Get Started: Small business caucus, family leave

NEW YORK (AP) — SMALL BUSINESS CAUCUS

Twenty-one House members have formed the Congressional Small Business Caucus with the aim of raising awareness of small business issues and to gather input from small business owners.

The group includes lawmakers from both political parties and is being chaired by Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., and Chellie Pingree, D-Maine. The two lawmakers said in a statement that the caucus was formed to raise awareness of small business issues including access to financing and technology, regulations and taxes. It's also designed as a forum to gather input from small business owners about the issues that Congress needs address.

It also plans to provide information to members of Congress on setting up job fairs, trade expos and other events in their districts.

Several members of the caucus including Tipton also belong to the House Small Business Committee. Both Tipton and Pingree are small business owners.

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FAMILY LEAVE SURVEY

Two decades after the enactment of the Family Medical Leave Act, a majority of small business owners support the law, according to a survey by the lobbying group Small Business Majority.

Eighty percent of the owners surveyed said they were in favor of the law, and nearly half said they are strongly in favor of it.

The act, which was signed into law in 1993, requires that businesses with 50 or more employees give their workers unpaid time off for family and medical reasons. The employees are entitled under the law to get their jobs back when their leaves end.

However, of the nation's nearly 6 million companies with employees in 2007, well over 5 million had fewer than 50 employees, so the majority of small businesses are not required to comply with the law.

You can get more information about the law at www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs28.htm

The Small Business Majority survey questioned 507 small business owners. Just over half of those questioned identified themselves as Republican, 34 percent said they were Democrats and 13 percent said they were independent.

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UPCOMING ONLINE SEMINARS

The Small Business Administration and SCORE are holding online seminars on disaster planning, human resource management and lending.

The SBA holds a seminar on putting together a communications strategy as part of a disaster recovery plan Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 2 p.m. ET. To register go to https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/119177817

SCORE, the organization that provides free counseling to small businesses, has a seminar Thursday, Feb. 14 on avoiding common pitfalls in human resource issues. It's at 1 p.m. ET. You can register at http://tinyurl.com/a3oyf9d

SCORE will also hold a seminar on alternatives to bank loans. It's Thursday, Feb. 21, at 2 p.m. ET. You can register at http://tinyurl.com/akc7ov3

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