Small Business

U.S. Department of Treasury Provides Additional Resources for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID19

The Automotive Service Association was notified by the White House that additional information for small businesses regarding the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has been posted on the U.S. Department of Treasury website. The Department of Treasury in conjunction with the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide relief to small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program.

SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza stated, “This unprecedented public-private partnership is going to assist small businesses with accessing capital quickly. Our goal is to position lenders as the single point-of-contact for small businesses – the application, loan processing, and disbursement of funds will all be administered at the community level.”

To read the full press release, click here.

To learn about the program and the application process, click here.

SBA Provides Information on PPP

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) continues to update their website on programs available for shops. Information is now included on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Per SBA, “the Paycheck Protection Program is designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on payroll by providing each small business a loan up to $10 million for payroll and certain other expenses.”

To read more about the PPP, click here.

SBA Provides E-Newsletter on Resources for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID19

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) now has an e-newsletter for small business owners to receive updates on SBA programs for small businesses impacted by COVID19.

President Trump signed the third Coronavirus stimulus package Friday afternoon, which provides increased funding and relief for small businesses and loan forgiveness programs.

To sign up for the newsletter, click here.

UPDATE: MD and VA Include Auto Repair as Essential Services

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan enacted an emergency order to close all non-essential businesses across the state. The order “requires the closure of anything that is not included in the” U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce memorandum, which includes automotive repair maintenance facilities as recommended essential critical infrastructure workforce.

 

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam also announced a statewide order to close all non-essential businesses. Governor Northam includes automotive repair facilities as an essential business.

 

To read the press release from Governor Hogan, click here.

 

To read the press release from Governor Northam, click here.

U.S. Congress Introduces Bills to Abolish the Federal Insurance Office

Both chambers of Congress have seen bills introduced this year to abolish the Federal Insurance Office. The Federal Insurance Office (FIO) was established by Title V of the federal Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank). The FIO is housed within the U.S. Department of the Treasury and is headed by a director who is appointed by the secretary of the Treasury.

Opposition to the FIO can be seen by the introduction of two bills; H.R. 1862, the Federal Insurance Office Abolishment Act of 2019 by U.S. Congressman Alexander Mooney (R-WV), and S. 1586, introduced by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), and James Inhofe (R-OK). In a press release, Senator Cruz stated that this bill will “rein in bureaucratic overreach by the federal government and allow insurance regulation to be centered in the states.”

U.S. Congressman Mooney also introduced the same legislation during the 115thCongress, however, the bill died in committee. Despite numerous attempts to abolish the FIO, The Automotive Service Association (ASA) sought the establishment of the FIO, during Dodd-Frank deliberations, to offset a state regulatory insurance environment that was biased against collision shops and consumers. The ASA opposes any efforts to abolish or limit the FIO’s jurisdiction.

Federal Trade Commission Hosts Workshop on Repair Restrictions

Shops Have Opportunity to Submit Related Comments to FTC

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a federal agency that aims to protect consumers and “competition by preventing anticompetitive, deceptive, and unfair business practices through law enforcement, advocacy, and education without unduly burdening legitimate business activity.” On July 16, 2019 at 9:00 am, the FTC will be hosting a workshop titled “Nixing the Fix: A Workshop on Repair Restrictions,” specifically examining how manufacturers may limit third-party repairs and if those limitations impact consumer protection.

The FTC has reached out to industry groups and requested that repairers assist their efforts to determine issues relative to manufacturer restrictions on repair shops.

Currently, FTC staff is asking for empirical research and data in response to the following questions:

  • The prevalence of the certain types of repair restrictions
  • The effect of repair restrictions on the repair market in the United States, and the impact that manufacturers’ repair restrictions have on small and local businesses
  • The effect repair restrictions have on prices for repairing goods, accessibility and timeliness of repairs, and the quality of repairs
  • The effect of repair restrictions on consumers’ ability to repair warrantied products or to have the products repaired by independent repair shops
  • The relationship between repair restrictions and the sale of extended warranties by manufacturers
  • Manufacturers’ justifications for repair restrictions and the factual basis for such justifications
  • The risks posed by repairs made by consumers or independent repair shops
  • The liability faced by manufacturers when consumers or independent repair workers are injured while repairing a product
  • The liability faced by manufacturers when consumers are injured after using or coming into contact with a product that has been repaired improperly by a consumer or independent repair shop
  • Whether consumers understand the existence and the effects of repair restrictions

The deadline to submit information is April 30, 2019. Information on how to submit research and a presentation can be found here.

