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SBA’s Entrepreneurial Development Programs: Resources to Assist Small Businesses

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 03/30/2017 - 10:00am

The Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce will meet for a hearing titled, “SBA’s Entrepreneurial Development Programs: Resources to Assist Small Businesses.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 A.M. on March 30, 2017 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.  

Hearing Documents

Witness List


Closing the Skills Gap and Boosting U.S. Competitiveness

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a full committee hearing titled “Closing the Skills Gap and Boosting U.S. Competitiveness” at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 29, 2017. This hearing will explore the technical skills gap in the U.S. manufacturing sector and other trades. It will also highlight steps taken by advocates and industry to address the growing issue and foster a competitive workforce.

Witnesses:
 
•    Mr. John Ratzenberger, Actor, Director, Founder of the American Museum of Manufacturing
•    Mr. Rory DeJohn, Senior Vice President, Turner Construction Company
•    Colonel Michael Cartney (USAF, retired), President, Lake Area Technical Institute
•    Mr. Jay Neely, Vice President of Law and Public Affairs, Gulfstream Aerospace
•    Ms. Judith Marks, Chief Executive Officer, Siemens USA
 
Hearing Details:
 
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
10:00 a.m.
Full committee hearing
 
This hearing will take place in Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room G50. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Evaluating the Paperwork Reduction Act: Are Burdens Being Reduced?

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 03/29/2017 - 11:00am

The Committee on Small Business will meet for a hearing titled, “Evaluating the Paperwork Reduction Act: Are Burdens Being Reduced?”  The hearing is scheduled to begin at 11:00 A.M. on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.  

The Committee will examine the Paperwork Reduction Act’s effectiveness in reducing the paperwork burden on small businesses and issues that may warrant further scrutiny or legislative action.

Documents
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List

Witnesses

Mr. Sam Batkins
Director of Regulatory Policy
American Action Forum
Washington, DC

Ms. Leah F. Pilconis
Environmental Law & Policy Advisor
Associated General Contractors of America
Arlington, VA

 

Committee Announces Hearing to Examine the Skills Gap and How to Boost U.S. Competitiveness

This hearing will explore the technical skills gap in the U.S. manufacturing sector and other trades. It will also highlight steps taken by advocates and industry to address the growing issue and foster a competitive workforce.

Fourth Circuit: Unsubstantiated Risks Related to Data Breach Insufficient for Article III Standing

WLF Legal Pulse - 8 hours 37 min ago
Civil Justice/Class Actions Frank Cruz-Alvarez, a Partner in the Miami, FL office of  Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P. with Rachel Forman, an Associate with the firm. On February 6, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in the consolidated appeal Beck v. McDonald, 848 F.3d 262 (4th Cir. 2017), affirmed the district […]
Categories: Latest News

Chabot on Nomination of Althea Coetzee as Deputy Administrator of the SBA

House Small Business Committee News - 17 hours 49 min ago

WASHINGTON—Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) made the following statement upon the announcement of President Donald J. Trump’s nomination of  Rear Admiral Althea Coetzee to serve as Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Allie Coetzee’s distinguished record in the U.S. Navy is the remarkable foundation for the innovative and entrepreneurial approach she has since brought to making local, state, and federal government entities work better on behalf of small businesses,” said Chairman Chabot. “The Small Business Administration and Congress alike are sure to benefit from her firsthand knowledge of how small contractors equip and empower the service members that defend us all. The Small Business Committee looks forward to working with her and the rest of the formidable team Administrator McMahon is assembling at the SBA.”

Last week, Chairman Chabot welcomed SBA Administrator Linda McMahon to his office for a conversation about their shared priorities in improving the SBA. 

Thune, Gardner Urge New Transportation and Commerce Secretaries to Prioritize Cybersecurity

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), urged the Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Commerce, in separate letters, to “commit to making the cybersecurity of the Department’s systems a top priority."

<p>Good morning.&nbsp; Thank you to the

Good morning.  Thank you to the witnesses for appearing before this Subcommittee today to discuss their perspectives on improving airport infrastructure and aviation manufacturing.

This hearing will be broken up into two panels.

For the first panel on Airport Infrastructure we have before us:

  • Ms. Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, Executive Director, St. Louis Lambert International Airport; and
  • Mr. Bob Montgomery, Vice President, Airport Affairs, Southwest Airlines.

For the second panel on aviation manufacturing we have before us:

  • Ms. Peggy Gilligan, Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety, Federal Aviation Administration;

Ms. Gilligan is accompanied by Ms. Dorenda Baker, Director, Aircraft Certification Services, Federal Aviation Administration

  • Dr. Gerald Dillingham, Director of Civil Aviation Issues, Government Accountability Office; and
  • Mr. Greg Fedele, President, Sabreliner Aviation.

