Advocacy to Host NAFTA Modernization Meeting for Small Businesses in Milwaukee
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, March 15th, the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration will host a NAFTA Modernization Meeting in Milwaukee for small business owners and stakeholders to attend and give input. The event will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Tommy G. Thompson Youth Center, 640 S 84th St., Milwaukee, WI 53214. SBA Administrator Linda McMahon will be in attendance.
Advocacy Seeks Small Business Input at a Regulatory Reform Roundtable and a NAFTA Outreach meeting in Detroit
Advocacy Seeks Small Business Input at a Regulatory Reform Roundtable and a NAFTA Outreach meeting in Detroit
The Committee on Small Business Subcommittees on Health and Technology and Agriculture, Energy, and Trade will meet for a joint hearing titled, “Disconnected: Rural Broadband and the Business Case for Small Carriers.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 A.M. on Tuesday, March 6, 2018 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
This hearing will examine the disparities between large, nationwide carriers and small, rural carriers that contribute to the urban and rural digital divide. Rural communities depend on small carriers to provide internet and telecommunications service where nationwide providers may choose not to deploy broadband, or provide minimal service. Deploying broadband in these high-cost areas requires significant investment in capital, time, and resources. The cost of investment, coupled with challenges unique to small, rural carriers in offsetting costs creates barriers to competition and sustainability for small and rural carriers in the mobile wireless marketplace. This hearing will focus on challenges inherent in the current regulatory and operational schemes that limit the ability of small carriers to deploy broadband in rural America.Documents
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List
Ms. Erin Fitzgerald
Womble Bond Dickinson, LLP
*Testifying on behalf of the Rural Wireless Association, Inc.
Mr. Tim Donovan
Senior Vice President, Legislative Affairs
Competitive Carriers Association
Mr. Paul Carlisle
Carliner Strategies LLC
*Testifying on behalf of the Blooston Rural Carriers
Mr. Derrick Owens
Vice President of Government Affairs
Western Telecommunications Alliance (WTA)
WASHINGTON – This week, House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) sent a letter to Marvin Kaplan, Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), expressing his disappointment in the NLRB’s recent vote to reinstate the harmful joint employer rule by vacating the Hy-Brand Industrial Contractors, Ltd. and Brandt Construction Co. decision from December 2017.
In the letter, Chairman Chabot said:
“For over 30 years, the NLRB used one standard to determine whether two separate businesses were joint employers. By vacating the December decision, the Board has once again put small business employers in limbo by not knowing if they will be unfairly held responsible for actions by employees they do not employ.”
Chabot continued, “I am extremely disappointed in the Board’s decision and will continue working to advance the legislation that is necessary to restore certainty to America’s small business owners and their employees.”
To read the full letter click HERE.
Chairman Chabot is an original cosponsor of H.R. 3441, the Save Local Business Act, to reverse the NLRB’s decision expanding the definition of the joint employer standard. H.R. 3441 passed the House on November 8, 2017.
The Committee first held a roundtable in April 2015 on the issue. NLRB then expanded its definition of the joint employer standard in August 2015. In March 2016, the Committee held a hearing titled, “Risky Business: Effects of New Joint Employer Standards for Small Firms” to examine the negative impact of the rule on small businesses.
WASHINGTON—Today, Members of the Subcommittees on Health and Technology and Agriculture, Energy, and Trade held a joint hearing on the challenges in the current regulatory and operational environment that limit the ability of small carriers to bridge the rural digital divide.
“As our world becomes increasingly dependent on a robust telecommunications service and wireless internet, the lack of it in places like American Samoa and rural America becomes even more glaring,” said Subcommittee Chairwoman Amata Radewagen (R-AS). “As we begin to examine the current state of America’s infrastructure and take steps to improve our nation’s highways and buildings, we need to ensure that broadband is at the front and center of all infrastructure discussions.”
“Small, rural internet service providers shoulder a heavy burden deploying broadband across hundreds of miles of diverse and sparse terrain,” stated Subcommittee Chairman Rod Blum (R-IA). “The significant investment required to deploy, maintain, update, and continually service these high-cost, rural areas should not be taken lightly.”
