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

Michigan takes giant step toward becoming Right to Work state

The Michigan House and Senate Thursday moved three bills giving workers greater freedom to opt out of unions.  The package of bills includes both public and private unions, and only exempts police and fire workers operating under P.A. 312, a 40-year-old law that gives them the right to collectively bargain.

The vote in both chambers (Senate:  22-16, House: 58-52) was the biggest hurdle the bills will face.  The Legislature is scheduled to finish the job on Tuesday, Dec. 11 by concurring on each other's bills and sending a pair of bills to Gov. Rick Snyder before the holiday recess.  The governor announced during a press conference held Thursday that he would sign the bills.

Specifically, the bills stipulate that "An individual shall not be required as a condition of obtaining or continuing employment to do any of the following . . . become or remain a member of a labor union".  That is, a worker cannot be required to pay any union dues, fees or assessments to a labor organization.   Any contract that mandates dues or fees as a condition of employment would, therefore, be "unlawful and unenforceable."

The bill also appropriates $1 million for the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs in order to respond to public questions, provide staff to implement the new act and inform employees and labor organizations of the change. The appropriation effectively makes the bill referendum proof under the state's Constitution.

Action Alert: Tell your legislators you support Right to Work

Michigan, as evidenced by the recent growth of small business jobs in the state, has begun its economic recovery. Since January 1st of this year, small businesses have filled over 13,000 jobs. The Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) credits this positive employment news in large part to the legislative efforts that eliminated burdensome regulations, eliminated the job-killing Michigan Business Tax and established a new simple, fair and efficient Corporate Income Tax.

These measures have gone a long way toward making Michigan a better place to do business relative to the 49 other states. We have another opportunity to declare that Michigan is open for business by standing with the 23 other states that have enacted Right to Work legislation. Right to Work simply offers workers a choice. Contrary to popular belief, Right to Work will not outlaw collective bargaining, as it is protected under federal statute. It will not prohibit a person from joining a union. It provides freedom in the workplace to choose whether to pay union dues that will go to various purposes that union bosses see fit, or have that money stay in the hands of earners and be used to drive our economy.

We fear that there may be attempts to carve out special groups in this legislation through the amendment process.  Such measures could lead to a Supreme Court challenge due to the fact that any special treatment to any particular groups could potentially be in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.

Right to Work is the next step in the awakening of a more prosperous Michigan. The time has arrived to pass this historic legislation. SBAM has long been in support of moving Michigan to a Right to Work state.  SBAM urges you to contact your state legislators to ask them to support Right to Work Legislation without any special treatment amendments.  

SBAM stands ready to assist you in communicating with your elected official.  Complete information, as well as a sample letter is available.  Please click here to register your support for this very important small business reform effort.  

Fiscal cliff talks at a standstill

Article courtesy of NSBA

Late last week, President Barack Obama unveiled his proposal to avert the looming fiscal cliff at the end of the year, which was immediately rejected by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Consistent with the provisions in the fiscal 2013 budget package, the proposal called for a net $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue over ten years plus $400 billion in cuts to federal spending.

On the tax side, the White House proposal would increase the top marginal income tax rates and investment tax rates for upper-income individuals, extend the lower Bush-era rates for low- and middle-income taxpayers, reduce the value of certain tax preferences for upper-income taxpayers, and return the estate tax to its 2009 levels (a top rate of 45 percent with a $3.5 million exemption).

Additionally, the proposal calls for patching the individual alternative minimum tax, renewing various expired and expiring business tax extenders provisions, and extending bonus depreciation as well as the temporary two percent payroll tax holiday. For the longer term, the White House proposed reforming the tax code in a manner that would retain the levels of progressivity achieved through the proposed adjustments to the income tax rates.

For spending reform, the plan calls for a one-year delay in the sequestration provisions enacted under the Budget Control Act of 2011, a multi-year stimulus package with at least $50 billion allocated for 2013, an extension of unemployment insurance benefits, and additional unspecified savings from non-entitlement mandatory programs, all to take effect next year. This would be followed in the long term by up to $400 billion in cuts to Medicare and other entitlement programs outlined in the president’s FY 2013 budget. The proposal also reportedly included a provision that would allow the White House to raise the federal debt ceiling by limiting Congress’s power to block future debt ceiling increases.

For his part, Speaker Boehner rejected the proposal and reiterated Republicans are willing to accept new revenue in a fiscal cliff deal if it comes from tightening or eliminating deductions and tax credits, but not by tax rate increases.

In response, on Monday, Speaker Boehner sent a letter to the President with a new counteroffer proposal inspired on testimony by Erskine Bowles, the Democratic co-chair of a presidential committee tasked with figuring out how to solve the debt problem.

The three-page letter proposes cutting $2.2 trillion that does not raise tax rates on upper income Americans but does include $800 billion in new tax revenue, $600 billion in health care cuts and $600 billion in other cuts in discretionary and mandatory spending.

