2017: New Year, New Push for Micro Biz

With the Trump administration and newly elected Congress hard at work, it is time for the small business community to kick into high gear. For the first time in a decade, Republicans are in control of the House, Senate, and White House. This dramatic shift changes the ability for Congress to “get things done” and introducing legislation at a breakneck pace. The question is, which bills will benefit small businesses?

 

At the top of the to-do list…

We don’t necessarily know all of the Congressional priorities for the new Administration and Congress, but healthcare and tax reform definitely top the list. Not only does the Congress want to repeal Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), it wants to replace it. While the Senate voted to proceed with ACA repeal, it is important to keep in mind that this doesn’t mean the ACA is going to disappear tomorrow. It does, however, trigger action in the relevant committees to come up with an alternative plan. At this writing, there is no clear plan for replacement, but a potential roadmap for the plan could be the healthcare portion of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan, “A Better Way.” In addition, Senator Rand Paul has stated his intention to introduce comprehensive healthcare reform and other plans are not far behind.

Later this year, the Republican-led Congress will start to tackle tax reform. While we don’t have too many clues about a plan, but we do know that Republicans are interested in considering not only a roll-back of the corporate tax rate, but also the individual tax rate. This is important because most small businesses are pass-through entities.

There is also unfinished business from last Congress that needs to be addressed. This includes modernization for SBA loan programs, including Microloan program, reauthorization for Women’s Business Centers, and support for PRIME.

While there is a lot of talk in Washington over cutting numerous federal programs, AEO is preparing to defend essential resources for microbusinesses.

 

Speaking of leadership…

Senate Small Business Committee—There have been a few changessince the 114th Congress. Former Chair Senator Vitter has been replaced with Senator Jim Risch (R-ID). Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) has joined the committee, as well as Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and newly elected Senator John Kennedy from Louisiana. On the minority side, Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) is a new addition.

House Small Business Committee— While the Chair continues to be Rep. Steve Chabot from Ohio, there have been some changes to Republican members. The new members to the majority side of the committee are: Rep. Rod Blum (R-IA), Rep. James Comer (R-KY), Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR), and Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS). The Democrats have yet to organize their committee members, however, Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) will remain the Ranking Member.

 

Bills, bills, bills…

Last year, federal contractors were inundated with new regulations from Paid Sick Leave, to Overtime, and Fair Pay, Safe Workplaces—it was often difficult to keep them straight. President-elect Trump and the U.S. House have prioritized a repeal of  many Obama Administration rules.. In fact, the House has already passed three bills to counter regulations promulgated in 2016. The most notable so far are the REINS Act, which requires Congress to approve major rules before they take effect. Additionally, the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Actrequires that federal regulators take into consideration indirect economic effects as well as direct costs on small businesses when crafting regulations.

On the topic of legislation, the House has been busy passing new bills over the past few weeks. Besides working on Obamacare repeal, many bills have been introduced or passed that affect small businesses. While there are some completely new bills, many are almost identical to legislation introduced last year but not signed into law. Some highlights include:

The HIRED Act- amends the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to ensure dislocated workers are provided consultation and advice for starting a small business. 

Support Our Startups Act-. The legislation would increase the costs new businesses can deduct to $20,000 from $5,000.

HALOS Act- gives startup companies and other businesses greater access to angel investors. The bill builds on a provision of the 2012 JOBS Act by allowing angel investor groups to host events that connect entrepreneurs with potential backers without triggering complicated SEC rules.

Finally, on an exciting note, the 115th Congress is more diverse than ever before. The freshman class of Congress includes 21 new members of color, including three Senators. On the House side, Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware is the first woman, and woman of color to serve from Delaware. Two-thirds of the new Democratic members are of color. On the Senate side, Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto is the first woman, and first woman of color Nevada has elected to the U.S. Senate. Tammy Duckworth is also the first Thai-American to reach the Senate.

It’s going to be a busy year on the Hill—and we’re looking forward to a really productive one for micro businesses.

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