Today’s two-panel hearing will be the first in a series of Subcommittee hearings on reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Civil aviation is a critically important sector within the U.S. economy.

According to FAA statistics, in fiscal year 2014, the aviation industry – which is collectively made up of airports, air carriers, and manufacturers – supported 10.6 million jobs, contributed $1.6 trillion in economic activity, and accounted for 5.1 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.

Today’s panels will focus on two important subjects:

First, airport infrastructure and the funding of capital needs through the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program, federally authorized Passenger Facility Charges, and other mechanisms.

Second, the FAA’s regulatory certification processes and an examination of further reforms that could improve safety while also enhancing competitiveness in the global marketplace for U.S. aviation manufacturers.

In regards to the first panel on infrastructure, we are mindful that our nation’s air transportation system could not exist without the symbiotic relationship between airports and airlines.

The U.S. has nearly 20,000 airports ranging from the largest international hubs to the smallest air fields – all providing important services to the aviation community and our nation’s economy.

Of these, over 3,000 are eligible for federal funding assistance.

The federal government supports airport infrastructure primarily in three ways:

  • Grants to increase safety and capacity through the Airport Improvement Program;
  • Federally authorized fees on passenger enplanements to support capacity and terminal projects; and
  • Tax-exempt bonds issued by states and local authorities for airport improvements.

 Despite federal support, the American Society of Civil Engineers recently noted that the infrastructure of airports is not keeping up with demand.

As a result, congestion at airports is growing and it is expected that 24 of the top 30 major airports may soon experience “Thanksgiving-peak traffic volume” at least one day every week.

Underscoring this challenge, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave aviation infrastructure a “D” grade in their recent 2017 Infrastructure Report Card.

A “D” grade is characterized as “mostly below standard… exhibits significant deterioration… [and] condition and capacity are of serious concern.”

To be sure, the Government Accountability Office cites estimates for planned capital improvements at airports over the next five years to range from $32.5 billion to almost $100 billion.

This subcommittee owes it to the travelling public to ensure we thoroughly examine capacity challenges at airports, and ensure a balanced approach to address these challenges.

In regards to the second panel on aviation manufacturing, the Subcommittee is eager to examine additional steps we can take to enhance safety, and U.S. competitiveness.

Civil aircraft manufacturing continues to be the top net exporter in the U.S., with a $59.9 billion positive impact on the trade balance.

Moreover, the FAA’s mission – first and foremost – is to ensure our nation has the safest and most efficient aerospace system in the world.

Safety is paramount, but when FAA uses its limited resource to review and certify all products and aspects of manufacturing – even those not directly related to aviation safety – it needlessly slows down the whole process.

If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.

Bureaucratic inertia and inconsistent interpretation of regulations by different FAA field offices create inefficiencies that may result in the delay of newer, safer technologies and systems that can be deployed on our aircraft. 

Recognizing this, Congress directed the FAA to refocus its efforts on areas that have the highest impact on safety and to rely more on technical expertise and resources of the private sector.

FAA should be applauded for the progress it’s made, but we are still dealing with many of the underlying inefficiencies that result in long wait times and cost increases for approval of new designs.

The inability of the FAA certification process to approve aircraft and components in a timely manner has a direct bearing on the ability of U.S. manufacturers to deliver safer products in an increasingly global marketplace.

The purpose of this hearing is to examine ways we can further improve the FAA’s certification processes, expand FAA’s use of underutilized Organization Designation Authorizations, and encourage FAA to engage more on foreign validation of its certificates.

I look forward to working with our Committee Chairman, John Thune, our Ranking Member, Bill Nelson, and my Subcommittee counterpart, Maria Cantwell, on continued bipartisan success in advancing a comprehensive FAA reauthorization this year that is pro-growth, pro-jobs, and, most importantly, pro-safety.

I turn now to Ranking Member Cantwell for any remarks she would like to make.

 

Chairman Rod Blum has scheduled a

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 10:00am
Chairman Rod Blum has scheduled a hearing of the Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade titled, “The Future of America’s Small Family Farms.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 A.M. on Thursday, March 23, 2017 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.  

Attachments
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List

Witnesses 

John D. Lawrence, Ph.D.
Associate Dean and Director for Extension and Outreach
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Iowa State University
Ames, IA

Mr. Tim White
Owner
TA White Farm LLC
Lexington, KY
* Testifying on behalf of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

Ms. Sarah Rickelman
Manager
Degener-Juhl Farms
Hudson, IA
* Testifying on behalf of the Iowa Farm Bureau









The Future of America’s Small Family Farms

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 12:00am

Dodd-Frank, Death Tax and the Regulatory Assault on Small Family Farms


WASHINGTON
– Small family farmers told the House Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade today that capital access restrictions, the death tax and overregulation pose significant challenges to the future of America’s family farms.

