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Committee Examines SBA OIG’s Review of the Microloan Program

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON—Today, Members of the House Small Business Subcommittees on Investigations, Oversight, and Regulations and Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access heard from agency officials from the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) on the SBA’s September 28, 2017 report entitled, “Audit of SBA’s Microloan Program.” 

“Ultimately, SBA is supposed to make sure that the Microloan Program—a program there to help the littlest of the little guys—is actually fulfilling its purpose. According to a recent audit from the SBA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), however, the agency needs to improve its oversight over the Microloan Program,” said Subcommittee Chairman Trent Kelly (R-MS). “In fact, OIG found that SBA did not even implement all of the recommendations from the 2009 audit. Even though SBA said it would. That is not acceptable. SBA must do better.”

SBA Must Do Better

The Subcommittees examined the Small Business Administration’s Microloan Program based in the Office of Capital Access. The audit brought to light the inadequate oversight the SBA has been doing on the not-for-profit intermediaries who make last resort microloans to small businesses. Weak oversight undermines the purpose of the program, invites fraud and waste, and puts American taxpayer dollars at risk.

“SBA management did not effectively implement all prior audit recommendations to improve oversight. Furthermore, SBA management did not conduct adequate program oversight to measure program performance and ensure program integrity,” said Mike Ware, Acting Inspector General at the United States Small Business Administration in Washington, DC. “These internal control weaknesses were due to SBA not having an overall site visit plan, an adequate information system, available funding for system improvements, or clear Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Additionally, SBA management focused on output-based performance measures instead of outcome measures.”

Subcommittee Chairman Kelly (R-MS) said, “Mr. Manger [Associate Administrator of the Office of Capital Access at the SBA], you have a roadmap. The Office of the Inspector General told you exactly what you need to do to do this thing right. My hope is that the SBA will follow to the tee those recommendations or either dispute with this Committee or the Office of the Inspector General what you don’t agree with.”

Members of both Subcommittees reiterated the importance of adhering to the recommendations of the Office of the Inspector General in ensuring accountability and good stewardship of microloans.

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Fostering Women’s Entrepreneurial Success

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON—Today, Members of the House Small Business Subcommittee on Health and Technology heard from a panel of women experienced in the challenges women entrepreneurs face in today’s economy, as well as the available resources to support women-owned small businesses.

While women entrepreneurs face many challenges, one major issue women owners face is access to adequate financing opportunities. Men typically launch their businesses with twice the capital women do, and less than 10 percent of all venture funds are granted to women-led businesses. The matter of access to capital is of particular concern to me, as it is a persistent issue among my constituents in American Samoa,” said Subcommittee Chairman Aumua Amata Colemen Radewagen.

Examining the Current State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in the U.S.

Traditionally, the rate at which women are starting businesses has been significantly lower than the rate at which men do. Overall, the number of women engaging in entrepreneurship has increased over time; however, a gender gap still exists.

Creating an environment where women can start and grow businesses has always been a vital part of our economic security. Today that is truer than ever, with women starting ventures at four times the rate of men. Their success is vital to the US economy as women-owned businesses have a significant impact on their local communities and collectively drive growth and create jobs,” said Antonella Pianalto, President and CEO of the Association of Women’s Business Centers in Washington, DC.

I started SRE in 2007, with $10,000, I was and still am, a single mother with no access to any other capital,” said Jeannette King, President and CEO of Strategic Resolution Experts, Inc. in Martinsburg, WV. “Thanks to various programs and the support and guidance I receive from my WV SBA office in Clarksburg, WV, I have a line of credit, I have grown SRE to a multimillion dollar company and I use the HUBZone program as it was intended - to help disadvantaged individuals in economically depressed areas become trained and qualified to obtain sustainable jobs.”

