Federal Court Properly Defers to Oklahoma Oil and Gas Oversight, Rejects Sierra Club Bid for Federal Regulation
Committee Leadership Statement on United Airlines and Chicago O’Hare Missing Deadline for Information on Forcible Passenger Removal
Nancy Zurbuchen Appointed Small Business Advocate for Region 7
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Nancy Zurbuchen, a Missouri businesswoman, has been appointed small business advocate for federal Region 7. In this role, Zurbuchen will be the direct link between the region’s small business owners, state and local government agencies, state legislators, small business associations and the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Zurbuchen will be Advocacy’s eyes and ears in Region 7, which covers Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri.
Philip D. Lovas Appointed Small Business Advocate for Region 9
With the Supreme Court Poised to Address Personal Jurisdiction Again, State High Courts Reject Attempts to Evade “Daimler v. Bauman”
Preserving Employee Wellness Programs
By Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce
From the start of the new Congress and new administration, reining in the regulatory state has been a leading priority — and for good reason.
In recent years, the American people have endured an unprecedented regulatory onslaught. Determined to advance an extreme liberal agenda, unelected bureaucrats of the Obama administration came up with new regulatory schemes impacting virtually every aspect of American life.
They sure were busy. During President Obama’s final year in office, there were 18 new rules and regulations for every law Congress passed. The 2016 issue of the Federal Register included 97,110 pages of new regulations — the highest in the register’s 80-year history.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration often failed to do its due diligence and ensure new rules passed a basic test of common sense. At times, federal agencies even issued regulations that directly contradicted others already on the books.
Case in point: inconsistent rules surrounding voluntary employee wellness plans.
Employee wellness plans have been around for decades and have typically received bipartisan support. In fact, buried in Obamacare’s hundreds of pages of mandates and failed policies is a free-market provision giving private-sector workers more opportunities to participate in these voluntary plans.
It was one of the few things Democrats got right in an otherwise bad law. Three federal agencies then issued rules implementing the law’s wellness policies. But then, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission got involved and issued its own set of rules that conflicted with the others.
Now, when employers are implementing wellness policies in their workplaces, they eventually reach a confusing fork in the road. It’s like coming to a stop sign while driving and finding two contradictory signs. One sign reads, “right turn only,” while the other sign reads, “left turn only.” Although both turns seem permitted, no matter which decision drivers make, they could still be punished.
That’s not fair to employers or workers. That is why I introduced the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act to reaffirm the wellness policies Congress enacted in 2010 and provide legal certainty.
The word “preserving” is critical. Voluntary wellness plans are currently available to tens of millions of workers and their family members. A 2011 report by the Office of the Surgeon General highlights that every dollar spent on a workplace wellness plan can result in $3.27 in lower medical costs.
Many have seized the opportunity to improve their quality of life and reduce their health insurance premiums. Many others have not. Each individual should be free to choose what is best for his or her family. Nothing under the legislation undermines this fundamental right.
Still, various organizations are spreading fear and misinformation about the bill because they oppose wellness plans altogether. They were silent while this issue was addressed under Mr. Obama’s watch, yet now they seem opposed to workers having this option.
Perhaps the most blatant falsehood is that the bill will force employees to turn over genetic information to their employers. Some have called this a “genetic testing” bill, though the words are nowhere in the legislation.
It may be surprising to learn that the federal law protecting genetic information — the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) — has always allowed requests for this information as part of voluntary wellness plans. When Republicans and Democrats passed the law in 2008, we trusted workers to decide what’s best for their families.
Genetic information is extremely sensitive, and no one should be forced or coerced into disclosing this information. I supported GINA then and now because it provides strong protections against employment discrimination and imposes robust confidentiality requirements on the use of genetic information. These policies will continue to protect workers under the bill I propose.
If concerned citizens have ideas for improving these protections, please know that I am listening. Unfortunately, the loudest voices today are the so-called experts and special interests who always want to control decisions that are best left to individuals and families. They could care less about the conflicting regulations this bill seeks to address because they don’t like wellness plans and want to deny access to them.
But at the end of the day, this bill was never about the merits of employee wellness plans. That debate already passed when Democrats encouraged employers to expand the use of these plans in the so-called Affordable Care Act.With millions of Americans already enrolled in a voluntary wellness plan, it’s important that employers have clear and consistent rules to follow. Passing legislation to correct the Obama administration’s regulatory incompetency is a common-sense step.
To read online, click here.
