Vermont Coffee Company raises $1,000 for temporary shelters

first_imgAs part of a shift in its donation policy, Vermont Coffee Company conducted two local fundraisers for area homeless shelters over the past week.  We are directing our resources towards helping our neighbors, said Paul Ralston, owner of the company.  Over back-to-back weekends, a total of $667 was raised for the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS) and the John Graham Emergency Shelter.  Ralston topped up that amount to an even $1,000.Staff from Vermont Coffee Company traveled to events at Burlington s City Hall Park and Castleton College and served iced-coffee shakes to attendees.  Donations were collected in these Shaking for Shelter promotions.  According to Deborah Bouton, Community Service Director at COTS, even small donations are important.  For as little as $15, we can provide a night of emergency shelter for an adult or pay for a credit report that may help a family get an apartment, she said. For Elizabeth Ready, Executive Director of the John Graham Shelter, local fundraising is critical to their continued success.  This economy not only increases the needs of our clients, it makes it more difficult for us to get enough funds from our traditional sources, she said.Information on raising money with coffee fundraisers is available at vermontcoffeecompany.com.last_img read more

Obamacare remains in place as repeal and replace fails

first_imgThe Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) remains in place as the law of the land after the Senate rejected a limited Obamacare repeal bill by a vote of 49-51.The failure to repeal and replace Obamacare is a major defeat for President Trump, who made it the centerpiece of his campaign, and for Republicans, who have spent the last seven years attempting to repeal it. In the aftermath, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated that “it’s time to move on,” and put the health care bill on hold, announcing that the Senate would move on to other legislation. The House promptly adjourned for its August recess and will not be back in session until after Labor Day.This most recent setback is even more stunning, considering that the House and Senate passed legislation to repeal Obamacare in 2015—only to see it vetoed by then-President Obama. After President Trump’s victory in the November election gave Republicans control of the White House and both houses of Congress, it appeared that nothing stood in the way of repealing Obamacare, but the process was complicated from the start because of the slim Republican majorities in both the House and Senate.In the House, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) pulled the American Health Care Act (AHCA) from the House floor in March when House leadership realized that they lacked enough votes to pass the bill. Even with a House majority, Republicans could have lost the votes of only 22 members and still moved the bill forward. A series of changes were made to the AHCA to garner the support of conservative and moderate members, and the House passed its repeal and replace legislation in May—by a narrow 217-213 vote—with 20 Republicans voting against the bill.The Senate chose not to take up the House bill, and instead worked on its own repeal and replace legislation, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). With a 52-48 majority, Republicans could have lost the votes of only two members and still advanced the bill. Majority Leader McConnell delayed a vote on the bill until after the July 4 recess to make changes to the bill addressing the concerns of conservative and moderate members, ultimately abandoning a vote after key Senators announced that they were not prepared to support it.The Senate then voted 51-50 to begin debate on repealing Obamacare. The measure passed only after Senator John McCain (R-AZ) returned to the Senate floor for the vote, and Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote. Debate began immediately after the vote, only to see votes on two of the three legislative options for replacement subsequently fail. The Senate then took up a third option, a limited Obamacare repeal bill that would have only repealed the Obamacare insurance mandates and the medical device tax, but it failed by a vote of 49-51, with Senator McCain joining Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and all 48 Democrats to defeat the bill.The failure to repeal and replace Obamacare also means that HSA expansion is now less likely to occur. Both the House and Senate repeal and replace bills included the following provisions to expand HSA use.Increase the annual HSA contribution limits. As proposed, the maximum contribution would have been increased to the out-of-pocket expense limit under qualified high deductible health plans. [For 2017, $6,550 for self-only coverage and $13,100 for family coverage, indexed for inflation.]  Permit spouses who are eligible to make catch-up contributions (both are age 55 or older) to choose which spouse’s HSA the additional amounts will be contributed to. [This provision would allow both spouses to make their catch-up contributions to the same HSA, which is not permitted under current law.]Expand the definition of “qualified medical expense” to include over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications.Allow eligible medical expenses incurred up to 60 days before the HSA was established to be paid tax-free from the HSA.Reduce the additional tax on HSA distributions used for non-qualified medical expenses from the current 20 percent to 10 percent.The Senate’s revised BCRA bill also added a provision that would allow HSA distributions for the purchase of qualifying health insurance in the individual insurance market. The provision would not extend to employer-provided qualifying health insurance, which, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute, covers more than 60 percent of the U.S. population.Under current law, for most individuals, HSA distributions are allowed only for payment of certain long-term care and continuation-of-benefit (COBRA) premiums, and health insurance premiums while receiving unemployment benefits. For individuals over age 65, HSA distributions are allowed only for payment of Medicare Part A, Part B, and Medicare HMO premiums, as well as for the employee portion of employer-provided qualifying health insurance premiums.The HSA provisions, if enacted, would have been the first expansion of HSAs since passage of the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, which increased the annual contribution limits and provided limited Traditional IRA-, health flexible spending arrangement (FSA)-, and health reimbursement arrangement (HRA)-to-HSA rollovers. The HSA provisions would have greatly benefited credit unions offering HSAs to their members. Although efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare failed, double-digit HSA growth is likely to continue. The market forces that have driven double-digit growth over the past 10 plus years—increasing health care costs and employer migration to high deductible health plans—remain and are likely to continue driving HSA growth for the foreseeable future.As we go to press, repeal and replace is dead, but it was dead once before and came back to life. In the days since the Senate vote, President Trump has taken to Twitter to urge Republicans not to give up the effort on health care. And, as he hits the 200-day mark of his presidency—without a single major legislative victory—it would seem unlikely that he will give up on one of his signature campaign promises, one which galvanizes his most ardent supporters. Stay tuned. 11SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Dennis Zuehlke Dennis is Compliance Manager for Ascensus. Mr. Zuehlke provides clients with technical support on tax-advantaged accounts (including individual retirement accounts, health savings accounts, simplified employee pension plans, and Coverdell education … Web: www.ascensus.com Detailslast_img read more

