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Thursday’s Thoughts on Leadership: Mastering Mountains

InteroMojo - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 9:00am

In my recent travels to New York, Hawaii and Minneapolis I caught up on several books I’ve had in queue. As many of you know, I usually listen to audio books and then buy the hard copies of my favorites for ongoing reference. Re-reading my hard copy of Unbeatable Mind, by former Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine, I was struck by what the author called “The Five Mountains.” These are domains of intelligence that must be mastered for success in leadership and in life. Here they are:

  1. The Physical Mountain: methodically developing the ability to use your body fully and functionally. This builds confidence and self-esteem and makes you more useful in life and to your team. This includes the physical skills of strength, stamina, work capacity, endurance and durability, as well as properly fueling the body, sleep and recovery.
  2. The Mental Mountain: cultivating mental control for a positive contribution to the world, the mental toughness to stay in the fight, and the creativity for more potent work. This includes learning to tap into and rewire subconscious programming and to master the skills, knowledge and expertise necessary to your personal or professional calling.
  3. The Emotional Mountain: understanding, harnessing and controlling your vast emotional power, transmuting negative emotional baggage into powerful drivers, and forging resiliency in the face of great challenges.
  4. The Intuition (and Awareness) Mountain: becoming an aware and intuitive leader by learning to look within and develop your sixth sense, to listen with your belly, and get “sheepdog strong.”
  5. The Kokoro Mountain: the word kokoro has Japanese origin and means to merge one’s heart and mind in action. This mountain is about learning to lead and act with heart, authentically connecting with others, and striving for an integrated worldview and inclusive consciousness that benefits all mankind. Kokoro can also be described as positive willpower, a non-quitting spirit, and is associated with your spiritual development.

As the old saying goes, the view is always best from the top of the mountain.

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Not so “Grrr-eat”: The Response Nutrition Nannies Have Grown to Love

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 11:01am
Nice, but not good enough. That is the near-Pavlovian response professional activists routinely offer whenever their targets announce some voluntary action that, to the casual observer, seems to advance the activists’ agenda. Consider, for instance, a September 23 Politico story, “Food, Beverage Firms to Dial Back Marketing to Kids.” The story reported on voluntary commitments […]
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GSA Reviews New Version of LEED

GSA news releases - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 1:00am
GSA releases review of LEED Version 4

Second Circuit Overturns Law that Compelled Businesses to Advertise their Competitors’ Services

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 09/23/2014 - 9:28am
On September 4, with Safelite Group, Inc. v. Jepsen, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit made an important contribution to the jurisprudence of compelled speech (an area of growing disharmony in the federal courts, as we’ve noted recently). The court unanimously struck down a Connecticut law that permitted certain businesses to promote […]
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Monday Morning Mojo: F5 and Your Schedule

InteroMojo - Mon, 09/22/2014 - 7:30am

Whenever someone is struggling in their business or life and they come in to meet with me to get some advice the first question I always ask is “let me see your schedule.”  Inevitably 99% of the time I get this blank stare back at me…then they look to the ground and tell me either they don’t have a schedule or their schedule has nothing in it.

Not having a schedule or having a schedule with nothing in it is a success killer.  It is amazing to me how people can expect to do all of the things you need to do to be successful in business and life but not operate a schedule.  It’s just not going to happen.   Some people seem to think they can just remember all of the stuff they need to do in their head.  If that is the case then either they don’t have enough stuff going on to have an amazing life and business or they are going to have to spend 24 hours a day to get just 6 to 8 hours of work done because most of their time they are running around in circles trying to remember what they need to do.  It’s like you need to run a bunch of errands to different places you have never been before and instead of googling directions and an efficient route how to get where you need to go you just jump in your car and start driving…driving in circles.  Sure you might eventually get all of your errands done, but it is going to take you way way longer and you are going to waste a bunch of time that could be put towards doing other important things.

