of Congress gets this opportunity, and I don't know anyone on either side of the aisle that hasn't been changed, energized and inspired by it.
That's why Congress should be setting the rules for any administration that sets out to negotiate with our trade partners. Small businesses need a better way into the global market, and Congress can make sure they get it.
Since we're the ones hearing directly from those who can benefit the most from trade, it would only make sense that we should be able to read the negotiating text for trade agreements, provide guidance for those negotiating for us in the executive branch, and get the chance to review trade deals before they become official. The Trade Priorities and Accountability Act paves the way for public engagement on these deals and gives Congress the ability to throw up speed bumps if we end up on the track to a raw deal.
The Trade Priorities and Accountability Act will require communication between the people negotiating trade deals and the people representing small businesses at home. Without it, we might as well be taking a shot in the dark and hoping for the best. That's not how jobs are created, families are provided for, or communities thrive.
Every small business starts with an idea. Those ideas become services or products, and then they become livelihoods for the people connected with them. Before long, those ideas are small businesses that not only support but also define our local communities.
Because of small business, it's our local communities, whether they realize it or not, that have the most to gain from better trade agreements. That's why your representatives in Congress have to be at the table from the outset, and that's why American small businesses need Congress to pass the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act.
Steve Chabot, who represents Ohio's first congressional district, is chairman of the House Committee on Small Business.
Walberg Statement: Hearing on “Reviewing the Rules and Regulations Implementing Federal Wage and Hour Standards”
Failing to keep up with the changing workplace, the law’s regulatory structure has become more complex and burdensome. Both employees and employers have difficulty understanding their rights and responsibilities and must constantly contend with conflicting legal interpretations of the law. Despite sincere efforts to act in the best interest of workers, many well-intentioned employers face costly legal battles because of a flawed regulatory system, and we have evidence to back that up.
A report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office revealed a surge in FLSA lawsuits during the past 20 years, with the number of lawsuits increasing by 514 percent since 1991. Let me repeat that – there has been a 514 percent increase in FLSA-related litigation over the last 25 years. That is a troubling increase and strong indication that something is not working.
To help address this significant problem, GAO urged the Department of Labor to “develop a systematic approach for identifying areas of confusion about the FLSA that contribute to possible violations and improving the guidance it provides to employers and workers in those areas.”
Simply stated, we need a system that holds bad actors accountable when they break the law, but that also helps law-abiding employers uphold their obligations. I hope some of our witnesses will shed light on whether the department is implementing GAO’s recommendations and what impact it may be having on our nation’s workplaces.
However, even the best administrative guidance cannot make up for other shortcomings that exist and are harming those working hardest to jumpstart the economy.
This isn’t the first time these concerns have been raised. In fact, this subcommittee has held a number of hearings in recent years looking at this very same issue. It has been a focus of our continued oversight for a simple reason: We want to ensure the regulations that underpin the Fair Labor Standards Act serve the best interests of both American workers and employers.
As Chairman Kline and I noted a year ago, we are ready and willing to be a partner in a responsible effort to modernize current regulations, but I would stress that it must be a responsible effort. The American people deserve a system that is simple, clear, and can meet the demands of the modern workplace. The last thing policymakers should do – including those in the administration – is to make a bad regulatory system worse.
In the coming days, the department is expected to release a proposal intended to “update” federal wage and hour regulations. Rumors are running rampant, and we know concerns are being raised about what the proposal may entail. Thanks to an administration notorious for overreaching and governing through executive fiat, I share many of those same concerns. I expect we will continue to hear about the consequences for workers and job creators if the administration goes too far in the regulatory proposal it is expected to release.
However, hope springs eternal, and it is my hope the department will heed these concerns and ultimately put forward a proposal that encourages – rather than stifles – productivity, personal opportunity, and economic growth. Any proposal that would inflict harm on the nation’s workplaces and move the country in the wrong direction will be opposed by this committee and, no doubt, the American people.
With that, I will now recognize the senior Democratic member of the subcommittee, Representative Frederica Wilson, for her opening remarks.
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I just returned last week from NAWBO National’s Advocacy and Public Policy Day in Washington, D.C. where a group of NAWBO leaders with a passion for making an impact for U.S. women entrepreneurs gathered on Capitol Hill to meet with policy makers and talk about issues that are challenging us the most today as we start, grow and scale our businesses.
It got me thinking about what a tremendous learning opportunity it was—for me as a woman business owner stepping outside of my day-to-day business to take part in something much bigger than myself and my own business, and for these policy makers to really learn first-hand the unique challenges we face today as women business owners that NAWBO members know so well.
