You may think that because you don't rely on H2B workers that this won't affect you. This is going to hurt the economy and small business across the country. It's election year mismanagent of out country like has never been seen before. While Congress is considering legislation to stimulate the slumping economy, it should also consider a short-term fix for the H-2B guest-worker program. By extending the returning worker exemption on the H-2B program, which expired at the end of fiscal year 2007, Congress will help many American small businesses avoid economic devastation by extending a provision that has been enacted for the last several years. Guest workers who have legally entered and exited the country for years on H-2B visas were denied an opportunity to return this year. Many full-time American jobs are at stake because these essential seasonal workers will not be available to help support employment needs. The landscape industry is being hit particularly hard, and individual small businesses report they could lose as much as $3 million dollars in business if the returning worker exemption is not extended. Losses will continue to mount as each week goes by without an extension. Not only does Congress' inaction hurt the $40 billion landscape industry, it also cripples all of the industries that depend on landscape companies for business -- trucking, growers, outdoor equipment, lawn and garden suppliers, insurers, gasoline suppliers, and many more. Layoffs will impact families across the United States and will result in home as well as business foreclosures. Landscape companies depend on H-2B workers to do the seasonal work that Americans choose not to fill. The positions are heavily advertised before they're filled by H-2B workers, and H-2B program users are required to pay an aggregated wage rate that is calculated by the U.S. Department of Labor. The return guest worker exemption expired on September 30, 2007, preventing many employers with jobs starting in February from obtaining workers during their busiest time of year. H-2B workers allow small seasonal businesses to operate during their peak season, and this enables them to maintain their full-time staff year-round. Without an extension of the cap, many seasonal businesses are already making plans to lay off full-time staff due to the inability to take on more jobs and the resulting lack of revenue. "There is no cost to this extension," states Tom Delaney, director of government relations for the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET). "Including this in an economic stimulus package would make sense and ensure that many small businesses continue to thrive." "The landscape industry will be harder hit than other industries this year," states Corey Connors, director of legislative relations for the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA). "Congress must act quickly before the landscape community is irreparably damaged, and before the repercussions resonate throughout the green industry to growers, suppliers, and retail centers." Congress to Bush: H-2B employers need help Noting that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has already received enough applications to exceed the cap for H-2B visas for the second half of fiscal year 2008, Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) and Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) led a broad bi-cameral, bi-partisan effort to urge President Bush to work with the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Labor and Congress to ensure that small businesses throughout the country can keep their doors open this year. Failure to extend a critical provision of Senator Mikulski's Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act, which expired on September 30 and protects small and seasonal businesses, is forcing small businesses around the country to deal with devastating cuts to their workforce. "This is not a new issue, not a new policy, not a new loophole, and not a new cap. We're not breaking new ground here. We are simply trying to extend the guest worker provision that has expired. Small and seasonal businesses are counting on us, and we are letting them down," said Senator Mikulski. "We cannot let the businesses who rely on us be forced to limit services, lay off permanent U.S. workers, or worse yet, close their doors."