I know some people that don’t have a bunch of appointments in the day tend to think that they don’t need a schedule, but they are wrong.  Here is my recommendation on how to get started if you are one of those who is not using a schedule, your schedule is blank, or you are using a schedule but still can’t seem to get everything done you need to get done.  You have all heard me talk about your F5 (Faith-Family-Friends-Fitness-Finance).  I put F5 in that order because in my opinion that is the order of importance in living a successful and fulfilling life…each one builds on top of the other.  Unfortunately what a lot of people do is get their priorities wrong and end up putting finance/work first and in the end everything suffers…including their finances because they are out of balance and are not working from a solid foundation.

So here is what I would do.  Start with Faith…what is the 1, 2, or 3 things you need to do each week to strengthen your Faith?  It could be going to church, donating some time to a non-profit, working at your kids’ school, praying and giving thanks.  Whatever it is you need to do, put those 1, 2 or 3 things in your schedule first.  Then go to Family…what is the 1, 2 or 3 things you need to do each week in this equity of your life?  It could be date night with your spouse, playing catch with your kids, attending your kids’ events, calling your mom and dad, etc.  Then go to Friends, then Fitness, and then your Finances.  Do this with each area of your life.  Now don’t put so much stuff in your schedule you don’t have room to maneuver.  Just put the 1 to 3 most important things in each equity.  I like a lot of white space in my schedule, because I know if I am doing all of these other things that white space will get filled up with opportunities.  White space is opportunity time.

Does all of that make sense?  I hope it does.  I know it may be hard in the beginning to get started, but once you do it I promise it will be a very freeing feeling and in the end you will get way more accomplished, you will be way less stressed, you will have a much more balanced life and business, and you will have a way more amazing life and business.

Schedule it!!!!!!

Categories: Latest News

Weekend Wellness: The Bully

InteroMojo - Sat, 09/20/2014 - 9:00am

Have you noticed a topic quite “popular” in the media these days is bullying? It’s in the news, the papers, sporting circles, schools and on many levels in the home. It was even brought up by one of my teachers this past week. When we think of bullying, we think of someone hurting another by means of physical force and/or verbal abuse. Both can be debilitating emotionally and physically.

But how about our self talk? How often do we get disappointed in our performance, our thoughts and our reactions? When we get frustrated, do we kick ourselves? Do we tell ourselves we didn’t do well or we should have done better? Do we speak to ourselves sometimes with disgust? Are we our own worst bully?

You go for the 1st workout in weeks, feeling tired and tell yourself after 30 minutes into your regiment, you are lazy, too uncoordinated, feel out of place and have no business being there…you kick yourself out and leave. Forget the fact that you actually did 30 minutes and started your program, that you actually made it to the gym! Day 1!

Then there’s the run you did with your coworkers to raise money and you couldn’t keep up with them.   You tell yourself you are out of shape, over weight, had no business being there…that you are kidding yourself thinking it would be good to run in an event, let alone walk one!   Forget the fact you raised funds for a worthy cause, that you got outside in nature and enjoyed doing something “bigger than yourself” that morning.

What about that diet you started? After several days of being focused, you received some bad news and you completely caved, eating your way through a pizza, chicken wings and 5 oversized cookies. You tell yourself you have no willpower or discipline, that you can never get healthy, you are never going to lose the extra weight and should just throw in the towel. You don’t remember that you did 4 days of really healthy eating and it was just one “blunder”. You forgot you are like thousands of others, made a detour and can get back on the right track; you have the means, you have the drive and you really do know what to do.

Do any of these sound familiar in one way or another? Do you beat yourself up in other areas of your life? Possibly business, the way you parent, or your relationships? Consider that bullying starts from within…and so does change. How we talk to ourselves can give us bruises and broken spirits, or it can empower us and transform our lives from the inside out.

Watch your self talk. Notice what you say. Consider yourself to be someone who can change everything about your performance and reactions either by knocking yourself down, or lifting yourself up.   Change the bully into the advocate.

