House Small Business Committee

Small Business: The Key to Economic Growth

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 04/27/2017 - 10:00am



Chairman Dave Brat has scheduled a hearing of the Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access titled, “Small Business: The Key to Economic Growth.”  The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 A.M. on Thursday, April 27, 2017 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.  

Attachments
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List

Witnesses
Mr. Stephen Moore
Distinguished Fellow
Project for Economic Growth
The Heritage Foundation
Washington, DC
Testimony
Disclosure 

Mr. Andrew Sherman
Partner
Seyfarth Shaw LLP
Washington, DC
Testimony
Disclosure 


Storm Watch: Making Sure SBA’s Disaster Loan Program is Prepared

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 12:00am



The Committee on Small Business will meet for a hearing titled, “Storm Watch: Making Sure SBA’s Disaster Loan Program is Prepared.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 11:00 A.M. on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.    

Attachments
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List

Witnesses
Mr. James Rivera
Associate Administrator
Office of Disaster Assistance
United States Small Business Administration
Testimony

Mr. Hannibal “Mike” Ware
Acting Inspector General
United States Small Business Administration
Testimony

Mr. William Shear
Director
Financial Markets and Community Investment
United States Government Accountability Office
Testimony

SEASON Act Introduced to Provide Relief for Seasonal and Small Businesses

House Small Business Committee News - Mon, 04/17/2017 - 12:00am

 

WASHINGTON—Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) has led the introduction of legislation essential to providing relief for small and seasonal businesses that are suffering under a lapse in the H-2B visa program. H.R. 2004, the Strengthen Employment and Seasonal Opportunities Now (SEASON) Act, makes fundamental changes to the H-2B visa program to provide certainty for seasonal employers that have been plagued by the program’s inefficiencies and constantly changing regulatory environment.

The SEASON Act clarifies the role of temporary legal workers in the American economy, who are in no way seeking or becoming qualified for permanent legal status or residency in the United States under an H-2B visa. The bill stipulates that a returning temporary alien worker can receive an H-2B visa in subsequent, consecutive fiscal years without being counted towards the annual statutory cap, allowing businesses to meet labor demands during their peak seasons.

Our small businesses are the number one job creators in this country,” said Chairman Chabot.The need for seasonal employees is too great and too vital to the rest of the economy to let the H-2B visa program continue in its current state. Our temporary seasonal worker program is one of the most important ways we help our small and seasonal businesses thrive in peak times, and reforming it to meet this essential purpose sooner rather than later will keep doors open for our small and seasonal businesses and their American employees.”

“Thank you Chairman Steve Chabot for introducing the Strengthen Employment and Seasonal Opportunities Now (SEASON) Act to help our third generation, family-owned carnival and food concession business,” said Paul and Tom Murray of Murray Brothers, Inc., a Cincinnati-based member of the Outdoor Amusement Business Association (OABA).“Murray Brothers have been serving fairs, festivals, fund raisers, PTA events, party rentals and corporate events throughout Ohio. As small business owners, each year, we struggle to find seasonal help. The seasonal H-2B visa program has saved our company and we would find it extremely hard to run our businesses without H-2B workers.”

The SEASON Act contains provisions that authorize the Department of Homeland Security to administer the H-2B program, ensuring the safety and security of American borders in meeting the need for temporary legal workers. Additionally, the SEASON Act enhances protections for American workers and puts measures in place to keep the employers, seasonal workers, and the federal government accountable.

To read the SEASON Act, click here.

For more information about the H-2B visa program and its importance to small and seasonal businesses, click here.

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Scam Spotting: Can the IRS Effectively Protect Small Business Information?

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 04/06/2017 - 10:00am
The Committee on Small Business will meet for a hearing titled, "Scam Spotting: Can the IRS Effectively Protect Small Business Information?" The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 AM on Thursday, April 6, 2017 in room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building. 

Hearing Documents 

Witnesses

The Honorable J. Russell George
U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration



Scam Spotting: Can the IRS Effectively Protect Small Business Information?

