Friday, June 22, 2007

Small Business Energy Efficiency

As you all know last month I testified before the Senate Small Business committee on behalf of the National Small Business Association and Small Business California. Testifying with me was Byron Kenard from the Center for Small Business and the Environment and Chris Lynch from the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center.
As a result legislation has been introduced per the below email from Brian Rice in Senator Kerry's office.
What is particularly significant to Small Business California is the reference to On Bill Financing that Hank Ryan has been working on around the country. It is good to see our efforts paying off. We now have a bill in the House and the Senate to help small businesses in the energy arena.
I would also like to thank Kyle Kempf from the National Small Business Association for all his efforts in helping me with my testimony and efforts in getting small business recognized in Washington.

Scott Hauge
Small Business California



Senator Kerry and Senator Snowe introduced the attached legislation, and filed it as an amendment to the energy bill. Please take a look, we look forward to hearing what you think. Specifically, the bill does the
Small Business Energy Efficiency (Kerry/Snowe)
* Requires the Small Business Administration (SBA) to implement an energy efficiency program that was mandated in the 2005 Energy Policy Act.
* Establishes a program to increase energy efficiency through energy audits at Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs).
* Authorizes the Administrator to guarantee "on-bill financing"
agreements between businesses and electric utility companies, to cover a utility company's risk in entering into such an agreement.
* Creates a telecommuting through a pilot program at SBA. The SBA Administrator is authorized to establish a program that produces educational materials and performs outreach to small businesses on the benefits of telecommuting.
* Creates a priority status within the SBIR and STTR programs that ensures high priority be given to small business concerns participating in energy efficiency or renewable energy system research and development projects.
* Establishes loans for businesses seeking to transfer to renewable sources of energy.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Health Care Compromise

I would be interested in your thoughts on this as this means if passed that all employers would have to pay 7.5% into their employees health cost and individuals would not be required to get coverage.

As Follows:

State Democrats to unveilcompromise health planThe bill would reject Gov. Schwarzenegger's call for mandatory insurance but require all employers to spend at least 7.5% of payroll costs on healthcare.By Jordan Rau and Evan Halper, Times Staff Writers11:23 AM PDT, June 21, 2007 SACRAMENTO -- The Legislature's Democratic leaders have agreed to require all California employers to spend at least 7.5% of their payroll costs on healthcare but have rejected Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal that everyone in the state obtain insurance.State Senate and Assembly leaders this morning planned to announce their joint healthcare bill, a combination of two similar proposals recently passed by each chamber.Most significantly, they agreed to drop the Senate plan to require that Californians with more than modest incomes get insurance. That was intended to be the middle ground between Schwarzenegger's insistence on universal coverage and the Assembly's rejection of any requirement that people have insurance.Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland) and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) also agreed to apply the business requirement to every enterprise except the self-employed. The Assembly plan provided large exemptions for businesses with only one employee, those with payrolls of less than $100,000 and those that had been in operation for three or fewer years.At a morning news conference in Sacramento, Schwarzenegger praised lawmakers for moving forward but said, "The only way the healthcare reform is going to work is if you have mandatory healthcare insurance."He downplayed the significance of the Democrats' legislation, saying the final outcome would be worked out in private negotiations and could turn out dramatically different."What you see now is not really what counts," he said. "What counts is the outcome. And it can turn very quickly."Schwarzenegger dismissed a suggestion that his healthcare proposal, unveiled in January, conflicted with his reelection campaign promise not to raise taxes. An opinion from the Legislature's nonpartisan counsel said the governor's plan to raise $4.4 billion a year from assessments on employers and healthcare providers qualified as a tax, not a fee as the governor maintains."I don't get kind of tied up on 'is it a tax, is it a fee,' " Schwarzenegger said. "To me, I look at it as a fee. I stick with that."The distinction is significant because taxes require two-thirds support in the Legislature, something Democrats cannot muster alone and Republicans have so far been loath to back.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Small Business California Update

From: Scott Hauge

I want to give you an update on what Small Business California has been doing the last few weeks.
First we continue to be involved in the health debate and are looking at the possibility of doing a statewide survey of small business and their positions. We may even do a statewide media campaign. If we do this we will have to move very quickly as session closes in September. I hope all of you will respond to the survey. If we do a media campaign I would appreciate knowing if you would be willing to talk to the media in your area. Please let me know by return email.
Second we have a position on the task force that will be involved in implementing AB2330 [Arambula]. This was the bill that required the state to do a study of the cost of regulations for small businesses versus larger businesses. I think this is really important as the Federal government has done this and their is about a 40% difference between larger companies and companies with less than 20 employees. Marty Keller who was recently named as the Governors Small Business Advocate is heading this up and I must say I was very impressed with the way he handled the meeting Tuesday.
Third our bill SB 869 will be moving to the Assembly. This is the bill that will go after businesses not providing workers compensation for their employees. I will be asking you at some point to send letters of support for this bill as it moves through the Assembly.
Fourth I have been named to a state Fraud Task Force. My issue based on what you have told me is the underground economy.
Fifth as you know I was named to the Advisory group that will implement AB 32[ greenhouse gas caps]. Small Business California is fortunate to have Hank Ryan who I consider the most knowledgeable person in the country on small business energy issues. He is helping me get the small business positions incorporated in the goals of the committee
Sixth Hank is also working with the CPUC where Small Business California is an intervener. One major issue he is driving is to have businesses that need permits from the Alcohol, Tobacco agency get expedidited permits for the use of Energy Star products. We met with the Sierra Club on this and they also seem to be very supportive of this initiative.
Seventh we continue to monitor workers compensation bills. There will be activity in this area come September and we are concerned that the reforms that have been so successful in lowering your workers compensation cost do not get dismantled.
Last as you know we have worked on a small business energy bill in the House and are working with the Center for Small Business and the Environment to get a bill in the Senate. We continue to work to get additional funding for Small Business Energy Star and increases in the Small Business Innovation program.
I think we are doing what you have asked us to do and I welcome your comments.
Scott Hauge President Small Business California