“Small farms have always been a part of our nation’s fabric, and it cannot be stressed enough that the small family farm is a small family business,” said Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade Chairman Rod Blum (R-Iowa). “Although the industry has changed over time, agriculture is still a force pushing America’s economy forward. 41 percent of all land in the United States is used for farming. U.S. agriculture has a 45 billion dollar trade surplus with other countries, and while it may be surprising, over 93 percent of America’s farms are small family farms.”

“In addition to low prices, small family farms have a multitude of other issues to worry about. From high taxes, increasing regulatory burdens, and trouble selling their products internationally, it seems like government bureaucracy is only making it harder to run a small farm,” added Blum, who was chairing his first hearing as the Subcommittee’s new Chairman.

Washington Red Tape Holding Back Small Family Farmers

“Our biggest concern is over-regulation,” testified Tim White, the owner of White Farm LLC in Lexington, Kentucky. “The EPA’s WOTUS Rule is one such example. WOTUS has been a big concern to producers. The overreach in that regulation would require many beef producers to get permits, and comply with those permits, which would be a huge burden. Not to mention it would open us up to citizen lawsuits from litigious activist groups. Producers pride themselves on being good stewards of our country’s natural resources.”

“We maintain open spaces, healthy rangelands, provide wildlife habitat, and feed the world,” added White, who testified on behalf of then National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “But to provide all these important functions, we must be able to operate without excessive federal burdens, like the WOTUS Rule. As a small business owner, I am particularly concerned with the lack of outreach to the small business community by federal agencies such as EPA.

“As a family-owned business, and knowing the detrimental impact this regulation could have on my operation, it is appalling the agencies could assert that it would not have a significant economic impact on small businesses,” said White. “It is clear to me that the rule’s primary impact would do just that. There was no outreach to us in the agriculture community before the rule was proposed. There wasn’t a meaningful dialogue with the small business community as a whole. And because of that, what we got was a WOTUS Rule that doesn’t work for small businesses and doesn’t work for animal agriculture. The positive news is that President Trump signed an Executive Order requiring the EPA to go back and revise the WOTUS Rule so it doesn’t regulate every drop of water in this country.”

Broken Tax Code Also Hurting the Family Farm

“Another way that D.C. is affecting the family farm is through current tax policy,” said Sarah Rickelman, the Manager of Degener-Juhl Farms in Hudson, Iowa. “As Congress looks to reform our nation’s tax policy I hope that lawmakers will consider the impact any change will have on the thousands of family farms across the country. While lowering individual tax rates is a positive reform, family farmers will ultimately pay more taxes if essential tax policies for small businesses are eliminated. “

“Agriculture is a capital-intensive business and being able to deduct business expenses is a critical tool – this should include the ability to deduct interest expenses,” added Rickleman, who testified on behalf of the Iowa Farm Bureau. “As a young farmer, I’m extremely concerned about the ability of the next generation to purchase their first piece of ground or expand their operation if they can’t deduct interest expense. A tax reform package that doesn’t include these provisions will ultimately increase taxes on family farms. On that same note, I hope Congress will finally and permanently eliminate the death tax while maintaining stepped-up basis. These tax provisions are essential to the survival of the family farm.”

Supporting The Next Generation of Family Farmers

“Obviously, farm income is directed to more things than just supporting the household,” explained Dr. John Lawrence, the Associate Dean and Director for Extension and Outreach at Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Farmers reinvest profits back into the farm operation by purchasing or improving land, machinery and facilities. It may be cash payments or financed purchases with annual loan service payments. The decision between family living expenses and investment in the farm is a balancing act as old as farming itself. If a family farm is going to sustain itself into the future, it must maintain its assets, whether they be physical or in support of the family.”

You can view full video of today’s hearing HERE and read full written testimony HERE.

###

Sen. Nelson Slams Attempt to Rollback Internet Privacy Rules

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) took to the Senate floor today in opposition to a Republican-led measure that would prevent consumers from having a say about the sale and use of their personal information by the nation's internet providers. 

Sepcifically, the measure, S.J.Res.34, would rollback new Federal Communications Commission rules that require internet providers to seek customers' consent before selling or sharing sensitive personal information, including data about one's precise geographic location, health, finances, children or browsing history. 

