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Applying High Court Jurisdiction Rulings, Federal Judge Shuts Out Suit Against Foreign Soccer Federation

WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 12:37pm
Guest Commentary By Ashley Snell, a 2015 Judge K.K. Legett Fellow at the Washington Legal Foundation and a student at Texas Tech School of Law. After finding some success in its concussion-related class actions against professional and amateur football associations, noted plaintiffs’ firm Hagens Berman has taken aim at the world’s most popular sport—soccer. The firm […]
Categories: Latest News

Ninth Circuit Adds to Landowners’ Woes with Another Endangered Species Act Litigation Loss

WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 12:08pm
Guest Commentary By Rachael Stein, a summer law clerk at Washington Legal Foundation who is entering her third year at the University of Georgia School of Law this fall. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently decided that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) need not perform a thorough balancing of the […]
Categories: Latest News

House, Senate Small Business Leaders Applaud Passage of Veterans Entrepreneurship Act

House Small Business Committee News - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 12:00am

House, Senate Small Business Leaders Applaud Passage of Veterans Entrepreneurship Act
Final Version of H.R. 2499 Waives 7(a) Fees for Veterans; Ensures Loan Guarantees through the End of Fiscal Year; Instates Preventative Measures at No Additional Cost

WASHINGTON—House and Senate Small Business Committee leaders this evening applauded passage of the final version of H.R. 2499, the Veterans Entrepreneurship Act of 2015. The bill, which waives upfront fees for veterans applying for 7(a) express loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA), was amended by the Senate late last week as increased demand drove the 7(a) program to its initial limit of $18.75 billion.

In addition to waiving fees for veterans, H.R. 2499, in its final form, raises the 7(a) program’s lending authority from $18.75 billion to $23.5 billion through the end of the fiscal year and requires the SBA to communicate more consistently and quickly with Congress before the limit is reached again, all at no additional cost to taxpayers.

House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH), the bill’s original author, said, “I am pleased that House and Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle not only came together to open doors for our veteran entrepreneurs, but responded quickly and efficiently to the growing demand for 7(a) loans in a way that prevents future temporary suspensions of the program and lays no additional cost on taxpayers. I appreciate the leadership and focus of everyone involved here to put our small businesses first.

Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee Chairman David Vitter (R-LA): “Supporting small businesses is not a partisan issue, which is why I’m glad to see my House colleagues act quickly to pass my sensible and timely bipartisan amendment to keep lending flowing to small businesses,” said Vitter. “I want to thank House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot and Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez for their hard work and leadership to help America’s small businesses get back to work and stop worrying about access to capital.”

House Small Business Committee Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) said, “This legislation will turn back on the spigot for small business loans guaranteed by the SBA, getting capital back into entrepreneurs’ hands. That means more firms will have resources to invest in their operations, expand and ultimately create good paying jobs. I’m pleased we reached this compromise and look forward to seeing it swiftly enacted so that there is minimal disruption to the program.”

Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH): “As this legislation heads to the President’s desk, I want to thank my colleagues in the House, Chairman Steve Chabot and Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez, for their diligent work to advance the Veterans Entrepreneurship Act and get the SBA’s most in-demand loan program up and running again,” said Senator Shaheen. “It’s great to have such strong allies on behalf of America’s small businesses on the other side of the Capitol. Many veterans are applying the same can-do approach they used in the military to start and grow their own small businesses, and our legislation will help veterans by waiving some of the fees with federal small business loans. I’m very pleased that this legislation also allows the SBA’s popular 7(a) loan program to meet the demand from America’s small business. I look forward to the President signing this bill into law.”

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Modern Tools in a Modern World: How App Technology is Benefitting Small Businesses

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 10:00am

The Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Health and Technology will meet for a hearing titled, “Modern Tools in a Modern World: How App Technology is Benefitting Small Businesses.”  The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 A.M. on Thursday, July 23, 2015 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building

The Subcommittee will receive testimony on the increasing utilization of app technology and the implications for small American businesses, particularly in underserved regions of the country. The hearing will examine how apps improve businesses’ day-to-day operations, make them more efficient, assist their marketing and outreach capabilities, and, ultimately, stimulate revenue and job growth. 