Mentorship is important to the success of entrepreneurs. Female entrepreneurs need guidance through the process of starting and growing their business. Someone who has the experience and knowledge to show you how to reach your goal is a valuable resource. Anyone can open a business, but having the right tools is necessary for success. Writing an effective business plan, implementing, and updating that plan is the key to success. Running a business day to day can be challenging. Having a mentor to prevent you from making certain mistakes in the process is priceless,” said Janice Green, President and CEO of Jancare Private Health Service, Inc. in Fishkill, NY.

My journey as a woman entrepreneur is not unusual. There are over ten million women entrepreneurs in the United States. We share similar paths. Each of us are unsure, at times unknowing, yet we are unafraid to become an entrepreneur. And each of us need support and guidance,” said Hester Clark, President of the Hester Group in Jacksonville, FL.

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Chairman Chabot Applauds the President’s Executive Order on Healthcare

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON—Today, House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) released the following statement on President Trump’s Executive Order on Healthcare.

“I applaud President Trump’s actions today in taking the first step to help 35 million workers employed by small businesses exercise greater control over their healthcare decisions.  Hopefully, this Administration continues to keep small businesses at the forefront of this conversation,” said Chairman Chabot. “The Executive Order makes it easier for small employers to join together and form Association Health Plans (AHP) to provide their workers more affordable, flexible coverage options.”

Chairman Chabot cosponsored H.R. 1101, the Small Business Health Fairness Act, which passed the House earlier this year. 

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Evaluating the Paperwork Reduction Act

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON—Yesterday, Members of the House Small Business Committee heard from a panel of government officials on how federal agencies are reducing paperwork burdens on small businesses and agency compliance issues with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA).

“Even though the PRA is supposed to reduce paperwork burdens, small businesses are still faced with an overwhelming amount of paperwork requirements each day,” said Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH). “In fact, paperwork requirements are costing America almost $120 billion a year. But as we heard at our hearing last March, this number is probably much higher, because federal agencies may not be accurately estimating the burden.”

Are Burdens Being Reduced?

This is the second hearing in a series examining the PRA’s goals to reduce the paperwork burden on individuals and small businesses, while also reducing the cost to the federal government of collecting and using information. The PRA makes the agency’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) responsible for compliance with the Act.  The witnesses included agency representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Labor, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

The witnesses provided testimony on their efforts to minimize federal paperwork burdens on small businesses under the PRA.  However, Members of the Committee were skeptical of the agencies’ efforts to reduce paperwork requirements on small businesses.

“I’ve heard during your testimony you’ve uttered the following words more than once: that your agency strives to limit the information and paperwork requirements we place on the public, balancing our data and information needs—the government’s data and information needs—with the burdens associated with those needs.” said Rep. Rod Blum (R-IA). “There’s not a small business person in my district in Northeast Iowa that believes that statement. Not a one.”

“The purpose [of the PRA] is not to get information for any of your agencies. The purpose is to make these small businesses productive.” said Rep. Trent Kelly (R-MS).

“[i]t does all fall on the small business person, often two or three people, having to make a profit and work through all this red tape.” said Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE).

“I’m a small business owner.” said Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC). “I’ve had it with paperwork. I’ve had it with having to fill out every form in the world.”

Members of the Committee were also concerned that the agencies are not doing enough to reduce the burden, and that small business owners are not seeing the results of the agencies’ efforts.

“When will small businesses see a reduction in the paperwork? Because that sounded very nice. But they’re sitting there in Iowa saying this isn’t going to happen. It never has in the past.” said Rep. Blum. “Small business have zero resources available, none. Every time we ask them for a bit of information, we just taxed them.”

“[e]very dollar that I have to spend filling out this paperwork...is a dollar that I can expand our business. That’s a machine I can buy. That’s a tractor that I can put to work.” said Rep. Norman.


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Evaluating the Paperwork Reduction Act Part II: Are Burdens Being Reduced?

