WASHINGTON – Today, Members of the House Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce and Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access heard from officials from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) regarding small business federal contracting provisions in the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA). Witnesses discussed trends in the SBA’s contracting programs found in a recent GAO report.
“According to SBA’s size standards, ninety-nine percent of all businesses on the island are considered small, but only a limited number of these firms are actually engaged in federal contracting activities,” said Subcommittee Chairman Knight (R-CA). “The island itself is dominated by small businesses and thus presents an excellent case study examining the efficacy of SBA’s federal contracting programs on the small business community.”
“As the Chairman noted, the vast majority of businesses in Puerto Rico are considered small, but not many of these firms actually operate in the federal contracting space,” Subcommittee Chairman Brat (R-VA) said. “Having a strong, healthy, and diversified small business base is critical to Puerto Rico’s economic stability and financial independence.”
William B. Shear, Director of Financial Markets and Community Investment at the GAO said, “Stakeholders GAO interviewed identified several challenges small businesses in Puerto Rico may face in obtaining federal contracting opportunities. Challenges they identified included a lack of knowledge about the federal contracting process; difficulty meeting procurement requirements; and difficulty accessing bonding, financing, and capital.”
“The staff of Office of Government Contracting and Business Development continues to improve the implementation of the SBA’s federal government contracting programs through improved application and certifications processes,” said Robb Wong, Associate Administrator for the Office of Government Contracting and Business Development at the SBA. “SBA provides assistance to firms at all phases of the procurement process. Our District Office in Puerto Rico conducts small business outreach activities throughout the island including training and seminaries to promote participation in the SBA’s small business programs. ”
By CityBusiness Staff
Congressional lawmakers looking at the impact of an Obama-era labor policy heard Tuesday from a New Orleans-based business concerned that it could derail plans to expand in the Gulf South.
Dat Dog, the gourmet hot dog joint that opened on Freret Street in 2011, was one of several businesses asking the House Committee on Education and the Workforce for clarification on joint employer policy.
Under the Obama administration, the Labor Department significantly broadened the definition of a joint employer, and the National Labor Relations Board said a company could be considered a joint employer even if it had only indirect or unexercised control.
In previous years, the NLRB had said a company had to have direct control over the actions of a subcontractor or franchisee’s employees in order to be considered a joint employer.
Jerry Reese, who handles franchise development for Dat Dog, said the new standard could hurt plans to expand in Louisiana and beyond. The restaurant has put new restaurants in Lafayette and Hattiesburg, Mississippi and announced this year it is looking for franchisees in the Gulf South.
“Implementing our expansion plan will certainly depend on Congress’s willingness to help address regulatory obstacles that make the future growth of small businesses, like ours, uncertain,” Reese said. “As with any business that is fortunate enough to grow, we now face new risks. Joint employer is the most prominent risk on our minds.”
“Make no mistake about it: this policy disproportionately affects small businesses,” he added. “Big corporations have the resources, the attorneys and the economies of scale to adapt to joint employer … It’s the small employers like Dat Dog that may run out of resources before we even get started.”
U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina, who chairs the committee, said it supports rolling back the joint employer policy to what it was in previous years.
Rep. Todd Rokita Opening Statement: Hearing on “Opportunities for State Leadership of Early Childhood Programs”
While a parent is the ultimate decider of what is best for their own child’s early development, the federal government has had a role in childcare for over 50 years.
With enactment of the Head Start Act in 1965, a by-product of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, the federal government established its role helping promote healthy development of vulnerable children in their earliest—and arguably—most important years.
While Head Start provided greater access to early childhood education for vulnerable families, like many Johnson-era programs, the federal government’s involvement in this space has mushroomed into an overly-burdensome, costly, and confusing network of programs.
Today, GAO will testify on their new report which finds the federal government provides support for early childhood services through 44 separate programs, nine of which have an explicit purpose to do so at an annual cost of more than $15 billion. The two largest are the Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant programs. We will hear that the agencies have done a better job at improving their communications in operating these programs, but that overlap, duplication, and fragmentation among programs remain.