Opportunities like this—to learn and grow—are hard to make time for when we are running successful businesses. However, they are really important as women entrepreneurs because they connect us with diverse new people, engage and excite us and open our minds to different ideas and perspectives that we perhaps would have never thought of on our own.
Learning comes in all forms, whether you decide to return to college to obtain a master’s degree or professional certificate; work through becoming a certified woman-owned business and then take advantage of the opportunities that exist surrounding this certification; take part is e-learning opportunities, like NAWBO’s monthly e-learning series on timely business topics; or even just make an effort to learn from those around you—from your employees in your company and from your sisters at NAWBO.
This issue of NAWBO ONE is about education and learning, which is rather appropriate considering that every issue of our e-publication is designed to help our community members to learn and grow. I hope you’ll take the time to read great articles like our Member Spotlight on Wendy Bird of Pearls with Purpose. She has an amazing organization that teaches self-sustainability and hope to women in developing countries—by simply teaching them how to make jewelry. Wendy is also our top winner of NAWBO’s 2015 No Small Thing Video Contest, so be sure to check out her winning submission!
I’d love to hear from you about how you continue to learn and grow as a woman entrepreneur. How do you find the time? What opportunities have you found most valuable? If you could learn anything new, what would it be and why?
—Darla Beggs, NAWBO National Board Chair
PS: This will be my final blog as National Board Chair. It’s been an incredible journey and privilege to serve NAWBO’s community of women entrepreneurs in this role over the past year and I look forward to continuing on as your Past Chair. Meanwhile, congratulations to my friend and colleague Crystal Arredondo, who will be installed in a few weeks as the 2015-2016 Board Chair and will take over this blog. Thanks for reading!
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets forth federal wage and hour protections for public- and private-sector employees. Employees who are covered by the law’s requirements are referred to as “non-exempt” employees, and those who are not covered are considered “exempt” employees. Most professional, administrative, or managerial employees qualify as exempt as defined in regulations written and enforced by the Department of Labor. The regulatory structure surrounding the law has grown increasingly complex, burdensome, and outdated, producing an environment of legal uncertainty for employers and employees. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) found a significant increase in FLSA-related litigation in recent years and recommended the department develop a systematic approach to identifying areas of confusion and to improve guidance in those areas.
Wednesday’s hearing will provide an overview of the regulations implementing the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as examine concerns with how current rules and enforcement policies affect workplaces. To learn more about the hearing, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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Ms. Nicole Berberich
Human Resources Director
Cincinnati Animal Referral and Emergency (CARE) Center
Mr. Leonard Court
Crowe & Dunlevy
Oklahoma City, OK
The Honorable Seth Harris
Former Acting Secretary of Labor and Deputy Secretary of Labor
Mr. Jamie Richardson
White Castle System, Inc.
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) issued the following joint statement in response to today’s announcement from the Department of Education regarding Corinthian Colleges:
A lot of men and women have been hurt by this unfortunate situation, including low-income and minority students. Helping those eligible students who have been harmed is the right thing to do. We are pleased that the Department of Education will carefully review each claim and help qualified students receive the relief they may be entitled to. It is vitally important that we have a responsible process in place that is fair, transparent, and adheres to the law. We will remain in contact with the department throughout this process in order to ensure students, families, and taxpayers are protected now and in the future.
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The Road Ahead: Small Business and the Need for a Long-Term Surface Transportation Reauthorization
WASHINGTON – Today, House Small Business Committee members led by Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) held a hearing titled, “The Road Ahead: Small Businesses and the Need for a Long-Term Surface Transportation Reauthorization,” where they heard from small business voices about the direct and indirect impacts of America’s weakening surface infrastructure on productivity.
“There are lots of projects throughout our nation that I could cite as examples of why our infrastructure is important, but none that is closer to home for me than the Brent Spence Bridge. This is a bridge that connects Ohio to Kentucky; the Midwest to the South. It carries 172,000 cars and $1 billion in commerce every day, yet it is considered functionally obsolete,” Chabot said. “Improving our infrastructure is about making American businesses more competitive and making sure we have access to the goods and services we use every day, and keeping them affordable for American families.”
Matt Davis, Director, Build Our New Bridge Now Coalition based in Cincinnati, also emphasized the importance of restoring subpar infrastructure, particularly the Brent Spence Bridge. “[The Brent Spence Bridge] serves as a major artery in our national highway system, carrying the equivalent of 4 percent of the nation’s GDP every year and connecting Michigan to Miami, servicing many companies, both small and large,” Davis said. “In order for their businesses to stay afloat, small businesses need reliable roads, bridges, waterways, airports and railways to move employees and goods from place to place as safely as possible.”