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 04/06/2017 - 12:00am

 

WASHINGTON – As the federal income tax filing deadline approaches, the Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) told the House Small Business Committee today that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must be more vigilant in protecting taxpayers’ personal information from identity thieves.

“As tax season heats up, so too does tax fraud season,” said House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH). “In testimony before this Committee last year, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen reported that a cyber breach had exposed taxpayer data from over 700,000 accounts. Commissioner Koskinen also told us that IRS computer systems are under constant attack from would-be hackers to the tune of 1 million attempted cyberattacks per day.”

“Criminals are becoming ever more sophisticated and ruthless in the ways they commit tax identity theft and file fraudulent returns with ill-gotten personal information. At a minimum, the goal of the IRS must be to make this crime harder, not easier, for identity thieves to commit,” Chairman Chabot explained.

“The Largest Most Pervasive Scam in the History of Our Agency”

“Since the fall of 2013, a significant amount of our Office of Investigations’ workload has consisted of investigating a telephone impersonation scam in which more than 1.9 million intended victims have received unsolicited telephone calls from individuals falsely claiming to be IRS or Department of the Treasury employees,” testified J. Russell George, Inspector General of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). “The callers demand money under the pretense that the victim owes unpaid taxes. To date, over 10,300 victims have purportedly paid more than $55 million to these criminals. The telephone impersonation scam continues to be one of TIGTA’s top priorities; it has also landed at the top of the IRS’s “Dirty Dozen” tax scams. The numbers of complaints we have received about this scam have cemented its status as the largest, most pervasive impersonation scam in the history of our agency. It has claimed victims in every State.”

“We at TIGTA take seriously our mandate to provide independent oversight of the IRS in its administration of our Nation’s tax system. As such, we plan to provide continuing audit coverage of the IRS’s efforts to identify and detect identity theft and provide assistance to victims,” George concluded.

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

If you believe you or someone you know has been the victim of an IRS Impersonation Scam, you can report it on the TIGTA website HERE.

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Taking Care of Small Business: Working Together for a Better SBA

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 04/05/2017 - 11:00am



The Committee on Small Business will meet for a hearing titled, “Taking Care of Small Business: Working Together for a Better SBA.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 11:00 A.M. on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The Honorable Linda McMahon was sworn in on February 14, 2017 as the 25th Administrator of the United States Small Business Administration (SBA). From 1980 to 2009, Administrator McMahon was active in her family’s company, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., eventually becoming President and Chief Executive Officer. WWE began as a small regional company and grew into a large, global business. The Committee will hear from Administrator McMahon about her priorities for entrepreneurs and the SBA.

Hearing Documents
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List

Witness List 
The Honorable Linda McMahon
Administrator 
United States Small Business Administration
Washington, DC 

Taking Care of (Small) Business. Every Day.

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 04/05/2017 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – In her first Congressional testimony since being confirmed as the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Linda McMahon pledged to work with the House Small Business Committee to make her agency more effective and efficient in helping small businesses by improving capital access, counseling, and government contracting programs.

“This Committee has long believed that the SBA is an agency in need of attention,” said House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) at the outset of today’s hearing. “The loan programs that provide crucial access to capital need vigilant oversight. The training and technical assistance programs that reach people through local SBDCs need to keep up with rapidly changing times. Our job is to ensure that SBA’s programs are effectively and efficiently serving the millions of Americans who work at, own, or want to start a small business.”

“We ended the last Congress with a lot of unanswered questions from the SBA about how the agency will address longstanding deficiencies in management, information technology, and program oversight. It’s our intention that today will mark the official start of a collaborative relationship that will address these issues and any more that arise in the future,” Chabot explained.

“Administrator McMahon has a record of spotting opportunity where few others could. I think it’s also safe to say that she doesn’t put up with much nonsense. We’re looking forward to hearing directly from her today about her plans for making the SBA a better agency,” Chabot noted.

The Main Event: Administrator McMahon Shares Her Goals For SBA

Administrator McMahon shared her own personal story as an entrepreneur who overcame difficulties to start her family’s small business. She told the Committee that this experience will help to better inform her work at the SBA.

