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Chairman Chabot Applauds President Trump’s Signing of the NDAA

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

WASHINGTON—Today, House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) released the following statement after President Trump signed the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law:

“Today is a great day for our nation’s military and our nation’s entrepreneurs and innovators. I applaud the President for signing this overwhelmingly bipartisan bill that not only funds our military, but also is a win for America’s 29 million small businesses.”

Some small business-friendly provisions signed into law include:

  • H.R. 1773, the Clarity for America’s Small Contractors Act of 2017, sponsored by Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH), co-sponsored by Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez (D-NY)
  • H.R. 3294, the HUBZone Unification and Business Stability Act  of 2017, sponsored by Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH)
  • 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); and
  • H.R. 1693, the Improving Contract Procurement for Small Businesses through More Accurate Reporting Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), co-sponsored by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)

Note: Chairman Chabot, upon the passage of the NDAA conference report, said, “Small businesses play a vital and indispensable role in providing for the common defense, and I thank both Chambers for recognizing their contribution to the safety of our homeland.

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Opening Statement by Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) | Markup of H.R. 4508, the PROSPER Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 12/12/2017 - 12:00am
We are here today to consider H.R. 4508, the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform Act—the PROSPER Act.

We have a lot of work ahead of us today, so in the hopes of leading by example, I will keep my remarks brief.

It is my belief that lifelong learning is what enables Americans to pursue the lives they want for themselves. The desire for lifelong learning is not always developed in a semester-by-semester or a 2, 4, or 6 year degree program. It is an individual and deeply personal calling that drives people to learn more about the world around them, and in turn, learn more about themselves. 

Lifelong learning is the root of all innovation, which, in this country, has always been the foundation for real prosperity.

It was the desire to be a lifelong learner that helped me persevere through the seven long years it took for me to become the first member of my family to earn a baccalaureate degree.

I saw that same desire for lifelong learning in the students I worked with for many years as a college instructor, academic advisor, and administrator. 

The conversations I had with those students over the years have stayed with me as we have worked toward this markup today. Those students came from different backgrounds, different communities, all kinds of family structures, and were all ages. But they asked the same questions—the same questions I asked: 

“Can I finish this program on time?”

“Can I finish this program at all?”

“How am I ever going to pay for this?”

“Will I get a job when I graduate?”

“Is all of this work even worth it?”

The times have changed, but for any student in any sector of higher education, the questions have not. That is why we’re here today.

Today, there are six million unfilled jobs in this country. Those jobs are unfilled because many employers have found that applicants lack the needed skills for those jobs.

Today, Americans carry more than a trillion dollars in student debt. Somehow, despite the six types of federal student loans, nine repayment plans, eight forgiveness programs, and 32 deferment and forbearance options out there, college costs continue to surge, leaving millions of families paying the price for well-intentioned but poorly executed federal involvement.

That is why this bill is before us today. No Americans—no matter their walk of life—can afford for us to simply reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). They need us to reform it.

The members of this committee have much to be proud of, not just in this bill, but over the course of this year. This spring, when we worked together to introduce, mark up, and see the House pass the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, we sent a clear message to the overwhelming majority of Americans who do not have a baccalaureate degree.

We affirmed the simple fact that all education is career education, and that their options and their choices mattered to us. We showed them that we agreed with them that there is real dignity and value in pursuing a technical skills-based education that allows them to be the best they could be in the careers they really wanted to pursue.

The PROSPER Act sends that same message to those who believe that a postsecondary education is the key to their future success. It reforms federal education policies to allow, not hinder, the pursuit of lifelong learning, wherever that may lead.

It promotes innovation, access, and completion—for students. It simplifies and improves student aid—for students. It empowers students and families to make informed decisions, and it ensures strong accountability and a limited federal role so institutions spend less time complying with outdated federal requirements and spend more time and resources on what’s really important—the students.

No bill is perfect when it begins its course through the legislative process, and we can all agree that no bill is perfect when it reaches the end of the legislative process. But we are here today because we cannot allow the status quo to continue. High school students, stay-at-home moms, single parents working multiple jobs to make ends meet, older Americans who still have so much to offer—these are just a few examples of those looking to postsecondary options to help them live a successful life.