Finding an early childcare or education program is an important decision for many working parents and families. The federal government should not be making the job of navigating the system more difficult through a confusing maze of federal programs.
Luckily for parents, states have stepped up to the plate. Recently, we have seen states take the lead in operating early childhood programs, as well as increase funding for this area. For example, my home state of Indiana has launched a promising new pilot program aimed at helping low-income Hoosier children access a free, high-quality pre-k education.
In 2016 alone, states increased funding by a combined $480 million in early childhood education programs. This is an increase of 6.8 percent from the previous year.
We will hear today examples of how states are finding a better way for children, and are helping small businesses innovate to improve their services.
States have recognized that they are better positioned to help parents when it comes to choosing the services that are best for their child.
For those of us who want to see the federal government take a diminished role in deciding what is best for our children in terms of education, this is excellent news.
States understand their local communities best, and understand what works and does not work for the children and parents within the state.
Today, we will hear about the positive impacts of state centered early childhood programs.
Additionally, we will hear testimony on just how large and cumbersome federal involvement has become. I hope this conversation will help us consider how we might address the redundancies and inefficiencies throughout these programs.
Early childhood development is a critical issue because we are talking about future students, future citizens, and future leaders in the workforce. At the same time, we have a responsibility to re-evaluate the current climate and make sure that taxpayer investments are being used effectively. I look forward to a discussion about the ways we can better meet the needs of American children, families, and taxpayers alike.
Force Multipliers: How Transportation and Supply Chain Stakeholders are Combatting Human Trafficking
The Committee on Small Business will meet for a hearing titled, “Help or Hindrance? A Review of SBA’s Office of the Chief Information Officer.” The hearing will take place at 11:00 A.M. on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
The Committee will examine the Small Business Administration’s Office of the Chief Information Officer and whether it is operating efficiently and effectively.
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List
Ms. Maria Roat
Chief Information Officer
United States Small Business Administration
Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling this hearing.
Human trafficking is a horrific crime.
It is a widespread problem that requires us to put all solutions on the table.
Today, we will look at how transportation, technology and the supply chain can help prevent and respond to incidents of human trafficking.
In Florida, we unfortunately know the consequences of human trafficking all too well.
According to the human trafficking hotline, Florida ranks third in the country for the number of cases reported in 2016.
The Florida Department of Children and Families also said Florida received more than 1,800 reports alleging human trafficking.
That’s a 54 percent increase over the year before.
These statistics are shocking.
But the stories of victims are even worse.
Especially when we look at the fact that many victims of trafficking are women and children.
Minors may be targeted because they have run away from home or have substance abuse problems.
The traffickers promise these kids all kinds of things – money, clothes, drugs, housing – and they have no idea the price they will have to pay.
Since the traffickers prey on the desperate and the vulnerable and they seek out places where people won’t notice, it can be very difficult to intervene.
Help can sometimes come from unusual places.
I’ll give you an example.
A Florida truck driver was traveling through Virginia two years ago.
At a gas station, he saw an old RV that stuck out and noticed suspicious behavior that made him concerned for a minor female in the RV.
He immediately called the police.
Later he learned that the woman he spotted was a trafficking victim.
She had been coerced from Iowa, held against her will, and subjected to torture and sexual assault.
His quick thinking and attention to suspicious behavior saved her life.
Groups like Truckers Against Trafficking train truck drivers to spot signs of trafficking and report these concerns to the human trafficking hotline.
Last Congress, the FAA bill included a provision, which Senator Klobuchar championed, to require that all flight attendants receive training on how to recognize and respond to potential human trafficking.
This Congress, I joined Chairman Thune and Senator Klobuchar on legislation to improve our response to trafficking in the transportation sector by increasing awareness, expanding training, and providing a new penalty to discourage human trafficking.
I thank all of our witnesses for being here today, especially Mr. Lares, who traveled from Florida to speak on the work he does to combat human trafficking in the Orlando area.
