WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), chairman of the Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security Subcommittee, will convene a field hearing entitled “Pipeline Safety: State and Local Perspectives" on Friday, September 18th at 10:00 a.m. MT/Noon ET at Montana State University, Billings. Subcommittee member Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) will also attend the field hearing.
“Families across the country expect our government to conduct robust oversight and ensure our pipelines are safe,” ...
Republican leaders in Congress have started an effort to roll back a recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision that radically changes what it means to be an employer and will have far-reaching consequences for working families, small business owners, and entrepreneurs. In response to the board’s latest Big Labor ploy, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced the Protecting Local Business Opportunity Act. Upon introduction, the chairmen explained:
The NLRB’s new joint employer standard would make big businesses bigger and the middle class smaller by discouraging companies from franchising and contracting work to small businesses … Our commonsense proposal would restore policies in place long before the NLRB’s radical decision, the very same policies that served workers, employers, and consumers well for decades.
As numerous news outlets and stakeholders noted, the activist board’s decision would benefit union bosses at the expense of hardworking men and women:
- Republicans on Wednesday made good on their promise to try to reverse a landmark ruling that will ease unionization for contract workers and others. – “Republicans Try to Reverse Ruling on Unionization for Contractors,” The Wall Street Journal
- Under President Obama, the board has acted to expand the definition [of joint employer] … Companies would be forced to either assert more control over franchises' business practices to counter their increased liability or sever ties with them, forcing them to survive without the help of the company brand. – “GOP Announces Bill to Rein in Labor Agency,” Washington Examiner
- Republicans blasted the decision as yet another way to expand labor’s grip on the workforce … They fear the joint employer ruling could force many franchisees out of business. – “Republicans Take Aim at NLRB's 'Joint Employer' Ruling,” The Hill
The legislation will protect workers and employers from the harmful effects of the board’s overreach and prevent the disruption of countless small businesses:
- Republican leaders of the House and Senate labor committees introduced legislation to undo the recent National Labor Relation's Board ruling that expanded the definition of a joint employer. Instead of classifying franchisors as employers even if they only influence employees indirectly, the bill would force the return to a definition in which companies can only considered employers if they have "direct and immediate" control over workers. – “Lawmakers Push Back Against Joint Employer Ruling,” Fox News
- “With the introduction of a bill to restore the traditional joint-employer standard, Congress has the chance to return stability and flexibility to thousands of business relationships and employment arrangements across the country,” [Competitive Enterprise Institute] labor expert Trey Kovacs said … – “Republicans Introduce Bill to Reverse NLRB’s Far-Reaching New Franchise Rule,” The Daily Caller
- A reversal will prevent companies from being discouraged to contract work to smaller businesses and to enter franchising agreements, the GOP lawmakers said … – “Republicans Try to Reverse Ruling on Unionization for Contractors,” The Wall Street Journal
With the Obama NLRB continuing to act against the interests of America’s workforce, Republicans remain committed to advancing commonsense solutions – like the Protecting Local Business Opportunity Act – that protect working families and job creators. As House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) said yesterday:
With an economy still struggling to recover, the last thing we need is more union favoritism that makes it harder for small businesses to survive and more difficult for Americans to find jobs … Unlike the NLRB’s misguided decision, this legislation will help, rather than hurt, the men and women working hard to provide for their families and those who aspire to one day have a business of their own.
# # #
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation chairman Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Wi-Fi Innovation Act (S. 424) sponsors and committee members Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) today announced a consensus path forward for determining the feasibility of sharing the valuable spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band to provide more spectrum for unlicensed uses like Wi-Fi.
“There is broad support from interested parties, including the undersigned, for conducting tests that are fairly administered and can determ...
EPA Proposes Changes to the Requirements for the Certification of Applicators for Restricted Use Pesticides
On August 24, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed rule, “Pesticides; Certification of Pesticide Applicators.” This proposed rule would apply stricter standards to certified applicators of restricted-use pesticides by expanding competency standards, by adding certification requirements for certain high-risk application methods, and by requiring annual safety training for uncertified applicators. The proposal requires applicators to renew their certification every three years. The rule also establishes a first-time nation-wide minimum age of 18 for certified a
Lucky number 13. That’s what small contractors got this week with President Obama’s Labor Day Executive Order.
Since taking office, President Obama has issued 13 executive orders directed at federal contractors.These orders have resulted in 16 new regulations so far, with more to come. Collectively, these new edicts are placing tremendous pressure on our country’s industrial base – particularly on small contractors – at a time when they can least afford it.