Opening Statement:

Chairman Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS)

Witnesses and Testimony:       

Mr. Morgan Reed
Executive Director
ACT | The App Association
Washington, DC

Patricia G. Greene, Ph.D
Paul T. Babson Chair in Entrepreneurial Studies
Babson College
Babson Park, MA

Mr. David Barrett
CEO
Expensify
San Francisco, CA

Additional Items:
   
Hearing Notice

Witness List
    

Thune Urges Colleagues to Pass Multi-Year Transportation Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today urged his colleagues to pass the DRIVE Act, a bipartisan bill designed to modernize the nation’s infrastructure and transportation systems and better allow America to compete in the 21st century. The bill includes several Commerce Committee titles that cover ...

Walberg Statement: Hearing on "Examining the Costs and Consequences of the Administration's Overtime Proposal"

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 12:00am
Just over a month ago, this subcommittee convened to discuss the need to modernize the confusing and outdated regulations implementing federal wage and hour standards. At the time, the administration had not yet released its overtime proposal, but several of our witnesses were already worried about what the proposal would look like and the consequences for workers and job creators.

 

Recognizing this administration’s propensity for executive overreach, I shared many of those concerns. But I was still hopeful that somehow, this time might be different – that somehow the administration would listen to all of the concerns, consider all of the data, and put forward a proposal that would help do some good without doing any harm. As it turns out, that optimism was misguided, much like the rule the administration eventually proposed.

In the weeks since the administration unveiled its overtime proposal, even more concerns have been raised about the impact it would have on both employees and employers. Various studies and analyses have shown the administration’s plan would result in billions of new costs for employers annually – a reality that is tough for many employers in this economy, but even tougher on small businesses and nonprofits. Unfortunately, the proposal’s anticipated consequences extend far beyond added costs and could have much more serious implications for many Americans.

Of all the concerns we’ve heard about this proposal, the ones I find most alarming are those that it will limit flexibility and opportunity in the workplace. As employers struggle to cope with the added costs of these new overtime rules, many salaried employees will be demoted to hourly workers with lower pay and stricter schedules. With that shift comes fewer opportunities for on-the-job training, talent development, and managerial experience. All of which leads to fewer opportunities to advance up the economic ladder.

One of the most inspiring things about the American workforce is that a crew member at a fast-food restaurant can work hard, earn a spot in management, and eventually go on to become a leader at a major U.S. business. That’s the American Dream, one that all policymakers should work to encourage, not stifle. I’m sure Mr. Williams will have more to say on that topic. Unfortunately, if the administration’s proposal has the effect many anticipate it will, stories like that of Mr. Williams will become harder to come by.

In as much as the administration’s proposal is flawed for what it would do, it’s equally disappointing in what it doesn’t do. It doesn’t address the complexity of current regulations, and it doesn’t reduce unnecessary litigation. As Chairman Kline and I said when the proposal was first unveiled, it’s a missed opportunity. What we need instead – and what the American people deserve – is a balanced approach that will strengthen employee safeguards, eliminate employer confusion and uncertainty, and encourage growth and prosperity for those working hard to make a living. From what we’ve heard so far, the administration’s proposal is not that approach.

This committee has held numerous hearings and explored various efforts over the years to improve the rules and regulations guiding federal wage and hour standards. We’ve heard from employees and employers alike that the current system is too complex, burdensome, and outdated. And we’ve seen studies that show related litigation is on the rise. For all these reasons, we will continue to urge the administration to improve these rules and regulations responsibly and in a way that doesn’t destroy opportunities for hardworking Americans.

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Update: New Jury Again Exonerates KC Royals’ Mascot in Hot-Dog Incident

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 07/22/2015 - 5:17pm
Almost exactly a year ago in the WLF Legal Pulse,  WLF general counsel Mark Chenoweth (a Kansas native and Royals fan) called foul on the Missouri Supreme Court for ordering a new trial in the case of a fan that alleged a hot dog, tossed by the Kansas City Royals’ mascot Sluggerrr (pictured left), caused an eye […]
Categories: Latest News

Nomination Hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The pending nominee to be the next administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) will provide testimony at a U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation confirmation hearing on Wednesday, July 22 at 10:00 a.m. PHMSA has been without Senate-confirmed leadership since the previous administrator, Cynthia Quarterman, departed on October 4, 2014. President Barack Obama nominated Marie Dominguez on May 29, 2015.

“PHMSA has come under scrutiny as an ineffect...

