SBAM in the news

  • In The Detroit News: SBAM's Vice President Communications Michael Rogers says "...many small businesses don't know how to navigate the language, legal and commerce barriers to exporting goods to other lucrative markets such as China and Latin America." Read more here.
  • SBAM's chair Mike Fox, CEO of Ingenuity IEQ of Midland, noted in Midland Daily News column on businesses calling for bold structural reform of state government. Read more here.
  • Michigan Policy Network interview with SBAM President and CEO Rob Fowler.


Workplace Smoke Ban to Become Law

Yesterday, the House and Senate agreed to language that would ban smoking in the workplace for most businesses in Michigan.  Governor Granholm has indicated that she will sign the bill.

In somewhat of a surprise move this week, the State Senate acted on the smoking ban bill that passed the House in June.  Last year, the Senate passed a bill that would have banned smoking in all businesses, while the House had an exemption for casinos, cigar bars and tobacco specialty shops.

Rumors swirled earlier in the week that the some senators might be willing to change their position to be more in line with the House bill.  In what can be described as quick action (for Lansing), by Thursday the bill was amended in the Senate and agreed to by the House.

The bill does allow some exemptions to the smoking ban.  Smoking would still be allowed on casino floors, cigar bars, tobacco shops, residences that are used as offices and motor vehicles (aimed at the trucking industry).

Governor Granholm has indicated that she will sign the bill.  With her signature, the bill is scheduled to take effect on May 1.

SBAM Opposes Changes to Post Labor Day School Start Date

Both the House and Senate are working on bills that make educational reforms that will allow the state to potentially qualify for federal money.  For the most part, these reforms are a positive step toward improving education in our state.  However, one provision would have removed the prohibition on starting classes before Labor Day.

Last week, SBAM expressed its opposition to this provision of the legislation.  Because tourism is such an important segment of our Michigan economy, we have been a long-time supporter of legislation that prohibits schools from starting prior to Labor Day.  Schools were starting earlier and earlier which shortened and had a negative effect on the summer tourism season.  A few years ago, we were finally successful in these efforts.

It has been argued that the change is needed in order to qualify for “Race to the Top” (the name of the federal program) funding.  Apparently, to be eligible for the funding, poor performing schools must have flexibility in their scheduling to potentially allow for longer school years.

Because of the efforts of SBAM and other groups that are heavily reliant on tourism, the sponsor of the bill changed the legislation to reflect our concerns.  The bill passed the House this week to include compromise language that would only allow those schools that are among the lowest 5 percent with regard to school performance to start before Labor Day.

The Senate bill did not have any language concerning school start dates.  So the bill now goes to a Conference Committee to iron out the differences.  We are working with the Senate to ensure that tourism in Michigan is protected.

U.S. House Passes Estate Tax Bill

Last week, The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would make permanent the current estate tax rate of 45 percent with exemption levels of $3.5 million for individuals and $7 million for couples.

Under the Bush administration, Congress temporarily reduced the estate tax.  The tax is scheduled to be eliminated in 2010, but return to the maximum rate of 55 percent with an exemption of only $1 million.

The House action is preferable to the status quo; however we are still working to enact Senate legislation that would provide a 35 percent rate and a $5 million exemption ($10 million for couples).  This legislation would also have the exemption indexed to inflation.

While we do not expect any action before the end of the year, it is vital that an estate tax revision is enacted before the end of next year.

We will keep you posted as these bills move forward.

SBAM Against Bill to Require Employer Notification for EITC Eligibility

In Lansing, the House Labor Committee took up a bill that would require employers to notify their employees about eligibility requirements for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).  SBAM was on hand to oppose the bill.

The EITC is an income tax credit for low-income individuals.  The credit has been available on the federal level since the Reagan administration, and was recently made available at the state level.

The bill would require employers with five or more employees to provide each employee with information about the EITC prior to January 31 of each year.

The bill states that the information could be provided in one or more of the following ways:

·    Inclusion with the employee’s annual wage summary or with the federal W-2 or 1099 form.
·    By e-mail to the employee’s work e-mail address.
·    By mailing it to the employee at the employee’s last known home or mailing address.

The Department of Treasury would be required to make the information available to employers.

SBAM believes that this is just another unnecessary mandate passed on to business owners.  While one could argue that the cost of the mandate is minimal, we believe that the state shouldn’t force businesses to provide a service that is properly the role of government.

A voluntary program would be much more appropriate.