Advocacy

In Support of Small Business

You have a business to run, so the team at SBAM constantly monitors issues affecting small business so you don’t have to.  SBAM also helps to give you and other small business owners a voice in the democratic process by connecting members with influential policymakers.

You can help protect your small business and help bolster Michigan’s entrepreneurs by getting involved today.

SBAM has an easy way for you to contact your elected officials. Take action now and voice your support for small business by:

  • Contacting your legislators
  • Examining voting records   
  • Locating your elected officials
  • Tracking key issues
  • Learning about elections

Policy Agenda

SBAM recently released its Small Business Policy Agenda. Download your copy here.

 

Latest Legislative News

A review of the small business legislative accomplishments of 2012 and a look forward at the challenges facing entrepreneurs in 2013. Today on Business Next!

Today on Business Next, a review of the small business legislative accomplishments of 2012 and a look forward at the challenges facing entrepreneurs in 2013. With Small Business Association of Michigan Director of Government Relations Dave Jessup. Also on today’s program, suggestions and small business success insights from Preh Inc., a firm named to the Crain’s Detroit Business list of “Cool Places to Work in Michigan.” And, Linda Daichendt, Executive Director/President, Mobile Technology Association of Michigan; and Tony Merlo, President of Smarter Phones, a Michigan-based Smartphone training firm for businesses and individuals, talk about the smartphone landscape for 2013 and what is means to your small business success.

Majority of states opt for federal health exchanges

Article courtesy of NSBA, by David Burton

The deadline for states to declare to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) whether they intend to run their own health insurance exchange passed last week with 26 states, including Michigan, declining to establish their own exchange, thereby allowing the federal government to run the exchange in their state.

Health insurance exchanges will be, essentially, a structured marketplace where relatively standardized health insurance policies are offered by insurance companies and complete information disclosure is required in a standardized format. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires that states establish an “American Health Benefit Exchange” that meets approximately 10 criteria.  If they do not, then the federal government will establish a federal health insurance exchange in the state.

NSBA supports state level health insurance exchanges, provided that participation in the exchange is voluntary, as a reasonable step designed to improve the competitiveness of the health insurance market, to increase the information available to health insurance purchasers (whether individual consumers or small businesses) and to constrain health insurance costs.

The deadline for states to declare to HHS whether they intend to run their own health insurance exchange was December 14.  18 states (including California and New York) and the District of Columbia have elected to establish state run health insurance exchanges.  Six states (including Illinois and Michigan) have elected to establish partnership exchanges with the federal government.  26 states (including Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio) have declined to establish exchanges.  Therefore, the federal government will operate exchanges in those states.

To see a map of which states have decided to establish state or partnership exchanges and which states have declined to establish exchanges, click here.

NSBA testifies on criminal background screening

Article courtesy of NSBA, by David Burton

Recently, NSBA President Todd McCracken testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights regarding criminal background screening.  He criticized the recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) “guidance” regarding criminal background screening.

“I can assure you that virtually no small-business owner is going to be able to read, absorb and apply the 55 page, 167 footnote “Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964” issued by the EEOC on April 25, 2012.  More importantly, we have had many discussions with sophisticated attorneys who grapple with these issues for a living , including those that work for large law firms advising large corporations. They do not know how to advise their clients either.  If they are at a loss, then small firms and their generalist attorneys will fare no better,” said McCracken.

The EEOC has not clearly stated what it expects from the small-business community. All the EEOC has done is indicate that it expects small firms to conduct a complex individualized assessment weighing numerous factors regarding the use of conviction records in each hiring decision. How that is to be done in practice is anybody’s guess.

“Employers want to provide a safe place for their employees to work and to do their best to prevent workplace crime. They want to do their best to ensure that the employees that they send to customers’ homes as technicians, repair people or salespeople do not inflict harm on their customers. They need to take steps to prevent theft, fraud and embezzlement. Criminal background screening is an important tool – very nearly the only tool – that employers have to protect their customers, their employees and themselves from criminal behavior,” he said.

McCracken went on to state: “Small businesses are willing to comply with reasonable rules designed to ensure that criminal background screening is not having a disproportionate impact on minorities provided that those rules do not endanger their employees or customers, do not substantially increase their risk of being victims of property crimes or do not increase their risk of being found liable for the tort of negligent hiring.

