CBO on Small Business Development Centers Improvement Act of 2014


Have you heard of H.R. 4121?

There has been a lot of activity surrounding the SBA in recent weeks, including the appointment of Maria Contreras-Sweet Sworn as SBA Administrator. Recently the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report on H.R. 4121, the Small Business Development Centers Improvement Act of 2014.

H.R. 4121 would direct the Small Business Administration (SBA) to develop procedures to govern the collection of data about Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) that receive grants from the SBA. The bill also would require the SBA to prepare two new reports, one describing the agency’s efforts to promote entrepreneurship and another providing information about the SBA’s efforts to collect data from SBDCs. Finally, the bill would amend rules affecting SBDCs by, for instance, allowing SBDCs to market their services.

Based on information from the SBA, CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 4121 would cost about $1 million per year over the 2015-2019 period, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts, for additional data collection and monitoring activities. Enacting H.R. 4121 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.

H.R. 4121 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal governments.

What do you think of this piece of legislation? Do you agree with members of the House that the oversight and reporting is necessary? Alternatively would you like to see the associated costs funneled to small businesses in some way?

As always, we want to hear from you. Also, use the tools in our sidebar to contact your state’s Congressmen and Congresswomen.

The Significance of the Paul Ryan Budget

House Passes Paul Ryan Budget

What does the passed budget mean for Americans?

Most would agree that the recent passing of the bill by the House of Representatives in a vote of 219 -205, means very little for actual policy. Afterall, the Senate would need to pass its own similar legislation, and both would need to be combined in conference. That scenario seems unlikely leading up the the November elections.

A quick look at the Ryan budget – dubbed “path to prosperity” by its creators…

The budget would cut food stamps and Medicaid, as well as including a provision for removing Obamacare. The vote on the House floor was preceded by speeches from Democrats who oppose the budget, and speeches from Republicans who laud the bill.

What do you think? Would you like to see the bill become the law of the land? November elections may be your time to express that choice.

Open World Leadership Center

Open World Leadership Center

Have you heard recent mention of the Open World Leadership Center?

The Open World Leadership Center administers the Open World program, a U.S. exchange programs for countries of the post-Soviet era. Begun as a pilot program in 1999 and established as a permanent agency in late 2000, the Center conducts the first and only international exchange agency in the U.S. Legislative Branch and, as such, has enabled more than 17,000 current and future leaders from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan to meaningfully engage and interact with Members of Congress, Congressional staff, and thousands of other Americans, many of whom are the delegates’ direct professional counterparts.

This week’s the Center’s Executive Director, Ambassador John O’Keefe, meet with members of the Senate Appropriations Committee. There has been a flurry of passed legislation in recent weeks including a bill calling for $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine and new sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea. It is no surprise that Ambassador O’Keefe is now meeting with the Appropriations Committee.

Do you agree with the handling thus far of the crisis in Ukraine? What are your thoughts on our nation’s involvement? As always, we want to hear from you.

Fair Minimum Wage Act


What do you think is a fair minimum wage?

As the President noted in his State of the Union Address, there is a push on Capitol Hill to raise the minimum wage to $10.10. The federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour hasn’t been increased since 2009. The Fair Minimum Wage Act, backed by Representative George Miller (D-Calif.) and Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and many others across the country, representing local, state and federal levels of government, has picked up steam this election year.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal Blog highlighted to current state of the legislation, as well as the political stakes involved considering November elections. Take a look.

What do you think about raising the minimum wage? Should the bill be increased?

Also, use the tools in our sidebar to contact your states legislatures. Make your voice heard.

April 15th – Income Tax Reminders

taxes 2014

Have you completed your 2013 taxes already?

In case you are like many Americans, you or your accountant may still be underway with the process. A couple of quick reminders:

- As you may recall, many tax breaks expired on Dec. 31, 2013. However, even if a tax break expired as of December 31, 2013, you can still claim it on your 2013 tax return which is filed in 2014.

- The “shared responsibility payment” does not kick in until 2014 tax returns are due (in 2015). To avoid this fee, starting January 2014, you and your family must either have health insurance coverage throughout the year, qualify for an exemption from coverage, or make a payment when you file your 2014 federal income tax return in 2015.