Below are Sen. Nelson's floor remarks:

Mr. President, I rise today in opposition to this resolution, a resolution brought under the Congressional Review Act to disapprove the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) broadband consumer privacy rules.

Americans care about their online privacy and want to have control over how their personal information is exploited by third parties.

In fact, a recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that 91 percent of adults feel they have lost control of how their personal information is collected and used.

That same study found that 74 percent of Americans believe it is “very important” that they be in control of who can get information about them – and a majority believe that their travels around the Internet, the sites they visit, and how long they spend there is sensitive information that should be protected.

That is why, this past October, the FCC provided broadband subscribers with tools to allow them to have greater control over how their personal online information is used, shared, and sold.  The FCC has been protecting telephone customer privacy for decades and it updated its longstanding privacy protections to protect the privacy of broadband customers. 

In fact, it is safe to say that what the FCC did last October was the most comprehensive update to its consumer privacy and data protection rules in decades.

The FCC put in place clear rules that require broadband providers to seek their subscribers’ specific and informed consent before using or sharing sensitive personal information, and to give broadband customers the right to opt-out of having their non-sensitive information used and shared if they choose to do so.  The FCC also gave broadband subscribers additional confidence in the protection and security of their data by putting in place reasonable data security and breach notification requirements for broadband providers.

Simply put, the FCC decided to put American consumers – each one of us who pay monthly fees for their broadband service – in the “driver’s seat” of how their personal online data is used and shared by their broadband provider.

And make no mistake, broadband providers know a lot about every one of us.  In fact, it may be startling the picture that your broadband provider can develop about your daily habits – and then sell that to the highest bidder.

Your home broadband provider can know when you wake up each day – either by knowing the time each morning that you log on to the internet to check the weather/news of the morning, or through a connected device in your home.  And that provider may know immediately if you are not feeling well – assuming you decide to peruse the internet like most of us to get a quick check on your symptoms.  In fact, your broadband provider may know more about your health – and your reaction to illness – than you are willing to share with your doctor.

Your home broadband provider can build a profile about your listening and viewing habits – given that most of us today access music, news, and video programming over broadband.  Your broadband provider may have a better financial picture of you than your bank, brokerage firm, or financial advisor.  They see every website that you visit across every device in your home – and can build a thorough profile about you through those habits.  And if you live in a connected home, they may know even more detail about how you go about your day.

Your mobile broadband provider knows how you move about your day through information about your geolocation and internet activity through your mobile device.  And that’s not to mention the sort of profile that a broadband provider can start to build about our children from birth.

This is a gold mine of data – the holy grail so to speak.  It is no wonder that broadband providers want to be able to sell this information to the highest bidder without consumers’ knowledge or consent.  And they want to collect and use this information without providing transparency or being held accountable.

As a country, we have not stood in the past for this sort of free utilization of information by entities that may have a unique look into who we are.  We place stringent limits on the use of information by our health providers, our banks, and when it comes to our children.  Broadband providers can build similar profiles about us – and in fact may be able to provide more detail about someone than any one of those entities can.

Passing S.J. Res. 34 will take consumers out of this driver’s seat and place the collection and use of their information behind a veil of secrecy, despite rhetoric surrounding our debate today suggesting that eliminating these common-sense rules will better protect consumers’ privacy online or will eliminate consumer confusion.

In fact, the resolution will wipe out thoughtful rules that were the product of months of hard work by the expert agency on regulating communications networks of all kinds.  These rules were crafted based upon a thorough record developed through an extensive, multi-month rulemaking proceeding.  The FCC received more than a quarter of a million filings during this proceeding.  The agency received extensive input from stakeholders from all quarters of the debate – from broadband providers and telephone companies to public interest groups, and from academics to individual consumers.

On top of this, the rules are based on long-standing privacy protections maintained by the FCC for telephone companies, as well as the work of – and principles advocated by – the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), state attorneys general, and others in protecting consumer privacy.

The FCC’s rules put in place basic safeguards for consumers’ privacy, based on three concepts that are widely accepted as the basis for privacy regulation in the United States and around the world:  notice, choice and security.  And they are not the radical proposals that some would want you to believe they are.

First, the rules require broadband providers to notify their customers about what types of information it collects about them, when they disclose or permit access to it, and how customers can provide consent to that collection and disclosure.  

Second, the rules give consumers choice by requiring broadband providers to obtain a customer’s affirmative “opt-in” consent before using or sharing “sensitive” information.  Sensitive information includes a customer’s precise geographic location, health, financial, children, social security number, content, web browsing, and application usage information.

For information considered non-sensitive, broadband providers must allow customers to “opt-out” of use and sharing of such information.