I thank the members of this committee who have worked together so diligently with these Americans, our constituents, in mind. The PROSPER Act is for them.

To read the PDF version, click here.

To learn more about the PROSPER Act, click here.

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Opening Statement by Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) | Markup of H.R. 4508, the PROSPER Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 12/12/2017 - 12:00am

I am proud to be a cosponsor of the PROSPER Act, and truly believe the measures within this bill are essential to improve access, completion, and accountability across the higher education system. Most importantly, it will provide students with the opportunity to complete an education that will put them one step closer to achieving the American Dream.

I will echo what Chairwoman Foxx has said in the past to members of this committee as we crafted the PROSPER Act: we are in the business of reforming higher education, not just reauthorizing the Higher Education Act.

A simple reauthorization of the 1965 law will not address the needs of our current workforce that is over 6 million skilled workers short, nor will it reverse the $1.4 trillion of outstanding student loan debt that is placing a drag on the economy.

These facts have stayed with me as the full committee and my subcommittee held twenty-six hearings in the 113th, 114th, and 115th Congresses on issues within higher education. Four of those hearings were held during this Congress alone.

Each of those hearings touched on how the current higher education system is in need of reforms to meet the needs of students, families, future workers, and the employers of tomorrow.

I’m also happy to say that many of the issues discussed in those hearings are addressed in the PROSPER Act.

While the conversations we have had in this committee have been essential to the PROSPER Act in its current form, there are conversations that we have conducted that are even more important: those with our constituents.

Many people have expressed their concerns about the lack of flexibility in grant and loan programs for potential students seeking advanced studies, and others have shared the difficulties associated with earning a traditional degree and finding a good-paying job.

Those who share these concerns are not alone. A September Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 49% of Americans believe a four-year degree will actually lead to a good job and pay and only 47% of Americans aren’t sure college is worth it anymore.

These numbers emphasize that the status quo in higher education is not enough to serve students, families, or institutions, so it is time we change the status quo with meaningful reforms.

The stories I have heard from students and families in Kentucky have been a constant reminder for the need to stop simply talking about reforming higher education; it’s time to actually put forward a bill that achieves needed reforms.

As chairman of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development, it has been a privilege of mine to work with Chairwoman Foxx and members of this committee to introduce a bill with real reforms to address the needs of today’s students, as well as the needs of the institutions they attend.

Within the PROSPER Act, we are promoting completion, helping institutions evolve to meet the changing needs of students and the workforce, improving the complex and costly student financial aid system, and promoting accountability for institutions. Additionally, we are giving students a pipeline to the workforce, which is something never before addressed in higher education legislation.

To read the PDF version, click here.

To learn more about the PROSPER Act, click here.

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Thune Statement on President Trump’s Space Policy Directive

“This directive accelerates U.S. leadership in working with international and commercial partners to explore deep space.”...

Bridging the Entrepreneurial Gap: Addressing Barriers to Small Business Formation and Growth

House Small Business Committee News - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 9:30am

The Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade will meet for a field hearing titled, “Bridging the Entrepreneurial Gap: Addressing Barriers to Small Business Formation and Growth.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9:30 A.M. on Monday, December 11, 2017 in Room 209 of the Village of Deerfield Hall, 850 Waukegan Road, Deerfield, IL

This hearing will examine federal regulations that inhibit entrepreneurs and provide Subcommittee Members an opportunity to learn about the current barriers to entrepreneurship.  It will also examine potential solutions to these challenges and methods utilized by entrepreneurs to achieve prosperity, such as capitalizing on emerging industries and fostering innovation.