Categories: Latest News

Federal Court “Shall” Hear Challenge on EPA’s Failure to Assess Job-Loss Impact of its Rules

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 12:57pm
Section 321(a) of the federal Clean Air Act (CAA), titled “Continuous Evaluation of Potential Loss or Shifts of Employment,” states plainly: The Administrator shall conduct continuing evaluations of potential loss or shifts of employment which may result from the administration or enforcement of the provisions of this chapter and applicable implementation plans, including where appropriate, […]
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In FDA’s Revised Animal Food Safety Proposal, Common Sense Prevails on Brewers’ Spent Grains

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 12:31pm
This past spring, we highlighted a provision in the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed implementation of the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) that would effectively stop brewers, distillers, and wine makers from sharing the byproducts of their production with farmers for use as animal feed.  Such a practice has deep roots in the […]
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Cool Apps: Sending Gifts Has Never Been Easier

InteroMojo - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 12:14pm

So your sister’s turning 40 this year. It’s quite the milestone and you’d really like to get her something you know she’ll love but it’s hard when she lives across the country. I’m sure you could find something great on amazon, but having something shipped can get so costly. Not to mention your recent conviction to shop local as much as possible so why should this purchase be any different? Well, with Yiftee your conscience can hold strong.

Yiftee lets you send a real gift via your phone for any occasion. The recipient can then pick up their gift wherever you bought it from.

In literally 5 minutes you can send a gift without leaving your house. All you have to do is select the recipient, pick out a gift from their favorite local shop (that’s right, their local shop – you can choose from thousands), write a quick note and you’re done! Your recipient will receive a message via email, Facebook or text. You can even schedule a gift delivery for a future date so when you remember a birthday, you can set up your Yiftee to be sent on a specific date and forget about it.

It’s so easy you’ll be surprising everyone with little gifts for every occasion; the dinner they hosted last night, the favor they did for you, the successful meeting you had, anything!

To see how easy Yiftee really is, check out the below video.

Click here to play video


Categories: Latest News

Thursday’s Thoughts on Leadership: Inspired by Hawaiian Legends

InteroMojo - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:57pm

Just this week, on a business trip to Hawaii to meet with my friend, Bill Chee, local legend and CEO of Prudential Locations LLC, I learned the amazing story of another local legend, Duke Kahanamoku. A gold-medal-winning Olympic swimmer and champion surfer, Kahanamoku may have been best known for his aquatic accomplishments but as I read more about this champion athlete, I was struck by his selflessness, strength of character, kindness of spirit and humility; all qualities every great leader should possess.

“The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun,” he famously said, and whether commanding the waves of the Pacific or a team of real estate agents, Kahanamoku is right. Always remember why you chose to lead, what you enjoy so much about the real estate business and why you want to inspire your team to succeed. Have fun. If you’re having fun, others will, too.

We can also take a lesson from Kahanamoku’s humble nature. When he became a household name in Hawaii, many people thought he was royalty, (his name, after all, was Duke). However, he was the first to remind his fans that he was one of them, a citizen of Hawaii and a man who worked hard for every award and accolade he received.

When Duke passed in 1968 at the age of 77, he left a lasting legacy behind him. Today, restaurants and statues bear his likeness and name, as symbols of a local hero who prospered through a powerful combination of talent, diligence and perseverance. We can learn so much from such a great man and as I left the Aloha state this week, I couldn’t help but think how we should all feel similarly inspired to apply the lessons of Kahanamoku’s success to our own careers.

Categories: Latest News

Bloomberg BNA: CMS Needs to Provide Congress SHOP Data On Enrollments, Rep. Collins Says at Hearing

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:00am

Bloomberg BNA: CMS Needs to Provide Congress SHOP Data On Enrollments, Rep. Collins Says at Hearing
By Sean Forbes
 September 18, 2014


Republican members of a subcommittee of the House Committee on Small Business insisted at a hearing on Affordable Care Act small business exchanges that the administration must provide hard data to Congress in order to have an unbiased discussion about the effectiveness of the exchanges.

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Health and Technology, said that the Small Business Committee sent letters in January and June to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requesting enrollment figures for the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), but the HHS hasn't supplied any data yet.

Collins several times asked Mayra E. Alvarez, director of the state exchange group in the CMS Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, about whether the information is available and when the Congress can expect to receive the data. Alvarez didn't have a precise date, but promised that, after the CMS collected the data from the state SHOPs, it would give the information to Congress and the public “as soon as it's available.”

