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Coastal Empire News Staff Report

September 6, 2017 - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today reiterated his strong support for President Trump’s tax reform agenda, as the president outlined today in North Dakota.  Perdue issued the following statement:

“Farming is a complicated operation, so to place more burdens on the people of agriculture through the tax code has never made any sense.  Most agricultural enterprises are small businesses, and the costs and time required simply to comply with the tax code are impediments to what these folks really ought to be doing, and that’s growing and producing food to feed the United States and the world.

“It’s an old, not-so-funny joke that farmers live poor and die rich, because of the value of the land they own.  It isn’t right that a family’s hard work will be punished by the Death Tax, through which many farms have to be broken up or sold off just to pay the tax bill.  I urge Congress to take up the tax reform agenda to give American agriculture the best chance to succeed.  That would be in line with our new motto here at USDA – ‘Do right and feed everyone.’”

Coastal Empire News Staff Report

August 6, 2015 – If you have salaried employees, such as District Managers at stores or “Managers” of sales territories, a proposal by the Dept. of Labor may affect your company.

The Labor Dept. has released a long-awaited proposal revising the requirements for employees to be exempt from overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The proposal would more than double the salary basis test -- the level below which all employees must be paid overtime beyond 40 hours per week, regardless of their duties, from the current level of $455 per week (or $23,660 per year) to $921 per week (or $47,892 per year) starting in 2016.

The threshold will also increase every year, based on economic indicators.

And, there is only a 60-day comment period, and the clock started on July 1. 

The proposal would also increase the total annual compensation requirement for highly compensated employees to $122,148 and establish a mechanism for automatically updating the salary and compensation levels going forward to ensure that they will continue to provide a useful and effective test for exemption. The Department of Labor did not propose changes to the duties tests under FLSA, but it did request comment on whether the tests should be changed.

On March 13, 2014, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the

Department to update the regulations defining which white collar workers are protected by the

FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime standards.  79 FR 18737 (Apr. 3, 2014).  Consistent with

the President’s goal of ensuring workers are paid a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, the

memorandum instructed the Department to look for ways to modernize and simplify the

regulations while ensuring that the FLSA’s intended overtime protections are fully implemented.  

Since 1940, the regulations implementing the white collar exemption have generally required

each of three tests to be met for the exemption to apply: (1) the employee must be paid a

predetermined and fixed salary that is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of work performed (the “salary basis test”); (2) the amount of salary paid must meet a minimum specified amount (the “salary level test”); and (3) the employee’s job duties must primarily involve executive, administrative, or professional duties as defined by the regulations (the “duties test”).

One of the Department’s primary goals in this rulemaking is updating the section 13(a)(1)

exemption’s salary requirements, they state.  The Department has updated the salary level requirements seven times since 1938, most recently in 2004.  Under the current regulations, an executive, administrative, or professional employee must be paid at least $455 per week ($23,660 per year for a full-year worker) in order to come within the standard exemption; in order to come within the exemption for highly compensated employees (HCE), such an employee must earn at least $100,000 in total annual compensation.   The Department has long recognized the salary level test as “the best single test” of exempt status.  If left at the same amount over time, however, the effectiveness of the salary level test as a means of determining exempt status diminishes as the wages of employees entitled to overtime, according to the Dept. 

SBJ Staff Report

Nov. 26, 2014 -  The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator, Maria Contreras-Sweet, announced that the federal agency is partnering with the National Restaurant Association to promote dining out during Small Business Saturday on November 29th. The partnership will amplify restaurants during the national push to support our nation's small businesses on the busiest shopping weekend of the year.

"Local restaurants pack a big punch to our nation's economy, as part of the economic powerhouse that is American small businesses. The restaurant industry is projected to add 1.3 million jobs over the next 10 years and to project $683.4 billion in total sales, equaling 4 percent of the U.S. GDP," said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. "The SBA is proud to partner with the National Restaurant Association to champion this great sector of American small businesses."

Dining out on Small Business Saturday will emphasize the accomplishments of small business restaurants across the country while encouraging consumers to patronize eateries in their neighborhoods. Restaurants are a significant factor in the nation's economy as the industry's economic impact is estimated at $1.8 trillion. Additionally, each dollar spent in restaurants generates an extra two dollars in sales for other industries, spurring economic activity in their communities and across the nation.  "The Accommodations and Food Service industry represents the largest percentage of number and total dollars of SBA-related lending activity in Georgia."  States Terri Denison.  "So celebrating Dining Small this year as part of Small Business Saturday is truly meaningful here in Georgia." 

"Restaurants provide valuable jobs and careers for more than 13.5 million people and are strong economic engines in communities nationwide," said Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO, National Restaurant Association. "While the industry is the nation's second-largest private sector employer, the overwhelming majority of restaurants, more than 90 percent, have fewer than 50 employees. The National Restaurant Association is pleased to join forces with the Small Business Administration to showcase the industry's critical role in overall small business creation."