“As I have visited small business all over the country, I have seen that same resiliency over and over again. Entrepreneurs are fighters,” Administrator McMahon said. “They work hard, and when they get knocked down by a recession or a natural disaster or simply a change in consumer demand, they turn to their creativity to make it better. But sometimes they need a helping hand.

“Now that I am the SBA Administrator, I am committed to ensuring that our agency is as strong as it can be to lift up as many entrepreneurs as it can,” McMahon pledged. “My commitment extends to make sure that all services we offer to our customers are delivered effectively and efficiently and, most importantly, that SBA and our partners are offering what small businesses actually need to grow, innovate, and create jobs. With small business as the driver of our economy, I believe our country will remain strong, too.”

You can view full video of today’s hearing with Administrator McMahon HERE and read full testimony HERE

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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


Committee Examines SBA’s Entrepreneurial Development Programs

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 03/30/2017 - 12:00am
 

WASHINGTON – Groups that assist American entrepreneurs told the House Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce that while key entrepreneurial development programs administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) have helped small businesses, reforms could make these programs even more efficient and effective.

“From the startup company in my home district in California to the entrepreneurs and innovators all over the country, small businesses employ approximately half of all workers in the United States,” said Subcommittee Chairman Steve Knight (R-CA) in his opening statement. “Recent reports identify health care costs, regulatory compliance and a burdensome tax code as the top hurdles impacting the nation’s small businesses.”

“Frequently short on time and wearing many hats within these new start-ups, entrepreneurs need guidance and assistance. This hearing today is about exploring the resources available to entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses as they navigate a complex business ecosystem.” Subcommittee Chairman Knight explained.

“We will hear about the technical assistance and expert advice available to them through the Small Business Administration’s Entrepreneurial Development programs. With approximately 29 million small business in the United States, the programs within the SBA must operate efficiently and swiftly as the entrepreneurs they seek to help.  I am looking forward to hearing about the details of these programs. How do they help entrepreneurs?  How do they assist startups traversing the regulatory environment?  How can the programs be improved to better assist small businesses?” Knight said.
 
Small Businesses Know the SCORE

“SCORE is a uniquely American organization that synthesizes two historic national ideals: entrepreneurial spirit and volunteerism,” testified Ken Yancey, the Chief Executive Officer of the SCORE. “Since 1964, SCORE has provided expert volunteer business mentoring to more than 10 million entrepreneurs and small business owners. In 2015, SCORE set a goal is to help 1 million additional entrepreneurs by 2020. While this is an ambitious goal, it will help to guide a continual pattern of growth and expanded services. 13 Small businesses account for 99.7 percent of all employer firms and generate more than 50 percent of the non-farm private gross domestic product.”

“They employ more than half of all private sector employees. In this way, these small businesses are the engine of America’s job creating economy, the fabric of our local communities, and the embodiment of the American dream.” Yancey said.

Helping Women Entrepreneurs

“We appreciate this Committee’s dedication to the modernization of SBA’s resource partners and your willingness to hear from the programs that are serving entrepreneurs across the country,” said Antonella Pianalto, the President and CEO of the Association of Women’s Business Centers. “The WBC program is a proven program, an effective public-private partnership, and fills a growing need for the distinct population we serve. The directors and staff at WBCs are committed to helping women and their families prosper and achieve financial security through business ownership.”

“In my visits across the country, from California and North Carolina, to Florida and New York, I remain in awe of our centers incredible power to bring a dream, an innovation, or an idea to fruition. We urge Congress to advance the efforts already underway by this Committee to strengthen the WBC program and provide the necessary investment women entrepreneurs need to reach their full potential,” Pianalto explained.

Your Local SBDC Can Help

“This hearing couldn’t be better timed. The new Administrator has an opportunity to assess and analyze the programs at her disposal and work with us to maximize their effectiveness,” said Charles “Tee” Rowe, the President and CEO of America’s Small Business Development Centers. “We need to identify the gaps in coverage – geographic and content. Who is doing what right? Who is doing what wrong? Are the goals, metrics and data systems up to the job?”