Attachments
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List

Witnesses
Mr. Steven Whittington
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
LifeWorking Enterprise, LLC
Lake Forest, IL

Ms. Meg Barnhart
Founder and Co-Creator
The Zen of Slow Cooking
Lake Forest, IL

Mr. David Borris
Owner
Hel’s Kitchen Catering
Northbrook, IL

Ms. Cheryl Besenjak
Partner
Grow Well Farms, LLC
Hoffman Estates, IL

The Hill: Requiring Federal Regulators to Consider How Regulations Will Affect Small Businesses

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

WASHINGTON – This week, House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) wrote an op-ed with House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Senate Small Business Chairman Jim Risch (R-ID) and Senator James Lankford (R-OK) for The Hill on how Congress should do more when considering how regulations affect small businesses:

Every day, millions of American small business owners and their employees work hard to develop products, provide services, and create jobs that grow our economy. They are mom-and-pop stores, restaurants, tech startups, family farms, manufacturers, and distributors—they are our nation’s entrepreneurs. They are hardworking Americans. And they continue to work hard, even while navigating a tangled web of complex and costly regulations. 

We are encouraged by the Administration’s efforts to ease this burden, including an Executive Order requiring the cost of any one new regulation to be offset by the removal of at least two existing regulations. However, it is Congress, and not the Executive Branch, that has the opportunity—and the obligation—to provide real, meaningful, and permanent regulatory relief for small businesses. They certainly don’t need or want another do-nothing bill or press release that pays lip service without delivering actual change. They need regulatory reform—reform which ensures regulators in future administrations actually listen to and take seriously the concerns of America’s small businesses.

Some of us in Congress are listening. During a House Small Business Committee hearing in September, one witness, Philip Howard, who testified on behalf of Common Good, a non-partisan coalition that focuses on simplifying government, told the Committee about one specific regulation bogging down small businesses: “Worker safety. For example, we literally have thousands of rules telling people helpful things like stairwell shall be lit by artificial or natural light.  How else can they be lit?”  Howard concluded, “These things have almost nothing to do with what makes the workplace safe.”

Small businesses need real regulatory reform like H.R. 33, the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act, which passed the House as part of a larger regulatory reform package on January 11, 2017, and the Senate companion, S. 584, which passed the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on May 17, 2017.

That is why our Senate Democrat colleagues need to put aside their partisanship and support this bill.

Read the full article from The Hill HERE.

“Oil States” Oral Argument: Many Nuances Probed, Little Light Shed on Outcome

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 9:44am
Featured Expert Contributor, Intellectual Property—Patents Jeffri A. Kaminski, Venable LLP The November 27, 2017 oral arguments in Oil States Energy v. Greene’s Energy Group shed little light on the ultimate fate of inter partes review proceedings (“IPRs”), in which the Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) may invalidate an issued patent. As anticipated, much of the …

Continue reading “Oil States” Oral Argument: Many Nuances Probed, Little Light Shed on Outcome

Categories: Latest News

Food Court Follies: Yogurt Buyers’ Attempt to Milk “All Natural” Litigation Trend Rejected

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 3:14pm
Among the hundreds of food-labeling class actions filed this decade, claims challenging a product’s “natural” or “all natural” declaration have stood out in number and notoriety. The latter characteristic is especially true about suits where a product is purportedly unnatural because an ingredient was “genetically modified.” A recent federal court decision reminds us that no …

Continue reading Food Court Follies: Yogurt Buyers’ Attempt to Milk “All Natural” Litigation Trend Rejected

Categories: Latest News

Commerce Announces Markup on December 13

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an executive session on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. in Hart 216 to consider the following legislative measures and nominations.

Bipartisan NTSB Reauthorization Aims to Modernize and Enhance Transparency

U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) introduced S. 2202, the National Transportation Safety Board Reauthorization Act. The legislation reauthorizes the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) at an average level of $113.4 million through fiscal year 2023 and offers several key reforms to modernize and improve transparency in the safety agency’s investigations, recommendations, and board member discussions.

Chairman Chabot on the Small Business Mergers, Acquisitions, Sales, and Brokerage Simplification Act of 2017

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON—Today, House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot made the following statement regarding H.R. 477, the Small Business Mergers, Acquisitions, Sales, and Brokerage Simplification Act of 2017.

