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WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator John Thune (R-SD), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will submit for the record the following prepared remarks at today’s “Protecting Personal Consumer Information from Cyber Attacks and Data Breaches” full committee hearing:
Thank you, Chairman Rockefeller, for holding this afternoon’s hearing on data breaches and protecting consumer information. Protecting consumers from identity theft, fraud, and financial harm is certainly a goal that all of us on this committ...
The Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce, under the chairmanship of Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), today conducted a hearing to examine the impact of burdensome occupational licensing laws on business startups and the economy overall.
As the economy and employment situation remains sluggish, many unemployed and underemployed Americans are considering starting their own business or using a skill or talent to earn an income. However, for many of these workers, potentially costly and burdensome licensing requirements are presenting a significant barrier to economic opportunity.
“During the past five years, economic freedom and entrepreneurial opportunity have declined in America due to burdensome and unnecessary occupational licensing laws,” said Chairman Hanna. “For enterprising and motivated individuals to have every opportunity for economic success, we must repeal licensing laws and regulations that slow growth while serving no true public interest. The stories from today’s hearing demonstrate how these laws are creating barriers to entrepreneurship and putting a damper on competition, innovation, and prosperity.”
Materials from the hearing are available on the Committee’s website HERE.
Melony Armstrong, Owner of Naturally Speaking in Tupelo, MS said, “Every day, hundreds of low-income families are housed because of my work. But I don’t run a shelter. They are clothed through what I’ve done. But I don’t run a second-hand clothing store. They are fed because of what I achieve. But I don’t run a soup kitchen. I have transformed the lives of hundreds of poor women in my state of Mississippi not because I sought out government assistance for them; rather, because I demanded that the government get out of my way so I could provide for myself and for my family, and so other women around me could do likewise in peace, dignity and prosperity.”
Patti Morrow, President of Interior Design Protection Consulting in Greer, SC said, “Two years ago, I moved to South Carolina, and it was déjà vu, all over again. In 2012 and 2013, I had to take time away from my business to drive to Columbia multiple times to speak with legislators and testify at hearings. As of right now, the latest bill has been tabled. But for how long? Licensing this industry is nothing more than restraint of trade and is a job killer.”
Timothy Sandefur, Principal Attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation in Sacramento, CA said, “Sadly, licensing restrictions have been abused for centuries by established businesses as a way to prohibit economic competition, enabling them to raise their prices while barring newcomers from the market. This harms consumers and restricts economic opportunity for precisely those who most need it. While these abuses generally take place at the state level, Congress has authority to protect economic freedom and secure the blessings for economic liberty for all.”
The purpose of today’s hearing is to examine the president’s fiscal year 2015 budget request for the Department of Labor. However, as is often the case, budget hearings are about more than dollars and cents. As the old saying goes, budgets are about priorities. Naturally, budget hearings provide Congress an opportunity to examine and discuss the policies an administration intends to pursue in the coming years.
The authority of the Department of Labor governs practically every private business and affects countless working families. It is a great responsibility and one I am sure you take seriously, Mr. Secretary. Since taking office, you’ve shown a willingness to work with the committee on a number of important issues, such as the department’s unprecedented enforcement of family farms and health care providers serving active and retired military personnel. We haven’t agreed on every detail, but we appreciate the efforts you’ve made to address our concerns.
It is my hope that we can build on this progress in the weeks and months ahead. Our nation faces significant challenges that can only be addressed if we work together in good faith, and we all know there is a great deal that demands our attention.
For example, more than 10 million Americans can’t find work and roughly 7 million are employed part-time but need a full-time job. The labor force participation rate has dropped to levels not seen since the Carter administration – a sign millions of workers are so discouraged with their job prospects that they’ve left the workforce entirely. We have a health care law that is discouraging and destroying full time work. More than one out of every 10 African-Americans can’t find a job and nearly 47 million individuals are living in poverty. In the Obama economy, stock prices on Wall Street reach record highs while the wages of working families on Main Street remain flat.