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 2:00pm

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

Attachments
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List

Witnesses 
Steven Fine, Ph.D.
Acting Assistant Administrator
Acting Chief Information Officer
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Washington, DC

Mr. Stephen D. Guertin
Deputy Director for Policy
United States Fish and Wildlife Service
Washington, DC

Mr. Gundeep Ahluwalia
Chief Information Officer
United States Department of Labor
Washington, DC

Mr. Todd Simpson
Chief Information Officer
United States Food and Drug Administration
Silver Spring, MD


Commerce Committee Sends Inquiry to Alleged Mastermind of 100 Million Robocalls

Commerce Committee leaders have requested information from the alleged perpetrator of one of the largest illegal robocall campaigns ever investigated by the Federal Communications Commission.

House Passes SBC Legislation to Boost Small Businesses Participation in Federal Research and Development

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – Today, the House passed H.R. 2763, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Improvements Act, introduced by House Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce Chairman Steve Knight (R-CA).  

Specifically, H.R. 2763 insists on greater agency accountability, including several hard reporting deadlines for participating agencies and for the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide future Congresses with better information and a greater grasp of the programs’ strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, the bipartisan legislation ensures that taxpayers reap the benefits of technology developed in the program by requiring the Department of Defense to include the technologies developed in larger programs of record.  

“H.R 2763 is one step closer towards a more transparent and safe government,” said Rep. Knight. “This bill would give the opportunity for America’s small businesses to participate in the national security needs for innovation in our country.”

“Small businesses are essential to America’s economic competitiveness and industrial base,” said Rep. Knight. “Supporting programs like SBIR and STTR is important for the safety and economic stability of our nation. These programs sponsor developments that allow us to compete in the international marketplace and provide innovative tools supported and created by local entrepreneurs that contribute to American security.”

I commend Subcommittee Chairman Knight and the Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce for their hard work on this vital piece of legislation. Small innovators often lead the way in high-tech research and innovation and today’s legislation improves these programs and provides certainty and clarity to thousands of small businesses,” said House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH).

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ICYMI: How Congress Can Help Your Favorite Local Restaurants

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 12:00am

How Congress can help your favorite local restaurants

By Chris Duggan

San Diego is transforming into more than America’s Finest City. It’s becoming a culinary hot spot. Previously known for its fish tacos and oceanside cuisine, creative chefs from across the United States and even Mexico are filling the city with everything from exotic flavors to good old American barbecue. Foodies from all over are packing into our local eateries to check out the hype.

Unfortunately for our booming food industry, a decision out of Washington, D.C., is threatening the livelihood of the country’s restaurant and hospitality industry. The National Labor Relations Board in 2015 redefined what it means to be a joint employer, or when two companies share supervision of an employee.

It’s no longer clear whether outsourcing the laundry makes a bed-and-breakfast owner liable for workplace safety at the neighboring dry cleaner or if contracting out some renovations puts an authentic Mexican restaurant owner on the hook for construction workers’ unpaid overtime.

The wide-ranging uncertainty that is infecting entrepreneurs could have widespread economic impact, too. Despite chefs and restaurant owners flocking to San Diego from all over, our fine city is experiencing a flat unemployment rate and a year-over-year decline in hiring.

How can that be so? No doubt, much can be attributed to an unstable employer environment.

Business owners are now using their limited resources to buy extra liability insurance and invest in legal counsel to protect the businesses they built. This is money that could be used to expand and hire more employees. The consequences of the joint employer ambiguities on the hospitality industry are a big deal in an area where nearly 35 million visitors spent $10.4 billion locally on tourism last year — supporting 184,000 leisure and hospitality jobs. To help invigorate economic momentum and job growth in San Diego, lawmakers must consider a fix to this standard.

Recently, there has been a welcome flurry of activity in our nation’s capital to try and provide restaurant owners and small businesses with some much-needed clarity. In fact, the Department of Labor moved in June to roll back the controversial decision with an executive order. Both developments prove that policymakers on both sides of the aisle hear the restaurant and small business community’s concerns. But in order to sustain a clear understanding that small business owners can rely upon, Congress must act.

