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

3 Changing Labor Policies

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Jun 13, 2017 8:30:00 AM

The election of a new administration has made the fate of many regulations uncertain. TECHPol has been following the status of and debate surrounding a number of proposed regulations that impose new requirements on small businesses. Developments in recent days related to overtime, retirement planning and employee definitions warrant an update.

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Topics: regulations, small business, labor, human resources

The Shifting Regulatory Landscape

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Mar 7, 2017 8:30:00 AM

The regulatory regime in Washington is under review. President Trump and the Republican Congress are taking steps to reduce regulation and reform the process by which the Federal government imposes new requirements on the private sector. There are a number of tactics being employed. The goal is to ensure regulations are not unduly burdensome and economic activity is not unnecessarily curtailed. Since January, there's been quite a bit of regulatory activity across government. If you haven't been following it closely, TECHPol has the lay of the land.

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Topics: regulations, small business, congressional agenda

Regulation Rollback

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Nov 15, 2016 8:30:00 AM

A new administration will be sworn into office in January.  Near the top of the agenda is the repeal of Federal regulations that are thought to have created a drag on the economy and on small businesses specifically.  The Trump transition website describes the components of the regulatory reform agenda as a "temporary moratorium on all new regulation, canceling overarching executive orders and a thorough review to identify and eliminate unnecessary regulations that kill jobs and bloat government." While some regulation is certainly necessary, there is evidence that the regulatory burden in the United States has taken a toll on economic growth.  A recent Mercatus Center study of 22 industries, looking at data over 35 years, estimates that the U.S. economy would have been $4 trillion larger in 2012, had regulatory growth been halted in 1980.  For small businesses, credited as our best job creators, the burden is significant. It is 36% more costly for small businesses to comply with regulation than their large competitors. A lower regulatory burden could, it seems, boost the economy and jobs. But how easy is it to roll back regulations and reverse a previous administration's policies?

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Topics: contracting, labor, regulations, small business

Small Business Retirement Options:  Public Policy Trends

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Sep 27, 2016 8:56:19 AM

The financial preparedness of Americans for retirement is an important public policy question. Clearly, there are undesirable consequences for society if its senior population is unable to provide for its own needs. And, of course, individuals do not want to find themselves without the means to afford food, shelter, and medicine in their golden years.  Still, the retirement planning of many Americans is wanting.  Nearly half (45%) of Americans have no retirement savings. Seventy percent of couples have less than $50,000 saved for retirement.  The gap between what American households have actually saved and what they should have saved to maintain their living standards in retirement has grown to $7.7 trillion.  (Is someone expected to bridge that gap?) These are a few troubling statistics that create heartburn for public policymakers.  Since many Americans save for retirement through an employer-provided plan (only 10% of employees contribute to a retirement plan outside of work), the question some legislators and regulators are focused on is how to expand the availability of retirement options through employers.

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Topics: labor, regulations, small business

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

What's New in the Final Overtime Rules?

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

May 24, 2016 8:30:00 AM

The Department of Labor's (DOL) proposal to change the rules on who is eligible for overtime pay has been finalized and published in the Federal Register.  During the development of these new regulations, TECHPol has been keeping you up to date (see blog post: Five Things to Know About New Overtime Rules). The new rules represent significant change, and after receiving feedback from stakeholders on its earlier proposal, the DOL made a few changes in the final rule.

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Topics: labor, regulations

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

Five Things Businesses Need to Know about DOL's New Persuader Rule

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Apr 5, 2016 8:30:00 AM

The Department of Labor (DOL) has been busy. In previous posts, TECHPol has discussed some of the DOL's recent proposals on overtime, joint-employer status, and minimum wage, among other new rules.  On March 24th, the DOL published yet another regulation; this one would increase disclosure of the arrangements businesses make with attorneys or third-party consultants to persuade employees related to union-organizing activities. The Labor Department feels the new regulation is necessary to provide transparency and allow employees to make better informed choices as they exercise their workplace rights, but as you might guess, the business community and some in the legal profession feel the rule goes too far.  Here's what you need to know.

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Topics: labor, regulations, small business

Overtime Regulations: One Step Closer to Change

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Mar 22, 2016 8:30:00 AM

The Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed significant changes to overtime rules. (See blog post: Five Things to Know About New Overtime Rules).  Under the DOL proposal, published in July 2015, some 5 million more workers will qualify to be paid "time and a half" for working more than 40 hours a week.  The DOL's proposal would increase the salary threshold for overtime eligibility from $23,660 annually to $50,440 (a 113% increase), which would be automatically updated annually. The proposal also contemplates a change in the "duties test" to determine overtime eligibility, but it's not clear what the agency has in mind.  Last week, the DOL submitted its final rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval.  OMB now has 90 days to review the rule before a final version is published.  While we don't know for sure what is in the final rule, Congress has responded with legislation to block it.

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Topics: labor, regulations, small business

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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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