Policy Agenda

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


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

Latest Legislative News

Health insurance cost problems are not going away

Health insurance cost problems are not going away
(by Scott Lyon, SBAM health insurance expert)

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was signed into law on March 23 by President Obama. Today, the question turns to will the U.S. Supreme Court decide to allow the PPACA to stand or rule the law as unconstitutional? Regardless, this is shaping up to be a landmark Supreme Court decision that will impact the provision of health care and health insurance in America for decades to come whether its upheld, struck down, or parts are maintained while others are not. The key elements in question include:

  • The Individual Mandate and its related provisions including the requirement for individuals to maintain a minimum level of health insurance coverage, the design of insurance exchanges, insurance market reforms (guarantee issue and renew, no pre-existing conditions exclusions, covering children on their parent health insurance until the age of 26, among others), etc.
  • The Expansion of Medicaid, essentially who is eligible for this program and how is it funded.

People who follow the Supreme Court have indicated that the conventional wisdom is that the justices will release a decision at the very end of this session – either June 25h or June 28. This makes some sense for a couple of reasons. First, the Supreme Court issues decisions on Mondays and Thursdays and the 25th and 28th are the last Monday and Thursday of the Court’s year. Second, regardless of how they rule, it will be the beginning of a media and political feeding frenzy and why do this before the Justices head out of Washington for the summer?

Either way, Michigan and for that matter the rest of the country, still will have a health insurance cost problem. The cost of U.S. healthcare services is expected to rise 7.5 percent in 2013, more than three times the projected rates for U.S. inflation and economic growth, according to an industry research report released by PricewaterhouseCoopers on May 31. 

According to the report, premiums for large employer health plans could increase by only 5.5 percent as a result of company wellness programs and a growing trend toward plans that impose higher insurance costs on workers. The projected growth rate of 7.5 percent for overall healthcare costs contrasts with expectations for growth of 2.4 percent in U.S. gross domestic product and a 2 percent rise in consumer prices during 2013, according to the latest Reuters economic survey.

That said, why is health insurance so expensive and what are some big picture things that might help reduce costs?

One of the reasons health insurance costs so much is due to the federal programs of Medicare and Medicaid. A couple of years ago, the actuarial firm Milliman estimated that for a family of four, there is a cost shift of $1,788 (15 percent of premium) because these programs do not pay providers at a fair rate. Ending this cost shift would help small businesses and their employees afford coverage. While paying providers at a “fair or fairer rate” may sound easy enough, the big question that needs to be resolved is, of course, where does that money come from? 

A second reason health insurance costs as much as it does is due to the cost shift from the uninsured to the insured, which is estimated at $922 for a family of four. No one on either side of the political aisle denies the uninsured and the cost shift; this is the problem that the Democrats and the Affordable Care Act are trying to resolve with the individual mandate and employer “play of pay provision.” Keep in mind that before the rules changed as a result of the PAACA - of the 47 million uninsured: 4.7 million (10 percent) were college students, 10 million (21.28 percent) are non-citizens, 11 million (23.40 percent) are eligible for, but not enrolled in public programs like CHIP and Medicaid and another 9 mil

Small biz opportunities for veterans. Friday on Business Next!

The host of Business Next is SBAM's Vice President Communications Michael Rogers. Friday's lineup:
Segment one: Keith King of Keith King and Associates in Detroit is the U.S. SBA 2012 National Veteran Champion. Michael talks with Keith about his role as one of the nation’s top veteran advocates.
Segment two: Keith King, U.S. SBA 2012 National Veteran Champion, on opportunities for veterans to be entrepreneurs.
Segment three: Julie Mann of JMann Consulting Group tells small employers why they would benefit from attending the June 13 Michigan HR Day.
Segment four: Get your small business office well organized. Tips and suggestions from Denise LaFlamme, owner of Finder Closets LLC.
Segment five: Reported live from the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference, Michael talks with Joe Borgstrom of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority about the Facebook MIPlace2012 contest that lets you tell the world why you choose Michigan as the place you call home.
Segment six: Reported live from the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference, Michael talks with George Zimmerman, vice president for Travel Michigan, about the Pure Michigan campaign and the state’s efforts to attract millions of out-of-state visitors to spend money at small business tourism businesses.

Listen Wednesday at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the 
Michigan Business NetworkSBAM members can log in and listen to archived programs anytime on a PC or mobile device by going to the Business Next show page.    

Action Alert: Help SBAM eliminate the PPT!

The State Senate is preparing to vote on an eight-bill package that would phase out the State Personal Property Tax (PPT) on manufacturing equipment while also drastically reducing PPT obligations on commercial property. After the business tax reforms approved last year, Michigan is poised to eliminate another uncompetitive tax and take a leap forward in the reinvention of Michigan’s economy.

SBAM is a strong advocate for substantially reducing, and eventually eliminating, the Personal Property Tax. While we understand local units of government rely heavily on the revenue generated through the PPT, this antiquated system of taxation should ultimately be eliminated for all taxpayers. We agree that a measured phase out is in order and are encouraged by this significant first step.

The full Senate is expected to vote on the package this week and opponents of the reform are working tirelessly to prevent its approval. Please contact your state senator today and let them know how eliminating the Personal Property Tax will help you grow your business. 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 (and then click on 'Eliminate Personal Property Tax') to register your support for this very important small business reform effort.  

