An ugly surprise for small businesses in the Health Care Reform Law

(By Scott Lyon, SBAM’s small business health care expert)

SBAM promises to keep you informed about health care reform as we learn about issues that will impact the small business community. We will report to you the good, the bad and the downright ugly. Today, I am reporting on the ugly.

As I have written before, health care reform that does not get at the root cause of the problem – cost – is not reform. If that is not bad enough, there is a provision buried in the law that, unless it gets corrected, will all but overwhelm many small businesses. This provision has nothing to do with the way Americans get health care or buy and pay for health insurance. This hidden “gem” has to do with 1099 tax forms.


Section 9006 of the law makes a couple of changes to how 1099s are issued. These changes will end up requiring businesses to distribute millions of additional 1099s each year; no wonder the IRS says it will need an extra 16,000 agents to deal with our new health care laws! The two changes that go into effect on Jan. 1, 2012 expand the scope of 1099s by using them to track payments not only to individuals, but now also to corporations, and it expands the use from services to include tangible goods. So, beginning in 2012, all companies must issue a 1099 to any individual or corporation if they buy more than $600 a year in goods and services from that person or corporation.

Think about what this change could mean for your business on both the sending and receiving end of 1099s. Here are a couple of examples from my end at SBAM. We lease the software that drives our COBRA administration program, so we will have to send this vendor a 1099. COBRA administration generates letters, bills and notices. Keeping our customers informed of what is going on and reminding COBRA participants that they owe premium, etc., ends up in a lot of paperwork which, in turn, requires printer ink, paper and envelopes. Thus, OfficeMax and a few local vendors will get a 1099 from us. I travel back and forth to Washington a few times a year; we will have to issue 1099s to Delta Airlines, and because I generally stay in the same hotels, the Hilton and Westin Hotel chains will get a 1099 from us.

By now you may be asking the usual questions of and why is this necessary and how did it end up in the health care bill? All good questions with one basic answer: follow the money.

During the health care debate, President Obama put a hard cap of $1 trillion on the legislation. At the end of the day, the bill was scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) at just under that amount. But to get under $1 trillion, some tricks of the trade were used by the folks in Washington. I have previously written about a few of these including: the annual fees on pharmaceutical companies starting at about $2.5 billion a year, insurance carriers tax of $8 billion a year, and changes to flexible benefit plans limiting the amount a family can put away in a Section 125 plan, among others. 1099s seem to be another “revenue generator” for Washington to keep the costs of reform under $1 trillion by capturing unreported income to help offset the costs. Policymakers focused their attention on this revenue-raising measure that would, in effect, help pay for the tax cuts headed toward small businesses.

What happens next? First, the IRS needs to issue the regulations – the rules – and that isn’t expected until sometime next year. Second, Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) introduced legislation (H.R. 5141) to repeal this portion of the new health care law that will place an unnecessary and expensive paperwork burden on small businesses. Several staff and volunteers from SBAM will be traveling to Washington later this month. You can bet we will be talking with the Michigan delegation and urging support for Rep. Lungren and H.R. 5141.

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SBAM in the News – Grand Rapids Press article suggests a new tactic for creating jobs in Michigan: 'Economic gardening'

An article today in the Grand Rapids Press and says that economic gardening -- helping local businesses grow -- could provide a richer, more stable source of jobs for the state.




“Michigan shouldn't abandon efforts to bring new companies to Michigan, said Rob Fowler, president of the Small Business Association of Michigan. "We don't think it should be either/or," he said. "But 60 to 80 percent of the state's economic development efforts should be put into economic gardening."


Read the entire article here:

SBAM in the News: MiBiz notes SBAM’s belief that healthcare reform is a mixed bag

West Michigan business magazine MiBiz recently interviewed SBAM’s health care expert Scott Lyon to assess the impact that federal health care reform is going to have on small business owners. Excerpt from the article:


“The signing of the two pieces of legislation was really the opening volley because the regulations have yet to be written,” Lyon said. “The rules-writing process is just as complicated, if not more so, than the legislative process. SBAM opposed the legislation because it didn’t address the root cause that everyone has the problem with — costs.”


Read the rest of the article on MiBiz’s website by clicking here. Free registration required.

Gubernatorial candidates confirmed for June 24 SBAM Annual Meeting & Networking Luncheon

Five major gubernatorial candidates – Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, Attorney General Mike Cox, Congressman Pete Hoekstra and businessman Rick Snyder – will appear onstage at the Small Business Association of Michigan’s (SBAM) annual meeting in East Lansing on June 24 to present their visions for growing the business economy and returning the state to prosperity.

The annual meeting will be take place 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center. Tickets may be purchased online here or by calling (800) 362-5461.

