A Year-End Look at Issues Affecting Business
As the year winds down, it is a good time to survey some of the most important issues in Washington affecting businesses in the San Fernando Valley and across America.
The San Fernando Valley Census The U.S. Census Bureau just completed a first-ever report on the San Fernando Valley using data from its American Community Survey. It found that compared to the average American, Valley residents make more money, spend more of it on housing, and endure longer commutes to work. The more than 1.74 million people who live in the Valley exceed the populations of all but the four largest cities in the United States. Prepared at my request, the report will help community organizations, businesses and government leaders make better-informed decisions affecting the Valleys future. It also will help attract businesses to the Valley by showing that we offer an educated workforce and a strong consumer market. As Bob Scott of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association put it, œThe place called the San Fernando Valley has been hiding in plain sight. Now we are giving the place an identity so people can get a better sense of what we are all about.
Interest on Small Business Checking Accounts On another important business issue, the House during the just-finished session of Congress approved a bill to repeal a ban on banks paying interest on business checking accounts. Unfortunately, the Senate adjourned without acting on the legislation, so the legislative process will start all over again when the new Congress convenes in January. I will reintroduce the Business Checking Freedom Act to undo a Depression-era ban that is outdated in todays competitive financial marketplace, and puts a particular burden on small banks and small businesses.
Fairness for Small Business I welcomed news in December that federal regulators are moving to revise how they enforce the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the landmark bill enacted after scandals at Enron and other public companies. I voted for the law that strengthened investor protections and made companies more accountable, but I also understand the concerns of small public companies that the way regulators initially interpreted the new accounting controls put a disproportionate burden on small businesses. Steps announced by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board address some of the concerns outlined in a letter I signed earlier this year along with other members of the House Financial Services Committee. I will continue my efforts to reduce the regulatory burden on small companies.
Alternative Energy Research The Senate also failed to vote on bipartisan legislation I introduced with Congressman John Shadegg to fund joint research by Americans and Israelis into alternative energy sources. The bill passed the House this year after the idea received an important boost from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who commended the idea during an address to a special joint session of Congress. I am confident that the Senate would have passed the bill if it had been brought to a vote, and I am optimistic that the full Congress will support the legislation I plan to reintroduce in 2007.
Helping Business One of the most important things our office does is assist businesses located in the 27th Congressional District. We provide information about the various federal agencies that assist small business and entrepreneurial development, business regulations, financing, government contracting, minority-owned business programs, strategic assistance, export assistance and overseas investment opportunities. Our office also can provide information on how to sell to the federal government, and we will work on your behalf to request timely action on your proposals to the government, or to ensure that they receive full consideration. Please contact my office to request our Help for Businesses guide, which provides an overview of the types of services offered by federal agencies concerning businesses. In the coming year, I will continue to work for small businesses by providing them the tools necessary to succeed and to promote the entrepreneurial spirit that helps energize the San Fernando Valley economy.