How Tax Compliance Obligations Hinder Small Business Growth

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 07/22/2015 - 11:00am

On Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at 11:00 A.M. the Committee on Small Business will hold a hearing titled: ​ "How Tax Compliance Obligations Hinder Small Business Growth." The hearing will be held in 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The hearing will examine the tax compliance burden facing small firms and examine the effectiveness of actions taken by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) intended to reduce these compliance costs.  The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) will release a report at the hearing examining the efficacy of some IRS efforts to ensure tax compliance and a GAO official will testify about the potential complications those efforts cause for small businesses.  A second panel will focus on ways to reduce the complexity faced by small firms when preparing their taxes.  

Opening Statement:

  • Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH)
    • Opening Statement
       
  • Witnesses and Testimony: 

    Panel 1

    Mr. J. Christopher Mihm
    Managing Director, Strategic Issues
    United States Government Accountability Office
    Washington, DC

    Panel 2

    Mr. Donald Williamson
    Professor, American University
    Executive Director, Kogod Tax Center
    Washington, DC

    Mr. Troy Lewis
    Vice President
    Heritage Bank
    St. George, UT
    *Testifying on Behalf of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

    Mr. Les Vitale
    Partner
    Local Markets Group
    McGladrey, LLP
    Boston, MA  

    Additional Items:

  • Hearing Notice
  • Witness List
  •  

     

    How Tax Compliance Obligations Hinder Small Business Growth

    House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 07/22/2015 - 12:00am

    How Tax Compliance Obligations Hinder Small Business Growth

    WASHINGTON—A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the burden small businesses face in complying with the increasingly complex tax code gave Small Business Committee Members, tax experts, and small business leaders much to examine in today’s full committee hearing.

    The report, commissioned by the Small Business Committee in 2013 to examine how characteristics of a small business affect its compliance process and burdens and how the IRS takes small business needs into consideration, underscored what Members and small businesses see every day: America’s small businesses face a disproportionate tax burden in trying to comply with the tax code.

    Chairman Chabot noted testimony the committee heard in a tax-focused hearing on April 15th of this year. “There are millions of Americans out there…who feel the weight of the tax code each day. I speak to them every time I am back home. And I hear the same concerns again and again: more Americans are frustrated with the process of paying their taxes than with actually writing the check to the government. It’s unacceptable and we must do better.

    The report indicates that small businesses pay anywhere from $182 to $4,746 per employee to comply with the tax code, and that despite administrative efforts by the IRS to reduce the compliance burden, small businesses aren’t seeing relief.

    Chairman Chabot asked the panel of five witnesses what small businesses need most to deal with the burden of tax compliance. Troy Lewis, Vice President of Heritage Bank in St. George, Utah, affirmed what the committee established on Tax Day: “Reform the tax code,” Lewis said. “[Small businesses] want it. They need it. If you can give that to them, it would be wonderful.”

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    Kline Statement: Markup of H.R. 511, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act

    Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 07/22/2015 - 12:00am

    Today the committee will consider H.R. 511, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of 2015. This important legislation will prevent the National Labor Relations Board from exerting jurisdiction over Native American businesses operating on tribal lands.

    As we all know, policies governing labor-management relations are extremely complex and controversial. More than 80 years after its enactment, the National Labor Relations Act continues to be a source of heated debate in the United States Congress and in workplaces across the country. No doubt that debate will continue to take place in this committee as we work to ensure the law is implemented fairly and objectively.

    But that’s a debate for another time. The bill before us is not about union workers versus nonunion workers; it’s not about big business versus big labor; and it’s not about Republican versus Democrat. The bill we are considering today is about whether Native Americans should be free to govern employee-employer relations in a way they determine is best for their workplaces.

    Over the last 10 years, the National Labor Relations Board has taken an approach contrary to the rights of Native Americans and long-standing labor policies. In a 2004 decision, the board broke from more than 30 years of precedent and decided it has jurisdiction over tribal activities. Since that time, the board has determined on a case-by-case basis whether a business on tribal land is for commercial purposes, and if it is, the board will assert its jurisdiction over that business.

    At a subcommittee hearing held in June, Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation of Connecticut, criticized the board’s decision as an “affront to Indian Country.” He went on to say that the board’s flawed logic “suggests that Indian tribes are incapable of developing laws and institutions to protect the rights of employees who work on our reservations.” Jefferson Keel, Lieutenant Governor of the Chickasaw Nation, described the board’s approach as “incompatible with the very nature of sovereignty and self-government.”

