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Weekend Wellness: Changes in the Season

InteroMojo - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 9:00am

If we lived in an environment where each and every day we had temperatures in the mid 70’s, blue skies dotted with a few clouds here and there, perfectly green hills, a slight breeze and warm nights, every day, every month, every year…would we appreciate it? I’d like to say yes, but is it that we would appreciate it because we have experienced storms, cold days and nights, torrential winds and downright gloomy days? Would we say yes because we have perspective?

Seasons are great metaphors to our life cycles. One day, maybe many, many days, and even months or dare I say years, life is beautifully sunny, no real clouds in the forecast, not even a little drizzle. Then, out of nowhere a hurricane comes in, coupled with a tornado, a snow storm and followed with an earthquake! Our sunny days seem gone forever. All we can do is put on our cold weather gear, batten down the hatches and fight the storm. We can trudge through the snow, and find the safety nets we stored for tumultuous days.

Finally, the storm lifts, but in its wake there’s destruction. Here’s the real life lesson…did the destruction happen because we were careless and naive and didn’t have a safety net in place? Did the destruction happen because of the way we reacted to the storm? Did the chaos and dishevelment occur because we didn’t want to deal with the uncomfortable situation and instead we went into hiding?

Blizzards and unpredictable weather are going to come in and out of our lives constantly. The beauty is the nice calm weather that emerges after the pandemonium. How we appreciate the fresh air, the warmth of the sun, the calm winds and the newness of the day can be embraced because of the changes, because of the contrast of the seasons.

Categories: Latest News

Cool Apps: So Much More Than A Security Camera

InteroMojo - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 9:00am

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but bad things happen.  Especially when you least expect it. You live in a safe neighborhood, you lock the doors when you leave, and your next door neighbor’s home a lot so you don’t worry too much about something awful happening while you’re away from your house. The unfortunate truth is when you least expect it, that’s when it happens; the stove gets left on, a pipe breaks, or even worse, someone breaks in.

There’s a great and simple solution to prevent this from happening: Piper, a smart, elegant security and home automation system. Starting at $199.00, this little device lets you manage and connect with your home from anywhere using your smartphone. Instillation is super easy. Just plug in the devices and download the app. Connect your wi-fi and your set. You can stream live video of your home at any time and if some unusual movement were to occur, you’ll get notified with a message and recorded video. You can sound Piper’s built-in alarm and take action as necessary.

What really makes Piper different is that not only is it equipped with a built-in video camera, motion and sound detectors, but will also connects you to your homes environment. The device senses the temperature, humidity, standard light and sound of your home. Keeping track of this can help you conserve energy.

Combine Piper with a smart switch and you can automate, schedule, and remotely control lights and appliances directly from the Piper app. Add Door/Window sensors and you can get notified whenever a door or window is opened.
Check out the below video to see how easy and effective Piper can be for you.

Click here to play video

Categories: Latest News

Accelerators: An Avenue for Startup Growth

Office of Advocacy - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 9:08am

For Release: October 16, 2014                                                                                                                    

SBA Number: 14-09 ADV                                                                               

 

Contact: Elizabeth Horowitz

Elizabeth.Horowitz@sba.gov

 

Accelerators: An Avenue for Startup Growth

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

Rockefeller Statement on Retirement of John Pistole

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today released the following statement after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator John Pistole announced his retirement.

“As a friend of Administrator John Pistole, I am sorry to hear he will be moving on from the Transportation Security Administration. Throughout his career and as TSA Administrator, John Pistole has played a key role in making our country safer and more secure.

“I have had the pleasure of wo...

The Voice of Women Business Owners Starts Here

NAWBO National - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 1:17pm

As the largest organization of its kind representing America’s more than 9.1 million firms owned by women that employ nearly 7.9 million people and generate $1.4 trillion in sales, we have a great responsibility and ability to speak out as the voice of our community. By advocating for women business owners at the national level and supporting our chapters as they speak out and build relationships in their own communities, we are making a positive, lasting impact for ourselves and our businesses.

As many of you already know, this fall, NAWBO launched an endorsement campaign where we are supporting select candidates for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. Our goal is to advocate for women business owners, shape decision-making in Washington, D.C., and build important relationships.

In selecting whom to endorse, we look at each candidate’s history of entrepreneurism and/or public record of support for small business owners. Selected candidates are from both major political parties and are men and women running for office across the country. What they have in common is their commitment to small business owners.

In total, 17 federal candidates have been selected to receive NAWBO’s endorsement.

