The NFIB Michigan 2014 Small Business Agenda

Date: January 13, 2014

Small business owners want Snyder, lawmakers to keep moving the ball forward on pro-growth policies

Lansing (January 13, 2014) – Michigan’s leading advocate for small business today announced its top priorities for the coming legislative session that emphasizes staying on the path to improve Michigan’s business climate laid out in previous sessions.

“It is noteworthy that the focus of our agenda has changed from the past theme of ‘getting Michigan back on track’ to a new ‘stay the course and continue Michigan’s comeback’ approach,” said Charlie Owens, Michigan State Director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). “This change reflects the significant progress our state has made in altering course away from the failed policies of the past and embracing a new path to prosperity and opportunity.”

The organization’s Small Business Agenda for 2014 includes responsible budgeting, following through on labor, regulatory and tax reforms from prior sessions and assisting small business with new Obamacare regulations.

“We have won many battles in the last legislative sessions,” said Owens. “But every victory is only one election away from being undone so the fight continues to keep important ground gained and stay on course for a new Michigan.”

Governor Rick Snyder is set to deliver his State of the State Address on January 16, in which he’ll outline his goals for 2014.  Owens gave the Governor and the Legislature an “A+” for taking steps in prior sessions that will help small business grow and create jobs. Owens also said he is optimistic that small business priorities will be reflected in the Governor’s 2014 agenda.  “This Governor ‘gets it’ when it comes to recognizing the important role small business plays in Michigan’s recovery,” said Owens. NFIB’s top priorities for 2014 are:

Implement Michigan’s Right to Work Law

Landmark legislation making Michigan a Right to Work state was passed at the end of the 2012 session; however the fight for worker freedom has just begun. Already the Civil Service Commission is claiming that state employees are not covered by the law and many labor unions renegotiated contracts as far out as possible before the law’s effective date. These actions, and others, mean that NFIB, the NFIB Small Business Legal Foundation and labor freedom advocates will be working to ensure that Michigan’s Right to Work law is implemented as intended.

Follow Through with Personal Property Tax Reforms

NFIB supported reforms to the Personal Property Tax passed in 2012 will require a statewide vote of the people in order to implement the structure for local government revenue reimbursement. If voters reject the proposal, then the entire Personal Property Tax Reform effort will be in jeopardy. NFIB will be working to ensure the success of the statewide Personal Property Tax ballot proposal.

Support a Federal Balanced Budget Amendment via the Article V Process

NFIB is the only business group in Lansing and Washington DC to support a nationwide effort to use the Article V process outlined in the U.S. Constitution to move Congress toward adopting a Balanced Budget Amendment. The process requires 34 state legislatures to adopt similar resolutions that would call for a convention to propose a balanced budget amendment. With NFIB advocacy, Michigan is already moving forward in this effort with joint resolutions in both chambers and support from Governor Snyder.

Repeal Michigan’s Prevailing Wage Law

With strong NFIB support, Michigan has already made union favored “Project Labor Agreements” on public construction illegal. Repealing Michigan’s Prevailing Wage Act is the next step in assuring fair and open competition on publicly funded construction projects. The state’s current prevailing wage law acts as a “super minimum wage” that sets wages much higher than local construction wages determined by fair competition in the free market. NFIB will be supporting legislation that will eliminate the prevailing wage requirement on public construction projects financed with state taxpayer dollars.

Fight for Small Business in the Road Funding Debate

In past sessions, several different funding ideas for roads have been proposed. While we recognize the need for good roads and adequate funding, this is a difficult time for tax and fee increases on Michigan small business job providers. NFIB small business owners have made it clear that they are not supportive of a motor fuels tax increase or a hike in vehicle registration fees. Lawmakers should consider dedicating a substantial portion of the projected budget surplus for the coming year to road construction and maintenance in order to avoid hikes in the gas tax and vehicle registration.

Keeping the State’s Fiscal House in Order Without Tax Increases

For years, NFIB led the fight to demand spending reforms and head off attempts to balance the budget on the backs of Michigan small business. As a result, we now have a real balanced budget that does not depend on tax increases on small business and avoids the one-time fixes and gimmicks used in the past. But vigilance is needed to be certain that runaway spending and the urge to finance it with new taxes do not make a comeback.

Guard Against Attempts to Change the New Corporate Income Tax

Dumping the dreaded Michigan Business Tax (MBT) and replacing it with a new small business friendly Corporate Income Tax is a major victory for small business, but special interests are already looking for ways to “tweak” the tax and expand the base or raise the rate. Some have even suggested that business should foot the bill for expanded road funding via an increase in the Corporate Income Tax rate.

Help Small Business Cope with the Affordable Care Act

NFIB was the only business organization in the country that challenged the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) before the United States Supreme Court. However, the Court’s decision and the outcome of the 2012 elections have made it clear that implementation of the law will begin in Michigan. While NFIB will be helping members with seminars and information to keep members out of trouble with compliance requirements, we will continue efforts to change or repeal this bad law.

Continue Progress on Cutting Unnecessary Regulations

Much progress has been made in improving Michigan’s regulatory policy and recognizing its impact on the overall business climate for our state. With the support of the Snyder administration and the legislature efforts have focused on establishing a clear and convincing need standard and procedure when considering any rule that exceeds Federal standards. In addition, the practice of commissions and agencies acting outside of legislative intent has been restricted. NFIB will pursue additional opportunities to lighten the regulatory burden on Michigan small business.

Protect Private Property Rights

Private Property Rights are the bedrock of our free enterprise system and they are always under attack from overzealous government agencies and local government. Recently, local governments have attempted to retroactively asses property owners for past fees and taxes uncollected because of their own incompetence. NFIB will continue to work to end the abuse of private property rights and fight against regulations that diminish the use and value of private property.

Prevent Erosion of Liability Reforms in Michigan

Over the years, one of the few bright spots in Michigan's business climate has been our legal system. Vigilance is necessary if we are to keep this advantage from being eroded by trial attorneys and activist groups. NFIB will be exploring legislation that would halt attempts by the trial bar to loosen long standing case law in the area of trespasser liability. If allowed to succeed, these efforts by trial attorneys will increase liability and exposure for private property owners. Small business is especially vulnerable to this type of litigation.

No Services Tax to Fund Overspending

Michigan has finally brought spending under control and balanced the budget without gimmicks, however, the tax and spend crowd is always floating a tax on services as a way to raise more revenue so it can resume spending. Recently, the Superintendent of the State Board of Education made public comments that the sales tax should be expanded to services as a way to increase funding for education.  NFIB defeated attempts to expand the sales tax to services in 2010 and 2011 and will be working again in 2014 to keep this bad idea off the table.

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