Please Take a Few Minutes to Help Stop Proposals That Would Cost Small Biz Big Time!

Contact Elected Officials on Harmful Business Proposals

Mark Brewer, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, last week proposed several new ballot initiatives that will increase the cost of running your business. Since then, business groups across the state have spoken out against the anti-business ideas. However, we have heard very little reaction from elected officials.
We are urging you to contact your elected officials and ask them what they think about Mark Brewer’s plans to further harm our struggling economy.
Here are the most outrageous of the proposals:
  • Mandating all employers to provide health care for their employees and dependents or pay a penalty.
  • Raise the minimum wage from $7.40 to $10/hour and cover all workers with no exceptions.
  • Increasing unemployment benefits by $100/week, making all workers eligible and adding six months to the time someone can receive benefits.
Get more details by listening to these two audio podcasts we did on the proposals.

Do these proposals make you hopping mad? Here's what you can do:


Employers see value in workplace wellness programs

Perks matter, according to a new Health2Resources’ survey of workplace wellness incentive programs. Of the 372 small, medium and large companies surveyed, 64% use incentives for some kind of employee health, wellness or disease-management program, and “83% of those who have measured [return on investment] say the programs return a better than 1:1 return.” Employees are spending an average of $329 this year, up from $204 in 2008, to help keep workers fit. The most commonly used incentives are premium reductions, followed by merchandise discounts and gift cards. “The use of incentives in today’s health and wellness programs is almost uniformly believed among employers of all sizes to boost program success and return value,” says the report.


August Deadline for Health Care Reform Slipping

The National Small Business Association (NSBA), SBAM’s national affiliate, reports that with health care reform deliberations stalled in the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the delayed release of a Senate Finance Committee bill, President Obama, along with House and Senate Democrat leaders, has recently acknowledged the slim probability that health care reform legislation will pass each chamber before the targeted August recess.
As previously reported, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and two out of three House Committees have passed their versions of health care reform legislation. Meanwhile, conservative democrats in the House who are part of The Blue Dog Coalition have raised concerns with several provisions in the House bill, including provisions that have a profound impact on small businesses. The Senate Finance Committee is still mulling details of their bill before they schedule a mark-up, which they hope to do before their August 7 target adjournment.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) recently noted that the July 31 target adjournment and goal to pass health care reform legislation for the House of Representatives is getting more difficult since the Energy and Commerce Committee has not reported a bill. Hoyer has promised the caucus 48 hours to review the bill before a floor vote; thus, theoretically the Energy and Commerce Committee will have to finish their mark-up by COB July 29 for a vote to take place on July 31. House Speaker Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Hoyer suggested they could stay into August for a floor vote if they felt there was a possibility of getting consensus on the Energy and Commerce Committee to move forward soon.
NSBA has made a strong advocacy push with the Blue Dog Coalition since several of their concerns with the House bill pertain to the impact it would have on small business. Click here to read NSBA’s recent letter sent to The Blue Dog Coalition. In addition, if your member of Congress is part of the Blue Dog Coalition, use NSBA’s Legislative Action Center to contact their office to show your support for their efforts.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) also recently acknowledged the unlikelihood that the Finance Committee would mark-up a bill and have it reconciled with the Senate HELP bill and ready for a Senate floor vote prior to August 7.
Despite the delay in producing a proposal, the Senate Finance Committee has continued to offer the greatest hope of a bipartisan health care reform proposal. However, efforts to avoid capping the tax exclusion for employer-provided health insurance have caused delays for the Committee in finding cost-containment measures and off-sets. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) recently proposed taxing health insurance companies who offer high-cost benefit plans, also known as “Cadillac” plans, to encourage more consumer behavior and reduce the cost of health care reform. NSBA recently sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee members in support on capping the tax exclusion for employer-provided health insurance and raising significant concerns with Sen. Kerry’s proposal. Click here to view the letter.
While NSBA and other health care reform proponents continue to advocate with members of Congress, small business owners should be weighing in with their elected officials. The August recess will provide a great opportunity to discuss your concerns with members of Congress.