Below are links to the full media releases on the endorsements we have announced to date:

Endorsement of Marsha Blackburn

Endorsement of Barbara Comstock 

Endorsement of Renee Ellmers

Endorsement of Lois Frankel

Endorsement of Gwen Graham

Endorsement of Mary Landrieu

Endorsement of Mia Love

Endorsement of Carolyn Maloney

Endorsement of Shelley Moore Capito 

Endorsement of Jeanne Shaheen

Endorsement of Elise Stefanik

NAWBO has a long history of advocating on behalf of women entrepreneurs. It is exciting to be able to lend our endorsement to these candidates who understand the important role entrepreneurs play in our economy, know what it is like to be a small business owner or have demonstrated a sincere commitment to small businesses through their words and actions.

Additionally, many of our chapter leaders have been contacted by Joy Lutes, our Director of Public Policy, about endorsements happening in their areas, so that our chapters know about these endorsements before they are made public, can ask questions and decide how involved they would like to be in the endorsement announcement. This is a tremendous opportunity to increase the visibility of our chapters in their communities and reinforce NAWBO’s position in the public policy community at large.

As we move forward with this campaign in the weeks ahead, we will continue to update you on new candidate endorsements. In the meantime, updates and details about the program can be found here. I hope you’ll join us in sharing news of NAWBO’s efforts within your NAWBO chapter and with your business network, and also look for ways to speak out on behalf of yourself and your fellow NAWBO sisters in your own city or state. The voice of women business owners starts here, with each of us!

Darla Beggs, 2014-2015 NAWBO National Chair


Categories: Latest News

A Blow to Legal Ethics from an Unlikely Source

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 10:06am
Mark Chenoweth is General Counsel of Washington Legal Foundation I cannot recall for sure when I first heard about the American Judicature Society (AJC), but it was probably about 20 years ago when my work-study job in college included re-shelving volumes of Judicature at the campus law library. There was a time when AJS was […]
Categories: Latest News

Weekend Wellness: The Potato Sack

InteroMojo - Sat, 10/11/2014 - 9:00am

Wellness comes in many forms. In physical activity, nutritional selections and in choices for our mind and soul.

The other morning I came across this short story…this is truly a wellness tip for the soul …enjoy.

A teacher once told each of her students to bring a clear plastic bag and a sack of potatoes to school. For every person they refused to forgive in their life, the students had to choose a potato, write a name and date on it, and put the potato in the plastic bag. Some of their bags were quite heavy.

They were then told to carry this bag with them everywhere for one week, putting it beside their bed at night, on the car seat next to them when driving, next to their desk at school, and even to restaurants.

The hassle of lugging this around with them made it clear what a weight they were carrying spiritually, and how they had to pay attention all the time so they wouldn’t leave the bag in embarrassing places. Naturally the condition of the potatoes deteriorated to a nasty smelly slime.

This is a great metaphor for the price we pay for holding on to our pain and heavy negativity. Too often we think forgiveness as a gift to the other person and it really is a gift to ourselves.

Author unknown

Categories: Latest News

Cool Apps: Stop Losing and Start Finding with Tile

InteroMojo - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 9:00am

Oh no. You’ve done it again. Lost your keys for the 3rd time this week. Now you’re going to be late to your client meeting.

What is it about those darn keys that make them so hard to keep track of? If only you put them in the same place every time you walk into the house, but like that’s going to happen. Between carrying groceries, getting mauled by the dog and pulled by the kids, it’s a blessing you get through the door in one piece. Once in the door your focus is dinner not where your keys are, until you have to leave again. Then you send out the search party, looking in every basket, under every cushion, around every corner. There has to be a better way.

Well, today there is a better way. Tile will save you from losing anything important to you (ie: your keys, or your computer, or your remote, or even your wallet). Tile is a small square that has a wireless connection to your phone. That means anything you connect it to or put next to it can be found from your wireless device.

So how does it work? Download the Tile app onto your phone and specify the item you’d like to connect your Tile to. If you leave that item somewhere, the app will track it down and indicate exactly where you last had it. When you begin looking for your lost item, your phone will track the signal strength of the Tile. As you get closer, the tracking circle on your phone fills in indicating you’re moving in the right direction. Get even closer and Tile’s distinct melody will play until you retrieve your lost item and have it back in safe hands. Pretty cool huh? Even cooler, you can connect up to 8 tiles with one account and you can share your Tile information so anyone looking for the remote can find it easily.

Just think how much this little square can help you stay on top of your most important items.

The app is free to download and each tile is $20.00. Totally worth your peace of mind.

