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ICYMI: Chairman Chabot Op-ed on How Opioids are Affecting Small Businesses

House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 10/09/2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – This week, House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) wrote an op-ed for the Cincinnati Enquirer on how the opioid crisis is affecting small businesses and how the Committee is addressing this important issue.

“... According to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), small business optimism is at a 45-year high. But they have also expressed concern over a new problem: a lack of qualified workers.

“While this may be due to a number of different factors, research today shows that many young, working-age Americans are not working or actively seeking work as a direct result of opioids. As I learned at a recent hearing we held, small business owners are doing their part to combat the crisis, not just for their bottom lines, but to save people’s lives…

“Not surprisingly, the crisis has had a major effect on small businesses. Workers on opioids are less dependable and productive. In 2015, an estimated two million workers were not in the labor force due to opioids. Small businesses, especially those in the construction and manufacturing sectors, have been hit hard as opioid prescription use is typically 5-10 percent higher in these industries.

“But some small business owners have taken it upon themselves to fight the epidemic… The Ohio SBDC created a workshop to equip small business employers and employees with the information and tools they need to take a proactive role against the epidemic. The Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation also offers free Drug Free Workplace Training that includes employee education, testing for drug use, and how to respond to an employee’s harmful use of drugs.

“While the opioid crisis is taking a hit on our nation’s small businesses, we at the committee will continue to pursue solutions that work for our nation’s small business owners and their employees. Allen likes to say that "a job is the best antidote," and I’d have to agree – that’s why small businesses like hers are so important to overcoming this terrible epidemic. 

“My hope is that through practical solutions and a little compassion, we can help small businesses find and retain qualified workers, and more importantly, save peoples’ lives.”

To read the FULL article, click here

President Signs Five-Year FAA Reauthorization Bill into Law

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, issued the following statement on attending a signing ceremony of H.R. 302, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, which President Donald Trump signed into law today. 

“With President Trump’s signature, the FAA Reauthorization Act will begin modernizing airport infrastructure, improving service for the flying public, enhancing transportation safety and security, and boosting aviation industry innovation,” said Thune. “Because of this bill, our economy and passengers will benefit as airport construction projects will move forward, aviation manufacturing gets a boost, and passengers will gain new legal protections during the experience of air travel. This five-year bill is the longest FAA reauthorization since 1982.”

For more information about the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 click here.

Subcommittee Announces Hearing on Coast Guard and NOAA Ship Recapitalization

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) chairman of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, & the Coast Guard, will convene a hearing titled “The Future of the Fleets: Coast Guard and NOAA Ship Recapitalization,” at 9:30 a.m. on October 11, 2018. This hearing will examine the need for Coast Guard and NOAA fleet recapitalization, different vessel acquisition and procurement strategies, and the status of ongoing recapitalization efforts of each agency.

Witnesses:

  • Rear Admiral Michael Haycock, Assistant Commandant for Acquisition, U.S. Coast Guard
  • Rear Admiral Michael Silah, Director, Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Ms. Marie Mak, Director, Contracting and National Security Acquisitions, Government Accountability Office
  • Mr. Ronald O’Rourke, Specialist in Naval Affairs, Congressional Research Service

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Thursday, October 11, 2018
9:30 a.m.
Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard 

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.

Delinquent State Safety Regulators, Particularly Cal/OSHA, Catch Up with OSHA’s E-Recordkeeping Rule

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 10/05/2018 - 9:08am
Guest Commentary By Eric J. Conn and Dan C. Deacon; Mr. Conn is a founding partner of Conn Maciel Carey LLP in Washington, DC and Chair of the OSHA • Workplace Safety Group, and Mr. Deacon is an associate with the firm. The two recently wrote a WLF Legal Backgrounder on OSHA’s efforts to alter …

Continue reading Delinquent State Safety Regulators, Particularly Cal/OSHA, Catch Up with OSHA’s E-Recordkeeping Rule

Categories: Latest News

Chabot Praises Record Unemployment Rate and Higher Wages

House Small Business Committee News - Fri, 10/05/2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – Today, House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) released the following statement after the United States Department of Labor reported that 134,000 jobs were added in September with unemployment hitting a 49-year low at 3.7 percent. In addition, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) reported that 37 percent of firms are offering higher compensation in September, which is further underscored by the 2.8 percent wage increase generated in 2017.

"It’s great to see the accelerated growth our economy is undergoing with the continued positive effects of our pro-growth policies in full swing. With unemployment the lowest it’s been since 1969 and over 1.8 million jobs created since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law, we’re clearly headed in the right direction. Not only are there more job openings, but a record number of small business owners are increasing wages to attract and retain more employees. This good news will bode well for those seeking employment, and I look forward to seeing this momentum continue.”