“SBAM is dedicated to propelling a new economic direction for Michigan, a direction that recognizes that home grown companies are today’s job creators,” says SBAM President and CEO Rob Fowler. “We will be anxious to hear what these gubernatorial candidates will have to say about how they will support the entrepreneurs who will lead Michigan’s economic turnaround.”

In addition to the presentations by the gubernatorial candidates, SBAM’s Annual Meeting & Networking luncheon will include the introduction of the small business owners who will be SBAM’s 2010-2011 officers and board of directors. SBAM will also present its Legislator of the Year, Advocate of the Year and Communicator of the Year awards.


Who cares about the slow economy! Innovative Michigan companies launch new products and services

From emission reducing carburetors to custom wine cellars to energy-efficient pet doors, dozens of Michigan small businesses displayed their innovative energy by launching new products and services and entering them in the 2010 Innovation Awards contest.


The contest is sponsored by SBAM and the Michigan Small Business Technology Development Centers. To be eligible, a product or service must have been developed and earned revenue during the past three years.


The winner, recognized April 29 in Lansing at the Michigan Celebrates Small Business event, was ElectroJet of Brighton’s Electronic Fuel Injection systems for non-automotive applications including motorcycles and scooters.


The other two finalists in the contest were:


  • ERT System LLC, Ann Arbor, for their OnSite ERT system for tracking personnel and equipment at emergency events.
  •, East Lansing, for their electronically delivered gift cards product.

Other companies that launched new products or services and entered the Innovation Awards contest were:


Round-Up of Legislative News: April 24 - 30

House Passes Its Version of Early Retirement Bills
SBAM Lends Support to Microenterprise Fund
Election 2010


House Passes Its Version of Early Retirement Bills

On Tuesday, the State House passed its version of early retirement bills for school employees in the state.  The Senate then sent the bills to a Conference Committee where the differences between the two bills will be ironed out. 

Throughout the week the lead negotiators on the bills have been meeting to come to agreement.  The House bills have more first year savings, but less in the long term than the Senate.

The Governor had hoped that the proposal would be complete by this week, so that teachers could make their decisions and schools could plan accordingly.  House and Senate leaders are expected to meet over the weekend in the hopes of coming to some agreement.

If the bills pass, this would be the first major reform bill to be enacted this year.  The House did not move the bill dealing with state employees.  That bill does not face the same time constraints as the bill for school employees.

Stay tuned.

SBAM Lends Support to Microenterprise Fund

SBAM expressed its support for a package of bills before the House Banking and Financial Services Committee that would assist our smallest business owners in getting needed loans.

The Microenterprise Fund would provide loans and grants to community-based microenterprise development organizations which in turn would provide loans to small businesses.  These organizations assist entrepreneurs with business training and technical assistance for those starting or growing their businesses.

The maximum loans under the bills would be $35,000, but no more than half can exceed $10,000.  Microenterprise businesses are generally those with five employees or fewer and include home-based businesses.

SBAM believes that this fund will help many business owners that cannot get lending through traditional sources.

The committee passed the bills and they now move on to the full House.

Election 2010

The latest poll is out in the gubernatorial races.  Congressman Pete Hoekstra leads the Republican field and Hose Speaker Andy Dillon leads on the Democratic side.

The poll was conducted by Rasmussen Reports.  It shows Hoekstra with 28 percent support, Ann Arbor business executive Rick Snyder with 14%, Attorney General Mike Cox with 13 percent , and Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard with 9 percent.  32 percent remain undecided.

On the Democratic side, Dillon had 13%, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero with 12% and State Representative Alma Wheeler Smith with 8 percent .  53 percent of respondents are still undecided, while 17 percent want another candidate to get in the field.

In that vein, there has been some talk of controversial attorney and former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Geoffrey Feiger getting into the race.  Whether that will actually happen remains to be seen.  If he did get in the race he would only have until May 11 to collect the signatures needed to get on the ballot.

Small Businesses Honored April 29 in Lansing at Michigan Celebrates Small Business

(In photo, SBAM President and CEO Rob Fowler with Innovation Award winner Kyle Schwulst of ElectroJet)


Michigan Celebrates Small Business (MCSB), the state’s premier awards event celebrating small business excellence and the importance of small business success to Michigan’s economy, was held April 29th at the Lansing Center.

“Michigan Celebrates Small Business fosters the entrepreneurial spirit in Michigan,” says Carol Lopucki – State Director of the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center. “The event is an opportunity to celebrate the success of small business in Michigan by highlighting over 60 small businesses that have helped build Michigan’s economy in 2009.”

Well-known green energy entrepreneur Maria Thompson, President and CEO of T/J Technologies, Inc., a nationally recognized Michigan company for proprietary alternative energy technologies, was the keynote speaker.

Five founders that support and celebrate entrepreneurialism in Michigan banded together in 2005 to create Michigan Celebrates Small Business, the state's premier awards ceremony for entrepreneurs and small business leaders. The event’s founders are the U.S. Small Business Administration – Michigan, the Small Business Association of Michigan, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center and the Edward Lowe Foundation.