WASHINGTON - Today, the Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing to examine how small businesses have been negatively affected by the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) expanded joint employer standard put into place during the Obama Administration.
“For over two years, small businesses have been telling us that the Obama-era changes to joint employer standard were bad news, now we have even more proof. The rule has harmed the small business owner’s ability to hire more workers, or even to open a new business in the first place,” said House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH).
The House Committee on Small Business has been active on this issue since it arose in 2015. The Committee held a roundtable in April 2015 and then in March 2016 held a hearing on the issue entitled, “Risky Business: Effects of new Joint Employer Standards for Small Firms” to examine how the expanded rule impacted small businesses. The Committee found that the new standard led many large companies to either assert more control over small businesses they contract with or end business relationships entirely.
“Today’s Education and the Workforce hearing builds on the groundwork our Committee laid over the past two years and it is good to know that House Republican Leadership is continuing to fight unnecessary and burdensome regulations at every turn,” Chairman Chabot added.###
Over the past few years, we have only begun to comprehend the horrors of human trafficking and how it established a foothold in this country. Thanks to the vigilance of faith-based groups, humanitarians across the globe, and the courage of survivors, we are learning more about the tactics and loopholes human traffickers exploit to prey on the most vulnerable among us.
Children are often the ones most vulnerable to exploitation. It’s estimated that one in six endangered runaways are likely victims of this horrific crime. Earlier this year, with the leadership of Representatives Guthrie and Courtney, the House passed the Improving Support for Missing and Exploited Children Act.
That bipartisan legislation supports the critical efforts of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It includes positive reforms to encourage new and innovative ways to recover and protect missing and exploited children, including those who are victims of trafficking. We need to do everything possible to ensure this positive work can continue, and that’s what H.R. 1808 was all about.
But this is an issue that demands our ongoing attention. More solutions are needed. And that’s why we’re here today — to build on the bipartisan work we’ve already accomplished.
The Department of Labor has a unique vantage point for spotting violations in workplaces that can be tell-tale signs of modern slavery and labor exploitation. This bill equips DOL personnel to form partnerships with law enforcement to detect and address signs of human trafficking in America’s workplaces.
If we can shed light in any corner where this evil may lurk, we must.
I commend Mr. Walberg’s leadership on this issue, and Mr. Sablan for working with him so passionately. I am proud that the Committee on Education and the Workforce could do its part to support their work and bring this bill to the floor.
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Chairwoman Foxx Statement: Hearing on “Redefining Joint Employer Standards: Barriers to Job Creation and Entrepreneurship”
So many individuals have achieved the American Dream by owning a small business. One of the reasons we’re the greatest, most prosperous nation in the history of the world is because of the opportunity for people to take a risk, start a small business, and achieve a lifetime of success.
As a former small business owner, I understand the many challenges small companies face. It can be very difficult — and costly — for small businesses to get up and running. And once they do, they constantly face tough decisions as they try to hire workers, make a payroll, and keep their doors open.
Through hard work and determination, many entrepreneurs have found their path to success through franchising, which often involves lower start-up costs. Opportunities through franchising, as well as contracting, have empowered countless Americans to climb the economic ladder and obtain a better quality of life for their families. Today, there are 733,000 franchise establishments nationwide that support more than 7.6 million jobs.
The entrepreneurial spirit of small businesses, when combined with the resources, infrastructure, and potential of America’s most notable brands, has brought untold innovation and horsepower to the American economy and desperately-needed jobs to communities across this country.
Sadly, unelected bureaucrats who have never owned a business or made a payroll launched an unprecedented attack on these successful business models that so many rely on. It began when the National Labor Relations Board issued an extreme joint employer decision, which distorted the definition of what it means to be an employer. Then, the Obama administration took this radical new policy a step further, spreading it to other areas of federal labor law.
The previous joint employer standard made sense. For two or more employers to be considered joint employers, they had to share direct control over the terms and conditions of employment, including hiring decisions, for example. This clear, straight-forward test provided stability and certainty for job creators for decades.
