As we approach the end of 2015, I want to thank you for supporting a strong and thriving small-business community through your membership and participation in the National Small Business Association (NSBA). With all eyes on the 2016 election, I expect the coming year to be a busy one with many challenges, but I firmly believe we can meet those challenges with entrepreneurial aplomb.
I’d like to take a few moments today and share with you the good work your organization has done in the last year. While progress in Washington, D.C. may seem like an oxymoron, the staff and leadership here at NSBA have been hard at work on the issues that matter to your business, and despite the often lackluster performance of Congress, we actually have had several major achievements and successes this year.
Permanency for Tax Extenders
Late last week, Congress voted to approve legislation that would, among other things, permanently increase expensing limits under Section 179. One of NSBA’s Top 10 Priorities, tax extender permanency has often been held hostage by a dysfunctional Congress. NSBA has lobbied aggressively for eased tax complexity and enabling small businesses to better plan, and this provision will do just that.
The legislation also included a delay in implementation for three new taxes that were created by the Affordable Care Act: the excise tax on medical devices; the so-called Cadillac tax on costly health benefits; and a tax on health insurance companies that gets passed through to small businesses. NSBA has serious concerns about each of these taxes, so the delay is at least a partial victory.
Expanding Export Opportunities for Small Business
In November, one of NSBA’s Top 10 Priorities was achieved: Congress voted to enact a long-term reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which helps finance U.S. companies’ projects overseas., NSBA played a pivotal role in spreading the word about Ex-Im Bank and how it is a key tool for small-business exporters.
In June, Congress signed off on a measure handing President Barack Obamatrade promotion authority, which guarantees an up-or-down vote on trade deals and prevents Congress from amending them. NSBA strongly supported this provision which will better enable the passage of trade deals which clear many international hurdles and tariffs for small businesses.
Confirming a Chief Counsel for Advocacy
Just recently, the U.S. Senate voted to approve the nomination of Darryl DePriest as the Chief Counsel for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy. Following nearly a year without a Senate-approved Chief Counsel, NSBA registered its support of Mr. DePreist and urged the Senate to vote promptly.
Improved Federal Contracting
In November, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 was enacted, which included 25 provisions intended to ensure contracts are available for small businesses and better assist those businesses as they compete for contracts. A long-term priority for NSBA, we have continually urged lawmakers to ensure fairness and the opportunity for small businesses to compete for federal dollars.
Expand Access to Capital
Another of NSBA’s Top 10 Priorities was partially met when the Securities and Exchange Commission in October finally voted to approve the final crowdfunding rules per the NSBA-supported Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act). These regulations will allow small businesses to more easily raise capital and will open up investment in small firms.
NSBA also submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. court of regarding a lawsuit disputing regulations from the SEC to ease investment opportunities for small firms.
In July, legislation was passed to expand lending authority for SBA 7(a) loan guarantee program, following the program reaching its statutory cap two months early due to high demand. NSBA has been an outspoken supporter of the 7(a) loan program and strongly urged lawmakers to support increased lending authority.
Protecting Small Inventors
NSBA strongly opposed two patent-reform bills which would greatly harm the ability of small inventors to protect their patents and seek investment. Our strong opposition helped to stall the bill from a floor vote this year.
Giving Small Business a Voice
NSBA’s annual Washington Presentation was a rousing success this June where our members attended a high-level White House Briefing and heard from eight Members of Congress during our Congressional Breakfast prior to a busy day of Hill meetings with their elected officials.
In February, NSBA hosted our biennial Small Business Congress where members from across the country heard from top-notch speakers including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), then discussed and debated the key issues facing small business, resulting in NSBA’s member-voted Top 10 Priorities.
Testified Before Congress and the Administration
NSBA and its councils, the Small Business Technology Council and Small Business Exporters Association, testified before Congress this year on a number of key issues, including tax simplificaiton, the state of the small-business economy, exporting, patent reform and cybersecurity.
Additionally, two NSBA board members testified in April at an SBA Region 3Regulatory Fairness Board national hearing in Washington, D.C.
Provided Critical Data on Small Business
NSBA has continued this year with our highly-respected surveys on topics ranging from taxes to health care, and continues to do our biannual Economic Reports which provide critical data to lawmakers and the media on how small business is faring.
Represented Small Business in the Media
NSBA and its leadership was featured in a number of high-profile media reportsthroughout the year in outlets ranging from Fox News, MSNBC and CNBC to Forbes and Time Magazines, The Wall Street Journal to the New York Times and Washington Post, as well as in countless major city dailies, Business Journals and the Associated Press.
Recognized Outstanding Business Leaders
NSBA in June, recognized 5 outstanding small-business owners and leaders who are making a difference in their communities and beyond with our Lew Shattuck Advocate of the Year Award.
Member-Focused Issue Calls
NSBA continued with its popular Issue Briefing call series where members heard from high-level experts on a variety of issues, including tax reform, newovertime regulations, our annual State of the Union Analysis, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
NSBA Leadership Council
NSBA continues to grow its Leadership Council with impactful small-business leaders from across the country, and is providing meaningful content and insight on the politics of small business with the group, as well as providing great networking opportunities.
Outstanding Member Discounts
NSBA has cultivated valuable relationships with our corporate sponsors who continue to offer NSBA members fantastic discounts and valuable resources.
There is still much to do: pushing back against NLRB efforts that would drastically expand union reach to small firms that contract with larger firms; working to prevent massively burdensome new overtime rules from becoming law; ensuring Congress focuses on our looming debt; addressing the untenable cost increases under the Affordable Care Act; and much more.Today, I am asking you to take a few moments and complete our Year-End Economic Survey to help us continue to provide you with the best advocacy possible. I look forward to continuing our work together in the coming months and year on these and the many other key issues facing your business.
As we close the chapter to 2015, I am happy to extend the best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season from NSBA staff and leadership.