- The Supreme Court struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 2013. The IRS will now consider as legally married all couples who are legally married. Even more interesting, the IRS will recognize a legally married same sex couple regardless of whether the couple currently lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Utilize the IRS.gov website as a resource when needed. The FAQ page and many more contain information that can be helpful for all those who are preparing their own tax returns.

If you are feeling the pinch from the expired tax credits, you may be happy to hear that there may be a Senate Finance Committee vote this spring to extend lapsed tax breaks. Where do you stand on this issue? Was your family effected by the expiring tax credits? As always we want to hear from you!

Also, use the tools in our sidebar to contact your states legislatures. Make your voice heard.

International Women’s Day, March 8th


How is your community recognizing the amazing women in your midst?

International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8th, is described on the UN website as a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. It falls during Women’s History Month (March) here in the US.

“Countries with more gender equality have better economic growth. Companies with more women leaders perform better. Peace agreements that include women are more durable. Parliaments with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, anti-discrimination and child support. The evidence is clear: equality for women means progress for all.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

To find a list of events commemorating this special day, visit the International Women’s Day website to search events by country and city.

Also, Tweet: #IWD2014 to @anitaestellblog to share the name of someone in your community who deserves recognition.

The Global Women’s Movement


Are you plugged into the Women’s Movement that is happening around the world?

From towns and cities in America, to places around the globe including Nepal and India, women are leading the creation of a better planet for us all.

Recently the Kansas Star published an interview featuring Mamie Hughes, an elder who has dedicated her life to the women’s movement.

Mamie Hughes, 84, of Kansas City is a former Jackson County legislator, a founding member of Central Exchange, past chairwoman of Mid-America Regional Council and emeritus board member of the Samuel U. Rodgers Community Health Center, named after her second husband. Hughes has a degree in mathematics from Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., and served four years as chief executive officer of the Black Economic Union of Kansas City. She has been active in the local NAACP and the Historic 18th and Vine Jazz District. A bridge on U.S. 71 is named for her.

Below is an excerpt from the interview:

You have been very active in women’s rights your whole life. Where do you think we are today on that issue?

We have a long way to go when we are still hearing phrases like “legitimate rape,” and when women are still only making 77 cents on the dollar for the same work as men.

The Equal Rights Amendment has not been ratified yet. Thirty-five years ago, I was a member of the county legislature and some of us went to Jefferson City to see if Missouri could be the 38th state to ratify the amendment. We had to put up with men who would say, “If you women get that, life will be so changed for us.”

Well, of course we want life to be a little changed; we want to have some of the things men have. They would try to derail us with the most out-there things, like “Men won’t be able to open doors for women.” I have four sons who open doors for me, and they always will. But what we are really talking about is opening all the doors, including doors in the workplace.

Meanwhile around the globe, the Women’s Movement continues. Ruchira Gupta, a women’s rights activist, and columnist for the NY Times, details her efforts to help women come together in Southeast Asia.
Take a look here.

What do you think of all of this? How are you involved or effected by it?

An Event of Historical Proportions


Are you buried under the snow?

According to the National Weather Service, more snow is on the way in February. The Federal Emergency Management Association has updated its website to include advisories on how to plan, prepare and mitigate the effects of the extreme weather conditions.

The page also includes the twitter feed detailing how FEMA can can help with situations ranging from power outages caused by the storms to food aid. Take a look here.

The NYTimes has also provided a link to what’s happening in states after the most recent storm termed by the National Weather Service as “an event of historical proportions.”

Connecticut | Delaware | District of Columbia | Georgia | Maryland | Massachusetts | New Jersey | New York | North Carolina | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | Virginia

How are the weather conditions in your state? As always, we want to hear from you!

The 2014 State of the Union Address

State of the Union 2014

Were you watching?

Today President Obama delivered the 2014 State of the Union address to Congress and the nation. Below is the full enhanced video. If you missed it, take a look.

Did the President touch on issues that are important to you? Send in your thoughts on the President’s address!

Everybody Can Be Great

Dr. King Arrested Image

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Every year, at the beginning of the year, I am thankful to remember this quote. It is something to strive to remember throughout the year. Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve.

To find out more about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement take time this weekend to visit some of the Smithsonian’s online exhibits. They have a collection of photos and articles that you may not have seen before.

Share with us ways that you are serving your family and community. As always, we love hearing from you!

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