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K Street Files: Small Business’ Big Fear

The conservative Institute for Liberty today is launching a new project to mobilize small-business owners’ opposition to any health care reform bill that includes government mandates. The effort, dubbed Keeping Small Business Healthy, is kicking off events today in Baton Rouge, La., and Little Rock, Ark.

[IMGCAP(1)]The locations have been chosen as the group targets moderate Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. In both cities, small-business leaders will be encouraged to contact their lawmakers, said Carl Forti, a spokesman for the group.

“They’ve recognized the need for the voice of small business to be better heard in the health care debate,— Forti said.

Keeping Small Business Healthy also will hold events this week in Nebraska to target moderate Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson, in Missouri to reach Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, and in Virginia to target Democratic Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner.

“Ill-conceived health care reforms will penalize employers,— Andrew Langer, IFL president and executive director of Keep Small Business Healthy, said in a statement.

Banding Together. Keeping Small Business Healthy isn’t the only recent health care lobbying effort on the part of little companies. On Tuesday, a coalition of 110 associations sent a letter to Members urging them “to remember that our nation’s small businesses and the self-employed need meaningful reforms that increase access to quality, affordable healthcare.—

The Small Business Coalition for Affordable Healthcare opposes legislation that mandates employer-paid health insurance.

“Research has shown time and again that mandated employer-paid health insurance is a job killer, plain and simple,— said the letter, whose signatories included the National Federation of Independent Business, the Society of American Florists, the Bowling Proprietors Association of America and several state funeral directors groups.

The letter added that the coalition wants health care reforms that include measures to curb costs. “Policies that restrain costs, insurance market reform that increases access to private health insurance and tax reform that provides equity for the purchase of healthcare, provide a policy pathway to successful and sustainable reform,— the letter stated. “Enacting these common sense and economically sound reforms will achieve what we all agree is necessary — increased access to quality, affordable healthcare.—

Family Feud. The American Clinical Laboratory Association has cheered a recent compromise in the Senate Finance Committee’s health care bill that affects the lab industry. But that doesn’t mean all groups that represent labs are happy.

In fact, the National Independent Laboratory Association, which represents small labs, is just plain dissatisfied.

The Senate bill in its current form would give labs a temporary reduction in their Medicare fee schedule update, costing the lab sector about $5.5 billion. It’s a compromise from an earlier draft that would have set up a new tax for the industry.

Mark Birenbaum, administrator of the independent lab group, said the new policy would disproportionately affect his smaller community labs because they often do more Medicare work as a percentage of their business.

Birenbaum’s group is pushing an alternative proposal that, he said, would spread the pain. The ACLA doesn’t see it that way.

“On this issue, we are not in agreement,— Birenbaum said of the ACLA, “because they represent the largest corporate labs, and the way the bill is written, it benefits their members at the expense of our members.—

King of Carbon. A new environmental group is making the rounds on Capitol Hill this week, asking Members to rethink the role that carbon dioxide plays in climate change.

“The earth would actually be better off if we let CO2 levels rise,— said H. Leighton Steward, a scientist with the organization Plants Need CO2. This week, Steward’s group is meeting with Senate and House offices, attempting to build opposition to a cap-and-trade bill that is expected to emerge soon from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Steward’s group is targeting Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) in particular in ad campaigns in their home states.

Business Development. America’s Natural Gas Alliance, a trade association that represents natural gas exploration and production companies, has tapped the law and lobbying firm DLA Piper, according to a recently filed Lobbying Disclosure Act report.

The firm’s James Blanchard, a one-time Democratic governor of Michigan and former U.S. ambassador to Canada during the Clinton administration, and William Minor, a former aide to Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), are lobbying for the group on climate change legislation. Minor did not return a call seeking comment.

The C2 Group’s Hunter Bates, Lesley Elliott and Jeff Murray have been hired by tobacco and food conglomerate Altria, LDA records show. Bates, a former top aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), declined to comment.

K Street Moves. Scott Corley, Microsoft’s top Republican lobbyist, is leaving the tech giant to join Monument Policy Group. A former legislative aide to then-Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), Corley has been with Microsoft since 2005. He is joining the firm as a senior vice president.

Corley’s departure comes shortly after longtime Microsoft spokeswoman Ginny Terzano exited for Dewey Square Group. Terzano will lead the firm’s communications practice.

Anna Palmer contributed to this report.

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