Every month is busy for our nation’s small businesses, but May was particularly significant. It’s the one month out of the year that has an entire week dedicated to honoring small businesses. And I’m happy to say, this year’s National Small Business Week was a huge success. We held a host of events, from Twitter storms to educational events and contests, to help keep small businesses up-to-date on the most important topics of the day. Read more about the week here or check out our National Small Business Week blog.
With the start of hurricane season right around the corner, we’re doubling up our efforts to ensure that small businesses are spared the impact of extreme weather. The EPA is releasing its new carbon emissions standards on June 2, and in anticipation of the release we are publishing opinion pieces, letters to the editor and more about the impact of clean energy policies on small businesses.
Graph: Small Business Support for Clean Energy Policies
We worked hard to urge Ohio lawmakers to oppose SB 310, legislation that would “freeze” Ohio’s energy efficiency standards at 2014 levels. This would be bad news for the countless small business owners who have already realized the benefit of these standards. Unfortunately for Ohio small businesses, the legislature passed the bill.
We will continue educating Ohio small businesses about opportunities in the clean energy economy.
New Guides Walk Small Employers Through Ins and Outs of Family Leave Policies
In celebration of National Small Business Week, we released several comprehensive guides focused on family medical leave policies in states across the nation, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island. The guides help entrepreneurs learn more about their state’s policies or proposed family leave programs under consideration. Check out all of our workforce fact sheets here.
On May 27, CEO John Arensmeyer participated in a panel about California’s family medical leave program at the San Francisco Lead Up Event to the White House Summit on Working Families.
Delaying Employee Choice Disappointing for Small Employers
On May 16, the Department of Health and Human Services finalized a rule that postpones for one more year the Affordable Care Act requirement that employee choice be a feature of the federally run small business marketplaces. This rule, which allows states to request exemptions from the requirement to offer a full range of health insurance choices to small business owners and their employees, is incredibly disappointing for small business owners and their workers. We know from our polling that small business owners want their employees to be able to choose among multiple insurance carriers when picking a health plan.
While we are disappointed by this continued delay, we hope the Administration only grants the exemptions in rare cases and honors its commitment that this will be the last such delay, so next year, when insurance carriers in every state are determining prices for 2016, they will all factor employee choice into their calculations.
Designation of New National Monument Will Give Boost to NM Entrepreneurs
On May 21, President Obama signed a proclamation establishing Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in south-central New Mexico as a national monument. This is good news for New Mexico entrepreneurs who believe the preservation of the state’s natural assets is essential to their financial success and that of local economies.
Our opinion polling found nearly half of entrepreneurs in New Mexico do business in the state because of opportunities tied to public lands, and 4 in 5 small business owners support designating more public lands as national monuments.
Spring is in full swing, and with it a slate of exciting news on the small business front.
From enrollment in the health insurance marketplaces to federal minimum wage legislation, patent reform, energy efficiency and more, Small Business Majority has been hard at work on a plethora of critical small business issues across the nation this month. Read on to see what we’ve been up to.
The president recently announced 8 million people have signed up for coverage through the new insurance marketplaces. While open enrollment for the 2014 individual marketplace has closed, there’s still good news for small business owners looking to provide coverage to their employees. Employers with fewer than 50 employees looking for a plan for their workers can enroll in the small business marketplace year-round.
Learn more about the marketplaces on one of our free webinars or visit our Health Coverage Guide for information on the healthcare law, information on how to enroll, tips and more.
This month, Small Business Majority also sent comments to the Department of Health and Human Services urging the Administration not to confirm a rule allowing states to delay a critical requirement that SHOP marketplaces allow employees to choose among multiple insurance carriers. Adoption of this rule would not only be a major letdown for small business owners, but might have legal ramifications if the rule is adopted.
Small Biz Support Reforming Patent System to Protect Against “Patent Trolls”
On April 29, Small Business Majority scientific opinion polling both nationally and in California, Illinois, Kentucky, Nevada and Minnesota showing small business owners agree our nation’s patent system needs to be reformed and support legislation that would strengthen it.
The national poll found that by more than a 3:1 margin, small employers support the Innovation Act—legislation that would change the rules and regulations surrounding patent infringement lawsuits to reduce frivolous lawsuits brought by patent assertion entities. Small employers also showed strong support for several reform proposals within the legislation.
On April 21, Small Business Majority released a scientific opinion poll showing 74% of NY small business owners support raising the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation. What’s more, two-thirds of New York entrepreneurs agree cities and countries in the state should be able to set and increase their own minimum wages above the state’s wage to compensate for cost of living.
Small business owners support raising the minimum wage because they believe this would help boost customer demand at small businesses and grow the economy, and that it’s the right thing to do. In fact, nearly three-fourths of New York small business owners (72%) agree that increasing the minimum wage would not only help the economy, it would make low-income consumers more likely to spend money, driving up demand for small businesses’ goods and services.
Urge Ohio Lawmakers to Stop SB310
On April 9, Jackiethia Butsch, Ohio Outreach Manager for Small Business Majority, testified in front of the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee on the impact to small business owners from SB 310—legislation that would eliminate the state’s energy efficiency standards.