The White House quickly responded, noting that Boehner’s plan doesn’t meet the “balance test.”  Furthermore, the Obama Administration noted there would be no compromise on higher taxes for those earnings more than $250,000. Speaking Tuesday, the president stated that while tax rates must go up for a fiscal cliff deal, it may be possible to lower rates at the top end of the scale late next year as part of tax reforms that would close loopholes and limit deductions.

NSBA leadership - and SBAM delegation - participate in fix the debt activities

Article courtesy of NSBA

By Molly Brogan

Yesterday, a number of the National Small Business Association's executive committee members - including representatives from the Small Business Association of Michigan - and leadership participated in various activities on Capitol Hill in conjunction with the Fix the Debt Campaign.The first national small-business organization to partner with the Fix the Debt Campaign, NSBA’s leadership participated in a coffee at the Capitol and then moved along to a series of Hill meetings with key Members of Congress.

Partnered with a variety of state and local organizations and stakeholders, NSBA’s leadership represented the small-business community on the Hill, which culminated in a press conference where NSBA Chair (and SBAM member) Chris Holman and NSBA Vice Chair for Membership and Marketing Cookie Driscoll will speak out about the importance of reducing the deficit for small-business owners.

“We need Congress to pass meaningful legislation to ensure our long-term prosperity and economic growth. That is the only kind of security that will encourage entrepreneurs like me to continue starting and growing businesses,” Holman states in his remarks.

At the beginning of the 112th Congress, NSBA members voted deficit reduction and tax reform among their top priorities, and most recently ranked the national deficit as the number one thing they believe Congress and the administration should address.

Underscoring the broad agreement among small businesses that Congress must address the deficit, Driscoll’s remarks state: “I am involved in myriad small-business groups locally and nationally and the one thing we hear time and again is the fact that economic uncertainty is the biggest challenge facing our businesses.”

Joining Holman and Driscoll in the days events are: Todd McCracken, NSBA president and CEO; David Ickert, NSBA first vice chair; Pedro Alfonso, NSBA vice chair for communications; Rob Fowler, President and CEO of NSBA Affiliate, the Small Business Association of Michigan; Rick Murray, CEO of NSBA Affiliate, the Arizona Small Business Association; Tim Reynolds, NSBA vice chair for advocacy; and Larry Nannis, past chair of NSBA.

Founded by the architects of one of the most promising debt reduction plans offered to date, Erskine Bowles and Al Simpson, the Fix the Debt Campaign is working to build broad consensus among business, and, as such, has reached out to NSBA to help build small-business support of the efforts.

Given the looming fiscal cliff and coming debates in Washington, D.C., NSBA is proud to partner with the Fix the Debt Campaign and plans to aggressively seek small-business support for a broad and economically responsible solution to the deficit.

Michigan 2013 Economic Outlook Survey responses due Dec. 7

We need your input.  Please take a few minutes to click this link and take this very important outlook survey.

The Small Business Association of Michigan is participating in the first Michigan 2013 Economic Outlook Survey.  This program is an exciting statewide effort that will help us better understand your priorities for 2013 and how we can provide services that we be helpful to you next year.

The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete and is being taken by people from more than 70 associations throughout the state of Michigan.  By providing your feedback in this survey, you are part of a statewide collaborative effort to help Michigan become a stronger, healthier, business-friendly economy in 2013.

This survey is being conducted by Baker Strategy Group, an Ann Arbor-based management consulting firm, and CFI Group, a global leader in providing customer feedback insights through analytics.  If you have any questions or concerns about the survey, please contact:

David Baker
(734) 355-8232
david@bakerstrategy.com
www.michigan2013.com

Thank you in advance for completing this survey and providing your input.  Please feel free to forward to your colleagues so that they can provide their input as well.

Help keep health care costs under control

The cost of health care has been escalating in Michigan for years and has become the single biggest impediment for small businesses seeking to provide health insurance for their employees.  

As we brace for the full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), it is important that policy makers in Washington and Lansing work toward reform that reduces cost and provides certainty for business owners.  Several issues that directly impact these priorities are currently before the Legislature.  SBAM carries this message at the Capitol every day on behalf of its members.  However, it is important for lawmakers to hear for you.

From a potential tax hike to making sure that Michigan small businesses are not on the hook for another burdensome federal program, it is essential that we, as the small business community, take action immediately to keep costs under control.

SBAM stands ready to assist you in communicating with your elected official.  Complete information, as well as sample letters are available. 

Please contact your state senator and representative TODAY and let them know that you will not stand for higher costs and further uncertainty on the future of healthcare in our state - and that they need to KEEP HEALTH CARE COSTS UNDER CONTROL.  Just click here, enter in your address, and the current letters for your legislators will be easily available under "Legislative Alerts & Updates."