We are told time and again a strong recovery is just around the corner if the president is allowed to spend more, tax more, and borrow more. Yet after $17.6 trillion in total spending and $6.8 trillion in new debt, we are stuck in the slowest economic recovery in our nation’s history. Despite the obvious fact that the president’s policies aren’t working, he has once again put forward a budget that doubles down on the status quo.
This fundamentally flawed approach is evident in the president’s request for six new job training programs at a cost of more than $10 billion. That’s right, the president wants to pile more training programs onto the more than 50 duplicative and ineffective programs that already exist, making a confusing maze of programs even more difficult for workers to navigate. Taxpayers will be forced to invest in more bureaucracy instead of in the skills and education that will help workers succeed. Spending more money on a broken system will not provide the support vulnerable workers and families need.
The American people can no longer afford to invest in the president's failed agenda. We need to change course and adopt responsible reforms that will get this country working again; reforms that will help every individual who wants to enjoy the dignity of work find a job; reforms that will help ensure no one who works full time is forced to live in poverty; reforms that will help provide hope and prosperity for every working family. The policies embraced by the president during the last six years haven’t moved us toward these goals, and his current budget request won’t either.
Obviously there are stark differences on how best to move our nation forward. This committee will do its part to find common ground where we can and invest in real solutions that help grow our economy, create jobs, and expand opportunity for all who seek it. I urge the administration to be a partner in that effort. No executive order or unilateral action can put the country back on track and people back to work. Mr. Secretary, let’s stop recycling bad polices and start building on the small but encouraging progress we’ve made in recent months to work together on behalf of the American people.
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The House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, chaired by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), today held a hearing entitled, “The Foundation for Success: Strengthening the Child Care and Development Block Grant Program.” During the hearing, members discussed the committee’s priorities for reauthorizing the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program, and examined opportunities to help improve the quality of the program’s child care services.
In his opening remarks, Chairman Rokita said, "CCDBG is invaluable to parents who are struggling to provide for their families. As a father of two boys, I know firsthand child care isn’t just finding a place for your kids to go during your work day. It’s a far more difficult decision about choosing a provider where you can trust trained professionals will care for your child in a safe environment.”
“Child care is a way of life today for the majority of families. Times have changed over the years and more mothers are working today than 24 years ago when the Child Care and Development Block Grant was first enacted,” said Paula Koos, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Child Care Resource & Referral Association.
“Across the country, the most recent federal data shows that 1.5 million children on average every month are in CCDBG funded child care settings,” Ms. Koos added. “I believe it’s time to provide some minimum protections for all our children across this great country and to ensure that public dollars are spent in an accountable way.”
A recent review of the Child Care and Development Fund determined states face significant challenges in meeting suggested program standards. Gloria Jarmon, Deputy Inspector General for Audit Services for the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services, provided an overview of the report’s findings.
“First, vulnerabilities exist in states’ standards and monitoring of child care providers that put the health and safety of some children at risk,” Ms. Jarmon said. “Two, weaknesses in certain states’ fiscal controls over obligation and liquidation activities put CCDF funds at risk of being misspent.” Ms. Jarmon emphasized the importance of ensuring the affordable child care services offered under CCDBG do not sacrifice quality or safety.
Linda Kostantenaco, president of the National Child Care Association, expressed support for raising the quality standards under CCDBG while also maintaining the program’s flexibility. “Such flexibility ensures parents the opportunity to find an appropriate child care center that satisfies their needs and the unique needs of their children,” Mrs. Kostantenaco said. “It is this array of choice that facilitates the best partnership between a family and their child care center.”
“As many of you know, our colleagues in the Senate recently approved the Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization Act of 2014,” Rep. Rokita said. “While many of [the] provisions [in the Senate bill] will help to improve the quality of child care, we must also take steps to ensure these new requirements will help – not hinder – states in meeting the needs of children and their families…If we are truly here to fight for people, and to empower people so they can build better lives for themselves and their families, access to quality child care is something we must address.”
Rep. Rokita concluded, “The reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act provides an opportunity to work together to advance bipartisan legislation that will help our nation’s most vulnerable children and families. I look forward to examining the strengths and weaknesses of the CCDBG program, and discussing opportunities for consensus between House priorities for reauthorization and the Senate-passed legislation.”
