Straight Talk E-News
Small Biz Straight Talk
News from Ranking Member Sam Graves and Committee Republicans:
• Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO), Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), and Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) spoke on the House floor in support of H.R. 3854 Small Business Financing and Investment Act of 2009
• Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) in Congress Daily: “House Lawmakers See Red Over Broadband Bureaucracy”
• Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) in the Hill: “Small business committee examines broadband stimulus”
• Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) in Missouri’s St. Joe News Press: Federal Notes: Broadband Access
• Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) on H.R. 3854: “Small Business Financing Bill Passes in the House”
• Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) and House Small Business Republicans launch a new website.
• Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) “Schock Small Business Amendments Pass the House”
• Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) in the Bradenton Herald: “Give SBA loans to replace drywall”
• Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) on the House floor urging the “Administration to work on creating jobs”
• Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) appeared on Fox Business’ America’s Nightly Scoreboard discussing the state of small businesses and the economy.
• Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) spoke on the House floor about the concerns of “Hard-Working Missourians to Expose Flawed Health Care Plan.”
• Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer's “Bill Enhancing Access to Small Business Programs Approved by House”
Must-Reads from the Week:
• Wall Street Journal: Political Uncertainty Puts Freeze on Small Businesses
• Roll Call: Obama Looking to Main Street
• Reuters: Bankers wary of Obama small business lending plan
Administration and the SBA:
• On Monday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) proposed increases in size definitions for 71 types of businesses, including many in the retail trade, hospitality, and food services sectors. The changes, if adopted, will expand eligibility to small businesses and help them gain access to SBA’s financial assistance, contracting and other programs.
• On Thursday, President Obama met with members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) to promote H.R. 3962, the health care package introduced by Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Chamber and NFIB immediately expressed concerns that including a government-run plan would undercut the private insurance market. They also disapprove the bill’s employer mandate, and oppose a new surtax on individuals making more than $500,000, which would include many small-business owners.
Review of House Activity:
• On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3854, the Small Business Financing and Investment Act of 2009, by a 389-32 vote. The legislation sought to address serious concerns about limited access to capital for small business owners. Among other things, H.R. 3854 improves the popular 7(a) loan, Certified Development Company, Microloan, Small Business Investment Company, and New Market Venture Capital Programs. In addition, the bill creates new programs to help install health information technology equipment, invest more in promising start-up companies, and establishes a new grant program to help small businesses devastated by disasters.
• On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled a health care reform bill that includes a government insurance plan, as well as a historic expansion of Medicaid. According to the Washington Post, “Democratic House aides said party leaders had yet to resolve long-standing disputes over provisions to block illegal immigrants from receiving benefits and to prevent federal funds from being used to subsidize abortions.” The 1,990-page bill is expected to be before the House of Representatives sometime next week.
• On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed S. 1929, a bill extending SBA programs through January 31, 2010. The House passed extension is shorter than the Senate passed version, which extends SBA programs through April 2010. The House legislation will be sent back to the Senate for further consideration. Several important changes included in the bill are the extensions of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Ranking Member Graves remains hopeful that an agreement on these matters can be reached with the Senate.
Legislation and Letters Circulating Around the House:
• Rep. Broun (R-GA) Seeks Cosponsors for the OPTION (Offering Patients True and Individualized Options Now) Act - Congressman Paul Broun is seeking cosponsors for his completely market-based health care reform bill. The OPTION Act increases individual choices in the health care markets, addresses long-term Medicare viability, improves transparency, allows individuals to shop for health care across state lines and massively increases available pooling options. Common sense health care reforms can be market-based and the OPTION Act proves that. If you would like more information on the OPTION Act or are interested in cosponsoring, please contact Jack Smedile at Jack.Smedile@mail.house.gov.
• Rep. Shadegg (R-AZ) Seeks Cosponsors for the Wireless Freedom Act (H.R. 3802) - Despite the prevalence of cell phones into all of our lives, the tax code still considers an employer-issued cell phone a taxable benefit. Under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, workers who use employer-provided cell phones for personal calls are required to consider the value of those calls as income and pay the appropriate federal taxes. This means that the BlackBerrys and cell phones that are carried by workers across the country will become subject to this tax. For this reason, H.R. 3802, the Wireless Freedom Act, has been introduced, which will eliminate this law from the books. Please contact Randi Meyers at Randi.Meyers@mail.house.gov or at 5-3361 for more information or to cosponsor.
House Small Business Committee hearing summary this week:
• This week, the House Small Business Committee conducted a hearing titled, “The Recovery Act and Broadband: Evaluation of Broadband Investments on Small Businesses and Job Creation.” Witnesses included The Honorable Lawrence Strickling with the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA), the Honorable Jonathan Adelstein with the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), and James Gleason, President and CEO of NewWave Communications, on behalf of the American Cable Association. The hearing focused on the current state of two broadband initiatives set forth in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Stimulus) and how they have been received by industry.
In the stimulus, two programs were established to build out and connect broadband nationwide. Those programs are the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and the Broadband Initiative Program (BIP). It was widely acknowledged that these programs have received much interest from the industry, but that significant improvements need to be made in order to achieve the goals established in the stimulus. “The advantages of broadband services are clear,” said Ranking Member Sam Graves of the House Small Business Committee. “However, costly and complicated applications, confusing definitions, bureaucratic red tape, and government subsidized competition are all major concerns.”
Mr. Gleason, testifying on behalf of the American Cable Association, spoke about the cost associated with the programs. His business spent $50,000 to file an application, and also spent $30,000 to refute applications submitted for areas already being served. Not only is the application process so complicated that it takes a large investment to complete, it is also incumbent on him to disprove to the government applications submitted for areas he already serves. These costs, totaling $80,000 in Mr. Gleason’s case, is a significant sum to absorb for a small business. Changes to these programs are needed in order to limit the negative implications.
Ranking Member Graves plans to send a letter to the NTIA and RUS highlighting some of the struggles small business owners are facing with the BIP and BTOP programs.
View the release here.
Other Small Business News off the Hill:
• The SBA Office of Advocacy released its 2009 edition of Small Business Profiles for the United States and Territories.