“The recovery from the 2008 recession left a lot of holes in our economy. Many counties and communities have not recovered. How will we focus our efforts, reach them and build their small business infrastructure? SBA and its resource partners have an excellent arsenal of talent to bring to bear on these problems. The biggest obstacle we have is failing to listen to one another and recognize our respective strengths and weaknesses.” Rowe added.

The American Legion on Veterans Entrepreneurship

“Small business continues to be a primary job generator and a major trainer for American employees,” testified Joseph C. Sharpe, Jr., the Director of the National Veterans Employment & Education Division of The American Legion.   “The small firm workplace includes a considerable amount of young and entry-level workers. It is vital that veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses receive a fair and proportionate amount of federal contracts so these veterans can build and maintain successful businesses.”

“The American Legion reiterates that the Small Business Administration’s Office of Veterans Business Development should be the lead agency to ensure that all veterans are provided with Entrepreneurial Development Assistance,” Sharpe stated.

You can watch full video from today’s hearing HERE and read full testimony HERE.



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

 

Small Business Committee Introduces Essential Contracting and Entrepreneurial Development Legislation

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 03/29/2017 - 12:00am

Bipartisan Measures Will Help Small Businesses Thrive

WASHINGTON – Small Business Committee Members introduced bipartisan legislation that will improve opportunities for small businesses to compete for federal contracts and modernize entrepreneurial development programs so they can more effectively serve small businesses.

“Small businesses create the majority of new jobs in our economy,” said House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH). "Whether it is creating new opportunities for small contractors or improving key entrepreneurial development programs like SCORE, Small Business Development Centers and Women's Business Centers, the reforms in these pieces of legislation will give our small businesses confidence and practical tools to succeed. This has been a true team effort from our Members on both sides of the aisle. I appreciate the leadership and hard work of Ranking Member Velázquez and all of the Members involved in bringing this legislation forward.”

“I always say that when it comes to small business policy, there are not Republican or Democratic issues, but American issues,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), the Ranking Member of the Small Business Committee. “The bipartisan legislation we are putting forward today draws from an array of bills previously introduced by Committee Members on both sides of the aisle and will go a long way toward fostering entrepreneurship.  By reforming government contracting rules, we can help unlock the half-trillion dollar federal marketplace for small firms, creating good paying jobs in communities around the nation. Strengthening Entrepreneurial Development programs will help existing businesses grow and aspiring entrepreneurs to launch new ventures. I look forward to working with Chairman Chabot and all the Committee Members to advance these measures.”

H.R. 1773, Clarity for America’s Small Contractors Act of 2017, sponsored by Chairman Steve Chabot Chabot (R-Ohio), co-sponsored by Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez (D-NY)

This bill includes:

  • Title I: H.R. 1597, the Commercial Market Representatives Clarification Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA), co-sponsored by Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA) and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL)
  • Title II: H.R. 1641, Defining Business Opportunity Specialists, sponsored by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), co-sponsored by Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez (D-NY)
  • Title III: H.R. 1693, Improving Reporting on Small Business Goals, sponsored by Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), co-sponsored by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)
  • Title IV: H.R. 1640, Unifying Small Business Terminology Act: sponsored by Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez (D-NY)

H.R. 1774, Developing the Next Generation of Small Businesses Act of 2017, sponsored by  Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), co-sponsored by Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio)

This bill includes:

  • Title I: H.R. 1702, Small Business Development Centers Improvement Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA), co-sponsored by Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), and Rep. Rod Blum (R-IA).
  • Title II: H.R. 1680, Women’s Business Centers Improvement Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA), co-sponsored by Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL)
  • Title III: H.R. 1700, SCORE for Small Business Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC), co-sponsored by Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) 

Paper Cuts: Reducing the Paperwork Burden on Small Businesses

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 03/29/2017 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – Today expert witnesses told the House Small Business Committee that federal paperwork requirements are costing America’s small businesses valuable man hours and money. The hearing focused on the effectiveness of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) and explored possible ways to reduce the paperwork burden on small businesses.