Eliminating Ohio’s current energy efficiency benchmarks for electricity utilities, which SB 310 aims to do, would be bad news for the countless small business owners across Ohio who have already realized the benefit of these standards. Small Business Majority’s scientific opinion polling found the majority of Ohio small business owners agree the state’s current clean energy standards help them by reducing utility costs, spurring innovation and creating business opportunities.
If you agree Ohio lawmakers should keep these standards in place, sign our letter.
New SBA Administrator is Sweet News for Small Businesses
On April 7, Vice President Biden swore in Maria Contreras-Sweet as administrator of the Small Business Administration.
We look forward to working with Administrator Contreras-Sweet as she takes the SBA’s reins.
Family Medical Leave Legislation Impacts Small Firms
On April 11, Colorado Outreach Manager Tim Gaudette joined the Department of Labor at its regional Working Families panel in Denver to discuss the impact of family medical leave policies on small businesses. Small Business Majority Network Council Member Lisa Goodbee also testified on April 28 to the importance of the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act in Colorado.
Whether the saying “in like a lion, out like a lamb,” will hold true on the weather front is yet to be seen, but April is looking like it will be just as fearsomely busy as March was on the small business end of things. March highlighted a number of critical small business issues, including the impact an increase in the federal minimum wage could have on small firms, the importance of the new health insurance marketplaces and extreme weather’s impact on small businesses.
On March 6, Small Business Majority released a scientific opinion poll showing the majority of small business owners support raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.
We released scientific polling showing small business owners in fact support raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10/per hour because they think it will bolster the economy and stoke consumer demand. We also released a poll showing that extreme weather is taking a huge toll on small firms’ bottom lines. And today marks the end of open enrollment on the new individual health insurance marketplaces, which have seen more than 6 million people enroll—many of them self-employed individuals and small business employees. Small Business Majority has held more than 250 events since the beginning of the year educating small business owners about the new marketplaces and encouraging people to get enrolled.
Last but certainly not least, small businesses gained a new champion this month with Maria Contreras-Sweet’s confirmation as the new head of the Small Business Administration, which we strongly supported.
New SBA Administrator is Sweet News for Small Businesses
On March 27, the U.S. Senate confirmed Maria Contreras-Sweet as the new administrator of the Small Business Administration. This is great news for the small business community, and an important step toward strengthening small businesses and helping ensure their continued success.
Earlier this month, Small Business Majority and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce sent a petition signed by more than 700 small business owners and organizations to the Senate, urging the swift confirmation of Contreras-Sweet. Now that she’s official, we urge you to visit www.asweetchoice4SBA.com to give feedback and offer congratulations to SBA’s new leader.
On March 6, Small Business Majority released a scientific opinion poll showing 57% of small business owners support raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and adjusting it yearly to reflect the cost of living.
Small business owners support raising the minimum wage because they believe it would help boost customer demand at small businesses and grow the economy, and that it’s the right thing to do.
Today is the last day the self-employed and small business employees can enroll in the individual health insurance marketplace for coverage this year. But small business owners looking to provide coverage to their workers still have time! If you’re an employer with fewer than 50 employees, the small business marketplace in your state offers enrollment year-round. To learn more, register for one of our free webinars or visit our Health Coverage Guide.
Small Business Majority hosted a tele-town hall with Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on March 28, where the secretary provided small business owners with information about getting their employees enrolled in the new healthcare marketplaces. The day before, Rhett Buttle, VP of External Affairs, moderated a panel hosted by the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on the Affordable Care Act’s impact on small businesses. And, the day after, CEO John Arensmeyer, spoke to the national gathering of healthcare journalists about the small business marketplaces.
Open enrollment for the individual marketplaces begins again on November 15. In the meantime, employees whose employer doesn’t provide coverage and self-employed entrepreneurs can use an online calculator to determine if they’re eligible for a subsidy to help cover the cost of insurance for coverage in 2015.
The Obama Administration proposed a rule this month that would allow some states to delay the requirement that their small business marketplaces allow employees to choose among multiple insurance carriers. This is a major letdown for small business owners and their employees looking forward to the same benefits as employees of large businesses who can choose among different healthcare plans. We strongly urge the Administration to either rescind this proposal or set an extremely narrow standard for when this exception can be made.
Wicked Weather Continues to Wallop Small Businesses
On March 4, Small Business Majority released scientific opinion polls in Virginia and North Carolina showing small businesses have been hit hard by extreme weather, with 1 in 5 small business owners having to lay off employees as a result of devastating financial impacts on their businesses.
We also released a policy paper showing why small businesses are uniquely vulnerable to extreme weather and what actions lawmakers can take to help them prepare for and recover from these devastating events.
Don’t forget about our Chamber Chatter calls!
Chamber Chatter is a great way for business groups to learn about what’s going on in D.C. on a monthly basis, right from national policymakers themselves. These free calls, taking place on the third Wednesday of each month, will feature guests from the White House and the Administration. From everyday small business issues to the latest policy developments, our speakers will cover what’s being done at the federal level to help keep U.S. small businesses thriving.
Please visit the link below to register for the calls and see a complete list of dates and times for the entirety of 2014.