Bridging the Digital Divide
In an ever-changing technological era, the ability to provide high-quality and potentially life-saving broadband to rural Americans is key to putting America first. Earlier this year, President Trump created the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity that presented a report focused on e-connectivity in rural America. The report cites that access to broadband, “is not simply an amenity—it has become essential.”
“With respect to many parts of rural America, the four nationwide providers tend to focus coverage only on towns and major highways, and place sparsely populated areas at the very bottom of their network upgrade list,” said Erin Fitzgerald, Regulatory Counsel at the Rural Wireless Association, Inc. in Washington, DC. “In contrast, rural-based providers tend to prioritize and value customer experience when it comes to network coverage by making every effort to provide robust coverage throughout all parts of their service area`, even outside of towns and miles from public roads.
“Currently, however, providers must navigate a regulatory maze to gain approval to serve their communities, facing significant application review delays and burdensome, unforeseen fees while working through the federal, state, and local siting processes,” implored Tim Donovan, Senior Vice President for Legislative Affairs at the Competitive Carriers Institute in Washington, DC. “Just last week twenty-four non-nationwide CEOs and senior executives from CCA member companies joined together to urge the FCC to streamline infrastructure policies by providing regulatory certainty around siting processes, timelines, and fees to deploy and upgrade mobile broadband services.”
“Small rural internet service providers are key to building the rural broadband infrastructure,” stated Paul Carliner, Co-Founder of Bloosurf, LLC., in Salisbury, MD. “When it comes to providing high speed internet service in rural communities, we know from experience that one size does not fit all. Every rural community is different.
“These small businesses are hard at work, under tough circumstances, bringing advanced communications services to areas where there are few people and little financial reward. They do this so their communities don’t fall on the wrong side of the digital divide; they want them to be active participants in this digital era and global economy,” said Derrick Owns, Senior Vice President of Government and Industry Affairs at WTA-Advocates for Rural Broadband in Washington, DC. “It is encouraging to see policymakers devote an increased level of attention to rural broadband over the past several years.”
Access to rural broadband spurs job growth and job creation. Improving access to education, health services, and innovation in the agritech sector are all dependent on the ability to transmit data and communicate information quickly, efficiently, and at a low cost.
Opening Statement of Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), Chairman, Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Hearing on “Strengthening Welfare to Work With Child Care”
Good morning, and welcome to today’s subcommittee hearing. I’d like to thank our panel of witnesses, and my colleagues, for joining today’s important discussion on how child care should play a role in the welfare system, including ways effective child care supports working parents, alleviates generational poverty, and boosts the economy.
Federal welfare programs act as a vital tool to help families find a way out of poverty, and many welfare programs assist parents in finding a good-paying job to help them end their need for welfare benefits.
Presently, over 52 million Americans participate in major means-tested government assistance programs, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Among those Americans are parents of children who can benefit from high-quality child care while their parents find work, gain the skills they need to find a good-paying job, or are working hard to support their families’ path to self-sufficiency. These parents need to know that their child is being provided with proper care when they are away from home.
This is true for any working parent who wants to ensure their child is receiving proper care while they are at work. No parent should have to make the choice between showing up for work and caring for their child.
Just as important, high-quality care can have meaningful, lasting impacts. These children are tomorrow’s workforce.
A recent study from the Urban Institute highlighted the value of child care as part of the welfare system, stating “failure to meet the child care needs of parents directly undercuts the stated goals of both workforce development systems and child care systems.”
This is why it is important for members of congress to understand the current state of child care programs within the welfare system and exactly how they play a role in the federal government’s overall efforts to strengthen the workforce.
Presently, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the primary federal funding stream that provides financial assistance to low-income, working families with children under age 13 to pay for child care.
In 2015, about 1.4 million children and some 847,400 families received child care assistance in each month through the CCDBG. Of parents participating in the CCDBG program, strong majorities (78 percent) are working, and another 14 percent are in a workforce development or educational program to give them the skills they need to eventually find a good-paying job. Work requirements within welfare programs establish an important path to self-sufficiency.
Providing work support such as child care can be an essential piece of this puzzle for families. Connecting CCDBG to other workforce development and welfare programs is an important way to help move families out of welfare and into lasting work.
