Washington Watch - June 17, 2009

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Washington Watch - June 17, 2009

Advocacy Corner: 2009 NASE National Health Reform Survey
Like millions of Americans who run their own businesses, we’re sure you agree that health coverage is one of the most pressing issues business owners face. That is why it is a primary focus for the NASE and why we continually work to collect timely data on what business owners, like you, think about some of the health reform suggestions being debated in our nation’s Capitol.

If you’re a small business owner looking to weigh in on policy discussions, participating in a survey is one way to do that indirectly. Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. often turn to organizations that represent the self-employed when needing to find out how the community feels about a certain issue.
Please consider taking the 2009 NASE National Health Reform Survey to help us give the best responses possible. It should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.


Small Biz Health Care Roundup
The health care reform debate is constantly evolving. Here are some of the week’s top health care headlines to help keep you up-to-date on what’s being said:

Q+A - Where Does Health Care Reform Stand In US Congress? (Reuters)

Health care mandates: How they work (CNNMoney.com)
Obama and key lawmakers want to require the uninsured to buy health insurance or face tax penalties. Here is the 'why' and the 'how.'

Congress Considers Single Payer Health Care System (House Committee on Education and Labor)
Lawmakers in the House recently held a hearing to examine the option of a single payer health care system amongst the many proposals for health care reform currently being discussed by legislators. Much of the debate was inspired by a bill that would establish a single payer system proposed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.). Rep. Conyers’ bill, The United States National Health Care Act (H.R. 676), would establish a publicly financed, privately administered universal health care system with single payer financing, based on improvements and expansion of the existing Medicare program.

Senate Committee Hears Many Opinions On Health Reform (Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions)
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions recently held a hearing on health care reform featuring the testimony of numerous witnesses from across the health care sector. Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), sitting in for Committee Chairman Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), stated that health care reform is an urgent issue and “delay is not an option.” On the other hand, Ranking Member Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) cautioned that “if we don’t get [health care reform] right, America will suffer. We shouldn’t be subject just to timetables; we should be subject to getting it right.”

Health debate to intensify (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
After weeks of relatively polite discussion about health care reform – the top item on President Barack Obama’s agenda – Congress and interest groups are beginning to draw lines of battle as the first specific proposals emerge from Congress. The rhetoric will sharpen when Obama, who pushed change in a town hall meeting Thursday in Wisconsin, addresses the American Medical Association, the nation’s largest doctors’ group, in Chicago.

Obama Urges Health Care System Overhaul To The American Medical Association (Associated Press on YouTube)

High-Tech Small Businesses Receive Nod From Congressional Bills
A Congressional committee approved multiple pieces of legislation that would reauthorize and expand programs to help small high-tech businesses that do innovative research. The House Committee on Small Business’ Subcommittee on Contracting and Technology gave their support by voice vote to the measures, which would modernize the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

The federal programs are both headed by the Small Business Administration. SBIR works to give small firms greater access to federal contracting opportunities. STTR creates partnerships between small businesses and research companies, institutions and non-profit organizations.

“Entrepreneurs are natural innovators, and both SBIR and STTR have sparked technological breakthroughs in industries ranging from healthcare to defense,” said Rep. Glenn Nye (D-VA), the Chairman of the Subcommittee. “Though immensely valuable, these initiatives haven’t been updated in eight years. The small business community has evolved since then, and it is critical that these programs reflect those changes.”

The measures still await approval from the entire House Small Business Committee before heading to consideration by the full House. Without full approval, the programs will expire at the end of July (the current fiscal year).

Complete bill list:

  • Commercializing Small Business Research and Development Act (H.R. 2769)
    Sets aside $27.5 million annually to assist high-tech companies in commercializing products;
  • Investing in Tomorrow’s Technology Act (H.R. 2767)
    Further defines parameters for small businesses that have substantial venture capital investment;
  • SBIR and STTR Enhancement Act (H.R. 2772)
    Designed to bump up various SBIR grant levels and allow fast-tracking for some grants, among other changes to the program; and
  • Technology Development and Outreach Act (H.R. 2747)
    Encourages that rural firms be awarded a number of SBIR and STTR grants.

View video highlights from the hearing on YouTube.

From The IRS: Special Tax Break on New Car Purchases Available in States With No Sales Tax
The Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department announced that a tax break for the purchase of new motor vehicles is available in states that do not have a state sales tax. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, taxpayers who buy a new motor vehicle this year are entitled to deduct state or local sales or excise taxes paid on the purchase.

The IRS and Treasury have determined that purchases made in states without a sales tax — such as Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon — can also qualify for the deduction.

The IRS said today that taxpayers who purchase a new motor vehicle in states that do not have state sales taxes are entitled to deduct other fees or taxes imposed by the state or local government. The fees or taxes that qualify must be assessed on the purchase of the vehicle and must be based on the vehicle’s sales price or as a per unit fee. According to the IRS, Congress intended for these fees or taxes to qualify for this special tax deduction.

To qualify for this deduction, the vehicle must be purchased after Feb. 16, 2009, and before Jan. 1, 2010. Taxpayers can claim this special deduction only on their 2009 tax returns to be filed next year. The deduction is limited to the fees or taxes paid on up to $49,500 of the purchase price of a qualified new car, light truck, motor home or motorcycle.

For more information, visit IRS.gov.

Lawmakers and media outlets across the country rely on and regularly cite the NASE as a source of small and micro-business expertise. Help the NASE make sure the micro-business perspective is heard by taking this month’s poll.

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