Speaking before the House of Representative Committee on Small Business was not exactly on my bucket list, but maybe it should have been. This past week I got a rare invitation to testify on behalf of the National Small Business Association. So, I decided to make the trip to Washington, DC. It was not exactly an easy trip. The weather was terrible and what should have been a 3 hour plane ride turned into an almost 14 hour ordeal. To be honest, I started to think I would not make it. But I did and I am glad I made the effort. The Committee on Small Business was intrigued by the NSBA’s Year-End Economic Report which was recently released. The Report looks at current conditions for small business and compares the results to six months ago, as well as provides trending data. While the data shows that there is more confidence in the economy, the majority of small businesses still report that next year will be flat or recessionary. I covered a number of topics in the testimony including the need for broad reform of the entire tax code, access to capital and extending important tax provisions for small businesses. Chairman Chabot and the staff run a tight ship. While written testimony can be extensive the oral testimony is five, fast minutes. So much to say, so little time. There were four on the panel and each brought a different perspective to the discussion on the state of small business and entrepreneurship. After all had provided their five minute testimony there was a time for questions by members of the Small Business Subcommittee. It would be hard for me to share what happened so I hope that you will take the time to watch. Go here: http://smallbusiness.house.gov/videos/ Sometimes I wonder if the work that so many are doing to try and advocate for small business is making a difference. Honestly, I don’t know. But, if you don’t step out and try and then I believe you can’t complain. That’s why I made the trip. Small businesses need the environment to grow and create jobs—frankly, we need lawmakers who are willing to tackle the major issues facing our country, and do it together. Hopefully, I encouraged them to do that on behalf of all the members of the National Small Business Association… and all small businesses.
Small Business Congress
Do you ever feel like you are on a treadmill dealing with the same concerns year after year? I do when it comes to small business issues. First a little background. In 2012, members of the National Small Business Association (NSBA) met in Washington, DC for the Small Business Congress to discuss an agenda for the 113th Congress. There were more than 30 different issues that were debated and the group settled on the Top 10. As the 114th Congress gets underway, I decided to take look back to get some perspective.
Here is the Top 10 list from the previous Congress as stated in the NSBA report.
1. Deficit Reduction through Tax, Spending and Entitlement Reform
NSBA urges policymakers to pursue economically responsible deficit reduction which includes entitlement and spending reform, and supports a simpler, fairer tax system that embraces NSBA’s principles: simplicity, fairness, transparency and predictability.
2. Reduce Health Care Costs
Health care costs must be reduced and health care access improved by empowering consumers, increasing competition based on price and quality, and limiting medical liability.
3. PPACA Implementation
Clear and timely regulations are needed to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, especially Health Insurance Exchanges.
4. Small Business Contracting
Improve small-business federal and commercial contracting opportunities, including SBIR commercialization, prompt payment issues, and other relevant matters.
5. Fundamental Tax Reform: The Fair Tax
The U.S. tax code is broken and requires broad reform such as the Fair Tax—a national, 23 percent sales tax—to institute fairness and common sense, and eliminate overwhelming complexity.
6. Access to Risk-Based Capital
Increase and improve access to risk-based capital for small businesses, including support for the Export-Import Bank, crowdfunding, credit union lending, and other alternative sources of capital.
7. Regulatory Reform & Paperwork Reduction
Small businesses need relief from the massive federal regulatory burden through proposals such as establishing a National Regulatory Budget and requiring a cost-benefit analysis of new regulations.
8. Family and Medical Leave Act
Oppose expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act which would increase small businesses’ burden and represent unnecessary government intrusion regarding how to compensate employees
9. National Conference on Small Business
Work with a broad coalition of partners to create a National Conference on Small Business to address and promote long-term economic growth for America’s small-business community.
10. Expand Section 179 Expensing
NSBA urges Congress to permanently expand annual Section 179 expensing limits to at least $500,000, which will help small-business cash flow as well as provide broader economic benefits through investments.
It does not take much study to see that little progress was made although in December 2014 Congress did approve legislation extending the $500,000 Section 179 limit and the $2 million overall investment limit for tax year 2014.
In February, NSBA will once again hold its Small Business Congress in Phoenix. There will be advocacy discussions and small business seminars. http://www.nsba.biz/sbc/
I believe tax reform, the deficit and healthcare will continue to be issues. But, I look forward to meeting and hearing from small business owners around the country about their top priorities. When the voting is done, it will help craft NSBA’s agenda and I’ll be sure to share the results.