With a little over 80 percent of us in the workforce, South Dakota has the country’s highest rate of working moms. I’m proud to have been part of this group, as a farmer and rancher, the owner of a hunting lodge, and a manager at my mom’s restaurant. I won’t say it’s always been easy, but I never did it alone. My family and I were always surrounded by friends, loved ones, and a community that had our back. It’s one of the wonderful things about South Dakota.

There’s a day every September that’s set aside to celebrate women in business, and in South Dakota, there’s a lot to celebrate. Today, more than 23,000 South Dakota women own and operate small businesses. What’s interesting is that while we top the nation when it comes to working moms, our state has the lowest percentage of women-owned businesses, so we have room to grow.

Like any business, women-owned businesses benefited greatly from the tax cuts package we passed last December. In it, we included a first-ever 20-percent, small-business tax deduction to help lift the financial burden of job creation.

At the same time, we gave working families a break on childcare costs. In South Dakota, at an average of nearly $500 per month, infant care tends to cost nearly 70 percent of what it costs to rent a home. To put it another way, a year of infant care costs just $2,000 less, on average, than a year of college. That puts many working families between a rock and a hard place financially. They can’t afford to live on a single income, but the cost of childcare if both parents work is unaffordable.  As such, I fought to protect the Child and Dependent Care Credit. This allows families to claim up to $6,000 of child care expenses and deduct a portion of that from their federal income tax bill each year.

We’re now working to build on those victories, finding more ways to help businesses get their start and grow. This September, my committee approved another round of tax cuts. Among other provisions, the legislation allows new start-up businesses to write off more of their initial start-up costs. I’m hopeful that will help more people ride the tidal wave of growth we’ve seen in recent months.

I’m also working on a repeal of regressive taxes, like Obamacare’s 10 percent tanning bed tax. Today, 70 percent of tanning salons are women-owned, and many are suffering as a result of the Obamacare tax. Studies show roughly 10,000 tanning salons have closed nationwide as a result of the 10 percent levy, resulting in 80,000 people losing their job. The tax needs to be repealed.

All of that said, women-owned businesses are on the rise. According to one recent study, women are starting 1,821 new U.S. businesses every day – a big increase from an average of 952 for the five years prior. That’s good news for all of us.

But let me close with a little advice my grandma gave me that’s served me well – not only in business, but as a mom and as a member of the House. She told me to just say yes when opportunities arise. I would advise the same. Say yes and try a new hobby. Say yes and learn a new skill. Say yes and start a new business venture. You don’t have to commit to it for the rest of your life, but give it a try. You’ll never know where that opportunity will lead.

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