Small Business Health Plans -- An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Jun 27, 2017 8:27:57 AM

Another health care debate is raging in Washington. It's been tough going for efforts to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. No surprise there. Health care debates are always impassioned and complicated. Policy makers have been trying to figure out how to provide affordable, quality health care to Americans for decades, and many of the ideas for how to fix the system resurface time and time again. For years, small business groups have suggested a reform that could help them afford better coverage for their employees, but have run into roadblocks. Is it possible they'll find a path to success this time around?

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Topics: small business, federal policy, health benefits, associations

An Open Internet vs. Internet Freedom: What's the Debate?

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Jun 20, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Are you following the net neutrality debate? Perhaps you've heard about it and sense the passion surrounding it, but are not quite sure what is at stake. Back in 2015, TECHPol alerted readers to the new rules being proposed by the Federal government to ensure an "open internet." This seemingly innocuous concept has been the subject of much controversy, and now the 2015 rules are in the process of being reversed. It's time for a review and an update on the issue.

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Topics: Net Neutrality, regulations, federal policy, internet

Cyber Resources for Small Business -- What the Government Offers

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Mar 14, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Eighty-one percent of small businesses feel the government should be doing more to stop cyberattacks, according to a survey by Carbonite. Perhaps not a surprising statistic given that 43 percent of cybercrimes target small businesses, and those attacks can be lethal. Stopping attacks is tough, but helping companies defend against them is certainly doable. So what help is the government offering to small businesses? A congressional hearing held last week titled, "Small Business Cybersecurity: Federal Resources and Coordination" examined the issue. The testimony revealed that there are a variety of federal resources available to small firms that may prove useful.

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Topics: federal policy, small business IT, cybersecurity

That's a Wrap:  A Legislative Review

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Dec 13, 2016 8:30:00 AM

The 114th Congress (2015-2016) made its final push to pass legislation and wrapped up its work on Saturday. During each Congress, some 10,000 bills are introduced in the House and Senate, but only a select few (typically less than 5%) make it all the way through the process and are signed into law. Over the last two years, TECHPol has been following a number of federal legislative initiatives being considered in the House and Senate that affect small business and technology policy. As the 114th Congress comes to an end, we thought we should close the loop and report on the few destined to become law. 

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Topics: taxes, trade, federal policy, technology

Three Bills to Address Technology Abuses

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Sep 20, 2016 8:31:00 AM

It's hard to break through the election-season drama and end-of-year budget showdown to learn about other policymaking going on in Washington.  But, there is some less publicized work being done on Capitol Hill, including recent progress on a number of bills aimed at cracking down on misuses or manipulation of technology. Just last week, Congress moved forward on three bills that seek to prevent behaviors that prey on consumers who are using technology.

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Topics: federal policy, technology

Health Care Trends for Small Businesses -- What Does 2017 Hold?

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Aug 16, 2016 8:54:21 AM

The challenge of providing health care coverage to employees is not new for small businesses. Small employers typically face higher health care costs (8-18% higher than large employers), volatile premiums, and more administrative effort to provide this important benefit. Since enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, small employers have also had to adapt to the roll out of changes in federal health benefit rules, coverage options, and reporting requirements.  So, how are small businesses faring and what can they expect in 2017?

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Topics: small business, federal policy, health benefits

The Regulatory Balance of Power -- Can Congress Tip the Scale?

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Jun 28, 2016 8:30:00 AM

As a small company, you might be resigned to regulation as a necessary cost of doing business.  You appreciate the rules designed to keep bad actors out of your industry and you support protecting consumer health and safety.  On the other hand, some regulations may seem illogical, overly complex, and too costly for the stated good being achieved. In those cases you may feel frustrated or even powerless, especially if you are a small business. What else can you do but adapt your business, pay the costs, and comply?  It may surprise you that, on the Federal level, Congress shares similar frustration as it often finds itself in the role of spectator on the sidelines watching the Administration implement policy using its regulatory authority.

Earlier this month, the Speaker of the House unveiled a policy plan for revitalizing the economy as part of his "A Better Way" initiative.  The proposal's first suggestion is for regulatory reforms that seek to both rework existing regulations and revamp the process by which regulations are written. The focus on regulatory reform provides a window into the consternation of the legislative branch as it sees the executive branch create new rules without congressional buy-in.  

So, what is the current balance of power on regulatory matters and should it change?

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Topics: regulations, federal policy

Is a Federal Data Breach Law in the Cards This Year?

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

May 31, 2016 8:30:00 AM

There's been some activity of late around efforts to pass a federal data breach law. Since 2005, the United States Congress has been trying to pass legislation to set a federal standard for what should occur when a business is hacked and sensitive personal information is stolen. Meanwhile, 47 states have passed their own laws to govern what companies need to do in the wake of a data breach. (See blog post:  Five Questions Answered about Virginia's Data Breach Law.)  A patchwork of state laws can cause compliance headaches for businesses with operations and customers in more than one state. After more than 10 years of debate, the introduction of 40-plus bills, and a growing cybersecurity threat, can Congress agree on a federal solution? 

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Topics: data breach, federal policy

What's Coming Next? A Regulatory Update

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

May 10, 2016 8:30:00 AM

 A recent survey of small businesses indicates significant concerns about the regulatory climate and its effect on business growth and hiring. More than 750 small retailers responded to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation in December and January, which was released last week. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed believe government regulation has increased, two-thirds feel the cost of regulation is going up, and 76 percent indicated that regulatory uncertainty makes growing their business more difficult.  TECHPol has been following federal regulatory activity to keep businesses abreast of what to expect, and we agree that it's a lot to digest.  We created a chart to show you where things stand on some of the new rules in the pipeline.  We've also listed relevant blog posts if you need a refresher on some of the government's plans.
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Topics: regulations, small business, federal policy

Email Privacy: Change is Coming

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Apr 19, 2016 8:30:00 AM

What's more valuable: individual privacy or society's security?  It's not a new debate, but it's one that is getting a lot of attention in Washington of late.  The battle between the FBI and Apple over accessing a terrorist's iPhone has highlighted the tension between the oft competing goods of protecting society from harm and protecting the confidentiality of people's personal information and communications. While the debate over encryption rages, there has been much agreement and progress on a bill to update the law that relates to government access to email and other electronic communications.

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Topics: federal policy, email, privacy

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FocusData: TECHPol is a blog on technology and business policy issues affecting small and mid-sized companies.  TECHPol’s primary author, Lori Salley Ring, spent 20-plus years working on Capitol Hill, including as the top staffer on the House Committee on Small Business.  FDS is an IT consulting firm providing managed services, office tech relocation, network security, and IT support for businesses in the Washington, DC and Northern Virginia area.

Technology Policy Small Business

About the Author

Lori Salley Ring

Lori Salley Ring

Lori serves as Policy Advisor and Communications Specialist for Focus Data Solutions.  Lori spent more than 20 years working for the U.S. Congress, including as Chief of Staff to a member of the House leadership and as the Staff Director for the Committee on Small Business.  Lori also ran a Washington-based non-profit organization between stints working for the Federal government. 

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