And broadband providers must provide simple and persistently available means for customers to exercise their privacy choices.

And third, broadband providers are required to take reasonable measures to protect customer’s information from unauthorized use, disclosure, or access.  They must also comply with specific breach notification requirements.

So, I ask my colleagues, what is wrong with requiring broadband providers to give their paying customers clear, understandable, and accurate information about what confidential and potentially highly-personal information these companies collect about their subscribers?

What is wrong with telling customers how their information is collected when they use their broadband service?

What is wrong with telling customers with whom they share this sensitive information?

What is wrong with letting customers have a say in how their information is used?

What is wrong with recognizing that information about a consumer’s browsing history and app usage is sensitive, personal information that should be held to a higher standard before it is shared with others? 

What is wrong with seeking a parent’s consent before information about their children’s activities or location is sold to the highest bidder?

What is wrong with protecting consumers from being forced to sign away their privacy rights in order to subscribe to broadband service?

What is wrong with making companies take reasonable efforts to safeguard the security of their customer’s data?

What is wrong with making companies notify their subscribers when there has been a breach?

Again, I ask my colleagues what is wrong with giving consumers increased choice, transparency and security online?

Supporters of the joint resolution fail to acknowledge the negative impact that this resolution would have on the American public. 

This legislation will wipe away a set of reasonable, common-sense protections.

It will open all of our internet browsing histories and application usage patterns up to exploitation for commercial purposes by broadband providers – and third parties who will line up to buy this information.

It will create a “privacy free” zone for broadband companies – with no federal regulator having effective tools to set rules of the road for collection, use, and sale of uniquely personal information.

It will tie the hands of the FCC and eliminate its future ability to adopt clear, effective privacy and data security protections for broadband subscribers – and in some cases, even telephone subscribers.

To be sure, there are those who disagree with the FCC’s broadband consumer privacy rules.  And there is an avenue for those complaints:  these same companies who are pushing the joint resolution have filed for reconsideration of the rules at the FCC – and there is the judicial system.

In fact, the critics of the FCC’s rules have an open proceeding at the FCC in which they can argue on the record – with an opportunity for full public participation – to change and alter these rules.

By contrast, the Congressional Review Act is a blunt instrument.

It means that all aspects of the rules adopted by the FCC must be overturned at once – including changes to the FCC’s telephone privacy rules.

It would deny the agency the power to protect consumers’ privacy online – and it would prevent the FCC from ever adopting even similar rules.  This does not make sense.

I also want to address the argument that the FCC’s rules are unfair to broadband providers because the same rules do not apply to other companies in the internet ecosystem.

Supporters of the resolution argue that other entities in the internet ecosystem have access to the same personal information that broadband providers do.  They argue that everyone in the data collection business should be on a level playing field.

I ask my colleagues whether they have asked their constituents that question directly.  Do Americans really believe that all persons who hold data about them should be treated them same?  I venture to guess that most Americans would agree with the FCC – that companies who are able to build detailed pictures about their lives through unique insights into their internet usage should be held to a higher standard.

In addition, the FCC’s rules still allow broadband providers to collect and use their subscribers’ information.  The providers merely need to obtain consent for those activities when it comes to their subscribers’ highly sensitive information.

The FCC also found that broadband providers, unlike other companies in the internet ecosystem, are uniquely able to see every packet of information that a subscriber sends and receives over the internet while on their networks.

Supporters of the joint resolution also hold out the superiority of the Federal Trade Commission’s efforts on protecting privacy.  They argue that there should only be one privacy “cop” on the beat – but that ignores reality.

There are a number of privacy cops on the beat.  Congress has given the FCC, the FTC, the FDA, and NHTSA regulatory authority to protect consumers’ privacy. 

But let’s be clear, the FCC is the only agency to which Congress has given statutory authority to adopt rules to protect broadband customers’ privacy.

The FTC does not have rule making authority in data security – even though commissioners at the FTC have asked Congress for just such authority in the past.

Given recent court cases, the FTC now faces even more insurmountable legal obstacles to taking actions protecting broadband consumer’s privacy and.

As many have pointed out, elimination of the FCC’s rules will result in a yawning chasm where broadband and cable companies have no discernible regulation, while internet “edge” companies abide by FTC enforcement efforts.

And without clear rules of the road, broadband subscribers will have no certainty or choice about how their private information can be used and no protection against its abuse.

That is why I support the FCC’s broadband consumer privacy rules, and I encourage my colleagues to vote against the joint resolution.

Committee Announces Nomination Hearing for Deputy Secretary of Transportation

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold a nomination hearing for Jeffrey A. Rosen, the nominee for Deputy Secretary of Transportation, at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29, 2017.

