Two Small Biz Bills Pass the House

July 18, 2018

On Tuesday, July 10, under suspension of the rules, the House passed two small-business bills by voice vote. The SCORE for Small Business Act of 2018 (H.R. 1700) and the Small Business Innovation Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 2655) will make strides in expanding mentorship programs and protecting intellectual property for America’s small firms.

Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is a non-profit, Small Business Administration (SBA)-backed, organization which helps small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. SCORE provides free business mentorship and workshops to prospective and established small-business owners across the country. For entrepreneurs seeking guidance, the program utilizes the expertise of well-above 11,000 active and retired business owners, executives and managers at more than 320 chapters in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Since SCORE began in 1964, more than 10 million entrepreneurs have utilized their services, and in 2017 SCORE mentors helped start roughly 54,000 businesses and created approximately 61,000 non-owner jobs.

Introduced by House Small Business Committee member Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.), H.R. 1700 will instruct the SBA to expand and improve SCORE resources, including counselor and mentor availability, for economically disadvantaged communities, rural areas, and other traditionally underserved areas. Along with reauthorizing the program, the legislation directs SCORE to improve their online counseling services and requires SCORE to provide recommendations on the future direction of the program. After the passage, Rep. Adams noted “mentorship plays a critical role in the short and long-term success of small businesses. SCORE is an important tool available to help new entrepreneurs better navigate the difficulties of starting a new business.”

Our nation’s small-business owners are essential to producing new, creative and ground-breaking products and intellectual property (IP) plays a vital role in protecting these ideas and inventions in the U.S. and abroad. The SBA and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) serve as critical resources for small, innovative businesses in securing their IP rights to safeguard their conceptions; however, too often these processes can be long, complex and costly. Today’s economy exposes many threats to businesses’ IP from unscrupulous actors both domestically and globally, and small businesses need to have the resources to educate themselves on how to navigate these challenging IP issues.

H.R. 2655, introduced by Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Pa.) will make additional resources available to small companies to protect their inventions from theft. House Small Business Committee Chairman Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) said: “the bill would leverage existing resources at the SBA and the USPTO to better assist small-business owners and expand the agencies’ outreach efforts to provide small businesses with the resources they need to address intellectual property issues.”

Specifically, the legislation requires the SBA and PTO to develop and expand training materials for small companies on domestic and international protections of intellectual property. Under the bill, that training could be provided by PTO, the SBA, or a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) either electronically or at a physical location. The SBA funds a portion of the operations of SBDCs, which provide counseling, training, and technical assistance to small businesses. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the costs to implement H.R. 2655 would not be significant.

These proposals will expand resources available to small businesses, and while generally caution against unfunded congressional mandates, NSBA supports both measures, and looks forward to their timely consideration in the Senate.