To learn more about today’s hearing, or to watch an archived webcast, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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Tomorrow Labor Secretary Thomas Perez will testify before the House Education and the Workforce Committee on the department’s budget and policy priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. This will be the secretary’s first appearance before the committee since his confirmation, so committee members are eager to discuss a broad range of topics and concerns. Here are five critical questions for the secretary that should help get the conversation started:
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Each year, the Committee examines the SBA’s budget request, and lays out the Committee’s recommendations to allocate taxpayers’ dollars in a way that will improve the performance of the SBA and without diminishing services provided to small businesses. This year, the Committee identified wasteful duplications in SBA operations and recommends correcting that by eliminating $39 million in new spending for unproven and duplicative SBA-created entrepreneurial training initiatives. The Committee also proposes eliminating two outreach offices that provide services available from other government agencies with greater resources resulting in a savings of about $14 million.
“The SBA, and every federal agency, should do their part in finding savings and providing services efficiently so that we can do more to reduce the deficit and get the economy back on track,” said Chairman Graves. “As the Committee’s Views and Estimates show, the SBA can save $50 million by cutting duplication and reallocating resources to proven initiatives rather than spending on costly and unproven SBA-created programs. The SBA should renew their commitment to the services that benefit small businesses the most, and fix or cut that which is failing. Bloated budgets are relics of the past.
“Our nation’s debt crisis is not only a burden on the next generations of Americans, it is a burden on the economy and small businesses now,” Chairman Graves continued. “This is not the time for federal agencies to look for new ways to spend more money. Unproven programs are a luxury the federal government cannot afford. Instead, the SBA should stick to running programs that actually work on Main Street, not ideas concocted inside the beltway; serving America’s job creators; and being the voice for small businesses that this Administration has too often lacked.”
Materials from the markup are available on the Committee’s website HERE.
Views & Estimates Highlights:
• Recommends cutting approximately $50 million below the President’s FY2015 Budget proposal of $864.64 million
1. Recommends eliminating $39 million from SBA-created initiatives for entrepreneurial education and outreach that duplicate current services of other programs.
2. Recommends saving $14 million by eliminating two outreach offices.
3. Recommends other modifications and staff reallocations that could create additional savings.
• Calls for rapid compliance with changes mandated by Congress over the past two years to government contracting programs overseen by the SBA – a process in which the SBA is lagging.
• Recommends reallocating resources for the following priorities:
1. Improve recoveries on defaulted SBA-guaranteed loans
2. Speed up improvements to SBA loan management accounting system
3. Increase SBA personnel assisting small businesses with federal contracts
4. Strengthen Inspector General’s resources to uncover waste, fraud and abuse
5. Preserve SBA core missions and capability to serve small businesses
• Recommends preserving and strengthening access to capital, including an increase in the guaranteed loan program, and maintaining funding for the microloan program
• Recommends increasing funding by $2 million for Small Business Development Centers, funded at $113.625 million in FY2014 and the same amount requested by the SBA in FY2015.###
As you may know, the full committee recently held a hearing to review the federal investment in early childhood care and development. During the hearing, we explored opportunities to streamline and improve existing programs to better serve children and their families.
Today we will continue that discussion as we examine one of the largest and most critical programs in the nation’s network of early childhood programs, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, or CCDBG, program.
Authorized in 1996 under the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act the CCDBG program provides funds to states to help low-income families access child care. Parents receive funds in the form of vouchers or certificates to pay for the child care provider of their choice, be it public or private, secular or religious, or in a home-based or center setting.
CCDBG is invaluable to parents who are struggling to provide for their families. As a father of two boys, I know firsthand child care isn’t just finding a place for your kids to go during your work day. It’s a far more difficult decision about choosing a provider where you can trust trained professionals will care for your child in a safe environment.
Unfortunately, this is where CCDBG falls short. In the nearly two decades that have passed since the last reauthorization of the law, it has become increasingly clear the CCDBG program fails to ensure states develop or adequately enforce the health and safety, training, and inspection standards that are the foundation for quality care.