But now, local employers face a complicated, confusing, and vague new standard that has threatened their independence and created an enormous amount of uncertainty. Two completely separate employers can be considered joint employers simply because they made a business agreement that “indirectly” or “potentially” impacts their employees’ day-to-day responsibilities and working environment.
For small franchisees, it means they could lose control over their business to larger companies. We’ve heard from many small business owners over the years who are concerned they could lose everything they’ve worked hard to build for themselves and their families.
One Florida small business owner once warned this committee, “Instead of being a small businessman, I would virtually overnight become a manager for a large company … I now find myself in the position that an unelected board in Washington, DC can just unilaterally determine that my American Dream is over.”
Who could possibly gain from this attack on the American Dream? We know it won’t be America’s workers. According to the American Action Forum, the joint employer scheme could result in 1.7 million fewer jobs.
Powerful special interest groups are the ones who stand to benefit. Desperate to reverse decades of decline in union membership, union bosses now have a new tool that makes it easier to unionize. For years, they’ve been trying to unionize multiple small businesses together in one organizing drive, and the joint employer scheme helps them do just that.
It’s time to put an end to this extreme and partisan policy that does nothing to help American workers and makes it harder for entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams. This committee has previously advanced legislation to protect small businesses and their employees by restoring the commonsense definition of what it means to be an employer. With a new Congress and new administration, we have an opportunity to get the job done.
Already, the Trump administration has taken steps to provide regulatory certainty where they can. And it is my hope that hearing firsthand accounts today of the job-crushing impact of the expanded joint employer standard will build new momentum here in Congress to find the solution Americans need.
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WASHINGTON – Today, the House Small Business Committee held a hearing to examine whether the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) is running efficiently and effectively.
Over the years, SBA’s Office of the Chief Information Officer has struggled to fulfill its most important functions, including to conduct effective oversight over the agency’s IT investments and IT security. Government watchdogs have issued numerous reports outlining the OCIO’s many failures and flaws.
“Unfortunately, the Office of the Chief Information Officer has struggled over the past several years. It has experienced high turnover at the Chief Information Officer position—SBA is on its eighth CIO since 2005,” said House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH).
“Under new leadership, the Committee is pleased to learn how the current CIO, Ms. Roat, is working to improve the Office of the Chief Information Officer and better fulfill SBA’s important mission. From what the Committee has seen and heard so far, Ms. Roat is trying to strengthen the leadership and voice of her office,” added Chairman Chabot.
Maria Roat, Chief Information Officer at the U.S. Small Business Administration said this during the hearing, “It is necessary to pivot OCIO from a reactive, fire-fighting, technical support operation to a more proactive services organization that is innovative and responsive to the business and technology needs of SBA’s mission. After I arrived, the OCIO began moving aggressively to address its network, systems, and applications and overall operational challenges, move its primary data center to the cloud, address security deficiencies and decrease its personnel vacancy rate.”
Good morning. Thank you all for being here. HyuhToday, we will hear from some remarkable leaders working on the ground to combat human trafficking and help victims.
Human Trafficking is a heinous crime that often hides in plain sight. The coercion that traffickers use to manipulate victims is not just happening overseas; it occurs right here in the United States.
As the National Human Trafficking Hotline details, cases of human trafficking are annually reported in each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C.
It is estimated that human trafficking is a $150 billion-dollar industry globally.
Our hearing today will explore the role of transportation providers, who are fighting the growth of trafficking in the United States, and their ongoing efforts to reduce forced labor in the global economy.
Our witnesses have been asked to testify about the challenges and successful strategies in combatting this horrible crime.
Human trafficking takes on many different forms and the perpetrators use a variety of tools to recruit and control their victims. Victims of human trafficking are often lured with false promises of well-paying jobs, stability, or education. Others are manipulated by people they trust.
