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Craft Brewery Sues Over Gov. Shutdown Harms

The partial government shutdown has affected everything from international diplomacy to consumer rights. It has also affected small businesses, and one company has now filed suit. Atlas Brew Works, a craft brewery based in Washington D.C., claims the shutdown has violated its First Amendment right to speak to consumers because its labels for seasonal brew kegs are stuck in the label approval process at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The labels are required by law to receive federal approval for interstate shipment of the kegs.

In its lawsuit, Atlas Brew seeks an injunction to keep the attorney general from enforcing the law requiring this label. The brewery is being represented by Alan Gura, a famed civil rights litigator.

San Antonio Trade Groups Sue for Raising Smoking Age to 21

Retailers in San Antonio, Texas are crying foul, claiming they are being made the scapegoats when the real criminals are the underaged smokers. The city council passed an ordinance set to go into effect January 1, 2019, which raises the age of selling tobacco products to customers that are 21 years of age and older.

But the trade groups representing convenience stores, gas stations and small grocers have a host of legal issues with this new rule, and filed a federal lawsuit claiming, among other things, that the ordinance unfairly targets them because, in an interesting twist, only the retailer would be cited, and forced to pay a $500 fine. The underaged buyer walks away scot-free.

A Northern California farmer from Tehama County is facing a federal court action seeking nearly $3 million in fines. The federal case is part of the ongoing saga of John Duarte, who is alleged to have damaged federally protected wetlands when he plowed his own field in 2012.

The case alleges that Duarte failed to obtain the necessary permits required by the Clean Water Act from the Army Corps of Engineers. The permits were allegedly required because Duarte's land was near, and contained, "waters" owned by the US government. The case has drawn quite a bit of attention, not just for the fact that a farmer is being fined for working their own land, but also because the implications of a precedent setting ruling could have a significant impact on farmers nationwide.

Before he was a senior adviser to President Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, also Ivanka Trump's husband, ran Kushner Companies, his father's real estate development and lending company. Earlier this month, his sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer, invoked Jared's name when imploring Chinese investors to "invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States."

But can investors really buy their way into a visa? And should your business be targeting such investors?

President Trump has been bullish on immigration reform, even if his efforts thus far have been more reminiscent of a bull in a china shop. After an initial executive order banning refugees and even visa holders from seven majority Muslim countries was blocked by federal courts, Trump is looking to re-issue a revised order and appears to be targeting other immigration programs as well.

Next up on the chopping block might be the H1-B visa program, through which American business -- many of them the biggest tech firms in the country -- can hire skilled foreign workers. Last month, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said a possible executive order on work visas "is part of a larger immigration effort" based on "an overall need to look at all of these measures." So what could H1-B visa reform mean for your small business or startup?

A lawsuit filed by two consumer advocacy NPOs and a labor union yesterday against President Trump, the United States, and several high ranking executive branch officials, is challenging the '1 in 2 out' executive order signed on January 30, 2017. The controversial executive order not only ties the hands of federal regulators, but also ties their purse strings. In a nut shell, the EO requires that for every one new regulation promulgated by federal agencies, there must be two regulations repealed. Additionally, the EO requires that all funding for new regulations be provided via the funding that was intended for the repealed regulations.

The official position from the White House on this EO is that the intention is to spur federal deregulation, which they hope will stimulate business growth. It is no secret that the president has an agenda to loosen federal oversight on business, and he even vowed to repeal 75 percent of all federal regulations. The lawsuit challenges not only the constitutionality of the EO, it also challenges whether the president has the authority to issue this sort of an order. Businesses should keep their eyes on this lawsuit, and how and whether this EO gets executed, particularly if they expend resources on regulatory compliance.

Donald Trump, billionaire, was a fan of professional wrestling. And Donald Trump, President-elect, remains a fan of one of professional wrestling's biggest magnates. Trump has tapped Linda McMahon, former President and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment and wife of Trump's wrestling nemesis Vince McMahon, as the future head of the Small Business Administration.

Does this mean cage matches for everyone? Will you have to beat Stone Cold Steve Austin up a ladder to get your small business loan? And if you default, will The Miz come to your office to collect?

California is paving a new way for employers to help with the retirement crisis using the new California Secure Choice Retirement Plan. This is a state sponsored retirement account for the employees of small businesses that traditionally could not afford to provide employees with a retirement plan. The plan, which Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law, will allow millions of Californians to start saving toward their retirement. If others states follow California's lead, Fortune notes, this type of plan could help alleviate the retirement crisis in the US.

The California program provides access for private sector employees of small businesses (with 5 or more employees) with the opportunity to participate in low-risk, low cost, portable retirement saving and investment plans. The program also requires that employers provide automatic enrollment, as well as direct payroll deductions.

The American people have the right to be free from unreasonable searches. It's a constitutional right that stems from the Fourth Amendment that is meant to protect the people from the government. Microsoft has been fighting since April to stop the government from searching users' cloud storage without providing notice to the searched user. In the most recent filing, Microsoft has found unusual allies in not only Google and Apple, but also Amazon, BP, Fox News, Delta, the EFF, and even the US Chamber of Commerce.

Basically, the issue focuses on the government's ability to obtain not just a search warrant to search through a user's files stored on the cloud, but also a gag order which prevents the company providing the cloud storage from notifying the user that the search will occur or has occurred.

Lessons From the SEC: Whistleblower Office Reveals Rewards

It takes courage to blow the whistle on fraud, but it can pay off for tipsters. The Securities and Exchange Commission rewards those who come forward with valuable tips and help with investigations of market malfeasance, and this program can be instructive to indiviudal businesses.

In one week this month the agency announced three monetary awards totaling $10 million for whistleblowers. In a statement, the SEC explained why it pays so much and where the funds come from. Let's take a look.