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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is ramping up its education and outreach efforts for America’s small businesses on the Affordable Care Act. The Small Business Health Option Program, or SHOP, is part of the Health Insurance Marketplace that opened October 1. SHOP is designed for small employers with 50 or fewer full-time employees.

Small employers can start the application process and get an overview of available plans and premiums in their area. Administration officials have said that the online portions of the process won't be available until November 1st. But enrollment for those businesses will still be taken by phone or via paper applications.

All functions for SHOP, including the online marketplace, will be available in November. If employers and employees enroll by Dec. 15, 2013, coverage will begin Jan. 1, 2014. Detailed information on the SHOP application and enrollment process are available at


The Texas Workforce Commission is warning Texas job seekers to be aware of unscrupulous people posing as potential employers who may try to obtain personal information such as date of birth, Social Security number, or bank account numbers. TWC has received reports of job seekers receiving unsolicited email and/or phone communications from individuals posing as potential.


These false employers may request to interview job seekers over the phone or internet, and then offer them a position on condition that they cash a company check and/or send a money order to purchase equipment or training needed to begin work with the company. TWC would like to remind Texas residents that legitimate employers will never ask for money as a condition for starting work. Job seekers also should never provide personally identifiable information to an employer prior to a face-to-face meeting. To report suspicious activity, please call TWC’s Fraud and Program Abuse Hotline at 800-252-3642.


Are you ready to vote? You might not be. A new voter law is expected to be in effect this November in Texas. Although the US Department of Justice has challenged the law, Austin is still proceeding with implementation, and it could affect you. The most likely people to be affected by the law are lower-income voters, and older residents who don’t have ID for their current address. The new law requires a Photo ID to vote, but not all photo IDs will work. A Federal Employee Identification Badge is not acceptable, and neither is a Student ID.

The state is ramping up efforts to offer Election Identification Certificates to qualified voters who don’t have an approved form of photo ID. The Texas Department of Public Safety is offering the certificates at EIC mobile stations that are deployed around the state.  EIC applicants must present proof of citizenship and identity.  More information is available at


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