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SBAM Task Force identifies necessary small business policy changes resulting from pandemic

July 16, 2020

Necessary changes to policies impacting small businesses in Michigan were presented to state and federal leaders and regulators today, stemming from a COVID-19 task force convened by the Small Business Association of Michigan.

SBAM organized its COVID-19 Task Force after determining that additional steps would need to be taken to assist small businesses, beyond a reopening schedule.

“As we work to help small businesses through this pandemic, it has become clear that they need much more than a reopening plan to be able to succeed in the future,” said SBAM President Brian Calley. “The task force identified a thorough list of recommendations for state and federal leaders and regulators that will go a long way in saving as many small businesses as possible.” 

The task force issued policy change recommendations for both state and federal officials in the areas of liability protection, regulations, taxes, unemployment insurance costs, workers’ compensation and economic development. Those policy changes include:

  • Liability protections for businesses putting forth a good faith effort to comply with COVID-19 rules and regulations.
  • Consistent regulations ensuring that local regulations are no stricter than and do not conflict with state regulations.
  • A focus on compliance and remediation over penalties by enforcement agencies as businesses attempt to comply with COVID-19 regulations.
  • Deferral of summer property tax bills through 2020 without penalties or interest.
  • Allowance by the federal government for full deductibility of expenses paid by Paycheck Protection Program proceeds.
  • No new costs for small businesses related to unemployment insurance changes or usage during the pandemic.
  • A stronger unemployment system to provide for more effective protections against fraud.
  • Development of policies that achieve long-term solvency of the unemployment insurance trust fund while providing competitive rates compared to other states.
  • No automatic presumption that a person with COVID-19 was infected at work, and no expectation that employers will be responsible for employees’ activities or conduct outside of the workplace.
  • Enhancement of economic development programs that will explicitly focus on small businesses, including rural broadband expansion, stronger small business state procurement policies, entrepreneurship led economic development.

The SBAM COVID-19 Task Force is chaired by Milan Gandhi, owner of Med-Share, Inc., a family-owned Mobile Diagnostic Imaging Business based in Southfield. Gandhi also represents small businesses on the Michigan Economic Recovery Council convened by Governor Whitmer to provide recommendations for getting Michigan back to work post-COVID-19.

“How small businesses operate will likely never be the same after the COVID-19 pandemic, and changes are needed to ensure small business can succeed now and into the future,” Gandhi said. “Our task force took a hard look at small business operations and policies we are required to follow and created a roadmap that we hope elected officials and regulators will use going forward.”

The full task force report is available here.

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