The witnesses before us today bring many different perspectives and many different stories on the importance of child care programs for welfare beneficiaries, and will provide us with insight into how Congress should continue to explore ways to support child care programs that help parents who receive federal assistance move into work and away from welfare.
I look forward to hearing from our panel of witnesses and from other members of the subcommittee today.
To view the PDF version, click here.
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NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Seeks Comments on Periodic Review of Existing Regulations
On March 1, 2018, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) published a notification of plan for periodic review and request for comments on two regulations up for review under the regulatory flexibility act. The topics for review include Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Regulations; Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Regulations; and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary Regulations, and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Regulations.
DOI’s Bureau of Land Management Seeks Comments on its Proposed Rule to rescind and revise a Final Rule on Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation
On February 22, 2018, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published a proposed rule to rescind and revise portions of the 2016 final rule entitled “Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation.” The proposal states that the rule will revise or eliminate portions of the final rule that are unnecessarily burdensome and that may overlap with other federal and state requirements. BLM states that the proposed rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.
On November 28, 2017 the Department of Energy published a request for information seeking comments on the U.S. Appliance and Equipment Energy Conservation Standards (ECS) program. DOE has now published a notice extending that comment period. The Agency seeks information on evaluating advantages and disadvantages of additional compliance flexibilities in the ECS. DOE states the goal is to explore options to reduce compliance costs, enhance consumer choice, and maintain or increase energy savings. Comments are now due by March 26, 2018.
On March 1, 2018, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published a notice of public hearing and request for comments on the Commission’s agenda and priorities for fiscal year 2019. Specifically CPSC seeks information on priorities that the Commission should emphasize and/or deemphasize, and rules that should be retrospectively reviewed. The public hearing will take place on April 11, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. in Bethesda, Maryland. The deadline to request to speak at the hearing is March 28, 2018. Written comments will also be accepted until March 28.
Women Construction Owners and Executives (WCOE) is excited to announce that Travelers will continue as a Corporate Alliance Partner. Contractors face complex challenges as they strive to build and maintain successful businesses in construction – one of the most competitive industries.
“We greatly value diversity and inclusion, and we’re proud to support initiatives that foster a culture of equality throughout the construction industry,” said Rick Keegan, President of Construction at Travelers. “We’re pleased to continue our relationship with WCOE, and we applaud its ongoing efforts to empower women as construction business owners and executives.”
Travelers is committed to creating a welcoming environment that brings together people with different backgrounds and perspectives as it believes fostering an environment of total inclusion is essential for success. As part of its commitment to inclusion, the company offers employee-led diversity networks focused on attracting, retaining and developing all of its employees, many of whom are engaged by the company’s leaders to influence business strategy. Travelers has also been recognized for its support of a diverse workforce by being included as one of DiversityInc’s Noteworthy Companies, appearing on Victory Media’s list of Military Friendly® Companies since 2007 and being acknowledged by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation as a Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality.
Travelers provides industry-leading construction safety training, education, products and services to help contractors navigate continuously evolving risks. With more than 600 professionals dedicated specifically to construction, Travelers works closely with contractors to develop customized plans to manage risk, promote a culture of safety and support business continuity. To learn more about construction services from Travelers, visit www.travelers.com.
Corporate Alliance Partners facilitate aligning corporate interests with WCOE’s goals and objectives, while sharing markets, experiences and business prospects. It ensures a collaborative effort and mutual advocacy to overcome challenges confronting our corporations in today’s marketplace as it relates to expanding the growth of Women Business Enterprises. In addition, Corporate Alliance Partners have access to WCOE’s resources through networking, educational conferences, publications, and contracting opportunities. For more information, contact Diane Hartfield, Executive Director, WCOE USA, 202.276.0646.
The Core Purpose of WCOE
To promote the role of women-owned businesses in the construction industry, to advance women in executive management positions within the industry, to provide resources to enhance the professional development of every member, to provide a network of executive women in the construction industry for peer-to-peer assistance and information, and to monitor and pursue legislation advantageous to women in general and the construction industry in particular.
The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV) is a leading provider of property casualty insurance for auto, home and business. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Travelers has approximately 30,000 employees and generated revenues of approximately $29 billion in 2017. For more information, visit www.travelers.com.