Because the ways in which humans are exploited differ greatly, the responses needed to disrupt and eradicate trafficking also differ. Solutions involve cooperation among industry, the government, and NGOs. No single entity can tackle this problem alone.
In the Senate, my colleagues Senators Cornyn, Grassley, and Klobuchar have been working on legislation, including the Abolish Human Trafficking Act of 2017, which increases the scope of training, targets organized perpetrators, and improves the national strategy to combat human trafficking. As a cosponsor of this legislation, I hope to see it move quickly through the Senate.
Our Committee also plays a role in helping to solve this problem. The FAA Extension Act, signed into law last year, included a provision requiring enhanced training for flight attendants to recognize and respond to potential human trafficking victims.
Just this week, Senator Klobuchar and I plan to introduce complementary bills that would create a lifetime ban for Commercial Driver’s License holders convicted of a crime related to human trafficking and improve education and outreach efforts regarding trafficking prevention within the transportation sector. I anticipate that both of these measures will be on the Committee’s next markup agenda.
As we’ll hear from our witnesses today, greater knowledge, understanding, and awareness are essential for any forward movement in combatting this crime.
Ms. Goetsch from Truckers Against Trafficking will discuss her group’s work to educate, equip, and mobilize the trucking industry to combat trafficking as part of their regular jobs.
As consumers, many of us are unaware of potential victims who may come knocking on our door. As Ms. Sorenson from Polaris will testify, these victims can often be found in traveling sales crews, domestic work, and commercial cleaning services, just to name a few.
We also may not realize that forced labor might have been used to harness the seafood we regularly enjoy. Mr. Goswami will testify about the Issara Institute’s efforts to assist those who are trapped at sea and oftentimes working without food or pay. He will discuss Issara’s efforts to work with corporate partners who want to ensure their supply chain, not only for seafood but for all of the goods they sell, is free from forced labor.
There is also some significant work being done on the ground in my home state of South Dakota. Organizations such as Call to Freedom and Pathfinder are working to identify gaps in services for human trafficking victims and provide housing and support for victims to regain their lives and independence.
Other organizations in my state, such as Native Hope, are on the ground working to educate and expand awareness during large events in South Dakota. They are also working with state and tribal law enforcement to assist vulnerable communities often targeted for trafficking. I commend the efforts of these organizations and their leaders.
I am encouraged by the partnerships and innovative solutions that our witnesses will highlight today.
Thank you all for being here and for the advocacy and work you are engaged in. I will now turn to Ranking Member Nelson for his opening statement.
WASHINGTON – House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) sent a letter yesterday to the Honorable Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), requesting a briefing on the CFPB’s recent rulemaking actions.
“Small business owners frequently raise concerns to the Committee about the challenges of access to capital and how it prohibits job creation and business expansion. As Congress looks for ways to create an environment for small businesses to flourish, the Committee is wary of increased reporting requirements and onerous regulations, which acutely impact small businesses,” said House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH).
In light of concerns that CFPB’s actions may be harming small businesses, the Committee is seeking details about CFPB’s request for information regarding Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act as well as the manner in which CFPB conducted certain Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) panels.The full text of the letter can be found HERE.
WASHINGTON – Today, House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) announced that Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) has joined the House Small Business Committee.
“As a real estate developer, former state lawmaker, and lifelong South Carolinian, Ralph will be an invaluable asset to the Small Business Committee as we continue to fight for America’s 29 million small businesses,” said Chairman Chabot. “His pro-small business record is strong and his real-world experience will be an asset. We look forward to his expertise on the committee.”
After being named to the Committee, Norman said, “I’m excited to be named to the Small Business Committee in Congress. I’ve run a small business for over 40 years and I understand the best way to help small businesses is to create an environment for them to flourish - cutting taxes and burdensome government regulations. I look forward to using my experience in the private sector to serve on this Committee and fight for small businesses.”
Rep. Ralph Norman represents South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District and was appointed to the Small Business Committee on June 27, 2017. He will serve on the Subcommittee on Contracting and the Workforce and the Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight, and Regulations.###