Last year Child Care Aware of America released a report ranking state child care center regulations and oversight. The report found 10 states failed to conduct monitoring visits or inspections at least once a year. Even more troubling, five states do not check the child abuse registry before allowing an individual to work in a center.
With nearly 1.5 million children and their families participating in the CCDBG program, federal policymakers must take steps to strengthen the program and ensure enhanced program quality and accountability.
As many of you know, our colleagues in the Senate recently approved the Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization Act of 2014. As Chairman Kline noted in our previous hearing on early care programs, the Senate legislation presents a solid foundation for reform.
I am pleased the Senate legislation includes language to raise standards for child care providers, requiring states to implement minimum training requirements and conduct annual inspections of license providers. These provisions will help ensure caregivers are equipped to handle common health conditions and emergency situations, while also promoting facilities that are cleaner and safer for our children.
The Senate legislation also takes important steps to enhance transparency and better inform parents of their child care options. Under the bill, states are required to make public information on a range of key issues, including availability of child care services, the quality of providers, data on childhood development research and best practices.
While many of these provisions will help to improve the quality of child care, we must also take steps to ensure these new requirements will help – not hinder – states in meeting the needs of children and their families. I also hope today we can discuss policy changes that work to streamline the federal early childhood system and help increase coordination among existing programs.
If we are truly here to fight for people, and to empower people, so they can build better lives for themselves and their families, access to quality child care is something we must address.
The reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act provides an opportunity to work together to advance bipartisan legislation that will help our nation’s most vulnerable children and families. I also look forward to examining the strengths and weaknesses of the CCDBG program, and discussing opportunities for consensus between House priorities for reauthorization and the Senate-passed legislation.
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If it was easy…if all you had to do was work for a few months and spend a few grand before your business took off everyone would do it.
That is the conversation I have been having with several of the newer people who have recently joined our company. Most of them are out there working their butts off 40+ hours a week. They are doing all the right things but feel like they aren’t making any progress…they are getting super frustrated. As I tell them…”good, you are right where you’re supposed to be.”
Our industry, like most entrepreneurial businesses, has a very high failure rate. In the real estate business the failure rate is approximately 80%. That means out of every 10 people who try to make real estate a career only 2 of them will make it…the other 8 quit. I remind them that is a good thing because if all it took to be successful was a few months of work and a few grand then everyone would do it and there would be no opportunity at massive success for those of us who are persistent, discipline, and have faith. It really doesn’t matter what it is in life…anything worthwhile takes time.
I have been listening to a cool book while taking my dog for a walk at night…BREAK OUT! by Joel Osteen. In the book Joel talks about how the Chinese bamboo plant barely grows above ground for its first 4 years after being planted. You can hardly see anything happening even though you are watering it, fertilizing it, nurturing it and making sure it is getting sunlight…you barely see a shoot in 4 years…talk about frustrating. It makes you feel like you are wasting your time. But what you can’t see is under the ground it is developing a massive root system. The roots are spreading out in every possible direction. Then…in the 5th year, once the roots are properly established, the plant will take off and shoot up as high as 80 feet in the air…from zero to 80 feet all in one year. That is how greatness happens at almost anything in life…in anyone of the areas of our F5 (Faith-Family-Friends-Fitness-Finance). I know we all would like to just buy the winning lottery ticket and call it a day, but that is probably not going to happen.
Work hard, be discipline, have faith, and don’t give up!!!! It will pay off.
This week the committee will convene two hearings in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
On Tuesday, March 25th at 10:00 a.m., the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, chaired by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), will hold a hearing entitled, “The Foundation for Success: Strengthening the Child Care and Development Block Grant Program.” The hearing will provide members an opportunity to examine the challenges facing the CCDBG program and discuss House priorities for completing the reauthorization process.
On Wednesday, March 26th at 10:00 a.m, the full committee chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), will hold a hearing entitled, "Reviewing the President's Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Proposal for the Department of Labor." The Honorable Thomas E. Perez, Secretary of Labor, will offer testimony and answer members’ questions on the department’s budget and policy priorities.
To learn more about these hearings, or to watch live webcasts, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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