Committee Announces Second Data Privacy Hearing

Hearing includes experts on EU rules, California privacy initiative, and consumer protection...

<span>Good morning and welcome to

Good morning and welcome to today’s hearing on a topic that continues to be critically important to this committee:  access for all to broadband services.

As Chairman, I want to share some principles that I believe should guide the Committee with regard to building out rural broadband.

First, rural Americans, and the smaller businesses serving them, must never be an afterthought when making public policy decisions.

Second, universal service cannot be achieved without pragmatic and bipartisan cooperation in Congress and without proper oversight of the Federal Communications Commission and other agencies tasked with advancing this goal like the Rural Utilities Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Third, the certainty and sufficiency of funding for broadband in rural America – for carriers and end users – must be ensured. 

Providing quality communications services at just, reasonable, and affordable rates is a Congressionally-mandated telecommunications mission that has been in place for over 80 years.

In fulfilling this mission, one of the most critical programs overseen by the FCC is the Universal Service Fund’s High Cost program.

It has been more than a year since Chairman Pai, Commissioner Carr, and Commissioner Rosenworcel sat before this committee and committed to conducting a thorough economic analysis of the impact of USF funding cuts on broadband deployment in rural areas before allowing any further reduction in the percentage of cost recovery for high cost areas. 

Since that time, however, the cuts resulting from the FCC’s budget control mechanism have increased by almost 25 percent.  25 percent! 

There has been no economic analysis of what these cuts are doing to rural America — what they are doing to rural jobs, rural economic development, and the ability to live and learn, work, and play in communities like Pierre, South Dakota or Ocean Pointe, Hawaii; Yankton, South Dakota or Yakima, Washington.

The FCC has not conducted an analysis of what insufficient and unpredictable funding is doing to the companies trying to deploy broadband under some of the most difficult circumstances in America. 

This is simply unacceptable. 

The FCC’s failure to ensure sufficient and predictable funding jeopardizes the vitality of America’s rural communities, and makes it much, much harder for our witnesses and others like them to deploy broadband.

The impact of the FCC’s failure is even greater in America’s Tribal lands. 

The challenge of deploying broadband in these areas is often greater than in rural America more generally, and so the impact of uncertain and insufficient funding is even more severe for Tribal communities in desperate need of the communications infrastructure that brings more jobs and improved education resources.

Just yesterday, I, along with the rest of the South Dakota delegation, sent a letter to Chairman Pai where we laid out a strong case for immediate FCC action to restore sufficiency and predictability to the High Cost program. 

In my home state of South Dakota, support for rural carriers will be cut by more than $11 million over a twelve-month period if the FCC does not act by the end of the year.

That is just the impact in South Dakota. 

These cuts could cause providers to halt or cancel broadband buildout, reducing the availability of broadband throughout rural America.  

This could also cause an increase to the cost of service to those who already receive service, putting at risk investments already made.  

Such inaction by the FCC would be contrary to its mission.

Another issue the Committee has frequently examined is broadband mapping and how our current maps are insufficient.  

Without accurate maps, we cannot build out broadband to truly unserved areas.

On a more positive note, I am heartened to see FCC Chairman Pai planning for an auction for the Remote Areas Fund to provide service to extremely high-cost areas, including both rate-of-return and price cap areas. 

I am interested in seeing a tech-neutral approach for future support from programs like the Remote Areas Fund, ensuring wireline service, fixed and mobile wireless service, and satellite service all have a part to play in connecting Americans to next generation broadband service.

As I said at the beginning of my statement, rural Americans should never be left behind their urban counterparts. 

That is why I am happy to have a panel of individuals who are uniquely qualified to speak to the real-life challenges of running broadband in rural America.

I want to welcome our panel to Washington.  

I now recognize the Ranking Member for any remarks he may have.

Broadband: Opportunities and Challenges in Rural America

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing titled “Broadband: Opportunities and Challenges in Rural America,”at 10:00 a.m. on October 4, 2018. This hearing allows the Committee, as part of its ongoing efforts, to assess the progress of broadband deployment in rural America and continue to explore ways in which closing the digital divide will benefit American jobs and the economy.

Witnesses:

  • Mr. Godfrey Enjady, General Manager, Mescalero Apache Telecom, Inc.
  • Mr. Denny Law, General Manager and CEO, Golden West Telecommunications
  • Ms. Mona Thompson, General Manager, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority
  • Mr. Grant Spellmeyer, Vice President, Federal Affairs and Public Policy, U.S. Cellular Corp.

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Thursday, October 4, 2018
10:00 a.m.
Full Committee 

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.