Also among those who testified was William Schmitz, Vice President of Sales and Quality Control at Gernatt Asphalt Company in Collins, NY, who spoke on behalf of the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association. “In the absence of a long-term plan, my customers are telling me they are not sure what the next years are going to bring them, thereby causing me to withhold investment in plants and new machinery for the foreseeable future,” Schmitz said. “It is increasingly difficult to do long range workforce planning due to uncertain demand.”
Members also heard from Don Shilling, President of General Equipment and Supplies in Fargo, ND, who testified on behalf of the Associated Equipment Distributors. Shilling attested to the complications that are arising from uncertainty in infrastructure investment. “The detrimental impact of the uncertainty surrounding the Highway Trust Fund isn’t unique to General Equipment & Supplies,” Shilling said. “As Congress delays addressing the country’s drastic needs, the public is paying the price in lost productivity and vehicle repairs.”
Chairman Chabot and members of the Committee shared the witnesses’ concerns for America’s state of decay.
“If we want to do something positive for the millions of Americans that rely on small businesses to put food on the table, we have to get projects like the Brent Spence Bridge done,” Chabot said. “We owe it to the American people to invest in those projects that produce long-term savings, keep us competitive, and most importantly, create American jobs. “
For full witness testimonies and footage of today’s hearing, click here.
The president’s appointees at the NLRB have undermined employee free choice through an ambush election scheme, stifled employee freedom through micro-unions, and restricted employee access to secret ballot union elections. Now the board is setting its sights on the freedom and choice provided to employees under state right-to-work laws.
Chairman Kline’s remarks were delivered at a hearing that examined an NLRB effort to force nonunion employees in right-to-work states to pay union grievance fees. Just like every other Big Labor scheme, the board’s unprecedented attack on right to work will ultimately end up hurting workers the most. As the following press reports highlight, Wednesday’s hearing revealed a number of ways the board’s actions would harm the nation’s workers and workplaces:
- Inviting Union Coercion – “[The board’s effort], complained Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Committee, gives the unions, who control the grievance process, too much power over workers who opted out. ‘History has shown that union officials all too often initiate on-the-job discrimination, which forces a worker into the grievance process the union bosses control, in order to punish him or her for not joining the union in the first place,’ he said … The ‘fee-for-grievance’ scheme could allow for fees that exceed regular dues, warned Mix, who called the NLRB proposal a ‘deceptive assault’ on right-to-work laws.” - 'Deceptive assault': Obama NLRB seeks to gut right-to-work laws, say critics, Fox News
- Undermining State-Provided Protections – “Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts … said that by undermining the laws, the federal board was usurping states who have voted against mandatory union membership. ‘Requiring a nonmember to pay for the union's participation is unreasonable,’ Ricketts said. ‘And, it makes perfect sense that both the courts and the NLRB have up to now consistently barred organized labor from charging nonmembers in Right to Work states to get their grievances processed when union members can have their grievances processed for free.’” - 'Deceptive assault': Obama NLRB seeks to gut right-to-work laws, say critics, Fox News
- Reducing Competitiveness – “Republican Rep. Bradley Byrne [R-AL], one of the more vocal opponents of the NLRB during the hearing, used his time later on in the proceeding to question [witness] Bruno on his claims, noting the studies he’s seen and the personal experience he had with businesses while representing Alabama showed the opposite … ‘I talked to dozens and dozens and dozens of businesses who have considered my own state of Alabama, a right-to-work state. Every time they mention two things: They talk about the quality of the workforce; And second thing they say, labor law and the fact we’re a right-to-work state.’” - Congress Confronts Out Of Control Obama Labor Appointees, Daily Caller
- Violating Fundamental Rights – “‘We are very pleased that Congress recognized the seriousness of the NLRB’s threat to state right-to-work laws,’ National Right to Work Committee Vice President of Legislation Greg Mourad told FoxNews.com. ‘This proposed action by Obama’s Big Labor NLRB is a direct assault on a worker’s fundamental First Amendment right to freedom of association. Congress can and must take action to block this rogue NLRB, and advance worker freedom.’” - 'Deceptive assault': Obama NLRB seeks to gut right-to-work laws, say critics, Fox News
The Obama administration must decide whether it will continue to be at the beck and call of its Big Labor allies, or protect the rights of America's workers. As Chairman Kline argued during the hearing, “Every worker has a fundamental right to decide whether or not to join a union. Those who decide not to join a union shouldn’t be punished for that decision, especially when the punishment denies a worker the chance to provide for his or her family.”
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