Just last month, a group of trade associations wrote to the White House pleading for officials not to issue any new regulations for the “foreseeable future,” describing the “rapid growth in compliance requirements” as “untenable.”
More than 100,000 companies have stopped doing business with the federal government in the last 3 years. The more barriers this Administration puts up, the fewer small businesses will be able to compete for federal contracts. This is bad for small business and bad for government.As basic economics dictate: less competition drives prices up—not down—which means that more tax dollars will be spent at a time when our national debt has eclipsed $18 trillion.
You can see what steps the Small Business Committee is taking to help small contractors here.
Every college student should be able to learn in an environment that is safe and free from fear and intimidation. Yet for some students, that is not the case. According to one study, approximately one in five women in college has been sexually assaulted. Several universities – including Rutgers, Michigan, and MIT – report similar findings, and a number of recent high-profile cases further highlight the scope and seriousness of this important issue.
As a former community college president, a mother, and grandmother, I know I’m not alone when I say that all of us have a responsibility to protect students from sexual assault on campus. As one university president exclaimed, “The issue of sexual assault keeps me awake at night … I feel personally responsible for the safety and well-being of all students.” Another said, “I see the issue of sexual violence and sexual assault on colleges and universities as a matter of national importance.”
Students, parents, educators, administrators, and policymakers across the country share this same sentiment, and have joined a national conversation about these heinous crimes and how we can better protect students.
At the college and university level, efforts to prevent and respond to sexual assault are underway. For instance, some colleges and universities now require students to participate in seminars to help them understand what sexual assault is and how to prevent and report it. At the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, for example, these seminars reinforce a safe campus culture and explain university policies and procedures for responding to reports of sexual violence.
Institutions are also improving how they support victims of sexual assault, providing resources and counseling services to help students recover from such a terrible event, complete their education, and continue on with their lives. Just as important, administrators are working to put in place a fair resolution process that respects the rights of the victim and the accused.
At the national level, the federal government has been working with colleges and universities to prevent and respond to sexual assault for decades. More recently, members of Congress have introduced legislative proposals intended to improve protections for college students. Additionally, the administration has established new policies institutions must follow.
Colleges and universities have rightly raised concerns about the administration’s one-size-fits-all regulatory approach. While well-intended, the administration has further complicated a maze of legal requirements, added to the confusion facing students, administrators, and faculty, and made it harder for institutions to guarantee student safety. As Dr. Rue will explain during her testimony, the patchwork of federal and state policies has impeded the efforts of administrators and educators to effectively prevent and respond to sexual assault on their campuses.
As Congress works to strengthen higher education, it must ensure tough, responsible policies are in place to fight these crimes and support the victims. I am pleased we have a panel of witnesses to represent all sides of this difficult yet important discussion. Your observations and recommendations are vital to our effort to help colleges and universities provide students the safe learning environment they deserve.
European Court of Justice Ruling Adds to Challenges that U.S. Standard-Essential Patent Holders Face on Enforcement
The sounds of the work crew can be heard through the trees. Power tools are humming and hammers are busy driving nails. The crew is constructing a cabin in the woods. However, the work crew is not typically what one would expect to see on a construction site. This crew consists of 12 and 13 year old girls who are taking part in a construction project as part of their summer camp experience.
Jean Bjork, President of Bjork Construction in Oakland, CA and WCOE member, recently visited the Girl Scout camp near Murphys, CA to assist the girls in the construction of the cabin. During her stay, the crew completed the subfloor and walls. Later in the week, other women construction owners and workers would arrive to assist with the completion of the project.
Construction of the cabin serves two purposes. The first is to provide a unique program that exposes girls to the opportunities and challenges in working in construction. The second is to help rebuild deteriorating infrastructure at the camp.
Home Depot provides a bucket of tools for each attendee, which is hers for the week and to take home. Skills learned during the week include the use and safety precautions of power tools, the importance of precise measuring, as well as team-building and the self-esteem that is gained through accomplishment.
During her days at the camp, Jean shared her experiences working in the construction industry and talked about the construction field as a career choice. She found the program very rewarding and much needed to both help rebuild the camp and expose young girls to construction on a first hand basis.
Attending the camp provided a valuable experience to Jean and her daughter who accompanied her. This program, when duplicated throughout the country, has the potential to create future women leaders in the construction industry.