Senate Passes SBIR CR as Conferees Meet

The U.S. Senate passed July 24 a Continuing Resolution (CR) that would temporarily reauthorize the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program through September 30. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to follow suit this week.
While the CR was being approved, Senate and House conferees were busy trying to hammer out a legislative compromise between the disparate bills approved by the two bodies. (For more on the differences between the two reauthorization bills, click here.
While it appears that staffers for the House Committees on Small Business and Science and Technology and the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship are engaged in goodwill negotiations, at this time it is unclear if/when a compromise will be reached—and what it might look like. The CR allows the negotiations to continue without the looming authorization expiration.
This week, a bipartisan group of more than 25 representatives, led by Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Paul Hodes (D-N.H.), wrote a letter to the conferees, urging them to adopt a compromise more in keeping with the Senate bill.


Small Business Champion Podcast: Fight Plan to Boost Biz Costs (6:59)

This week, SBAM's Vice President Communications Michael Rogers talks with SBAM’s Director of Government Relations Mike Batterbee about how small business owners can fight recent proposals to boost the minimum wage and mandate health insurance coverage. Click here to listen. The weekly Small Business Champion podcast is the place where you can get the scoop on what’s really happening in Lansing and what it means to your bottom line. Music by DJ Dolores.

Small Business Champion Podcast: Extreme Democratic Party Ideas Could Boost Small Business Costs (6:49)

This week, SBAM's Vice President Communications Michael Rogers talks with SBAM’s Vice President Government Relations Dave Palsrok about Democratic party proposals for minimum wage hikes, health insurance mandates and more. The weekly Small Business Champion podcast is the place where you can get the scoop on what’s really happening in Lansing and what it means to your bottom line. (Music by DJ Dolores.)

Listen to the podcast by clicking here.


New survey finds that 75% of small business owners say economy is "much worse" than it was five years ago

SBAM's national affiliate, the National Small Business Association (NSBA) today released the 2009 Mid-Year Economic Report. The report illustrates a small-business community barely hanging on in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. According to the report, 94 percent of small businesses surveyed said the national economy today is worse off than five years ago, and those who think the economy is doing much worse jumped from 64 percent in December 2008 to 75 percent in July 2009. (photo by timetrax23)
Although there was a slight increase in the number of small businesses who are anticipating economic growth, and a decrease in those anticipating a recession in the coming 12 months, these changes are more likely a reflection of the dismal position in which many entrepreneurs find themselves today, and the feeling that they’ve hit the bottom with no place to go but up.
“Nearly half of small businesses, up from a third six months ago, are not confident about the future of their own business,” stated NSBA President Todd O. McCracken. “The ongoing erosion of confidence from traditionally up-beat entrepreneurs is a wakeup call to lawmakers that small business may not be able to tread water much longer.”
The report details the ongoing difficulty small businesses are facing as three key indicators—revenues, profits and employee size—all declined between December 2008 and July 2009. The number of small businesses hiring new employees in the past 12 months dropped from 18 percent in December to just nine percent in July. Revenues and profits took an even bigger hit with the majority (62 percent) experiencing a decrease in revenues, and even more (66 percent) reporting a decrease in profits. The one positive: small businesses projected less drastic decreases in job growth for the coming 12 months.
Access to capital continues to be a major issue, with 80 percent of small-business owners negatively impacted by the credit crunch—up from 67 percent one year ago. Sixty-eight percent reported worsening terms on their credit cards and 38 percent were subject to a decrease on their lines of credit or credit cards. There was, however, an increase in the number of small-business owners who used a traditional bank loan in the last 12 months. While a positive indicator that bank loans are an option for some small businesses, this increase also reflects the fact that more businesses are turning to outside sources of financing as the difficult economy has forced them to use up business savings and earnings—making access to affordable capital all the more important.
“We’re struggling. Despite several economic stimulus packages and lots of talk, only three percent of small businesses reported a positive impact of the stimulus bills on their business,” stated Keith Ashmus, NSBA Chair and co-founding partner at Frantz Ward LLP, Cleveland, Ohio. “America’s small businesses need and deserve better.”
The full report can be accessed on-line here.