“As soon as it's available,” Collins repeated.

The CMS data will take the bias out of the debate over the SHOPs, but until then people “are just talking past each other,” Collins said.

After the Sept. 18 hearing, Collins told Bloomberg BNA that, “I'm not holding my breath” for the data to arrive soon.

The 90-minute hearing was titled Update on the Small Business Health Options Program: Is It Working for Small Businesses?

Fixing the SHOPs

All the members of the subcommittee, Republicans and Democrats, agreed that the SHOPs aren't perfect and are in need of repair, but differed as to their effectiveness.

Ranking Member Janice Hahn (D-Calif.) said that Medicare, enacted in 1965, also wasn't perfect and is still being improved today, “but that doesn't mean it was bad.” The same can be said for the ACA, she said.

Other witnesses differed on how to fix the SHOPs.

Roger Stark, health care policy analyst for the Seattle-based Washington Policy Center, an independent, nonprofit think tank, said that insurance rates and benefit levels should be set by the insurance market and not by government regulations, and that the state marketplaces should be able to offer an array of insurance plans without having to include the essential health benefits required under the ACA in order to make the market more competitive.

Alvarez disputed that claim, and said that the “biggest problem” with Stark's solution is that it would lead to adverse selection, which would in turn lead to higher costs for employers and plan participants.

Jon Gabel, senior fellow at the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago, agreed with Alvarez and said that plans in the exchanges must at least provide a minimum benefits package. Prior to the ACA, many offered plans had very low actuarial value, he said.

Rather than setting limits on copays, coinsurance and deductibles, the ACA established four actuarial value levels of coverage on plans—bronze, silver, gold and platinum—which represent the share of health-care expenses the plan covers for a typical group of enrollees. Most plans prior to the ACA provided less than 80 percent of actuarial value, the level of a gold plan, Gabel said.

Temporary Subsidies

The ACA allows employers with fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees to apply for a temporary subsidy, called the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, under which they will only have to pay up to half of the premium for their full-time employees.

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) asked Alvarez for the basis upon which the CMS made its decisions on whether an employer could get the temporary subsidy.

Alvarez said the decisions are based on flexibility and responsiveness to the needs of the market.

“But what's the basis?” Luetkemeyer asked.

“I can definitely get back to you with that information,” Alvarez said.




Obamacare SHOPs Fall Short Of Intended Goals, CMS Still Can’t Provide Enrollment Data

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:00am

The Small Business Subcommittee on Health and Technology, under the chairmanship of Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), today conducted a hearing to examine the ongoing problems with the Small Business Health Option Program (SHOP) exchanges, exchanges and to seek answers on behalf of America’s small businesses. During the hearing, Chairman Collins specifically asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) witness, Director of State Exchange Group, Mayra Alvarez, about the SHOP enrollment data, however, the administration was again unable to provide the information, despite repeated claims of transparency.
From the very beginning, the SHOPs program has created more uncertainty and confusion for small businesses by delaying rules at least five separate times. A June 2013 GAO report requested by House Small Business Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) confirmed the administration was ill-equipped for the implementation of the SHOPs, and the program’s record has since confirmed that prediction. SHOPs were meant to simplify the process of purchasing health insurance, expand employee choice and reduce the cost of health coverage for small businesses, but those goals have come nowhere close to being met. Chairman Graves has repeatedly pressed the administration to provide data on the enrollment and updated compliance timeline of federal or state SHOPs, but the requests have gone unanswered.

All of these challenges regarding SHOPs have occurred while small businesses are grappling with rising health insurance costs that are increasing for nearly two-thirds of small businesses that provide health insurance to their employees. And the National Federation of Independent Business found that 64 percent of small business owners paid more per employee for health insurance in 2013 than in 2012.