Today, the Wall Street Journal explains why labor unions are celebrating a decision that "upends thousands of business relationships":
Ruining countless August vacations this week, the National Labor Relations Board’s Democratic majority handed down a new joint-employer standard that radically rewrites U.S. labor law and upends thousands of business relationships. The majority asserts that throwing out three decades of legal precedent is necessary “to encourage the practice and procedure of collective bargaining.” Labor unions are celebrating a decision sure to harm diverse industries in every state …
A major goal of the new rule is to pit corporate parents against their franchisees in collective bargaining. Last year NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin directed that McDonald’s be charged as a joint-employer in dozens of unfair labor practice complaints against franchises. Unions say corporations should be on the hook for their franchisees’ workers because computer systems can monitor sales and labor costs.
But under the new rule, there’s no limit on the number of parties that could be seated at the bargaining table. For example, West Coast tech companies such as Apple, eBay and Yahoo have contracted with the same private bus service, which the Teamsters have unionized. Would all these companies have to bargain individually with the Teamsters? What if they disagree? Could eBay’s labor agreement override Apple’s bus contract?
The majority dismisses the Republicans’ dissent as a “law-school-exam hypothetical of doomsday scenarios.” Perhaps the board had to pass the rule to find out what it does. Nor does the majority consider its economic implications. “It is not the goal of joint-employer law to guarantee the freedom of employers to insulate themselves from their legal responsibility to workers,” the majority writes …
To read more, click here.
Federal Circuit Reaffirms International Trade Commission’s Authority Over Induced Patent Infringement
The Department of Labor is pushing a regulatory proposal that will make it harder for working families to save for retirement. In an op-ed featured in The Hill, Education and the Workforce Committee member Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA) draws from his experience as a community pharmacist to explain how the proposal will negatively impact small business owners and the hardworking men and women they employ:
Having owned and operated community pharmacies for nearly thirty years, I take pride in having provided my employees with the tools they needed to achieve financial independence. One of the most important tools in this effort were retirement investment plans so they could save to retire comfortably.
Unfortunately the Obama administration is now taking steps threatening the ability for small businesses to provide their employees with this vital resource. If the administration gets its way, many more employees will not have a retirement plan at work and will have to save on their own by either paying unreasonable fees or getting their retirement advice online without one-on-one assistance. Experts estimate Americans stand to lose $80 billion in retirement savings annually due to the rule.
The United States Department of Labor’s new regulation, known as the “fiduciary standard,” would leave many unable to save for retirement at all. It would prohibit any business with fewer than 100 employees from receiving investment information about its retirement plan options. In doing so, it would render small businesses like the pharmacies I owned unable to help their employees plan and save for retirement.
Middle class families would be hit the hardest by this “fiduciary standard.” By treating local financial representatives as fiduciaries, the proposed more than 400-page regulation would expand the Department of Labor’s overly-burdensome and complex pension rules to cover Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) used by most middle class savers. The rule change ignores the fact that these accounts are already heavily regulated by existing securities laws.
By far the scariest consequence of the DOL regulation is how it would curtail access to retirement education for middle class savers and potential savers who would benefit most from one-on-one advice. The regulation limits them to “managed accounts” where financial services firms charge a fee, usually around one percent, based on an account’s assets under management. Buy and hold or long-term savers would pay significantly more over the long run if charged an annual asset-based fee.
Moreover, the minimum balance required for managed accounts at most firms is at least $25,000 if not much, much more. That would cut off as many as 20 million Americans whose accounts do not reach that threshold from receiving face-to-face retirement advice.
This misguided change would severely restrict access to information and education about retirement options for those already struggling to save. Those with less than $25,000 to save and invest, would likely be forced to pay an hourly fee of $250-$500 for retirement advice, search blindly for advice on the Internet, or forgo saving at all.
Anyone who thinks the average middle class saver – who has less than $250 per month to save for retirement – is going to shell out $250 an hour or more for someone to give them retirement advice is out of their minds. And if you think getting sound retirement advice online is easy, just Google it and see the many ads that overtake your screen.
This is a classic case of federal government stepping in the way of a Main Street success story with a “Washington bureaucrats know best” mentality. Having had the privilege of helping my employees at the pharmacies save for their retirement, I know what cutting off this resource could mean for them and their families.
Like many small business owners, I consider my employees part of my family. That’s why I am so committed to working with Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) and the House Education and the Workforce Committee to block this rule change so they – and millions of working Americans like them – aren’t left in the dark when it comes to retirement savings.