“While the burden of federal paperwork is felt year round by individuals and small businesses, there is no more relevant time to discuss federal paperwork than in the weeks leading up to Tax Day,” said House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio). “Right now, individuals and businesses are pouring over tax forms and mind-numbingly complex instructions to make sure they get things right.” 

“Currently, federal paperwork is estimated to annually take 11.6 billion hours to respond to or comply with and costs nearly $1.9 trillion.  However, the burden may be higher as OIRA and others have raised concerns about the accuracy of agency burden estimates,” Chairman Chabot explained.

“While nearly 75 percent of the overall federal paperwork burden is generated by Treasury, onerous requests from other agencies contribute as well.  Examples of these include Census surveys, OSHA reporting and recordkeeping requirements, and third-party or public disclosures, such as food labeling requirements.  Laws enacted in recent years like Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank Act have added hundreds of millions of hours to the total.” Chairman Chabot added.

11.6 Billion Hours

“The PRA has existed for more than a generation, but flaws remain in a law ostensibly designed to ‘reduce” paperwork,’ testified Sam Batkins, the Director of Regulatory Policy at the American Action Forum (AAF). “That goal has clearly failed, as the PRA has turned OIRA into a manager of paperwork, one where ‘pseudo-science’ reigns and little hard data exist. Reforming the PRA to increase public participation, eliminate redundant forms, and strengthen benefit-cost analysis, should be a bipartisan exercise. For the next generation of the PRA, government should strive to produce better data while imposing lower costs on respondents and the federal government.”

“In 1997, after amendments to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), the cumulative burden was 6.9 billion hours,” noted Batkins. “Today, it stands at 11.6 billion hours. Small businesses are particularly affected, with 3.3 billion hours of compliance burdens and $111 billion in costs.”

“No one should praise spending hours on tax, health care, or housing forms. However, Americans currently labor under more than 11.6 billion hours of paperwork according to the recent tally from OIRA. For perspective on this incomprehensible figure, it is roughly 35 hours for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. That is a work-week dedicated simply to filling out federal forms and retaining information for federal regulators,” said Batkins.

Reducing Paperwork Burdens will Benefit the U.S. Economy

“The PRA is an important tool to ensure that the federal government avoids the unnecessary collection of information and streamlines the information collection process,” said Leah Pilconis, Environmental Law & Policy Advisor to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). “The federal government’s information collections take an enormous toll on the construction industry, which includes predominantly small businesses. Responding to federal reporting requests and documentation requirements consumes large amounts of time, resources, and funds. Any effort to reduce these burdens will benefit both the construction firms that face them and, in turn, the U.S. economy.”

Small Businesses One Regulatory Audit Away from Ruin

“Small-business employers often fall into the ‘they don’t know what they don’t know’ category,” said Frank Cania, the Founder & President of driven HR, a small business based in Pittsford, New York.

“Many of my driven HR clients started and continue operating today because someone had an entrepreneurial spirit and an idea,” explained Cania, who testified on behalf of the Society for Human Resource Management. “Further, although none are experts in, or sometimes even familiar with, the full panoply of employment laws and regulations, they have always made a good-faith effort to be in compliance.”

“As I sit here today, I can think of several clients who were only one regulatory agency audit away from significant hardship or ruin before we started working with them. I say that not to pat myself on the back, but to show that, for far too many small businesses, and far too many well-intentioned and hard-working small-business owners, government forms and data collection may unnecessarily pose their biggest threat to continued success and prosperity,” Cania told the Committee.

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

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

House Small Business Committee News - Fri, 03/24/2017 - 12:00am

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. 

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.

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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

Chairman Chabot Hails House Passage of Small Business Health Fairness Act

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON - House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) took to the House floor today in strong support of H.R. 1101, the Small Business Health Fairness Act. The measure was approved by a vote of 236 to 175 in the House and now advances to the U.S. Senate.