Michigan job providers oppose eleventh-hour health claims tax increase

The Small Business Association of Michigan, along with five other of the state's leading advocate organizations representing Michigan job providers, joined together to oppose efforts to increase health insurance costs for Michigan businesses and consumers by expanding the newly-enacted Health Insurance Claims (HICA) Tax.

SB 1359 (Senator Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw) would vastly expand the HICA Tax from a one percent tax on paid health insurance claims to a variable rate tax, whereby unelected Treasury officials will determine the tax rate in order to collect enough revenue to meet the Medicaid “base need” plus the medical rate of inflation. SB 1359 also repeals important safeguards in current law that allows for a proportional credit/refund if revenues exceed projections.

“Businesses cannot operate in a state where there is no certainty in their tax obligations,” said Dave Jessup, director of government relations for the Small Business Association of Michigan. The vice president for government relations at the Michigan Business and Professional Association Bonnie Bochniak added “Currently, businesses provide health care to employees on a voluntary basis. Increasing taxes on health care claims is a disincentive to providing health care.”

HICA was passed in 2011 as a replacement for the HMO Use Tax, which was the subject of federal scrutiny. The revenue from the HICA Tax is used to meet federal match requirements to fund Michigan’s Medicaid program. While this tax has been in place less than one year, it has not met revenue expectations. Data has not been analyzed to determine why the HICA Tax is collecting less than projected and it is unclear whether the state has done due diligence in collecting the current tax from all taxpayers. Michigan Manufacturers Association director of human resource policy Delaney McKinley commented, “It is premature to increase this tax particularly if non-compliance is still high.”

The Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Manufacturers Association, NFIB – Michigan, Michigan Business and Professional Association and the Small Business Association of Michigan are opposed to SB 1359 because it provides for a completely uncapped, unlimited and unpredictable tax rate and because of concerns that the state has not fully enforced the current tax law.

The groups say that the cost of health care is a primary concern for Michigan businesses. According to a recently released study by Mercer, Inc., Michigan’s health benefit costs rose 5.4 percent in 2012 to $10,122 per employee. Andy Johnston, vice president of government affairs at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce said that “Increasing taxes to an unlimited and unseen amount will be detrimental to job-providers and to Michigan’s competitiveness.”

Grand Rapids Chamber, Michigan Chamber, MMA, NFIB, MBPA and SBAM are urging legislators to oppose efforts to pass the legislation during the Lame Duck legislative session. Tricia Kinley, senior director of tax and regulatory reform for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce asked for additional legislative scrutiny, “Please don’t walk job providers off the health insurance cliff by passing this job-killing tax.”

So, what's the 'fiscal cliff'?

Article courtesy of COSE

As the 2012 election comes to a close, lawmakers will return to Capitol Hill to deal with potential tax increases and automatic spending cuts. If Congress does not tackle these issues by the end of 2012, individuals could see their tax bill increase.   

Much has been said about the "fiscal cliff," but what really is the fiscal cliff? The term, "fiscal cliff" refers to pending tax increases from expiring tax cuts at the end of 2012 and automatic spending cuts passed in the Budget Control Act.  Below are details related to the potential tax increases and automatic spending cuts. 

Potential Tax Increases

If Congress does not act between now and December 31, the following tax cuts will expire:
  • Individual tax rate brackets will increase to pre-2001 rates of 15 percent, 28 percent, 31 percent, 36 percent, and 39.6 percent.  Currently, individual tax rate brackets are 10 percent, 15 percent, 25 percent, 28 percent, 33 percent and 35 percent.
  • Tax rate on capital gains and qualified dividends will increase to 20 percent and 39.6 percent. Currently, the tax rate is 15 percent. 
  • Child tax credit will decrease to $500 from its current $1,000 credit.
  • Estate tax exemption and tax rate return to $1 million and 55 percent from the current exemption of $5,120,000 and 35 percent. 
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) patch expires. 
  • The extended payroll tax cut expires. Congress extended the payroll tax cut for 2011 and 2012.  
Automatic Spending Cuts

In August 2011, Congress passed the Budget Control Act, "debt ceiling bill," which raised the United States' debt ceiling limit and created a Joint Committee with 12 members of Congress (three Democratic Senators, three Republican Senators, three Democratic Representatives and three Republican Representatives) to create a $1.2 trillion dollar deficit reduction plan.

If the committee failed to reach an agreement and provide recommendations to Congress, automatic spending cuts (called Sequestration) would reduce the deficit by 2.7 percent. The spending cuts would be equal amounts of defense and non-defense spending. Federal programs exempt from the automatic cuts include Social Security, veterans' benefits, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), unemployment benefits, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  Medicare payments to Medicare providers are included in the automatic spending cuts, but capped at two percent.  In August 2011, the Supercommittee failed to report any recommendations to Congress on deficit reduction 2011.
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