Samsung Elec wins $6.6 billion Verizon order for network equipment

first_imgSamsung said in a regulatory filing the period of the contract, which Samsung’s US unit signed with Verizon Sourcing LLC, is from June 30, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2025.Samsung had a 3 percent market share of the global total telecom equipment market in 2019, behind No. 1 Huawei with 28 percent, Nokia’s 16 percent, Ericsson’s 14 percent, ZTE’s 10 percent and Cisco’s 7 percent, according to market research firm Dell’Oro Group.The Trump administration last month unveiled plans to auction off spectrum previously dedicated to military purposes for commercial use starting in mid-2022, to ramp up fifth-generation network coverage in the United States.The next-generation 5G wireless network is expected eventually to connect and enable high-speed video transmissions and self-driving cars, among other uses.Britain in July ordered Huawei equipment to be purged completely from its 5G network by the end of 2027, adding it needs to bring in new suppliers like Samsung Electronics and Japan’s NEC.Samsung Electronics shares rose 2 percent compared to the wider KOSPI’s 0.5 percent climb.Topics : Verizon is believed to be Nokia’s biggest customer, JP Morgan research said in a July note.“Samsung winning the order from Verizon would help the company expand its telecom equipment business abroad, potentially giving leverage to negotiate with other countries,” said Park Sung-soon, an analyst at Cape Investment and Securities.The order is for network equipment, a Samsung spokesman said. The company declined to comment on detailed terms the contract such as the portion of 5G-capable equipment included.“With this latest long-term strategic contract, we will continue to push the boundaries of 5G innovation to enhance mobile experiences for Verizon’s customers,” Samsung said in a statement. Samsung Electronics said on Monday it had won a US$6.64 billion order to provide wireless communication solutions to Verizon in the United States, a major win for the South Korean firm in the next-generation 5G network market.Samsung’s global prospects for its network business have improved following US sanctions on its bigger rival Huawei, analysts said.Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg told CNBC in July last year that Verizon does not use any Huawei equipment. Verizon had already been a Samsung customer before the order.last_img read more

Montae: ‘COVID-19 will increase pressure for local investment’

first_imgPressure on Dutch pension funds is expected for them to deploy a combined total of €1.5trn to assist ailing companies and participants, if the COVID-19 pandemic causes a drawn-out economic recession, a consultant has warned.In a blog on his company’s website, Sander Baars, senior partner at Montae, said that such a scenario would raise pressing questions about the distribution of scarce public and private assets, including pensions.“In particular in these extreme conditions, one might expect that pension funds offer to help […] and not only by temporarily granting delayed payment of contributions,” he said.Baars suggested that pension funds could support participants and affiliated firms by ceasing cashing in premium payments as well as pension accruals for now. This would give participants financial leeway, for example in case a partner loses income, and offers companies the opportunity to increase their profitability and employment as a consequence of reduced salary costs, he said.The consultant added that companies could also use their “non-spent” pension contributions for investment or price reductions in order to stay competitive.He suggested that workers in critical financial need should be given the option to take out a lump sum from their pension entitlements, as will become possible for people at retirement in the new pension system.According to Baars, schemes for the hospitality and catering, and retail industries, for instance, could use their assets to save troubled firms in their respective sectors.The same goes for company pension funds with a sponsor in need of government support, such as KLM, he added.“Pension funds could assist companies with liquidity problems by offering bridging loans, whether or not government-backed,” he continued.“Investments in firms and funds in their own sector will also generate income from interest and dividend for industry-wide schemes.”Baars said that a pension fund’s helping hand can increase support among their participants, and also benefits schemes themselves, “as they depend on healthy companies and workers who can pay their premiums”.“In addition, it offers pension funds the chance to engage with their clients, improving their insight into the needs of participants and employers”.He said he expected politicians and society would demand a contribution from the pensions sector.“The Dutch government is borrowing dozens of billions of euros, which need to be paid back, which results in less assets invested in the local economy.”Baars predicted that the debate about increasing local investment will reignite, “including questions [on] why pension funds invest in a US IT firm, and not in crucial Dutch industries that have relocated to China, such as for the manufacturing of medicines”.To read the digital edition of IPE’s latest magazine click here.last_img read more