VIDEO: Chairman Chabot Speaks in Support of H.R. 1101

“For virtually any one of us in this Chamber, it can be said that hundreds of thousands of our constituents depend on small businesses for their livelihoods. They’ve been looking to those same small businesses for options as Obamacare has done the opposite of what it was supposed to do, and diminished choices for workers. By allowing small businesses to join together through association health plans, the Small Business Health Fairness Act would give small business employees at least as many choices as those who happen to work for larger companies. Association health plans have long been a solution suggested by small businesses who share their views with me and other members of the Small Business Committee, and this bill puts that idea into action.”

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Making Washington Work for America’s Small Businesses

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 12:00am

Making Washington Work for
America’s Small Businesses

Small Business Owners Sound Off on Obamacare, Regulations, Taxes

WASHINGTON – Today small business owners told the House Small Business Committee that Obamacare’s mandates, as well as overregulation and the current tax code, are having a devastating effect on their businesses, employees and customers.

“These issues are important because too often, small businesses get the short end of the stick which is counterproductive to the economic health of our nation,” explained House Small Business Committee Chairman Chabot (R-Ohio). “This hearing is a little bit different than others we do. Instead of focusing on one topic, we simply asked the witnesses to give us advice on the policies and initiatives that we can do to help them the most. By getting input now, we can focus our efforts throughout the 115th Congress to serve our constituency as responsibly and effectively as possible.”

Take for instance, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare,” said Chairman Chabot. “Small business witness after small business witness has come before us (and constituent after constituent back home) and stated how unworkable the whole thing is.”

“We hear stories of astronomical premium increases, severely limited choices, and little to no assistance for small businesses trying to help insure themselves and their employees. Yet, there are folks out there who think that Obamacare is working just fine. Well, it’s not, and small businesses are the ones left holding the bag,” added Chabot.

“Uncertainty and Lack of Clarity”

“I ask Congress to fix the broken ACA system,” said Skip Paal, the owner of Rutland Beard Floral Group, a small floral business based in Baltimore, Maryland. “It is detrimental to me and countless other main street businesses. If something is not done quickly, I fear that when I receive next year’s health insurance quote it will simply be unaffordable to the point where we would no longer be able to offer that benefit to our employees.”

“I applaud the recognition by Congress and the Administration that the Tax Code, which seems to be so large that not even my accountant can fully understand it, needs to be drastically simplified,” observed Paal, who testified on behalf of the Society of American Florists.“Tax relief to small business is incredibly important. The complexity of the Tax Code and its associated case law is not something that I can even begin to understand. Payroll taxes are simple, straightforward to calculate, and easy to plan for – we need something just as uncomplicated for corporate and pass-through taxes.”

“One of the greatest concerns that I and other members of my industry have is the sense of uncertainty and lack of clarity in legislation and regulations” said Paal. “It is impossible for small businesses to make decisions and plan when legislation and rules are constantly changing. I have discussed the challenges I face with several of my peers in different segments of the floral industry. Every single person told me their greatest concern was either uncertainty or lack of clarity.”

Red Tape Holding Back Women Entrepreneurs

“Federal regulations cost businesses just under $10,000 per employee annually, with the annual total cost burden on the typical U.S. business coming in at a $233,182,” said Anne Chambers, an entrepreneur from Cincinnati, Ohio who is the Co-Founder and CEO of Red212. “This problem is exacerbated by the government’s inability to provide long-term policies on which businesses can rely.”

In her testimony, Chambers praised H.J. Res 37, which nullifies the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) contractor blacklisting rule. She also expressed her strong support for The Regulatory Accountability Act (H.R. 5), which would strengthen the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy and allow for the issuance of smarter, less burdensome regulations that consider the direct economic effects on small businesses.

View from the Chamber’s Small Business Members

“The Chamber has heard loudly from its small business members about the problems with the torrent of federal regulations emanating from Washington, DC,” testified Maxine Turner, the Founder of Cuisine Unlimited, a small catering business based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Research conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation probes into the costs of red tape on small business and spells out how the $1.9 trillion annual cost of federal mandates is a drag on the American economy. The Foundation study includes a survey of leaders from local chambers of commerce who are alarmed by the slump in new business startups and insist that federal regulations are largely to blame,” stated Turner, who testified on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“New opportunities for entrepreneurs, beginning with tax reform, regulatory reform, and other priorities, would result in an economic vigor that would benefit every family across this country. A health care program that meets the needs of our citizens with reasonable costs would spark new optimism,” she concluded.