U.S. ex rel. Rose v. Stephens Institute: The Ninth Circuit Considers Escobar and its Materiality Mandate

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 10/04/2018 - 8:51am
Featured Expert Contributor, False Claims Act Stephen A. Wood, Chuhak & Tecson, P.C. Ed. Note: This is Mr. Wood’s inaugural post as the WLF Legal Pulse‘s latest Featured Expert Contributor. Mr. Wood is a Principal in Chuhak & Tecson’s Chicago, IL office and chairs the litigation practice group. He has authored numerous WLF publications over …

Continue reading U.S. ex rel. Rose v. Stephens Institute: The Ninth Circuit Considers Escobar and its Materiality Mandate

Categories: Latest News

Small Business Committee Recognizes National Women’s Small Business Month

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 10/04/2018 - 12:00am

October is National Women’s Small Business Month. The Committee on Small Business celebrates all entrepreneurs and wants to take time to recognize the 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States, which support almost 9 million jobs. Women-owned businesses generate $1.6 trillion in annual revenue and are starting five times faster than the national average. This is good news for our economic landscape. 

In celebration of National Women’s Small Business Month, Chairman Chabot (R-OH) released the following statement:  

“National Women’s Small Business Month is a time to recognize the achievements and advancements of women entrepreneurs, businesswomen, and leaders. Women owned small businesses comprise about 40 percent of the total businesses in the United States, and this number continues to grow. As the Small Business Committee Chairman, I look forward to seeing continued expansion of woman-owned small businesses, and barriers to entry consistently broken.”

Senate Passes Legislation to Address Shrinking Airline Seat Sizes

The U.S. Senate today overwhelmingly approved bipartisan legislation intended to stop airlines from shrinking seat sizes.

The move to regulate airline seat dimensions is one of several measures impacting the flying public that lawmakers added to a broader bill to fund the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  The measure now heads to the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature.

“There’s a lot to like in this bill, especially if you’re fed up with shrinking airline seats,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee that oversees the airline industry.  “It also goes to show that when folks in Congress put aside their differences, the public comes out the winner.”

In addition to requiring the FAA to set minimum airline seat sizes, the legislation also prohibits airlines from bumping passengers who’ve already boarded, requires prompt refunds for airline services not received and calls for early boarding for expectant mothers and private airport space for nursing mothers.  Additionally, the bill creates an airline consumer advocate within the Department of Transportation to help the flying public resolve complaints against the airlines.

The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 funds the FAA for five years and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for three years.  The bill also allocates $1.68 billion in disaster relief for communities impacted by Hurricane Florence, extends unemployment benefits for the residents of Puerto Rico and the U.S.V.I. and contains key reforms at FEMA to help communities better prepare and respond to disasters.

Highlights of H.R. 302:

Modernizing airport infrastructure

  • Provides funding for airport development. 
  • Increases flexibility to finance projects.
  • Requires TSA to make available, in airports and online, real-time information on security line waits.

Improving service for the flying public

  • Prohibits involuntary bumping of passengers who have already boarded.
  • Directs FAA to set minimum standards for airline seat sizes.
  • Requires private rooms for nursing mothers in large and medium airports.
  • Ensures airlines promptly return fees for services (seat assignments, early boarding, etc.) not received.
  • Establishes an aviation consumer advocate within the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Enhancing safety and security

  • Strengthens aviation training, reporting, tracking and cybersecurity.
  • Provides new risk-mitigation authorities for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
  • Authorizes more canine security teams and, to meet demand, expands ways to test and certify dogs.

Boosting innovation

  • Streamlines certifications for design and delivery of aircraft to boost competitiveness of aviation manufacturing. 
  • Furthers efforts to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into the airspace through traffic management system advancements and research.
  • Creates an Office of Spaceports to support licensing and promote infrastructure improvements.
  • Authorizes approval for civil supersonic aircraft that reduce sonic booms.

Disaster assistance

  • Provides $1.68 billion in supplemental appropriations for disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Florence.
  • Reforms Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) programs to help communities better prepare for and respond to disasters of all types. 

 

Additional resources:

Senate FAA bill section-by section summary (75 pages) available here.

Joint Senate/House highlights summary (5 pages) available here.

H.R. 302, FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, full bill text (1207 pages) available here.

Thune and Nelson Praise Senate Passage of Five-Year Federal Aviation Legislation with Transportation Security Reforms

U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who respectively serve as the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today issued the following statements on the passage of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.

Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

Thank you, Chairman Thune, for having today’s hearing on positive train control.  

And thank you to our witnesses for being here to discuss this important topic.

Railroads simply must complete installation of positive train control.  Without these safety systems in place, we will continue to see tragic accidents that could have been avoided.

Just this year, an Amtrak train traveling to Florida was in a head-on collision with a CSX freight train. That resulted in the death of an engineer and a train conductor from Florida and more than a hundred injured. 

