8:25 PM April 14, 2015
Why it is Important to Recognize Equal Pay Day
Today, April 14, 2015, we recognize Equal Pay Day. This day marks how far into the year American women must work to earn what American men earned in the previous year. The National Committee on Pay Equality put Equal Pay Day into place in 1996 as a public awareness event to alert people of the gap between men and women's wages. The White House estimates that full-time working women only earn 77% of what their male counterparts earn. This means women need to work about 60 EXTRA days to earn what men have earned in the previous year! In short, it is important to remember this day each year, as long as this gap continues to exist.
Please check out this list of resources on Equal Pay Day:
- · http://www.dol.gov/equalpay/
- · http://www.pay-equity.org/day.html
- · http://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/
- · http://www.fastcompany.com/3044613/strong-female-lead/today-is-equal-pay-day-how-can-we-finally-close-the-gender-wage-gap
- · http://www.nwlc.org/our-issues/employment/equal-pay-and-the-wage-gap
3:13 PM March 5, 2015
It seems ironic that while women control as much as 80 percent of the consumer buying decisions in this country and increasingly are taking the helm at businesses large and small, they are not represented on the bills in our wallets. There's one woman who's on a mission to change that -- WIPP member Barbara Ortiz Howard and her nonprofit Women On 20s.
This week, in conjunction with the start of Women's History Month, Barbara and her team hope Americans everywhere will visit the website, www.womenon20s.org to have them vote on their choice for the woman to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Treasury code requires that portraits on paper currency be of individuals of great stature, but they have to be deceased. Changing one of those faces can be ordered by the Treasury Secretary or the President without an act of Congress. Last August, President Obama tipped his hat toward the idea of featuring more women on U.S. currency in an off-the-cuff remark during a speech in Ohio. Barbara's strategy is to encourage him to take the next step with a public mandate achieved through this online referendum. Barbara believes that having a woman's portrait on our paper money "can become a symbol of greater changes to come." Recognizing women's historical accomplishments and contributions to our society by "elevating them to their rightful place alongside men on our money," she says, "is something that's long overdue."
Part of the Women On 20s mission is to have the new "woman's bill" issued in time for the 100th anniversary in 2020 of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. While no Congressional approval is required, the process of producing a new issue can take several years, from commissioning to design to minting. The organization believes the $20 bill is ripe for change. It's due for a redesign in keeping with efforts to prevent counterfeiting.
Barbara, owner of All County Restoration, a roofing company outside of New York City, is no stranger to the challenges of working in a male-dominated business. She has long been irked by the absence of a woman's image on our paper money. About a year ago she decided to try and do something about it by launching the Women On 20s campaign. She took her inspiration from her daughter and her athletic, "sporty-girl" friends. She explained, "as they grew up I wanted to honor their individuality, pride and expectations that they'll be valued as women who can and will succeed on a level playing field with men."
Women On 20s Executive Director Susan Ades Stone says she shaped the campaign not only to achieve the goal of getting a woman's portrait on the $20 bill, but to educate and stimulate conversation, "not just a national conversation, but conversation at every dinner table in America." By recognizing the accomplishments of the 15 women on the slate of candidates, she said, "we hope to honor all women. The idea is to give as many Americans as possible a chance to take part in something so much larger than just changing a face on a bill."
WIPP supports the Women On 20s mission and we hope our trail-blazing members will cast their votes beginning March 1st and take to Facebook, Twitter and other social media to spread the word. As the campaign's slogan states -- and we wholeheartedly agree, "A Woman's Place is on The Money.
10:29 AM February 26, 2015
Last spring, the World Wide Web turned 25. And in its relatively short lifespan, Internet access has become vital to modern life. Numerous broadband-enabled devices have been developed, and high-speed connectivity now delivers opportunities to us that we could only imagine not long ago. This connectivity is an important resource for small businesses, professionals, and entrepreneurs, as well as for families, students, and diverse communities.
For women business owners, high speed Internet has enabled them to increase efficiency of business operations, improve customer service, reduce cost, and grow by reaching new customers and markets. The most significant impact that high-speed connectivity has provided to women is flexibility, allowing them to start and grow their businesses regardless of whether they are working from an office, their home, or while on the go.
These advancements and innovations happened under a light-touch regulatory approach, which was wisely adopted and adhered to for many years. This approach increased private investment in new technology and networks, allowed innovations to thrive, and helped increase high speed Internet adoption rates. Unfortunately, we are now facing a radical change in course by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable.
Later this month, the FCC is expected to pass burdensome net neutrality rules created in the 1930s that reclassify the Internet as a public utility. This approach is guaranteed to slow investment into our country's networks and jeopardize high speed Internet adoption at a time when encouraging both is especially vital to the success of our economy, our small businesses, and our families. Net neutrality must be preserved, but the proposed FCC rules will do more harm than good. They call for a drastically altered course, one that would sabotage the approach that has helped the Internet thrive from the beginning.
Fortunately, there's another solution. Congress can design rules that will protect net neutrality and consumers. By offering opportunities for bipartisanship, lawmakers can work together to eliminate real threats to the Internet and to establish clear legal guidelines for the FCC. This solution can also ensure that we get the right level of regulation, more in line with the light-touch framework that has worked so well for the past few decades.
A light-touch legislative solution that prohibits blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization while also protecting consumers and avoiding legal limbo, will lead to even more innovation and investment in our country's Internet infrastructure. It will also ensure that that all Americans, such as the fastest growing segment of small businesses - women business owners - have access to high-quality Internet and the technology they need to continue to grow our economy.