    Imagine the public outcry we would hear across the country if the board began imposing its will on enterprises owned and operated by state and local governments, such as schools, parks, and recreation centers. Are we supposed to believe that state leaders in California and Connecticut are more capable of managing their affairs than the leaders of the Shakopee and Saginaw Chippewa Indian tribes? Yet for more than a decade, that’s precisely the message the board has sent to Native Americans.

    It is time for Congress to right this wrong, and the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act will help us do just that. The bill amends the National Labor Relations Act to reaffirm that the National Labor Relations Board cannot assert its authority over Indian tribes and enterprises or institutions owned and operated by an Indian tribe on tribal land. This is the same standard that was in place before the board abruptly changed course and it must be the standard that governs the board’s actions moving forward.

    I want to thank Congressman Todd Rokita for his leadership on this important issue. Over the years, a number of men and women in Congress have helped lead the fight on behalf of tribal sovereignty. Thanks to their hard work, we are here considering a proposal that will restore to Indian tribes the ability to regulate labor relations in their businesses and ensure they are afforded the same rights and protections enjoyed by state and local government leaders.

    Two years ago, President Obama signed an executive order establishing a White House Council on Native American Affairs. Now, I am not usually one to cite favorably an executive order by the president, but I do believe this one is pertinent to today’s meeting. The executive order says:

    “The United States recognizes a government-to-government relationship, as well as a unique legal and political relationship, with federally recognized tribes … Honoring these relationships and respecting the sovereignty of tribal nations is critical to advancing tribal self-determination and prosperity.”

    That is the essence of why we are here today – to honor and respect the sovereignty of tribal nations. Native Americans have spoken loud and clear: They do not want an unelected and unaccountable federal labor board dictating policies in their workplaces. I urge my colleagues to stand with the Native American community by supporting the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act.

    Rokita Statement: Markup of H.R. 511, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act

    Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 07/22/2015 - 12:00am

    Before I explain the technical changes included in the substitute amendment, I’d like to take a minute to discuss the importance of the broader legislation.

    As the chairman said, the purpose of this bill is simple: to protect the sovereignty and promote governmental parity, of Native Americans by making it very clear that tribal businesses on tribal lands are free to operate with the same autonomy provided to any other sovereign body.

    Since the early 1830s, our courts have held that “tribes possess a nationhood status and retain inherent powers of self-government.” Over the years, there has been widespread agreement on both sides of the aisle that these rights should be protected and that tribes should remain sovereign – free to govern and develop policies that best meet the needs of their members. Unfortunately, in recent years, the National Labor Relations Board has threatened that sovereignty by exerting control over tribal businesses.

    For nearly 70 years, the NLRB respected Native American sovereignty, holding that tribes should be free from outside intervention. But in 2004, the board reversed course and overturned long-standing precedent with its San Manuel Bingo & Casino decision. Since then, the board has used a subjective test to determine when and where to exert its jurisdiction over Native American tribes. There shouldn’t be a test, as was said at the hearing.  

    Not surprisingly, the Native American community strongly opposed the board’s move, and today, we continue to hear strong concerns with what many consider an attack on tribal sovereignty. Unfortunately, these concerns seem to have fallen on deaf ears at the NLRB as the board continues to exert its authority over Native American tribes, and the problem is only getting worse and is creating uncertainty for tribal governments and tribally owned businesses, often in regions that can least afford it.

    At a subcommittee hearing just last month, tribal leaders said they’ve seen “an increasingly aggressive approach to enforcement by the board, which creates unacceptable risks and uncertainties for all tribal nation rights under federal law and to their dignity as sovereigns.” If enacted, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act will put an end to the board’s overreach and give authority over labor relations back to tribal governments.

    As Dr. Roe said at last month’s hearing, “We should never stand idly by while the sovereignty of Native Americans is threatened.” And that’s why we are here today. The legislation we’re considering will prevent the NLRB from asserting its jurisdiction over businesses owned by Native American tribes on tribal lands. It’s a bipartisan, commonsense proposal that will provide legal certainty to the Native American community and restore a standard that was in place for years before the misguided NLRB San Manuel decision.

    I appreciate all that my colleagues have done over the years to move this issue forward, and I am very pleased that we’re taking this next step today. The technical change in the proposed substitute amendment clarifies that the National Labor Relations Act does not apply to tribal enterprises and institutions, as well as the tribal governments themselves. I urge my colleagues to support the substitute, as well as the underlying bill, to help provide Native American tribes the legal clarity and labor sovereignty they deserve.