“While I will miss Patrick and his expertise at the Commerce Committee, I am excited for him to have this opportunity to serve on the Surface Transportation Board. Railroads and their customers will benefit from his sense of fairness and his talent that we utilized over the past three years at the Commerce Committee to help pass legislation reauthorizing passenger railroad service, making resources available to improve safety, and reforming the Surface Transportation Board. Once the committee receives the formal nomination and other required submissions, I expect we will move quickly to convene a confirmation hearing.”
The STB is the independent federal regulatory body responsible for economic oversight of the nation's freight rail system. Run by a five-member bipartisan board serving five-year terms, the STB has regulatory jurisdiction over railroad rates, mergers, service, line acquisitions, new rail-line construction, line abandonment, and other rail issues. The STB was created by Congress in 1996 as the successor to the Interstate Commerce Commission.
WASHINGTON – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) announced today a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on legislation reauthorizing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and spurring the deployment of next-generation wireless services.
The legislation, RAY BAUM’S Act (H.R. 4986), will be voted on in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, March 6, 2018.
“This legislation, combining provisions that have previously passed both the House and Senate, does what no legislation has done in 28 years – it reauthorizes the FCC and includes provisions that help make sure that the Commission is transparent, efficient, and ready for the 21st century communications landscape. This bipartisan, bicameral product puts consumers first and solidifies the nation’s critical telecommunications infrastructure, giving the U.S. a global edge in the race to 5G and improving internet services across the country. Importantly, it includes spectrum legislation that passed the Senate unanimously last year and authorizes reimbursement for broadcasters who were displaced in the successful incentive auctions. We look forward to continued bicameral, bipartisan work to make sure RAY BAUM’s Act is signed into law,” said Walden, Pallone, Thune and Nelson.
The Energy and Commerce Committee approved an earlier version of H.R. 4986 by voice vote last month. The Senate Commerce Committee passed its own bipartisan FCC reauthorization bill last Congress.
The legislation to be considered next week would:
- Reauthorize the FCC and include reforms to ensure the commission continues to improve its efficiency and transparency.
- Enact key provisions from the Senate-approved MOBILE NOW Act (S. 19) to boost the development of next-generation 5G wireless broadband by identifying more spectrum – both licensed and unlicensed – for private sector use and reducing the red tape associated with building wireless networks.
- Authorize a repack fund to address the shortfall in funding available to relocate broadcasters being displaced following the successful Incentive Auction, and set up new relocation funds for translators, low-power television, and radio stations that will be impacted by the repack – supplemented by a consumer education fund.
- Include a spectrum auction deposit “fix” which allows the FCC to deposit upfront payments from spectrum bidders directly with the U.S. Treasury.
- Direct the FCC to craft a national policy for unlicensed spectrum that includes certain specific considerations and recommendations.
- Advance proposals that would help the FCC and law enforcement protect consumers from fraudulent telephone calls, and to educate Americans about their options to stop these illegal calls.
The bill is named for former Energy and Commerce Committee Staff Director Ray Baum, a champion of telecommunications policy and long-time personal friend of Chairman Walden, who lost his battle with cancer in February 2018.
Thune and Nelson on Senate Contributions to Bicameral FCC Reauthorization and Spectrum Legislation (RAY BAUM’S Act)
I want to thank Chairman Thune for calling today’s hearing on positive train control.
We have met several times on this topic previously.
I wish I could say that this technology was in place and working, so that we wouldn’t have to keep having these deadly accidents.
Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Instead, we are here again after another tragic crash that killed several people and injured dozens, and which could have been prevented with positive train control technology.
In Washington State, an Amtrak train was speeding as it rounded into a curve and derailed onto the highway below, killing three people and injuring more than sixty.
The facts of this case are eerily similar to the 2015 crash in Philadelphia, where a speeding Amtrak train derailed while traveling into a curve, killing eight and injuring hundreds.
Just last month, an Amtrak train traveling to Florida was in a head-on collision with a CSX freight train.
The engineer and a train conductor from Florida were killed in this collision and more than a hundred people were injured.
These tragedies can be prevented.
And they should be prevented.
That’s why the industry as a whole must do a better job of implementing positive train control and get it done quickly.