“Uncertainty and confusion are a recipe for disaster for small businesses,” said Chairman Collins. “The ability to plan ahead is key for small companies, especially since they don’t have large staffs to deal with tax, regulation, employee benefits and government mandate compliance. So, for the Small Business Health Options Program to be implemented so poorly is a major headache for the nation’s small business community. I’m pleased that CMS sent an official to testify today, but questions still remain about the viability and data collection for this program moving forward. It’s shocking that, after the billions of taxpayer money that has been spent on Obamacare, there was no process created for recording and measuring the SHOP enrollment data on a regular basis. HHS and CMS need to do a better job of operating and tracking the exchanges and communicating what lies ahead for the program.”

The Committee’s first hearing on this topic took place in December 2013. Materials from this hearing are available on the Committee’s website HERE.

Notable Quotes:
Dr. Roger Stark, Health Care Policy Analyst at the Washington Policy Center in Seattle, WA said, “Although the employer mandate is a critical part of the ACA, the SHOP marketplace for small businesses seems to be almost an afterthought in the law. There is no clear evidence of interest on the part of small companies to provide health insurance through a marketplace with tax credits.

The paperwork and regulatory burden in the SHOP exchange are definite hurdles for a small business employer. There is no real free market in the individual exchanges or in SHOP. Proponents will claim that competition exists, yet all insurance plans offered in the exchanges must contain the ten government-mandated essential benefits. Insurance premium prices must be approved by the government. Consequently, individuals and employers only have government-approved plans and not meaningful choices or real competition.”

Adam Beck, Assistant Professor of Health Insurance at The American College of Financial Services in Bryn Mawr, PA said, “The Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP Marketplace, was designed by the 111th Congress to lower health costs for small business, increase competition and therefore choice for business owners, and simplify the process of offering health coverage. These are laudable goals, however it is my opinion that the SHOP Marketplace as it is currently structured and presented falls short of these goals. I believe the SHOP Marketplace will remain inadequate and continue to enroll relatively few companies so long as three factors remain: the existing tax incentives, the lack of engagement of agents and brokers, and shortcomings in information technology infrastructure.”


POLITICO Pro: CMS: No enrollment numbers for SHOP

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:00am

POLITICO Pro: CMS: No enrollment numbers for SHOP
September 18, 2014
By Brett Norman

A CMS official told a House panel this afternoon that she could not provide enrollment numbers in Obmacare’s small business exchanges.
Mayra Alvarez, director of the state exchange group at CCIIO, said that the agency “is not the source of SHOP enrollment," because businesses did not have online access in the first year, requiring them to apply by paper, through an agent or broker or directly through insurers.
But CMS is “working to get that information from issuers, and as soon as we have it, we will share it with you,” Alvarez told Rep. Chris Collins, chairman of the Small Business Subcommittee on Health and Technology.
CMS has been forthcoming about individual exchange enrollment. This morning, Administrator Marilyn Tavenner told the House Oversight Committee that 7.3 million people were paying Obamacare customers through mid-August — the first update since the administration reported more than 8 million sign-ups after the end of open enrollment in April.

SHOP enrollment in many states this year was minimal. In Washington state, for instance, 11 companies with about 40 employees total enrolled, despite more than 2,000 businesses setting up accounts, according to testimony at the hearing.

Washington was not typical, however. Jon Gabel, a senior fellow of NORC at the University of Chicago, told the hearing that it was the only state with just one insurance company offering coverage through SHOP. He also said “SHOP plans cost less than the plans” outside of the exchange.


Graves-Sponsored Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act Included in Major Jobs Legislation

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:00am
House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) today applauded the Jobs for America Act (H.R. 4). The legislation includes the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act, which would ensure that federal agencies fully consider the consequences of rulemaking on small business.

“Washington’s mounting regulatory burden is destructive to America’s 28 million small businesses and harmful to the economy,” said Chairman Graves. “A recent study found that federal regulations cost $2 trillion in 2012 and that small businesses annually spend $11,724 per employee to comply with federal mandates. The provisions of the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act, now part of the Jobs for America Act, ensure that federal agencies fully consider the impact of new red tape on small businesses, and get valuable input from small businesses before a rule is completed. Too often, federal agencies ignore the requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA) and implement regulations that impose unnecessary burdens on small businesses. Under this legislation, federal agencies can no longer exploit statutory loopholes to avoid meeting their obligations to America’s job creators. Not all regulations are bad, but many impose heavy costs on small businesses, and unnecessary barriers to growth and job creation should be reduced.”