WCOE's 2017 Women Build America Annual Leadership Conference was held in Washington, D.C. on April 2–4, 2017. The three-day Conference started with High Tea Celebration on Sunday afternoon followed by dine-arounds, Monday speakers and panelists, Monday night's Awards Gala, and culminated with the Legislative Day and lunch at the Willard Hotel.
Sunday High Tea – Patrick Jephson, Unlock Your Hidden Strengths
Left to right: Lee Cunningham, Danette Beck, Patrick Jephson, Caryn Boisen, and Theresa Kern
Patrick Jephson, former Chief of Staff to HRH The Princess of Wales, shared how Princess Diana expressed her vision and direction in positive ways under the tough scrutiny of the Royal Family. Mr. Jephson also described ways to build a personal brand using real life examples from his days with Princess Diana.
Monday Breakfast – Small Business Briefing
Vivian Ling, Staff Attorney, House Small Business Committee
Vivian Ling led a lively, interactive discussion where Conference attendees provided input about current laws and regulations affecting small businesses. Ms. Ling shared legislative changes currently being considered by the members of the House Small Business Committee. She advised attendees to reach out to their Congressmen, trade associations, and industry representatives to express their views and concerns.
Monday Morning Session I – Improv(e) Your Networking
Kevin Reome, Work Play Improv
Left to right: Kevin Reome, Danette Beck, Brenda Radmacher, Cori MacCallum
Improvisation instructor Kevin Reome energized Conference attendees with several exercises to improve their networking skills. He also discussed the importance of being present and interested in conversation.
Monday Morning Session II – Find Your Guru: The Value of Trusted Advisors
Stephanie Burns, Turner Construction; Mary Kay Lanzillotta, Hartman-Cox Architects; Jennifer Lee, Travelers; and Christi Reimer, AGC
The panelists provided advice on how to hone one's craft by getting involved in trade organizations such as WCOE and having one's own advisory panel. They encouraged attendees to create a plan that can guide them to the person who can teach desired skills and provide feedback. The panelists shared efforts they have made in their companies including Turner's internal resource group and a variety of diversity programs at Travelers.
Luncheon Speaker – National Women's History Museum
Joan Bradley Wages
Joan Bradley Wages provided inspirational words about how our foremothers played an important role in the history of America and the importance of inspiring dreams and opportunities for young girls. Ms. Wages also announced that a bill was recently introduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 19) to establish a women's history museum as part of the Smithsonian Institution.
Keynote Luncheon Speaker – The Power and Importance of Collaborative Strength
Jenni Prisk, Prisk Communications
Sophia Cavalli and Jenni Prisk
Stressing the importance of communication, Jenni Prisk spoke about how to present oneself in a collaborative environment as a strong and confident participant. She encouraged attendees to be the example that others look up to and to own one's mistakes as much as one's successes.
Monday Afternoon Session I – The Power to Breakthrough: Pursuing Passions Despite Social Norms
Tracy Young, PlanGrid
PlanGrid Leadership Team and Lee Cunningham
Tracy Young, co-founder of PlanGrid, encouraged attendees to acknowledge gender bias, pursue their passions despite social norms, and be a good example for the next generation. She also shared how teams with more women members outperform teams with more men because women have better collaborative skills.
Monday Afternoon Session II – Innovative Solutions for Small Local Businesses
Jamie Rhee, Chief Procurement Officer, City of Chicago
Ms. Rhee shared information and best practices for successfully competing for public construction contracts including researching and understanding compliance, certification requirements, and mentorship and incentive programs available. She also encouraged attendees to attend workshops offered by public agencies.
Monday Afternoon Session III – Leverage Your Worth: The Power of Negotiating Effectively
Brenda Radmacher, Wood Smith Henning & Berman and WCOE Chapter President
Brenda Radmacher provided attendees with tools for successful negotiating. Her presentation included how to overcome the fear of negotiating, the steps of the negotiating process, and how to prepare for the process.
Tuesday Luncheon – New Administration Briefing: What's in Store for 2017 and Beyond
Dana Thompson, SMACNA
Dana Thompson provided insights regarding the new Administration. Attendees heard about opportunities for construction contractors, including a number of promises to address the Nation's infrastructure needs. Attendees also learned about some of the challenges facing the construction industry, particularly the union segment of the industry.
Supreme Court Cert Grant in “Farha v. US” Can Clarify Level of Criminal Intent Needed to Prove “Knowledge”
Joseph M. DiStasio Appointed Small Business Advocate for Region 1
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.
As part of its implementation of Executive Order 13777, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has opened a docket requesting comments from the public on the evaluation of existing regulations. In addition, EPA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) is holding a public meeting on April 25 in Washington DC to solicit additional input.