We’ve heard for far too long from some in the industry that implementing positive train control is a complex and expensive process and that railroads have faced serious challenges during implementation.
But more and more these arguments are becoming tiresome, especially in light of the fact that the railroads have had ten years already to get this done.
I also know that many railroads have overcome these challenges.
Railroads like BNSF, SEPTA commuter rail, and others have made significant progress toward implementation and I applaud them for their work.
But some railroads are way behind the curve and, shockingly, according to the Department of Transportation, a few have made almost zero progress.
This includes railroads in my state of Florida.
This is unacceptable.
In many instances, it feels like déjà vu. In 2015, none of the railroads were near completion.
The railroads, commuter rails, states, and countless others, including the Obama administration, requested an extension of the positive train control deadline.
Reluctantly, Congress granted additional time, but demanded real action from the railroads, including:
- Completion of equipping the locomotives and tracks
- Significant testing and evidence that their systems work, and
- New penalties for the department to ensure that railroads are meeting their deadlines.
We also provided nearly 200 million dollars in grant funding, in addition to the more than two billion dollars in federal support that had previously been provided.
That effort was supposed to ensure that PTC would be quickly implemented.
We heard repeatedly that, given a limited amount of time, railroads would be able to get positive train control in place.
Yet, here we are again
And it’s now become crystal clear that many railroads have not lived up to their end of the bargain.
That’s why I’m not inclined to give anyone additional time.
We simply must get this done.
That means railroads need to make sure that they are doing everything possible to meet the 2018 deadline.
States and the Department of Transportation must come together to ensure that all available resources are being directed to this task.
And finally, the department must use its authority to hold railroads’ feet to the fire.
We have a responsibility to the traveling public to learn from these tragic crashes and to improve safety on our rail lines.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today on how we can meet that challenge.
We convene today’s hearing at a critical time for positive train control, or PTC, implementation.
The victims, families, and all those affected by the overspeed derailment of Amtrak 501 in Washington and the collision of Amtrak 91 in South Carolina remain in our thoughts and prayers. These accidents underscore the importance of implementing PTC quickly, safely, and successfully.
And, while tragic grade crossing collisions like the one involving Amtrak Special Train 923 are not generally prevented by PTC, reducing the number of such incidents remains another important priority.
We are now about 10 months away from the December 31, 2018, statutory deadline for PTC, and recent reports suggest many railroads will not fully implement this safety technology by the end of the year.
More alarmingly, a new report from the GAO, which I requested and which will be presented today, finds that seven to 19 commuter railroads are at-risk for not even qualifying for a limited extension to work out software, testing, and interoperability issues.
To be sure, PTC installation is an enormously complex undertaking. To implement PTC, railroads must develop, acquire, and install new hardware components and complex software systems that are able to communicate with other railroads.
There are different PTC systems, and each system has different configurations – and yet they all must work seamlessly across our nation’s interwoven rail network. There are a limited number of PTC hardware suppliers, and there are a limited number of individuals who have the technical expertise to program that hardware. Simply put, PTC is not an “off-the-shelf” technology, and a railroad can’t simply “flip a switch.”
Understanding these challenges, the Federal government has provided substantial funding and financing support for implementation. A new report from the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, which I requested and which will also be released today, shows DOT has awarded nearly $3 billion in grant and loan assistance – with $2.3 billion provided to date and another $600 million on the way. This includes much of the $199 million that this Committee worked to include in the FAST Act.
For instance, this financial support includes a $967 million loan and a nearly $100 million grant to support the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, one of our witnesses today.
While not all financial assistance should come from the Federal government, with a significant amount of Federal support not yet expended, it is critical that grant and loan recipients deploy resources in a timely and efficient manner in advance of the deadline.
I want to conclude my remarks by emphasizing what is at stake here. Failing to comply with the law is not an option. If commuter railroads do not meet the requirements of the law, there is a real risk of halting or reducing service. If so, millions of people who depend on commuter rail to get to work each day, or to visit a doctor, or see a family member, could see their lives disrupted. Those entities that aren’t on track need to look at successful examples and recommit their organizations to getting the job done.
I will now turn to Ranking Member Nelson for any opening remarks.