“Government, however, has an obligation to articulate rules that are comprehensible and can actually be implemented.  It is fundamentally unfair and, in practice, counterproductive for the rules to be so opaque that nobody can understand them.  It leads to a situation where enforcement is starkly arbitrary and the rules, since they cannot be understood, are effectively ignored.”

State and federal courts will allow potentially devastating tort lawsuits against businesses that hire felons who commit crimes at the workplace or in customers’ homes.  Yet the EEOC is threatening to launch lawsuits if they do not hire those same felons.

Small businesses want to know what the rules are so they can comply with those rules and get on with running their businesses.  They want the state and federal governments, including the courts, the legislative branch and the executive branch to set forth consistent and comprehensible rules.  Small businesses should not be at substantial legal risk no matter what they do.

If you have any questions, utilize SBAM's FREE Ask An Expert service.

Fiscal cliff update: House vote on “Plan B” expected

Article courtesy of NSBA, by Jody Milanese

On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced that the House will vote on Thursday on a tax-only measure to avert the fiscal cliff and keep rates low for most Americans.

The tax-only measure is being called “Plan B” and will raise taxes on Americans earning more than $1 million annually. It is intended to be looked at as an alternative to a broader plan that the speaker has been negotiating with the White House. Talks between President Barack Obama and the speaker have not yet yielded a broad deal, but the two sides are moving closer to a compromise agreement and talks are ongoing.

As a precautionary measure, Boehner will have the House consider this limited version of action to avert the cliff while continuing to negotiate with Obama. Differences remain over spending cuts, entitlement reforms, new spending measures and the president’s request for an increase to the debt limit.

The Plan B will extend current tax rates on all income below $1 million and allow tax rates on annual income above $1 million to rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. Without action by Congress, all of the Bush-era tax rates will expire at the end of the year.

On Monday, Obama offered to raise tax rates on annual income above $400,000. This was a shift from his position that income tax rates should rise on annual income above $250,000. Additional concessions made by the president include changing the way cost-of-living increases are calculated for benefits in entitlement programs. The White House offer also would lock in a framework for entitlement and tax reform in the next year.

After the expected passage of Boehner’s Plan-B legislation, the House intends to send this bill, along with a House-passed bill extending the current Bush-era tax rates for everyone, to the Senate for action, where it will likely stall. The White House has already indicated that the bill would be vetoed by President Obama if it were to pass Congress.

SBAM applauds passage of monumental Freedom to Work legislation

Gov. Snyder and the Legislature have again helped make Michigan more competitive for jobs by approving legislation that allows workers the freedom to decide whether or not to join a union.

“We believe that the new freedom to work laws will restore fairness and equality in the workplace, empower workers to demand attentive representation by their union leaders and spur business investment and job growth in Michigan,” says Rob Fowler, president and CEO of SBAM. “Going forward, unions can have an important role to play in helping Michigan thrive in the 21st century if they use freedom to work to be responsive to the needs of their members and become true partners with the business community.”

Michigan is the 24th state to pass freedom to choose legislation.  Indiana became the 23rd state this past August.  Since that time, more than 70 businesses have told Indiana officials that the workplace fairness law will be a factor when deciding where to invest.

UI reform deal recognized nationally

The Michigan Finance Authority won The Bond Buyer's 11th annual Deal of the Year award Wednesday night for its multi-billion refinancing of Michigan's federal unemployment insurance loan.

"This was a transaction that was big, precedent setting and AAA all around. It provided a template for subsequent deals, a low cost of capital and benefits for both the public and private sectors," said Gavin Murphy, editor in chief of The Bond Buyer, who presented the award at a ceremony held at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City this week.

Michigan became the second state to issue bonds to pay off the monstrous $3.2 billion in loans owed to the federal government for unemployment benefits through legislation approved last year.  A unified business coalition, which included SBAM, collaborated with the Unemployment Insurance Agency on the deal that brought the 100 percent employer finance UI Trust back to solvency.  The deal ultimately helped employers avoid huge federal tax and fee increases and ushered in a litany of structural reforms.  Today, the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund carries a positive balance of nearly $1 billion.   
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