Making Washington Work for America's Small Businesses

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 11:00am

On Wednesday, March 22, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. the Committee on Small Business will conduct a hearing titled, “Making Washington Work For America’s Small Businesses.” The purpose of the hearing is for small business owners to outline their priorities and provide the Committee with ideas about federal policies that will help them most grow their businesses. A priority setting hearing, the hearing will help inform future committee hearings, advocacy efforts, and legislative priorities for the Committee on Small Business for the 115th Congress.

Documents

Witnesses

Ms. Maxine Turner
Founder
Cuisine Unlimited
Salt Lake City, UT 
* Testifying on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Testimony 
Disclosure 

Ms. Ann Chambers
Co-Founder and CEO
Red212
* Testifying on behalf of Women Impacting Public Policy

Mr. Rutledge “Skip” Paal
Owner
Rutland Beard Floral Group
Baltimore, MD 21228
* Testifying on behalf of the Society of American Florists

<p>Good morning.&nbsp; As Chairman, I

Good morning.  As Chairman, I have made it a priority for this Committee to focus on emerging technologies.  We have held some of the first hearings in Congress on artificial intelligence, self-driving vehicles, the internet of things, and augmented reality.  Today we will continue this practice, but this time we will be focusing on the potential benefits, and sometimes risks, that certain emerging technologies have on cybersecurity.

As my fellow Committee members know well, cybersecurity is a topic that comes up at almost every hearing we hold.  The cutting edge technologies we are exploring today are fundamentally transforming how people and businesses connect, as well as the creation and transmission of information.  Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and quantum computing, as well as the flourishing internet of things, offer innovative approaches for combating future cyber threats, but also present new risks.  As threats continually evolve, flexible and innovative approaches will be required to protect businesses, critical infrastructure, and individual citizens. 

This hearing will explore the enormous potential of these fields to revolutionize the cybersecurity arena and grow our economy.  For example, by 2020, the estimated number of connected devices making up the internet of things may exceed 50 billion.  Furthermore, a World Economic Forum report predicts that 10 percent of global gross domestic product will be stored on blockchain technology by 2027.  Artificial intelligence, or AI, will increasingly allow computers to mimic cognitive functions associated with humans.  And, as described in a recent cover story in The Economist, quantum computing’s “untapped potential” will be capable of handling complex problems that today’s computers cannot solve.

Even with all of their promise, these technologies also have the potential to create new security risks.  For example, nefarious hackers can use AI to identify cyber vulnerabilities and victims faster.   Future quantum computers could break our current encryption standards with ease. 

Federal agencies under the Committee’s jurisdiction, such as the Department of Commerce, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and NASA, in partnership with academia and industry, are focused on research and the development of standards to ensure the U.S. remains the leader in these fields.  Our Committee has been supportive of prioritizing such work due its national and economic security benefits.

The recently-enacted, bipartisan American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, sponsored by Senators Gardner, Peters, Nelson and myself, charged our science agencies to research future cybersecurity needs.  In particular, the law directed the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to work with stakeholders to identify cryptography standards that future computers will not be able to break, and directed NSF to focus research on cybersecurity and human-computer interactions.   In addition, the bipartisan Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2014, which I cosponsored with then-Chairman Rockefeller, included important provisions for cybersecurity research, workforce development, and standards.  It authorized NIST’s continued efforts to develop the voluntary Framework for Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity and the National Initiative on Cybersecurity Education (NICE), as well as the NSF’s successful Cybercorps scholarship program.  In fact, Dakota State University, which is located in my home state of South Dakota, is an active participant in this program.

Our nation faces an array of evolving cyber threats to our personal data, access to online services, and critical infrastructure.  To be clear, cybersecurity is not solely a technology issue.  Also, while there is no silver-bullet solution to cybersecurity risks, I believe promoting public-private partnerships on risk management, foundational research, and a robust cyber workforce are essential to combating these challenges.   That is why I am excited to continue our Committee’s discussion on cybersecurity by looking toward the future.  

The companies represented at today’s hearing are driving innovation.  They have employed machine learning to identify new threats, conducted research that may soon unlock the commercial potential of private blockchains and quantum computing, and launched new tech startups that create jobs and grow the economy. And Mr. Rosenbach, thank you for your dedicated service at the Defense Department.

Cybersecurity will continue to be a priority for this Committee. Cybersecurity will continue to be a priority for this Committee.  In fact, Senator Gardner and I will be sending letters to newly confirmed Commerce Secretary Ross and Transportation Secretary Chao urging them to prioritize the cybersecurity of federal systems. As the heads of the respective departments, they have an opportunity to improve the effectiveness of cybersecurity programs.  In addition, I look forward to working with Senators Schatz, Risch, and Cantwell on potential legislation to ensure that small businesses fully benefit from the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.