TIMELINE: In September 2013, the Small Business Committee favorably reported out the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2013 (HR 2542). In February 2014, HR 2542 was included as Title III of the ALERRT Act, which passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 236-179. To date, the Senate has failed to act. The transcript and video of Graves’ floor speech on the ALERRT Act can be viewed here. Last Congress, the similar Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2011 (H.R. 527) passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 263-159, but died in the Senate.

SMALL BUSINESS QUOTE: “Unfortunately, all too often federal agencies view RFA compliance as either a technicality of the federal rulemaking process or, worse yet, as unnecessary. In an effort to ensure that regulations are crafted in accordance with the Congressional intent of the RFA, I urge Congress to seek out ways to improve agency compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act.” – Carl Harris, Homebuilder from Wichita, Kansas. (3/14/2013 hearing)

View more quotes HERE.

Reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens for small business has been a priority of Chairman Graves’ tenure at the Committee. In January 2013, the Small Business Committee launched the "Small Biz Reg Watch" initiative, which encourages small businesses to participate in the federal rulemaking process by regularly highlighting new agency proposed rules that may have a significant effect on small firms and encouraging business owners to submit comments to agencies.  


Bloomberg BNA: Bill Calls for SBA to Use Electronic Signatures in Loan Process

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:00am

Bloomberg BNA: Bill Calls for SBA to Use Electronic Signatures in Loan Process
September 18, 2014

Sept. 18 (BNA) - A legislative proposal unveiled Sept. 18 would require the Small Business Administration to accept e-signatures in its financing programs.

Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) says a long, complicated loan application process “is often a great impediment for many small businesses to secure the capital they need to get their products or services to market.” 

“The majority of the time spent during the SBA loan application process consists of lenders collecting required documentation and having to seek out the ink signatures of borrowers,” said Graves, who chairs the House Small Business Committee. “The Small Business Loan Simplification Act of 2014 will employ widely used and proven e-signature and records technology to reform the SBA loan process. This will likely cut the application process by an average of 2 to 3 days.”



Graves Introduces Bill To Modernize SBA Loan Process

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:00am

House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) today introduced legislation that will streamline and simplify the loan application process at the Small Business Administration (SBA) by requiring the agency to permit the use of e-signature and electronic records. The Small Business Loan Simplification Act of 2014 would statutorily bring the SBA up-to-speed with technology already being used by private lenders and other federal agencies. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), and Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) are original co-sponsors.
“Access to capital continues to be a major issue for many small businesses and people trying to start new companies,” said Chairman Graves. “A lengthy and complicated loan application process is often a great impediment for many small businesses to secure the capital they need to get their products or services to market. The majority of the time spent during the SBA loan application process consists of lenders collecting required documentation and having to seek out the ink signatures of borrowers. The Small Business Loan Simplification Act of 2014 will employ widely used and proven e-signature and records technology to reform the SBA loan process. This will likely cut the application process by an average of 2 to 3 days.”

The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) of 2000 made valid the use of e-signatures on binding documents, but the SBA has not yet permitted their use during the application process for its array of financing programs.

General bank lending to small businesses still has not returned to pre-recession levels. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, at the end of the first quarter, banks held $585 billion in loans to small businesses, which is 18% lower than in 2008. And the number of loans for $1 million or less held by banks is down about 14% from 2008.
The bill is widely supported by industry, including the leading providers of electronic signature and record technology, the banking community, and a number of organizations representing various types of SBA lenders.
Small Business Loan Simplification Act of 2014:
• Permits participants in SBA financing programs, both borrowers and lenders, to use electronic signatures and records in the certification and transmission of documents.
• Requires the SBA to accept electronic signatures and records associated with the management of its financing programs.