Tell Congress We Need #NetLawNow!
Below is a piece by the Multicultural Media, Telecom & Internet Council (MMTC, formerly Minority Media and Telecommunications Council), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving equal opportunity and civil rights in the mass media, telecommunications and broadband industries, and closing the digital divide. MMTC is generally recognized as the nation's leading advocate for minority advancement in communications.
Here's what is happening right now to your Internet: On Thursday, February 26, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the government's independent agency that oversees the media and telecommunications industries, is about to deliver a groundbreaking decision that will affect your Internet.
Consumers need to speak up because the FCC's actions can take away the benefits that we enjoy today and in the future.
Why Should YOU Care?
- TODAY'S INTERNET GIVES YOU POWER. You choose from all kinds of plans and combinations, from low-cost pre-paid plans, all the way up to that family plan with the special music collection you like. Tomorrow's Internet could have all of these programs eliminated under new FCC rules.
- TODAY'S INTERNET GIVES YOU ACCESS. We all move around the Web, accessing movies, photos, emails, and whatever we want on our smartphones and tablets. Tomorrow's Internet could negatively impact where and how we use the Internet under new FCC rules.
- TODAY'S INTERNET IS GETTING CHEAPER. Over the last few years, the price of broadband has been decreasing. Tomorrow's Internet costs may increase and make it harder for some of us to pay. New, unnecessary taxes and fees on services could also open up from Thursday's FCC rules, hitting you and your family in the wallet.
Today's Internet is OPEN, and after Thursday, consumers won't get anything that they didn't have - except more rules, less choice, and the possibility of higher costs.
We are running out of time, and we need everyone to join in on the conversation!
Contact your Representative so we can all enjoy the benefits of the Internet today and tomorrow!
Tweet #NetLawNow and tell your Members of Congress that you want them to act now to keep the Internet open!
4:09 PM February 10, 2015
In Washington, there are a few axioms on which almost everyone (Rs and Ds alike) can agree. Don't hold events in August. If the meeting is important, take a cab, not the metro. Social media can be dangerous. And of course, no law is perfect.
Full Time is 40 Hours - Not 30
WIPP's Position: A workweek is a workweek. Dolly Parton sang 9 to 5, not 10 to 4. The law used a thirty-hour definition in an effort to make the math (i.e. $$$) work. In addition, it was a tool to increase the number of low-hour workers that might receive employer-sponsored coverage. While increasing coverage is laudable, it should not have come at the expense of an arbitrary definition at odds with working America. The Obama Administration signaled opposition to the bill because it could undo some of the coverage gained in the past years. Whether or not this is true (wonks on both sides agree, the change would have little impact either way), the principle of the matter is simple: traditional definitions should not be upended on a whim. An American workweek is forty hours. Part-time workers, who also need coverage, should be addressed, but separately.
Bring Back HRAs
The Issue: Some very technical guidance from the IRS last fall removed a simple way for employers to help employees pay for health insurance premiums. Basically, a Health Reimbursement Arrangement, or HRA, let the employee find their own insurance and employers could reimburse employees at their discretion.
The Fix: Two options. One, the IRS could admit this was a bone-headed move and put out new guidance. Unlikely. Two, a few bills in the past Congress would allow HRAs to be allowed for businesses with fewer than 50 employees. WIPP is working with those offices in the new Congress. More to come.
WIPP's Position: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. It worked in the past, now it's broken. Someone should fix this (so to sum up: it wasn't broken, the ACA broke it, now it needs a fix). HRAs can be a good part of a solution that gets more people covered. Often business owners look for the path of least resistance - for some businesses, HRAs can be that path. While WIPP reviews every comma of legislation before endorsing, WIPP would likely back legislation that made this change.
Expand Eligibility for the Small Business Tax Credit
The Issue: One of the small business carrots in Obamacare was the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit. But this carrot came with a lot of strings attached (mixed metaphors?). Currently, the tax credit is only available to businesses with fewer than 25 employees and average wages of less than $50,000. Moreover, to receive the full tax credit, which covers up to 50% of employer-paid premiums, businesses must have 10 or fewer employees and average wages of up to $25,000.
The Fix: Expand eligibility for the tax credit. Under the Small Business Tax Credit Accessibility Act, these restrictions would be relaxed to make businesses with up to 50 employees and average wages of up to $80,025 eligible for the tax credit. Additionally, it would extend the number of consecutive years a small business can claim the tax credit from two (current law) to three years. It also removes the requirement that employers claiming the credit contribute the same percentage of the cost for each employee's health insurance.
WIPP's Position: WIPP supports the bill. All these efforts stem from the idea that small businesses need help to provide coverage. Accessing that help should be easy, and not limited to a few businesses. We've heard from business owners nationwide saying that they simply don't qualify under these strict requirements.
In a law that in size 8 font is nearly 1,000 pages, with thousands more in regulations**, there are more than three needed fixes. These are a few where WIPP members' experiences drove us to advocate for these changes. Please let us know if any law is adversely affecting your business. It's what we are here for.
*The Supreme Court is currently reviewing substantial portions of the law. Depending on their decision, this could all be a moot point.
**WIPP recently visited with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office, which keeps a stack of the regulations, in case you wanted a visual
John Stanford is part of WIPP's Government Relations team in Washington, D.C., specializing in federal procurement and healthcare policy. When not bothering lawmakers about needed changes, he can be found in the woods at local golf courses.