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Now that November's election is behind us, the new leaders of the House and Senate Small Business Committees have taken their posts. How will their leadership differ from what has gone before? Here, a look at the policy-makers who will influence small-business legislation in 1997 and beyond.
A fresh look at the second-term Senate chair.
That's ahead for the Senate Small Business Committee in the newly elected 105th Congress? "There are a number of things we've developed in the past couple of years that I think are going to continue to be very important," says Sen. Christopher S. "Kit" Bond (R-MO), who is serving his second consecutive term at the helm of the committee. "On the regulatory front, [we need to] hold federal agencies accountable for carrying out the reforms we passed and the president signed--the Paperwork Reduction Act and the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. This is a major challenge that will involve oversight and continued follow-up."
Of course, regulatory relief is but one issue that promises to
occupy the committee's time. "We will be holding a number
of hearings on the impact of tax burdens on small
businesses--particularly homebased entrepreneurs," Bond
continues. "We need to clarify the definition of an
independent contractor, restore the home office deduction, and get
health insurance premiums 100 percent deductible by the self-
employed. We also will be looking at targeted estate tax relief so a small-business owner can pass her or his business along to family members without having estate taxes require the selling off of the business."
Additionally, Bond says, he'd like the Senate Small Business Committee to explore ways the government can better assist entrepreneurs in exporting to newly developed overseas markets--particularly in Pacific Rim countries. "[We need to] listen to small-business owners to hear what their impediments are to accessing the export market and take steps to eliminate those problems," he explains."
An ambitious legislative agenda? By all appearances, yes. But the Senate Small Business Committee is, according to its chairman, rapidly gaining a reputation for getting things done. "You'd be hard-pressed to have a better record than we did in the last Congress, if I may say so myself," he says. "People started coming up to me [in the last congressional session] and asking, `What's happened to the Small Business Committee? Where did it catch fire?' " Bond's reply? "We're [paying attention] to what businesses need and getting people mobilized to help make the changes."
Leading The Way
By Janean Chun
Meet the new SBA nominee.
At press time, President Clinton had just nominated Aida Alvarez as the new administrator of the Small Business Administration. Alvarez, who would replace Philip Lader, has been serving as director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, where she ensured the financial safety and soundness of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac), the nation's largest housing finance institutions.
The former TV reporter and New York Post journalist has also served on the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda and as national co-chair of the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign's Women's Committee.
Entrepreneur will cover this story at length in a future issue.
New House chair promises to attack small-business foes.
Small-business owners feel they're providing a vital service for their communities, and yet the government's policies seem to be actively hostile toward them. Not only does this impose costs and burdens, but it's demoralizing. The psychological effect of feeling your own government is out to get you is often as bad as the practical effect." Strange words to hear from a government official, but Rep. James Talent (R-MO), the new chair of the House Small Business Committee, claims, "This committee is going to be an advocate for small business, which in part means being an enemy of the regulatory state."
Though starting only his third term in Congress, Talent has garnered plenty of insight into the burden small-business owners bear, due to his stint as chair of the Subcommittee on Regulation and Paperwork. "So often the government's requirements are arbitrary and achieve nothing," he says. "And having to spend time doing paperwork you know nobody's ever going to read rather than focusing on marketing or customer service or business planning--that's just maddening."
Talent says he envisions hearings to expose "agencies that consistently hurt people and never even have to explain it. When they come before my committee, they're going to listen to witnesses talking about what their agency has done to them, and they're going to have to take responsibility."
As far as specifics, Talent hasn't yet pinpointed any priorities--in part, he says, "because we want to reach out and listen first." His informal plan of attack includes tax changes for small-business owners and the possible formation of a subcommittee on empowerment zones. And while his anti-regulation stance is purely Republican, Talent plans to make a departure from former chair Rep. Jan Meyers' (R-KS) approach. "Meyers held a number of hearings on different subjects," he explains. "I'll focus more narrowly on a few subjects."
One thing Talent is sure of: All attempts will be made to ensure small-business issues aren't shoved to the side. "We will constantly hammer home the importance of small business," says Talent. "If there is a sector of the economy whose interests most resemble the public interest, it's small business. And once you can show people what is happening to the small-business people in their communities, you create the basis for real change."
Doyle Research Associates Inc., 919 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611-1601, (312) 944-4848;
House Small Business Committee, 2361 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515, (202) 225-5821;
Mt. Horeb Mustard Museum, 109 E. Main St., P.O. Box 468, Mt. Horeb, WI 53572, (800) 438-6878, (608) 437-3986;
One Step Ahead, 75 Albrecht Dr., Lake Bluff, IL 60044, (800) 274-8440;
Senate Committee on Small Business, 428 Russell Senate
Office Bldg., Capitol
Hill, Washington, DC 20510, http://www.senate.gov/~sbc
Small Business Administration, 409 Third St. S.W., Washington, DC 20516, (800) 8-ASK-SBA, http://www.sba.gov
The Territory Ahead, 419 State St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101, (800) 882-4323.