Fortunately, there is already a piece of bipartisan legislation in Congress that would immediately fix this two-year old problem. The Save Local Business Act (House Resolution 3441) would return us to the common-sense definition where a business owner is accountable for his or her own employees, not those of other companies. Additionally, workers would be employed by the companies that hired them, not every other entity they consult for, contract with or provide services to.

Bringing back straightforward employer-employee relationships will make the workplace a less confusing place, where both sides can be confident in the lines of communication and responsibility. This will, in turn, have a positive impact on restaurateurs that are eager to return their focus to making great food.

H.R. 3441 is exactly what San Diego restaurants need. Hopefully, the California congressional delegation will sign onto this bill and continue leading the way for our bustling hospitality community. Our innovative chefs, restaurateurs and best-in-class workers who make this America’s Finest City are counting on it.

Duggan is the director of local government affairs of San Diego, Imperial, Riverside and San Bernadino counties for the California Restaurant Association.

To read the full editorial in the San Diego Union-Tribune, click here.

To learn more about the Save Local Business Act, visit edworkforce.house.gov/jointemployer.

SCOTUS Seeks Solicitor General’s Views on Apple’s Cert. Petition in Antitrust Suit

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 5:43pm
In an orders list issued today, the U.S Supreme Court invited the Solicitor General of the United States to file a brief expressing the federal government’s views on the petition for certiorari in Apple, Inc. v. Pepper. The case, in which Washington Legal Foundation filed an amicus brief supporting Apple’s request for review, involves a forty-year old […]
Categories: Latest News

Chairman Chabot Responds to Nomination of Chief Counsel for Advocacy at SBA

House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) released the following statement after the President nominated David Christian Tryon, a fellow Ohioan, as Chief Counsel for Advocacy at the Small Business Administration (SBA):

As the Administration and Congress continue to work together to relieve the regulatory burden on small businesses, it is critical that the SBA Office of Advocacy has someone at its helm to be the independent voice for small businesses within the federal government,” said Chairman Chabot.

I applaud the President’s decision to move forward with the nomination of Mr. Tryon. As the Small Business Committee wrote in August, nominating a Chief Counsel for Advocacy will help the President’s ‘efforts to provide regulatory relief to spur economic growth, promote innovation, and encourage entrepreneurship.’ The Committee looks forward to continuing our work with the Office of Advocacy and ensuring that federal agencies consider how all proposed regulations will affect small businesses,” Chabot added.

In August, the Small Business Committee Majority signed a letter urging the President to nominate a Chief Counsel for Advocacy. The letter can be read HERE.

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WLF Webinar, October 11, 1:00 PM: Winning Personal Jurisdiction and Venue Battles

WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 10/09/2017 - 9:00am
Personal Jurisdiction and Venue Disputes: Succeeding in a Changed Legal Environment Wednesday, October 11, 2017, 1:00-2:00 pm EST To view live on WLF’s Ustream channel, click here. Featuring: James M. Beck, Senior Life Sciences Policy Analyst, Reed Smith LLP, and founder, Drug & Medical Device Law blog Phil Goldberg, Partner, Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P. […]
Categories: Latest News

Federal Preemption Ruling Flushes Another Eye-Drop Class Action

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 2:49pm
Anyone who’s ever used eye drops has experienced solution overflow. You tilt your head back, pry your eye open, hold the dispenser close to your eyeball, and even though you squeeze very gently, some of the liquid flows onto your cheek. What is your logical next move? Is it to grab a tissue and dab […]
Categories: Latest News

South Dakota Roundtable: Rising to Meet the Challenges of Cybersecurity

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will host a roundtable with cybersecurity experts on Friday, October 13, 2017, at 12:30 p.m. EDT/11:30 a.m. CDT in the Beacom Institute of Technology’s Collaboration Hall at Dakota State University (DSU) in Madison, S.D. The roundtable will serve as an opportunity to highlight the cybersecurity challenges facing U.S. companies as well as relevant academic and research initiatives at DSU. DSU has a nationally recognized cybersecurity education program and is in the midst of an effort to construct a state-of-the-art-facility designed to foster economic development and cybersecurity expertise and facilitate applied cybersecurity research for government and industry. 