Additionally, the SBA and the NRA are encouraging small business owners and community members to share success stories of restaurants in their areas on social media using the hashtag "#DineSmall." This will allow communities big and small to come together and show their support for entrepreneurs across the country.

To encourage not only the public to dine small, but also for restaurants to prepare for the busy day, the Small Business Administration will launch a social media campaign called #ShowUsYourMenu.   Restaurants are asked to create a special menu for Small Business Saturday and promote it on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to spotlight their business and remind everyone to #DineSmall while they #ShopSmall.


Visit the Small Business Saturday website for a list of participating restaurants.

The SBA is the voice for small business in the U.S.A. and advocates on behalf of 28 million small businesses, jumpstarting and nurturing their ideas. To learn more about support and products available to small businesses through the SBA, visit:

Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 990,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of more than 13.5 million employees. For more information, visit and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube

eBay Enterprise provides potential for more than 850 new seasonal jobs

October 28, 2013 - Today the eBay Enterprise Brunswick Customer Care center will be presenting checks to local charities.

Additionally, eBay Enterprise is looking to place more than 850 seasonal employees for the upcoming peak season and will provide information about how locals can apply for those positions.

eBay Enterprise is one of eBay Inc.’s three main business units and a strong enterprise commerce partner of choice for retailers and brands, backed by the full capabilities of eBay Inc., a global commerce platform and payments leader.

Checks will be presented to:

  • Keep Brunswick & the Golden Isles Beautiful (KBGIB) - $5,000 to help create a clean and beautiful community through citizen involvement and education.
  • Amity House Glynn County - $5,000 to provide emergency shelter and other services to persons battered and or abused.
  • Safe Harbor Children’s Shelter - $ 5,000 for emergency shelter services serving abused, neglected, homeless, or runaway children.

eBay Enterprise will also be presenting a similar grant to Blessing For Back Packs at an upcoming event. 

Individuals interested in employment opportunities for holiday should apply online with Adecco at or call 912/289-5627. For more information on eBay Enterprise visit


By Richard Barid and Michael Smith

Oct. 21, 2013 – Disabled veterans, who for years have struggled to obtain benefits from an overwhelmed Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), may finally see an end to the backlog that has frustrated so many.

The recently passed bipartisan spending bill earmarks an extra $294 million through Jan. 15 to help the VA end the backlog by 2015. The bill does not specify how the VA must use the money, but previously the VA used such funding to pay for overtime for its claims processors.

A backlogged claim is defined as any application that takes more than 125 days to process. For a number of reasons the amount of backlogged claims had grown from 85,000 in 2009 to 608,000 in March of this year.

In just the last six months a new digital application process, extensive outreach and education initiatives and VA employee overtime had cut the backlog by a third.

To understand how we got to this point, here's a little history courtesy of a recent editorial in Time Magazine written by former VA employee Brandon Friedman.

When VA Secretary Eric Shinseki took office in early 2009 he inherited a paper mountain of 391,127 separate disability claims. At the time, backlogged claims were defined as pending for 180 or more days.

Thinking that six months was too long to wait, Shinseki in October 2009 changed the backlog definition to 125 days, which effectively doubled the number of backlogged claims. Then the backlog doubled again when the VA decided in late 2010 to expand coverage to victims of Agent Orange and combat PTSD.

The total inventory for all claims peaked at 883,000 in July 2012. The Time editorial attributes much of this increase to the aging and increasing medical needs of Vietnam veterans, who account for about 37 percent of all claims, the poor economy and new outreach efforts as well as the above described policy changes.

Although several politicians and veterans organizations this summer proposed various theories on how to combat the problem, the real solution seems to have come from automating the paper-bound system.

The Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS), which was conceived in January 2010, was fully operational by December 2012. Since implementing the Web-based system this year, both total pending claims and total backlogged claims have steadily fallen. In September, the number of backlogged claims was down about 30 percent since March, according to VA statistics.

The VBMS encourages those filing claims to gather as much documentation on their own as they can resulting in what the VA calls a Fully Developed Claim (FDC). The VA can process those claims faster because there's less leg work for them to do.

Still, it's not a perfect system. We have seen FDCs go from a 30-day turnaround to a more than 10-month wait this year, perhaps because of the increase in FDC filings. Tom Murphy, director of the compensation service at the Veterans Benefits Administration, noted that the VA received more than 148,000 FDCs this year in a recent congressional testimony. Murphy said that FDCs are processed in less than half the time of other claims at an average of 123 days.

Also, of note is that the Atlanta Regional Office has the third-highest number of claims after Florida and North Carolina. Right now, two-thirds of the Atlanta office's 33,627 claims are backlogged, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting, with an average wait time of 192 days.

With a new digital system in place and extra funding, the VA soon may be able to work its way out of the backlog for the first time in years. If your disability claim has been rejected, now may be the best time to contact an accredited VA attorney for help.

Richard Barid and Michael Smith are co-founders of Savannah-based Smith Barid LLC, which specializes in estate planning and special needs planning. They are both accredited VA attorneys with extensive experience arbitrating denied pension claims. They can be reached at 912-352-3999 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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