    Regrettable Outcome of Sysco/U.S. Foods Merger Challenge Reflects FTC Has Nothing to Fear from “SMARTER” Act

    WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 11:56am
    Featured Expert Contributor – Antitrust & Competition, U.S. Department of Justice Mark J. Botti, Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP with Anthony W. Swisher, Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP Late last month, a federal district court judge in Washington, D.C. granted the request of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for a preliminary injunction against the proposed […]
    Categories: Latest News

    EPA Study on Hydraulic Fracturing’s Drinking Water Impact Puts Anti-Gas Activists on Defensive

    WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 11:39am
    Guest Commentary by Chelsie Kidd, a 2015 Judge K.K. Legett Fellow at the Washington Legal Foundation and a student at Texas Tech School of Law. On June 4, 2015 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a much anticipated draft assessment of the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. The draft assessment was conducted […]
    Categories: Latest News

    GSA Seeks Proposals for Federal Triangle South Project

    GSA news releases - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 1:00am
    GSA Seeks Proposals for Federal Triangle South Project

    How Tax Compliance Obligations Hinder Small Business Growth

    House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 07/16/2015 - 12:00am

    On Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at 11:00 A.M. the Committee on Small Business will hold a hearing titled: ​ "How Tax Compliance Obligations Hinder Small Business Growth." The hearing will be held in 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

    The hearing will examine the tax compliance burden facing small firms and examine the effectiveness of actions taken by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) intended to reduce these compliance costs.  The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) will release a report at the hearing examining the efficacy of some IRS efforts to ensure tax compliance and a GAO official will testify about the potential complications those efforts cause for small businesses.  A second panel will focus on ways to reduce the complexity faced by small firms when preparing their taxes.  

    Opening Statement:

  • Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH)
    • Opening Statement
       
  • Witnesses and Testimony: 

    Panel 1

    Mr. J. Christopher Mihm
    Managing Director, Strategic Issues
    United States Government Accountability Office
    Washington, DC

    Panel 2

    Mr. Donald Williamson
    Professor, American University
    Executive Director, Kogod Tax Center
    Washington, DC

    Mr. Troy Lewis
    Vice President
    Heritage Bank
    St. George, UT
    *Testifying on Behalf of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

    Mr. Les Vitale
    Partner
    Local Markets Group
    McGladrey, LLP
    Boston, MA  

    Additional Items:

  • Hearing Notice
  • Witness List
  •  

     

    Rep. Bishop: Student Success Act Builds a Better Path Forward for Students

    Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 07/15/2015 - 12:30pm

    http://edworkforce.house.gov/studentsuccessact/ 

    The nation’s one-size-fits-all mandates dictating K-12 education have been letting students down for years. Federal involvement in classrooms is at an all-time high. Yet far too many schools are ill-equipped to make the grade. The Obama Administration has only made a broken system worse by imposing a backdoor education agenda on states and school districts through pet projects and temporary, conditional waivers.

    As Education and the Workforce Committee member Rep. Mike Bishop (R-MI) writes in a recent op-ed:

    For too long, the Department of Education has disregarded the 10th Amendment and our state’s ability to effectively lead the people it knows best – including our students. It doesn’t make sense to treat Brighton or Rochester, Michigan’s school districts like Brooklyn, New York’s or Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s. There cannot be just one, broad-stroke approach to achieving student success.

    Fortunately, the Student Success Act places the country on a new course. Rep. Bishop continues:

    While serving as the Senate Majority Leader of Michigan, I saw firsthand how much more effective we could be when control over education decisions was kept at the state versus the federal level. I’ve taken that experience with me to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where my colleagues and I have focused on reducing the federal footprint in the classroom.

    That’s one of the goals behind the
    Student Success Act, which the U.S. House of Representatives passed last week. Its improvements to our K-12 system would give states the freedom to choose what works best for them without the strings attached, including additional protection for states that choose to opt-out of Common Core. Best of all, it empowers parents and educators with greater flexibility by eliminating regulations that monopolize how and where students are taught.

    This Congress has a duty to build a better path forward for our children. The
    Student Success Act does just that.

    Americans deserve a better law, one that will help ensure every child in every school has access to an excellent education. By passing the Student Success Act, Congress has moved one step closer to that goal.

    To read the op-ed in Detroit News, click here.

    To learn more about the Student Success Act, click here.

     

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