Click here to play video

Categories: Latest News

Left Turn: ObamaCare Still Hurting Working Families

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 12:00am
WASHINGTON, D.C. Billions of dollars wasted on a flawed website. Numerous unilateral actions and administrative delays. And a lot of happy talk. No matter how hard the Obama administration tries, it can’t shield Americans from the devastating consequences of the president’s unpopular health care law. In fact, a new wave of cancellation notices will alert thousands of Americans that the health care plan they like is no longer available – despite the president’s repeated promises to the contrary. As Fox News reports:


More than a dozen states plan to cancel health care policies not in compliance with ObamaCare in the coming weeks, affecting thousands of people just before the midterm elections.

"It looks like several hundred thousand people across the country will receive notices in the coming days and weeks," said Jim Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

The policies are being canceled because states that initially granted a reprieve at the request of President Obama are no longer willing to do so.

In coming weeks, 13 states and the District of Columbia plan to cancel such policies, which generally fall out of compliance with the Affordable Care Act because they don’t offer the level of coverage the law requires ...

Many of those forced out of their current plans and into ObamaCare may not be able to keep their doctors. They also could face higher deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, making ObamaCare an election issue on the eve of voting.

Obama had originally unequivocally promised that under his health care plan, everyone could keep their doctors and plans.

Remarkably, cancellation notices aren’t the only ObamaCare problem plaguing working families. In recent weeks, press reports have also highlighted:

Reduced Hours for Workers

The clock is ticking for Tommy Cain and thousands of other U.S. employers facing deadlines to make changes to the health insurance they offer their employees under the Affordable Care Act … Business owners are considering trimming their head counts below the 50 full-time-worker cutoff or reducing their workers' hours rather than comply with the requirement, which begins in January for companies with 100 or more employees. – Wall Street Journal, “Bosses face Affordable Care Act deadline

Dropped Coverage for Part-Timers

Wal-Mart told The Associated Press that starting Jan. 1, it will no longer offer health insurance to employees who work less than an average of 30 hours a week. The move affects 30,000 employees … but comes after the company already had scaled back the number of part-time workers who were eligible for health insurance coverage since 2011. The announcement follows similar decisions by Target, Home Depot and others to completely eliminate health insurance benefits for part-time employees. – Associated Press, “Wal-Mart Cut Health Benefits for Some Part-Timers

Fewer Jobs

The economy's weakness itself has been exacerbated by the negative impact of new taxes and regulations under ObamaCare. According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the new health-care law will levy more than $500 billion in new taxes over its first 10 years to help pay for insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion… As a result, small and large U.S. health-care technology companies are moving R&D centers and jobs overseas. – Wall Street Journal, “ObamaCare's Anti-Innovation Effect

Ongoing Threats to Privacy

According to the Government Accountability Office report, “weaknesses [remain] in the security and privacy protections applied to HealthCare.gov and its supporting systems ... Collectively, these weaknesses put HealthCare.gov systems and the information they contain at increased and unnecessary risk of unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification or loss. – Fox News, “HealthCare.gov still has security issues

The president’s health care law is hurting working families. Job creators, workers, and families deserve a health care system that works for them, not against them. That is why, as Speaker Boehner has noted, “Republicans remain committed to repealing the law and replacing it with solutions that will lower health care costs and protect American jobs.”

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Eleventh Circuit Ruling a Welcome Judicial Pushback against Criminal Enforcement of Regulations

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 11:00am
On a balmy late August day in Orlando, Florida, nearly a dozen Orange County police officers, some dressed in ballistic vests and masked helmets, swept into Strictly Skillz barbershop with their guns drawn. As their colleagues blocked off the parking lot entrances and exits, the officers declared that the shop was closed and ordered its […]
Categories: Latest News

Extended Comment Period- Waters of the United States

Office of Advocacy - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 9:37am

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) have extended the comment period for the proposed rule defining the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA).  This proposal would set forth several categories of waters to be included in the definition as well as establish waters that are subject to the act.  The comment period now closes November 14, 2014 .

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

Rockefeller Statement on Major Cramming Settlement Between AT&T, FTC, FCC, and 51 Attorneys General

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, released the following statement after the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Attorneys General of all 50 states and the District of Columbia announced that they had reached a settlement with AT&T over the billing practice known as cramming.

“Today’s wireless cramming settlement speaks volumes about the diligent and determined work of the FTC, FCC, and Attorneys General around the country to co...

Rep. Graves Challenges Koskinen On ‘Complicated'ACA Forms for Small Business

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:00am

Bloomberg BNA: House Republican Challenges IRS on Complicated ACA Forms
October 8, 2014 

Small businesses and their tax preparers face the daunting tasks of understanding and completing new tax forms to comply with provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the chairman of the House Small Business Committee said.

