Small business Congress-watch: Three Pending Bills and Why They Matter

I have written occasionally about legislation in Congress and how it impacts small businesses and startups, and three proposed laws have recently caught my attention. Congress makes a lot of noise about the importance of small businesses to our society, but their track record over the past few years has been abysmal, at best. Proposals come, proposals go, the wind howls, Representatives and Senators shake their collective fists and, at the end of the day, small businesses have little or nothing to show for all of the sturm und drang.

I don’t have to tell you about how hard you work, or how you struggle to make your business sustainable. I can, however, tell you how little support you get from your elected representatives in spite of their statements to the contrary.

Right now there are numerous bills pending in congress, stuck in committees or whatever other purgatory our political system relegates them to, that could make a meaningful and positive impact on our economy, that could help us to grow our small businesses, and that could relieve us of the pressures we all face when it comes to employee welfare, labor markets, taxation issues, and fair competition. Three of these proposed laws are in Congress right now and waiting to approved and implemented. These laws have the potential to help your business and to help mend our economy. Maybe a quick call to your Representative with a simple message is due: Hey! What’s the holdup?

S. 511: EXCEL Act  (Introduced 3/11/2013)  The EXCEL (Expanding Access to Capital for Entrepreneurial Leaders) Act amends the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 and seeks to guarantee the payment of securities issued by small business investment companies (SBICs) of up to $4 billion annually. Designed to encourage the formation and growth of small businesses, the EXCEL Act will make more capital available to small businesses and startups, increase employment, and give investors an opportunity to promote technology and innovation.

S. 744: Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (Introduced 4/16/2013) This legislation, is intended to speed the reform of our current immigration laws, provide a path to legalization for illegal immigrants, improve security at our borders, give employers a simplified system for verifying worker eligibility, permits the children of illegal immigrants to pursue education and employment opportunities, and increases the number of H-1B Visas available, thus making it easier for companies to hire highly educated workers from abroad. These changes are critical to small business and startups, and it is time for the politicians to make it happen.

S. 761: Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 (Introduced 4/18/2013) Every day businesses, governments, and cultural institutions do damage to our economy through the wasteful practices. How so, you ask? Well, every poorly sealed window, energy-wasting piece of equipment,  inefficient furnace, and ancient light bulb they use drains our energy resources, increases costs, and speeds planetary climate change. This act seeks to empower states to set reasonable rules and regulations promoting energy-saving strategies and reducing energy waste. By compelling states and municipalities to update their building codes and assisting manufacturers to become more energy efficient, this law (once enacted) will go a long way towards reducing our dependance on foreign producers and on fossil-based fuels,generating savings for small companies, creating jobs, and saving our environment for our grandchildren (and our customers grandchildren, too!)

Illustration: Cross-section drawing by Thomas U. Walter for the dome of the United States Capitol building, circa, 1859