I want to thank all of our witnesses for being here today.  I look forward to hearing your testimony.  I will now turn it over to Senator Nelson for his opening remarks.   

Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing.  Enhancing America’s cybersecurity remains a top priority for many of us on this committee and I look forward to our continued work to address cyber threats, whether they are in the commercial aviation industry or in driverless cars. It is imperative that this committee and Congress is doing everything we can to protect our nation from cyberattacks.

Cyberattacks keep coming and we must remain vigilant in protecting against them.  Combating these attacks is like playing a game of whack-a-mole where the bad guys keep popping up with new tools to exploit any weakness.  Therefore, we must constantly look down the road and anticipate the impact of new technologies. 

The rapid commercialization of the so-called Internet of Things, which provides consumers with potential benefits, also provides hackers with a multitude of new targets to attack.  Artificial intelligence and quantum computing could greatly enhance our cyber defense capabilities, but in the wrong hands, could make detecting threats more difficult, risking our economic and physical well-being.  Blockchain technology, which has proven successful in securing financial transactions, could be used to secure all kinds of sensitive data and information.  At today’s hearing, I hope to learn more about all of these emerging technologies and their cybersecurity applications—good or bad.

Americans are rightly concerned about cybersecurity, including the privacy of their own information and hacks of banks, insurance companies, and critical infrastructure like the power grid.  According to the intelligence community’s January 6th assessment, we know that Russian hackers—at Vladimir Putin’s direction—used a series of relatively simple cyberattacks to try to influence the 2016 election, striking at the very core of our cherished democracy. Imagine what Russian or Chinese hackers or cyber criminals might do with advanced technologies.

Because the technologies we discuss today could be used as weapons against us in a cyberattack, I want to know how Russia, China, and other adversaries might use these technologies to disrupt our economy and civil society.  How might Russian hackers use the Internet of Things to hack our most vulnerable systems? How might blockchain technology be used to secure sensitive data or disguise illicit activity?  How might quantum computing and artificial intelligence improve or undermine the cybersecurity of everyday Americans, our private sector, and our government?

These are all questions I hope our distinguished panel will shed some light on today. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses.

ICYMI: Save Small Business from Obamacare

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 10:30am
 

Save Small Business from Obamacare
By Reps. Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Tim Walberg (R-MI)

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini warned last month that the Affordable Care Act is in a “death spiral.” Because ObamaCare is failing, we are debating how best to repeal and replace it. But amid this debate, it’s important to remember the people ObamaCare is hurting.

Here is what Kathy, who owns a company in Missouri, told the House Ways and Means Committee: “As a small business owner, I recall the days before the ACA when we would receive a 2-inch notebook that contained multiple quotes from different health insurance companies. Now, our options are listed on a single legal sized sheet of paper. We only received three quotes for 2017, and just two of them were adequate for our region. In 2013, our insurance cost $180,000 for 92 lives with a $2,000 deductible. In 2016, we paid $252,000 for just 61 lives who face a $5,000 deductible.”

Her story, unfortunately, is not unique. Under ObamaCare’s costly regulations, many business owners must make hard choices between cutting back employees’ hours, laying off staff, or dropping health-care coverage (and then paying a penalty for doing so if the firm has more than 50 workers). Among businesses with fewer than 10 employees, 35.6% offered health insurance in 2008. That figure had fallen by 2015 to 22.7%, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Even worse, a January report from the American Action Forum found that since ObamaCare became law, “among small businesses, the rise in premiums has been associated with $19 billion in lost wages, 10,130 fewer business establishments, and nearly 300,000 lost jobs.” That’s a big problem for American families, particularly since small businesses are responsible for 55% of all jobs and 66% of all net new jobs.

Repealing ObamaCare is necessary and would certainly help small businesses grow and hire new workers. But Congress should also help these job-creators provide affordable health-care options to their employees. That’s why we introduced the Small Business Health Fairness Act, which the House is scheduled to vote on this week.

The legislation is built on a basic rule of insurance: The bigger the risk pool, the lower the premium. That’s why large corporations and unions have an advantage in providing health insurance to their employees and members. Our bill would allow small businesses to band together through association health plans, or AHPs, to provide good policies for workers and their families at a lower cost.

AHPs could function in one of two ways: They could work directly with an insurer to negotiate better rates. Or they could self-fund, just as many large corporations and unions already do. Self-funded plans would also be exempted from many costly state and federal requirements, just as many corporate and union plans are.