As Chairman of the Committee on Small Business, I frequently hear how regulations are preventing growth and expansion. The bill before us today addresses one of the many regulatory hurdles that stand in the way of small business development,” said Chairman Chabot.

Chabot continued, “This should be a time of expansion and increased opportunities, not costs and bureaucratic red tape. Let’s continue to work together on behalf of the small businesses so that they can continue to grow today and create the jobs of tomorrow.”

Click HERE to watch Chairman Chabot’s floor speech and HERE to read the full bill.   

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Committee Announces Hearing To Examine National Ocean Policy

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, will convene a hearing titled “National Ocean Policy: Stakeholder Perspectives,” at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 12, 2017. The hearing will examine the state of the National Ocean Policy and the program’s interaction with existing laws and regulations for ocean management. 

Witnesses:

    - Ms. Bonnie Brady, Executive Director, Long Island Commercial Fishing Association  
    - Mr. Christopher Guith, Senior Vice President, Global Energy Institute, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
    - Mr. Dan Keppen, Executive Director, Family Farm Alliance 
    - Ms. Kathy Metcalf, President and CEO, Chamber of Shipping of America

Hearing Details:

Tuesday, December 12, 2017
2:30 p.m.
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Ninth Circuit Finds Lower Court Erred in Flushing “Flushable” Wipes False Advertising Claims

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 9:00am
Guest Commentary By Alexandra Laks and Lucía Roibal, Associates with Morrison & Foerster LLP in the firm’s San Francisco, CA office. This commentary is reposted with permission, originally appearing on December 4, 2017 in the firm’s Class Dismissed  blog. On October 20, 2017, a unanimous Ninth Circuit panel in Davidson v. Kimberly-Clark Corp., 873 F.3d 1103 …

Continue reading Ninth Circuit Finds Lower Court Erred in Flushing “Flushable” Wipes False Advertising Claims

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Opening Statement of Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) | Hearing on Workplace Leave Policies

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 12:00am

This century has a vastly different business landscape than the last. From the advent of the gig economy to the demand for telework and other work-life policies that address employees’ needs, “business as usual” just doesn’t work for working families anymore. In response, many employers have implemented and continue to implement innovative paid leave policies.

In fact, today’s workers are starting to consider these paid leave policies alongside other traditional, tangible benefits like pay raises. A 2015 study conducted by Harris Poll and Glassdoor found that nearly four in five employees would prefer new or additional benefits or perks over a pay increase.

Additional studies have validated this employment trend even more in recent years. This year, the HR Policy Association released a study that noted “nearly 70 percent of [its] members find that millennials expect greater flexibility with regard to scheduling and time off.”

Innovative paid leave policies are not only an important tool for businesses to attract and retain the best employees, but they also give workers across all business sectors the ability to create a better work-life balance. Time off is increasingly important to employees, whether it’s used to go back to school, care for a child or loved one, or just to spend more time with family.

Employers are responding to these changing expectations by offering employees a wider variety of benefits. In addition to providing traditional paid time off and sick leave, an increasing number of companies have added flexible work arrangement options to their employment leave policies. These arrangements may allow employees to take advantage of cutting-edge offerings like flexible hours, telecommuting, compressed work weeks, and job sharing. Importantly, these arrangements are tailored to the needs of the employer’s workforce.

As employers continue to develop and deploy these leave policies, there has been a significant increase in new and oftentimes conflicting state and local paid leave mandates. This growing patchwork of mandates across multiple jurisdictions creates a real administrative and implementation burden, particularly on small businesses, while also increasing compliance costs for employers.

For example, currently there are eight states and over 30 localities with paid leave laws on the books. By contrast, 20 states have bans against local paid sick leave laws.

As you might imagine, all these state and local laws are far from consistent. The current patchwork of paid leave laws at the state and local level can pose challenges to employers of all sizes trying to navigate them. And the mandatory nature of these laws deprives businesses of the freedom to craft individualized policies to best address the needs of their employees. That doesn’t help employers, and it doesn’t help their workers. Today’s hearing should give all of us valuable, firsthand insight into the evolving topic of workplace leave policies, and I look forward to the discussion.

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