PPT elimination clears first legislative hurdle

After many hours of testimony, the Senate Finance Committee this week approved legislation that would phase out the industrial Personal Property Tax (PPT) and drastically cuts levies on commercial property as well. The vote on each of the eight bills was, 5-2, which was split along party lines. 

Opponents of the legislation, primarily local units of government, have pushed for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing a replacement for the $450 million in lost revenue, something Senate Republican aren't interested in. Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville has stated several times in the past weeks that it is his intention to pass the package before summer break. A vote could take place as early as next week, some sources have indicated.

SBAM President and CEO Rob Fowler addressed the Senate Finance Committee this week, testifying that elimination of the Personal Property Tax is the next key step on the path of Michigan’s economic recovery. Fowler stated that the corporate income tax passing last year was critical to "repositioning" Michigan. He argued that it didn't help big business or oil companies, but primarily helped small businesses. "I'd like to offer you some encouragement that you're on the right track," he said. "A growing economy solves a lot of problems that we've been facing over the last decade" adding that he was "very, very optimistic about our state economic trends today."

Fowler also referred to the Entrepreneurship Scorecard and Michigan Jobs Insight project in his testimony to showcase the positive direction Michigan’s economy is heading partially as a result of the reform efforts made in the legislature thus far.

Get great tips for small business success! Listen to our free Business Next audio seminar

HR expert Julie Mann discusses how to help job seekers fit in to small business job opportunities; Rob Trube, author of the business planning book “The Simple Focus Plan”; Athena Trentin, program director of the Global Talent Retention Initiative, discusses the role of talented immigrants in growing Michigan’s small business economy; Shelley Lowe, director of career services of Davenport University, talks about training resources for complying with state and federal regulations; James Muffett on the Student Statesmanship Institute Business Track program.

Listen today at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the 
Michigan Business NetworkSBAM members can log in and listen to archived programs anytime on a PC or mobile device by going to the Business Next show page

Get Business Next audio seminars delivered three times a week automatically to your iPhone or other mobile device. Subscribe in iTunes using this URL.      

New survey shows Michigan’s public universities embrace entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurial degrees, classes, clubs and competitions are springing up at all 15 Michigan public universities, a new survey by the Michigan Sense of Place Council shows, as higher education institutions react to the state’s changing economy. The Council is a public-private collaborative that supports development of places with a quality of life that attracts talented people and entrepreneurs and that can compete in a global marketplace.

“It’s pretty phenomenal how much has begun happening in a short period of time,” said Rob Fowler, CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) and chair of the Council’s entrepreneurship committee. “It seems like it’s happening all over the state. Much of it is student led, but it includes entrepreneurship degrees at the bachelor’s and master’s level, helping companies in their communities through venture capital funds and incubators, and student clubs and companies.”

For more than a decade, SBAM has been a leader in pushing for more entrepreneurial education and opportunities on college campuses, working with state, university and business leaders to increase the awareness of the importance of entrepreneurs as the state moves away from its longstanding dependence on the traditional automotive economy.

The survey by the Sense of Place Council of entrepreneurial opportunities on public university campuses in Michigan was conducted by Public Policy Associates, Inc. (PPA) of Lansing. Jeffrey D. Padden, president of PPA, said the Sense of Place Council regards cultivation of entrepreneurial spirit as critical to creating vibrant regions, downtowns, and neighborhoods where people want to live, work, and open businesses.

“This survey showed that in recent years, all sorts of entrepreneurial activities have exploded on campuses across the state. Michigan’s universities are well on the way to creating truly entrepreneurial campuses,” said Mr. Padden. “Small businesses, started by risk takers prepared for major challenges, are vital to any successful community, particularly our downtowns. Entrepreneurs can drive the rebirth of Michigan’s cities, creating the exciting, livable neighborhoods that attract young talent. Universities are doing their part to fill that pipeline.”

Michael A. Boulus, executive director of the Presidents Council State Universities of Michigan, which represents the 15 public universities, said universities have heard state leaders ask for entrepreneurial programs, and have responded with a variety of opportunities for students as well as those already in business. “We have professors mentoring entrepreneur clubs, upper level classes on evaluation of risk, university sponsored incubators and more. Michigan’s universities are taking the lead in ensuring those who are interested in launching a startup—or bringing an entrepreneurial spirit to their current workplace—have the tools to do so.”

Highlights of the survey results include:

More academic programs: At least 10 Michigan universities have entrepreneurial degree programs. Several have added majors or minors within colleges of business in recent years, while others have expanded their course offerings for all students.

At Michigan State University, the Eli Broad Graduate School of Management's specialization in entrepreneurship combines core business disciplines with experiential assignments in which students work with entrepreneurs to solve real-world problems.

Entrepreneur magazine ranks Central Michigan University's program in the top 26 of all regional programs nationwide. Grand Valley State University is developing a new double major in business and entrepreneurship.

Universities are also encouraging entrepreneurial thinking across disciplines. Saginaw Valley State University, for instance, offers a minor in entrepreneurship for all students in addition to its entrepreneur concentration in the MBA progr