News digest: Health Care Reform, job growth, contracts for women

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Strike two for Health Care Reform Act. Another federal judge ruled Monday that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, the New York Times reported. Some small business advocates expressed frustration about the ruling. “Rather than undermining this law, opponents should focus on ways to strengthen it,” said John Arensmeyer, chief executive of the Sausalito, Calif.-based Small Business Majority, in a release Monday. Small business owners should advocate for the provisions that would benefit them, including tax credits and state insurance exchanges, he said. U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of Pensacola, Fla., suggested Congress overstepped its bounds in approving a law that would “penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce.” That makes Vinson the second federal judge to oppose the act, while two others have ruled in favor of it, the Times said. The law will remain until appeals are finished, which could take two years, according to the article.

 Small firms fuel job growth.  Small and medium-sized businesses created about 95 percent of new jobs in January, according to a report by Automatic Data Processing Inc., a payroll services provider based in Roseland, N.J.   The U.S. private sector added 187,000 jobs last month, exceeding analyst expectations, according to the company’s National Employment Report. Of that increase, small businesses  created about  97,000 jobs, while medium-size businesses added about 79,000 jobs. Large firms lagged, creating 11,000 jobs.  The survey expects nonfarm private payroll employment to increase in 2011, following the trend in gains since mid-2010.

More federal contracts for women-owned businesses. The U.S.  Small Business Administration Friday will release the application for its new Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program, designed to increase access to federal contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses,  the SBA announced Tuesday. Designed to help federal agencies meet the statutory goal of awarding 5 percent of federal contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses, contracting officers will be permitted to reserve contracts for that group, the release said. “Women-owned businesses are one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy ,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills said in a news release. “That’s why providing them with all the tools necessary to compete for and win federal contracts is so important.”  To qualify, one or more women must own and control at least 51 percent of a firm’s ownership.

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