Implementing PTC can be expensive and complicated and there are serious technical challenges involved.  But I also know that many railroads have overcome these challenges. 

Other railroads continue to struggle, including some in Florida.

We, to that end, provided nearly a quarter billion 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. But this is still not the case.

I remain concerned that some railroads haven’t lived up to their end of the bargain to meet the 2018 deadline. 

The Department of Transportation must also be a strong partner in this process. 

Unnecessary delays of grant funding or agency approvals should not be a hurdle to getting this technology in place. 

We have a responsibility to learn from the tragedies of past rail accidents and to improve safety on our rail lines. 

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today on how we can meet that challenge.

Implementation of Positive Train Control

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing titled “Implementation of Positive Train Control,” at 10:00 a.m. onWednesday, October 3, 2018. This hearing will focus on the current status of implementation of positive train control (PTC), anticipated compliance with the statute, and the challenges with efforts to install and operationalize PTC systems. 

Witnesses:

  • Ronald Batory, Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration
  • Susan Fleming, Director of Physical Infrastructure Issues, Government Accountability Office
  • Kevin Corbett, Executive Director, NJ Transit
  • Scot Naparstek, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Amtrak

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, October 3, 2018
10:00 a.m. 

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.

<p>We convene today&rsquo;s hearing at

We convene today’s hearing at a critical time for positive train control, or PTC, implementation. We are approximately three months away from the December 31, 2018, statutory deadline for implementation, and recent reports suggest that some railroads may not meet their legal obligations by the end of the year. Specifically, according to the Federal Railroad Administration’s most recent quarterly progress report, nine commuter railroads were at risk of not meeting the minimum statutory criteria required to qualify for an extension by the end of the year.

The Positive Train Control Enforcement and Implementation Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in October 2015, extended the original deadline of December 31, 2015, amid reports that no railroad could meet the deadline and many railroads were contemplating halting passenger rail service or shipments of essential supplies for agricultural production and water purification. This Committee, on a bipartisan basis, took action to avert a rail shutdown and set a realistic framework for implementation.

The law now requires railroads to implement PTC by December 31, 2018, but it allows a railroad to apply for an extension of up to 24 months to ensure PTC works as intended if, and only if, that railroad meets important milestones like full PTC hardware installation, spectrum acquisition, and employee training, and meets other milestones, such as implementing PTC on a specific territory or initiating revenue service demonstration. For Class I freight railroads and Amtrak, the bar is higher—PTC must be implemented or in revenue service demonstration on a majority of the required territories or route miles.

Since March 2018, under Administrator Batory’s leadership, railroads have made significant progress in PTC implementation, which is an enormously complex undertaking. As of June 30th, the end date for the most recent progress report, freight railroads had 93 percent of locomotives equipped and PTC operable and passenger railroads had completed 73 percent of their locomotive installation. With respect to radio towers, freight railroads have installed 99 percent of necessary radio towers and passenger railroads have installed 91 percent, an increase of nearly 20 percent for passenger railroads in just the last quarter. Overall, 66 percent of freight route miles were in PTC operation as of June 30th and 24 percent of passenger route miles were in PTC operation.

There is clearly more work to do, but Administrator Batory has been instrumental in stepping up FRA’s oversight of PTC implementation. Since the beginning of the year, FRA has met individually with executives from each of the 41 railroads required to implement PTC, applying direct oversight railroad-by-railroad. FRA also has met individually with the major PTC system component suppliers, has held three symposia to share best practices and expectations with regulated entities, and awarded over $200 million in grant funding for PTC implementation, pushing the total Federal support to well over $3 billion.

As I stated in February, FRA should have had a confirmed Administrator—especially one as qualified as Mr. Batory—much sooner. We owed it to the traveling public to do everything we could to help eliminate future collisions. However, I am pleased to say that Administrator Batory was confirmed, despite over six months of obstruction, and his leadership has made a difference for successful implementation.

With that said, there continue to be railroads at risk of not qualifying for an extension at the end of the year, and that is a major focus of today’s hearing. If commuter railroads do not meet the requirements of the law by the end of the year, we must understand any effects this may have on the many riders who rely on rail service to commute to work, see family members, or visit a doctor. We also need to have a clear picture of FRA’s enforcement strategy for entities that may not comply with the law.

Finally, this hearing will provide an opportunity to examine the path to full implementation— whether it is working through complex interoperability challenges between railroads or FRA’s reviewing final safety plans.

This morning, we will be hearing from a panel of witnesses that have great expertise in positive train control and who can provide useful insight into the end-of-year deadline as well as full implementation. I look forward to all of your testimonies.

I will now turn to Ranking Member Nelson for any opening remarks.

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