Kline, Rokita Praise Senate Action on Bill to Strengthen Education Research

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 09/17/2014 - 10:30am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) today released the following joint statement commending the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee for approving H.R. 4366, the Strengthening Education through Research Act:

Education research is a vital tool for parents, teachers, and school leaders trying to build the best education possible for their students. It also informs policymakers and taxpayers about whether or not federal efforts are helping to raise student achievement. The Education Sciences Reform Act is long overdue for reform and we are pleased the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee approved a House proposal to update the law. The bill includes fiscally responsible reforms to streamline the research system, promote accountability, protect student privacy, and ensure unbiased education research. We commend Senators Harkin and Alexander for their leadership on this important issue and we hope the Senate approves the bill without delay.

To learn more about H.R. 4366, click here.

# # #

Committee Seeks Information from NLRB General Counsel on Joint-Employer Standard

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 09/17/2014 - 9:30am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe have asked National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Richard Griffin to provide documents and information concerning his effort to rewrite the joint-employer standard under the National Labor Relations Act.

In a letter to Griffin, they wrote:

Your office recently filed an amicus brief indicating the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) should adopt a broader standard to determine joint-employer status under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). A month later, your office authorized complaints against McDonald’s USA, LLC and McDonald’s franchisees as joint-employers … It is our understanding such complaints are unprecedented.

To better understand the reason behind these actions, the committee is requesting the following information by September 30, 2014:

  • A list of all open complaints in which joint-employer status is an issue;
  • Any documents and communications related to closed complaints in which joint-employer status was an issue; and
  • A thorough description of the current joint-employer test the general counsel’s office is applying, particularly its application to franchises.

BACKGROUND: Since 1984, the NLRB has determined joint-employer status by analyzing whether the alleged employers share control over essential terms and conditions of employment, such as hiring, firing, and supervision. In recent months, the NLRB’s general counsel has engaged in an effort to discard this long held standard. At a committee oversight hearing held on September 9, small business owners and labor experts recently testified, this decision threatens to harm family businesses and destroy jobs. News reports highlight the havoc this unprecedented policy will wreak on employers and employees alike:

Business owners, both franchisers and franchisees, told the House Education and the Workforce Committee that the NLRB's move could undermine the franchising model, one of the main ways people get into business for themselves … "Individual entrepreneurs would be deprived of the opportunity to own their own businesses, franchisers would be denied the ability to expand their businesses, and millions of jobs would be lost" [said Catherine Monson, chief executive officer, FASTSIGNS International Inc.]. – Washington Examiner, Business owners: NLRB's McDonald's decision will ruin franchise model 

"I am extremely alarmed by the radical decision of the NLRB's general counsel to attempt to create joint employer status for franchisors” … [Jagruti] Panwala [hotel franchisee] said … This may establish a dangerous precedent that could ultimately eliminate one of the most successful paths of small business ownership in the United States. – Digital Journal, AAHOA Board Member Jagruti Panwala Testifies Before Congress

Catherine Monson, the CEO of signage and banner company FastSigns International Inc. — which operates on a franchise model — said the general counsel's position marks a “drastic change” from how the board's joint employer status has been interpreted since 1984…“It will completely change, and I think, destroy the franchise model.– Law 360, NLRB Joint Employer Stance Risky For Franchises, Reps. Told

A recent effort by the National Labor Relations Board's general counsel to “expand” joint employer liability under federal labor law could change the way franchise businesses operate, witnesses said …“In recent months, it's become clear the Obama National Labor Relations Board is determined to rewrite a franchise model that has served workers, employers, and consumers well for decades,” chairman Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) said. – Bloomberg BNA, House Panel Considers Impact on Franchises Of Broadening NLRA Joint Employer Liability

The NLRB is going off the rails again. They have decided to destroy business franchise/franchisee agreements by allowing the corporations that spin out thousands of small businesses using their name, business model and products to be sued over the alleged actions of a few of the small, independent business….This strikes at the heart of the independence of almost 1 million locally owned franchise businesses. – The Hill, Op-Ed, by Rick Manning, NLRB Goes Rogue Against Small Business

To read the members' letter, click here

To learn more about the September 9 oversight hearing, click here.

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