“Most small businesses do not have tax advisors, attorneys or accountants on their staff. They must rely on outside assistance to navigate these complicated tax rules,” Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said in an Oct. 8 letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

Graves asked Koskinen to respond by Oct. 22 on whether the Internal Revenue Service is working with the Department of Health and Human Services to educate small business owners about the forms and issues, and what the IRS is doing to listen to the concerns of owners and tax preparers.

Tax preparers have told the committee the IRS hasn't issued guidance on the due-diligence requirement they will face, he said.

Exemption Questions

In his letter, Graves referred to Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions, which is used to claim an exemption from the individual health insurance mandate. A draft of the form has “15 pages of complicated forms, instructions and worksheets,” which “millions of small business owners may be forced to rely on to determine if they are entitled to an exemption and to claim it,” he said.

Graves also referred to Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit (PTC), which involves 12 pages of instructions and worksheets. The form is used to calculate the tax credit amount for qualified health plans purchased through a health insurance marketplace.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the individual mandate penalty may apply to 30 million people, of which 23 million may qualify for an exemption, Graves said.

The forms mention exemptions but “do not explain when taxpayers must apply for them, when or how that decision will be communicated, what appeals process will be used, and how long the exemption will be effective,” he wrote.

The IRS released draft instructions for Forms 8962 and 8965 in September (183 DTR G-2, 9/22/14).

Tax Tips

Separately, the IRS reminded small employers about the value of the health care tax credit that begins in 2014.

“The maximum credit is 50 percent of premiums paid for small business employers, and 35 percent of premiums paid for tax-exempt small employers, such as charities,” the IRS said in an e-newsletter released Oct. 8.

The e-newsletter explains eligibility requirements and benefits and provides links to resources for more information.

Bloomberg BNA: House Republican Challenges IRS on Complicated ACA Forms

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:00am

Bloomberg BNA: House Republican Challenges IRS on Complicated ACA Forms
By Brett Fergusen
October 8, 2014 

Oct. 8 (BNA) - Draft forms and instructions for compliance with the Affordable Care Act are long and confusing, presenting tax preparers for small businesses with daunting new tasks, the chairman of the House Small Business Committee told IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
 
Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) asked for an accounting by Oct. 22 of what the tax agency is doing to help. In an Oct. 8 letter, Graves referred to Internal Revenue Service Form 8965 for claiming an exemption from the individual health insurance mandate. A draft of the form has “15 pages of complicated forms, instructions and worksheets,” which “millions of small business owners may be forced to rely on,” he said. Graves also referred to Form 8962 for claiming a premium tax credit, which involves 12 pages of worksheets and instructions.
 
Tax preparers have told the committee that the IRS hasn't issued guidance on the due diligence requirement they will face, according to Graves, who asked Koskinen whether the IRS was working with the Department of Health and Human Services to educate small business owners about the forms and issues, and what the IRS is doing to listen to the concerns.
 

Graves Presses IRS About New Obamacare Small Business Forms

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:00am
House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) today pressed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to address the complexity of the agency’s recently released Obamacare compliance forms for small businesses, and asked what is being done to educate and help small businesses with these requirements.

 “In mid-September, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published numerous draft forms and instructions for compliance with the tax provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  These documents are lengthy, complex and confusing to tax preparers who serve America’s small businesses,” the letter states.

The letter from Chairman Graves specifically inquires about two complicated and lengthy forms that millions of small businesses may encounter for the first time in tax preparations.  Form 8965 is required for those claiming an exemption, and includes 15 pages of forms, instructions and worksheets.

“As you know, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that 30 million people could be subject to the individual mandate penalty, and 23 million of them may qualify for an exemption.   This means that millions of small business owners may be forced to rely on these forms and instructions to determine whether they are entitled to an exemption and to claim it,” Graves states in the letter. “In addition, we are told that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will issue some or all of the hardship exemptions.   The forms mention those exemptions and that HHS or the exchanges will issue them, but do not explain when taxpayers must apply for them, when or how that decision will be communicated, what appeals process will be used, and how long the exemption will be effective.”

Similarly, Form 8962, which is required for taxpayers who wish to claim a premium tax credit, is 12 pages of forms, worksheets and instructions.  

Graves concluded, “Most small businesses do not have tax advisors, attorneys or accountants on their staff.  They must rely on outside assistance to navigate these complicated tax rules.  On all of the above issues, is the IRS working with HHS to educate small business owners about these new forms and issues?   What steps has the IRS undertaken to listen to the concerns of small business owners and their tax preparers?”

In his letter, Graves requests a response by October 22, 2014, to allow small businesses the necessary time for tax preparations. The full Graves letter to the IRS is available HERE.

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