18 Days Left to Apply for the 2019 HIRE Vets Medallion Award Program

In 2017 President Trump enacted the Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act (HIRE Vets Act). The act requires the U.S. Department of Labor Secretary to create a program that “recognizes employers of all sizes for their efforts to recruit, employ, and retain our nation’s veterans.” The program is called the HIRE Vets Medallion Award program, and employers who have met the criteria can apply to receive an award for their efforts of supporting veterans in long-lasting, meaningful careers. The award is based off a number of criteria, including veteran hiring and retention, providing veteran-specific resources, leadership programming, dedicated human resources, and compensation and tuition assistance programs. The award indicates to veterans and communities which organizations are committed to and support veteran careers.

 

To learn more about the program, click here.

 

To apply for the program, click here.

DOL Association Health Plan Rule Deemed Unlawful

In June 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) responded to an Executive Order that called on the DOL Secretary “to consider expanding health care coverage by allowing more employers to form Association Health Plans (AHPs).” Under the DOL rule, AHPs are group health plans that employer groups and associations offer to provide health coverage for employees. The final rule proposed by the DOL seeks to broaden the definition of “employer” under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to allow self-employed individuals and groups without a commonality of interest to enroll in AHP’s. The purpose of the rule was to increase access to health care for small businesses. However, in March 2019, Judge John D. Bates of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the DOL’s final rule was unlawful due to misinterpreting ERISA and undermining the Affordable Care Act.

To see the full press release from the Department of Labor, click here.

U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship holds First Mark up of 116th Congress

On March 27, 2019, the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship held its first markup of the 116thCongress approving three bills. Two of these bills address the need for better cybersecurity for small businesses; S. 771, the Small Business Cyber Training Act, and S. 772, the SBA Cyber Awareness Act.

S. 771 would create a program that trains counselors at the Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) across the country in cyber strategy assistance by establishing a cyber counseling program, requiring 10 percent of total employees at lead SBDCs to become certified in cyber counseling and requiring the SBA to reimburse SBDCs for costs of the program.

S. 772 would ensure that the information technology systems at the Small Business Administration are protected from cyber criminals by assessing its internal cybersecurity, developing an agency cyber strategy and to report that strategy to the Senate and House Small Business Committees after enactment, and requiring the SBA to report to the Senate and House Small Business Committees on the specific actions taken to secure agency data and threats.

To view a one pager from Chairman Rubio on S. 771, click here.

To view a one pager from Chairman Rubio on S. 772, click here.

U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Approve Nomination of David Tryon to SBA Office of Advocacy

On March 27, 2019, the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship held a Business Meeting to consider the nomination of David Tryon to be Chief Counsel for the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), as well as a manager’s package of three bills. The SBA’s Office of Advocacy has been operating without a Chief Counsel since 2017. In his opening statement, Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) explains the Office of Advocacy ensures “that regulators consider small businesses as they craft new regulations. Advocacy does not ask agencies to avoid regulating…what advocacy does is to ask for agencies to pause and consider unintended consequences for small businesses, when one size fits all regulations do not give the little guys a chance to get up to speed with new requirements.” Mr. Tryon was reportedly favorably last Congress by committee, however, his nomination to the position stalled on the Senate floor. In this committee hearing, Mr. Tryon was, again, voted on favorably for the position with 11 Ayes and 6 Nays, and will continue to the Senate floor.

The SBA Office of Advocacy has worked closely with ASA in the past and participated in numerous ASA member meetings.

To watch the Senate Committee hearing on his nomination, click here.

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