To ensure the success and fairness of AHPs, our bill includes requirements that would provide accountability, stability, and consistency across the country. Any active marketing by an AHP sponsor would have to be directed at all its members, regardless of their claims history or health status. AHPs would be restricted from setting premiums in a way that might raise costs for higher-claims companies compared with similarly situated employers in the plan.

As House Republicans work to repeal ObamaCare and alleviate the burden it places on Americans across the country, we hope that AHPs can be a central part of the effort. Passing our bill is a common-sense way to give small-businesses the same economies of scale in health insurance that Fortune 500 companies enjoy—with the result being more affordable coverage for workers and their families.

To read online, click here.

AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY<br />&nbsp;<br

AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
 
The Subcommittee is meeting today to review the state of current Coast Guard missions, manpower, resources, acquisitions, and budgetary needs.  
 
This is my first hearing as chairman of the subcommittee, and Senator Peters’ first hearing as the subcommittee’s ranking member.  I look forward to working with him, the Coast Guard, and the 115th Congress.  I am very honored to chair the subcommittee, as I have a great appreciation for the work that the Coast Guard does for this nation and my state of Alaska.
 
Thank you, Admiral Zukunft, for being here this afternoon, and for your dedicated service to our nation for so many years.
 
Maritime security and safety are issues of national security, and are essential to economic prosperity.  Global stability is dependent on safe and unfettered access to the maritime domain.
Congress has given the Coast Guard a wide range of missions, from search and rescue, icebreaking, and marine environmental protection, to port security, drug interdiction, international crisis response, and readiness to support Department of Defense operations.

With such an integral role in national security and global stability, it should not be overlooked by members of this committee that the Coast Guard is the fifth branch of the Armed Services.  By securing our maritime border, the Coast Guard acts as the front line of defense for our homeland.
 
The Coast Guard combats transnational criminal organizations at the points of origin by pushing cutters and resources to intercept drugs and human smugglers off of foreign shores, prior to threats even getting close to our shores.  The Coast Guard operates on all seven continents including Antarctica and supports U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
 
And, that is why today I would like the members of this committee to take off their Commerce hats, and put on their Armed Service hats.
 
As the Coast Guard balances the wide range of public safety, stewardship and national security missions, the missions do not remain static.  New threats are constantly emerging.
 
Increasing human activity in the Arctic; violence, terrorism, and drug trafficking in the Caribbean Basin, Central America, and Mexico; and overseas contingency operations demand an increased Coast Guard presence at home and increasingly around the globe.
 
The mission requirements are also expanding in my home state of Alaska.  The area of responsibility assigned to Coast Guard units within Alaskan waters is the largest in the nation and encompasses an area of over three and a half million square miles.  This is an area with over half the coastline of the United States.  With the thawing of the Arctic there is heightened interest in the region’s future, with consequences for increased demands for search and rescue, vessel traffic safety and security, law enforcement, and fisheries resource management.  
 
Giving us a view of vessel traffic to come, the Panamanian-flagged shipping vessel “Nordic Barents” sailed through Northern Sea Route in 2010 from Norway to China.  It saved 17.5 days vs. Suez Canal route.  That’s $300,000 in just fuel savings.  Since then, there has been continuous activity.  In August 2016, the passenger cruise ship Crystal Serenity, with more than 1700 passengers onboard, became the largest commercial cruise ship to navigate the Northwest Passage.
America is lagging behind other countries when it comes to our ability to compete in the Arctic.  Over the last two years, Russia has continued its massive military build-up of the Arctic.

The National Security Cutter (NSC) will be an asset in the Arctic region, as it has proven in its operations in other theatres.  The expanded capabilities of the NSC have had dramatic results in our fight against transnational criminal organizations in the drug transit zones of the Caribbean and the eastern Pacific.  Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton secured 26 metric tons of cocaine worth over $760 million on its maiden voyage.  I look forward to continued success, and continued delivery of all nine of this high performance vessel.

As has been reported, the pre-decisional funding guidance proposed from OMB during formation of the President’s Budget recommendation contained a proposed 14% cut.  Ultimately, the proposed budget provides discretion to the Department of Homeland Security to allocate its department-wide budget in a manner of its choosing.

This Subcommittee has a great deal of work to do to ensure that the Coast Guard is properly resourced to fund its priorities, modernize its assets, and successfully execute its missions.  Admiral Zukunft, I look forward to your testimony.  I hope this hearing is able to focus attention on the mission demands placed upon the Coast Guard, and the value the service provides to national security, national defense and prosperity of this nation.

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