Participants:

Sen. John Thune – Chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Dr. José Marie Griffiths – President, Dakota State University
Mr. Mark Ryland – Director and Solutions Architect, Amazon Web Services
Mr. Rodney Peterson – Director of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Mr. Chris Murphy – Lead Counsel & Chief Privacy Officer, General Motors
Mr. David Lieber – Senior Privacy and Cybersecurity Policy Counsel, Google
Mr. Bill Wright – Director of Government Affairs and Senior Policy Counsel, Symantec
Mr. Sunil Seshadri – Senior Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer, Visa, Inc.
Mr. Rick Nath – Site President, Citibank, N.A.

Event Details:

Friday, October 13, 2017
12:30 p.m. EDT/11:30 a.m. CDT
Collaboration Hall in the Beacom Institute of Technology
820 N. Washington Ave.
Madison, S.D.

Media interested in attending the event should contact Katie Lingle (katie_lingle@thune.senate.gov).

GSA Announces Hurricane Irma Relief Efforts and Special Emergency Procurement Authorities

GSA news releases - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 12:12pm
GSA’s senior procurement executive signed memo raising certain minimum thresholds to directly support Hurricane Irma relief efforts

GSA Announces Hurricane Harvey relief efforts and special emergency procurement authorities

GSA news releases - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 12:12pm
GSA Senior Procurement Executive signed memo raising certain minimum thresholds to support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts

Senate Confirms Commerce Committee Presidential Nominees

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, issued the following statement on the confirmation of three administration positions appointed by President Donald Trump.

“Confirming these nominees is another important step toward filling key positions in the government and I commend my colleagues in the Senate for such a speedy confirmation process,” said Thune. “I would like to congratulate each of the newly confirmed nominees and look forward to working with them in the coming months.”

Department of Commerce

    -  Timothy Gallaudet, of California, to be Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere
    -  Walter G. Copan, of Colorado, to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology

Department of Transportation

    -  Howard R. Elliott, of Indiana, to be Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Department of Transportation

High-Tech Agriculture: Small Firms on the Frontier of Agribusiness

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 10:00am

The Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade will meet for a hearing titled, “High-Tech Agriculture: Small Firms on the Frontier of Agribusiness.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 A.M. on Thursday, October 5, 2017 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building

This hearing will examine rapid development of the agricultural technology (agtech) industry driven by the private sector.  Entrepreneurs are tackling industry challenges and facilitating technology transfer from the lab to the farm to the table.  Agricultural regions are competing to be the next great innovation hub, which has spurred rural revitalization.  The discussion will explore issues beyond the headlines to understand the role of small businesses and the perspective of small family farmers. 

Documents:
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List
3. Hearing Memo
4. Opening Statement

Witnesses:

Lisa Benson, Ph.D.
Director, Rural Development
American Farm Bureau Federation
Washington, DC
Testimony 
Disclosure

Mr. Kevin Heikes
Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer
IN10T
Lenexa, KS
Testimony 
Disclosure

Mark Kester, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Officer
AgroSpheres, LLC
Charlottesville, VA
Testimony 
Disclosure

Ron Meeusen, Ph.D.
Managing Director
Cultivian Sandbox Ventures
Chicago, IL
Testimony 
Disclosure

Chairman Chabot Praises Budget Passage for Helping Small Businesses

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – Today, House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) released the following statement after the House passed H. Con. Res. 71, the fiscal year 2018 budget resolution.

Today’s vote puts us one big step closer to a tax reform plan that will help our small businesses grow and create new jobs. Again and again we hear how the burdensome tax code impedes their ability to expand. But the resolution passed today, which includes reconciliation language, will allow us to move forward with tax reform legislation that will benefit the economy, and particularly the drivers of our economy – small businesses,” said Chairman Chabot.

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