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

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Cafeteria Plans: A Menu of Non-Options for Small Business Owners

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 10:00am
Chairman Dave Brat has scheduled a hearing of the Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access titled, “Cafeteria Plans:  A Menu of Non-Options for Small Business Owners.”  The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 A.M. on Thursday, March 16, 2017 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.  

Attachments
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List

Witnesses 

Ms. Jennifer Brown
Manager
Research National Institute on Retirement Security
Washington, DC

Ms. Paula Calimafde
Chair
Small Business Council of America
Bethesda, MD

Ms. Elise Feldman
President
Feldman Benefit Services, Inc.
Springfield, NJ

























Cafeteria Plans: A Menu of Non-Options for Small Business Owners

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – Experts told a Subcommittee of the House Small Business Committee today that millions of American small business owners and employees are barred from using a popular provision of the tax code that would enable them to save on important expenses such as insurance premiums, medical costs and dependent care.

“Cafeteria plans are available across the board to large and mid-size companies, non-profits, schools, universities, and the federal government,” said Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access Chairman Dave Brat (R-VA) in his opening statement. “However, one major category of people who are not allowed to participate in a cafeteria plan is small business owners.  They can sponsor these plans for their employees, but they cannot personally participate.  This provides a disincentive to offering the plan in the first place.”

Small Business Employees Put at a Disadvantage

“In addition to health insurance premium payments, those employers that sponsor Section 125 plans can make a number of other benefits available to employees, such as the Medical Reimbursement benefit as well as the Dependent Care benefit,” testified Elise Feldman, the President of Feldman Benefit Services, Inc. “These benefits give the employees an opportunity to provide better health care for themselves and their family members, because the Section 125 plan structure enables the employees to do so more easily and more affordably (because the contributions are made on a pre-tax basis). The option to take advantage of these benefits is generally appreciated by the employees.”

Benefits of Cafeteria Plans

“Section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code (“Code”) regulates “Cafeteria Plans,” which are tax favored methods for offering a variety of fringe benefits to employees on a pre-tax basis through a plan offered by an employer,” said Jennifer Brown, the Manager of Research at the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS). “They are called cafeteria plans because these plans give an employees the ability to select benefits from a menu set by their employer, in exchange for forgoing compensation. Some cafeteria plans offer a choice between cash and one or more type of insurance coverage, while other plans offer one or more reimbursement accounts.”

3/4 of Small Business Owners Excluded

“While employees of most large and mid-sized businesses as well as non-profits, schools, universities and the federal government can take advantage of the valuable benefits provided by cafeteria plans, most small business owners are not allowed to participate in a cafeteria plan,” said Paula Calimafde, the  Chair of the Small Business Council of America. “Specifically, cafeteria plans can be utilized by common-law employees, but not by sole proprietors, partners in a partnership, S-corporation shareholders holding an interest of 2% or greater (and by attribution, their family members) and members in a limited liability company that has elected to be taxed as a partnership. According to recent data from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), seventy-three percent of small employers are sole proprietorships, partnerships or S-corporations – meaning, that almost three quarters of small business owners are excluded from participating in a cafeteria plan.”

Plans Could Provide Flexibility for Small Businesses

“Cafeteria plans allow employers to offer flexible benefits to their workers, at a reasonable cost to both the workers and the employers,” explained Matt Tassey, the Treasurer of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA). “The flexibility of being able to let workers choose benefits best suited to their unique circumstances is often the most important reason for an employer to establish and maintain this type of benefits plan. It is unfair to pass-through business owners to exclude them from eligibility to participate in cafeteria plans. And, it may discourage these owners from offering—and paying for—cafeteria plan benefits to those who work for them. “

You can watch full video of today’s hearing here and read full testimony here.

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