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As the 116th Congress takes over this month, many small business owners are wondering what to expect from a split Congress as Democrats now enjoy the majority in the House of Representatives with Republicans enjoying the majority in the Senate.

As John Arensmeyer, CEO of Small Business Majority puts it, owners may see more movement on a state level than the federal level as governors are now “more aggressive than anyone” on helping small business.

In addition, Karen Kerrigan, president of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council stated that she thinks “2019 is going to be a quiet year with maybe small reforms on tax things, maybe some trade legislation getting through,”

Despite these underwhelming predictions, let’s take a look at some of the top priorities of the new Congress that will affect small businesses.

To begin, a Democrat majority means a new push in Healthcare reform. Since the federal court ruling on Obamacare declaring it unconstitutional, the House is expected to undertake action to “intervene in the defense of the law.” There has also been talk that Democrats will seek to expand a push for Medicare for all at some point.

Next up, “legislation to simplify tax code provisions that affect small businesses languished in the last Congress and is expected to be reintroduced. Among other things, the Small Business Owners’ Tax Simplification Act would make due dates for estimated tax payments the last date of calendar year quarters. It would also make it easier for owners to deduct their own health care premiums.”

Trade, which is a big issue for small business owners is expected to take priority early as well. “Congress is expected to consider the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement early in 2019. The trade deal, intended to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, is opposed by Democrats who want stronger protections for U.S. workers from low-wage Mexican competition.” I personally expect this to be delayed for some time as Democrats use the deal for leverage to receive gains in Healthcare.

Internet privacy is one of the few topics that may see bi-partisanship as, the Consumer Privacy Protection Act which “requires businesses to disclose how they use personal information and gives consumers more control over how that information is used” takes effect Jan 1, 2020. “The prospect of businesses having to comply with 50 different laws has some members of Congress in favor of creating a national standard.”

Other issues that will be discussed include a new deal on infrastructure and the new overtime rules that would double “the pay threshold at which workers would be exempt from overtime, to $47,476 from $23,660.” affecting over 4 million Americans.

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