Underwriters for this year’s Michigan Celebrates Small Business event were PNC, Clark Hill PLC, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Certified Development Corporation, Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, Comcast Business Class/Comcast Spotlight and Dynamic Edge Inc.

Media partners for Michigan Celebrates Small Business were MiBiz, Crain’s Detroit Business, Upper Peninsula Business Today, the Traverse City Business News, Michigan Radio,, WWJ Newsradio 950 and the Greater Lansing Business Monthly.

About the Winners

Michigan 50 Companies to Watch

“Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” (download list here) is an awards program sponsored by the Edward Lowe Foundation and presented by Michigan Celebrates Small Business.

“Now 300 strong, the second-stage businesses that comprise the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch have not only persevered through challenging times, but also found opportunities to grow,” says Penny Lewandowski, director of entrepreneurship development at the Edward Lowe Foundation. “They continue to hire and develop new markets for their products and services. Some have attracted significant amounts of venture capital, while others have been awarded prestigious federal grants. They are making a substantial difference in their communities — and their industries. Our 2010 inductees are proof that entrepreneurs are, and always have been, the future of Michigan’s economy.”

Companies nominated for the “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” list must be second-stage companies, defined as having 6 to 99 full-time-equivalent employees and generating $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue or working capital from investors or grants. In addition, the companies must be privately held and headquartered in Michigan.

Winners were selected by judges from the banking, economic development, entrepreneurship development and venture capital communities. Judges evaluated the nominees’ demonstrated intent and capacity to grow based on one or more of the following:

• Employee or sales growth.
• Exceptional entrepreneurial leadership.
• Sustainable competitive advantage.
• Other notable factors that sh

Round-Up of Legislative News

SBAM Member Testifies in Support of Ban on Unionization of Business Owners

Early Retirement Bills Still on House Floor

Election 2010


SBAM Member Testifies in Support of Ban on Unionization of Business Owners

This week SBAM Board member Jerry Grubb, owner of Wee Discover Child Daycare and Learning Center in Waterford, testified in support of SBs 1173, 1178, and 1179.

The bills would make it clear that daycare owners and home healthcare workers who own their businesses are not public employees and therefore cannot be unionized and have dues withheld from subsidies that they receive from the state.  The state provides the subsidy checks to the daycare providers to assist low-income parents with the costs of child care.

This issue has received a great deal of local and national media attention because most people are shocked to learn that independent business owners could be part of a union.  

Grubb made the point that this could set a horrible precedent for other businesses that receive payments from the state.

Two of the bills were reported from the Senate Families and Human Services Committee and now move to the full Senate.


Early Retirement Bills Still on House Floor

The early retirement package that was announced by the Governor earlier this year and passed by the Senate last week still awaits action in the House.

The bills provide for early retirement provisions for both school and state employees.  Gov. Granholm has asked that the legislature complete the bills by the end of the month so that schools can plan accordingly for the next school year.  

The House has made changes to the Senate bill and is expected to take up its version next week.  Depending on which version is passed, estimated savings are between $225 million and $735 million in the first year and nearly $3 billion over the next 10 years.

The employee unions oppose the Senate version and it remains to be seen whether they support the House version.  The plan is an important component of the reform agenda that SBAM is supporting to deal with the state’s budget.


Election 2010

The Michigan Democratic Party held an early endorsement convention last weekend in which their likely candidates for Attorney General and Secretary of State were determined.

Unlike most elected offices that use primaries to determine who the Democratic and Republican nominees will be for the general election, nominees for the offices of Attorney General and Secretary of State (and a few others) are chosen by the respective state parties.

The nominating conventions for both parties are held in August.  This year the State Democratic Party instituted an early endorsement convention.  The Democrats have not held the Attorney General’s office for 8 years or the Secretary of State’s for 16.  They felt that they wanted to have their potential nominees announced earlier so that they can begin their general election campaigns in the spring instead of late summer.  

While the winners of last weekend’s convention will still not be officially nominated until August, it is expected that they will be the nominees.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton narrowly defeated attorney and Wayne State University Trustee Richard Bernstien to gain the Attorney General endorsement.  In the Secretary of State race, Jocelyn Benson, a Wayne State University election law professor easily defeated Wayne County Clerk Janice Winfrey.

The Republican candidates will still be

(Audio) Small Business Champion podcast: Small business owner testifies on forced unionization of home childcare providers (4:21)

SBAM leader and small business owner Jerry Grubb, owner of Wee Discover Childcare and Learning Center, talks with Michael Rogers about the legislative effort to overturn the forced unionization of home childcare providers. Grubb explains that the forced unionization has serious implications for any small business owner that directly or indirectly accepts state money. Click here to listen!


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