Small business Congress-watch: Two Reasons to Call Your Representative!

On occasion we take a look at recent legislation coming out of our Federal government in Washington. While the news is often discouraging and the activities of our politicians typically frustrating, there are those times when truly great ideas are put forth and, every so often, these idea become actual laws. Hard to believe, but it is true.

Right now you are probably asking yourself, “What has Congress done lately that is helping small business?” Or, “What new efforts are underway to assist startups?”  Well the answer is, “Not much.” Because of this it is critical that, when a good proposal is put forth or a helpful new law is presented in Congress, that we make our opinions known.

This, then, is a plea to take a look at the two new pieces of legislation below, contact your Representative and beg, plead, insist, implore, entreat, beseech (or whatever other verbs your thesaurus can provide) them to get on board and support these wonderful programs.

Small business people rarely hire lobbyists, and rarley have the time or resources to visit Washington DC themselves to meet their elected representatives. But through the power of the email, the convenience of the fax, or the simplicity of snail mail we can work to have our voices heard. If enough people support something, they politicians are bound to hear. And eventually they may get it through their heads to act. These two pieces of proposed legislation would be a good place for them to start!

H.R. 122: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a credit against income tax for equity investments in high technology small business concerns.  (Introduced 1/3/2013) In short, this bill introduced by Rep. Rush Holt [D-NJ12] would modify existing law to give investors a meaningful tax credit when they invest in certain qualified high-tech startups. If an investor puts up to $100,000 into a high technology small venture, they would receive a tax credit of as much as 20% of their investment! The credit would be given only if the company were “qualified,” meaning that it would need to have fewer than 500 employees and at least 50% of the company’s expenditures are for research or other experimental use. This is an awesome proposal what will serve to incentivize investment in small companies that are doing great work!

H.R. 30: To amend the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, to provide for a small business early-stage investment program, and for other purposes(Introduced 1/3/2013) This legislation, is meant to create “an early-stage investment program to provide equity investment financing to support early-stage small businesses.” What? Do I have this straight?? The Federal Government actually supporting new businesses by investing in them? Well not exactly, but still pretty awesome. This proposal is to create a fund that investment companies will be able tap into for a share of $100 Million in government support for venture capital. The reason that this is so important is that it represents our government essentially putting its money where its mouth is. Instead of just talking about how important are small businesses and startups in our economy, it actually takes a concrete step towards meaningful support for these companies. And by leveraging existing investment companies, it taps into the expertise that they have in vetting startups and placing wise bets on the best of these.  Representative Nydia Velázquez [D-NY7] is the sponsor of the bill, and she deserves kudos for her work to push it through!

Illustration: Great Seal of the United States