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Recent NFIB/Wisconsin victories:
Defeated legislation that would add mandates to health insurance coverage, keeping premiums down
If enacted into law, the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance estimates this legislation -- which would mandate additional coverage for treatment of mental illness and substance abuse -- would increase health insurance premiums by over $30 million per year.
Lead a coalition that passed legislation to limit non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits
Caps on medical malpractice damages help control the cost of health insurance and physician shortages. In states without medical liability reform, the cost of litigation has resulted in higher, unstable health-care costs and less access to health care.
Fought for eminent domain restrictions to protect property rights
NFIB successfully fought for passage of legislation that strengthens the rights of property owners and protects them from having their property seized by state and federal government for the purpose of private development. This new law preserves the rights of property owners against the ability of government to condemn their property for private development.
Led support of legislation extending state tax advantages to health savings accounts
Although vetoed by the governor, the legislation would have resulted in additional health insurance premium savings for small-business employers and employees.
Helped advance legislation to repeal Wisconsin's death tax
Although the legislation was not enacted into law, approval by the Assembly was key victory for small business. Permanent repeal of the death tax will help small businesses add jobs to the economy, and keep family-owned businesses and farms in the family.
Pushed for legislation to make it easier to establish health insurance purchasing cooperatives
This new program is expected to help small businesses, farmers, and self-employed workers buy more affordable health insurance.
Defeated mental health benefit mandates
NFIB and its 14,000 members in Wisconsin worked hard to defeat a bill which would have mandated all fully-insured employers to dramatically increase the current minimum benefit mandate for treatment of mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse problems. If enacted, this legislation would have added up to $30.8 million per year to group insurance consumers, borne mostly by small business. A 1 percent increase in the cost of a health insurance plan equals a $36 million increase in premium costs for Wisconsin employers who purchase health insurance.
No tax increases
NFIB led the fight to adopt this measure. Eliminating the personal property tax and reducing income tax rates are top legislative priorities of NFIB/Wisconsin. However, small business opposes tax shifting schemes such as tampering with the state constitution's uniformity clause, or broadening the sales tax base to generate new revenue.
Small Business Regulatory Fairness bill passed
This is the most important regulatory reform passed into law in over 20 years in Wisconsin. It requires small-business regulations be written in easy to understand language, and provides extra time for compliance to new regulations. The law also requires state agencies to waive or reduce penalties for non-compliance with regulations when voluntarily disclosed by the owner of a small business. NFIB's state director and members were a vital part of the Task Force that made this possible.
VICTORY: NFIB/Wisconsin's SAFE Trust fund targeted 16 key races in the fall 2002 elections -- winning in 15 -- and also actively backed candidates in 13 other important races, winning all but one. Representative John Gard, Assembly Campaign Committee Chair, said the election results were a clear mandate for fiscal responsibility.
VICTORY -- 2001: More than 8000 small business employers will no longer have to pay unemployment insurance solvency taxes as a result of NFIB's lobbying efforts at the Capitol in Madison. In addition, NFIB successfully fought to repeal the unemployment insurance assessment on new employers, resulting in nearly $1 million in unemployment insurance tax savings.
1999-2000: NFIB played a leading role in the creation of Health Insurance Purchasing Program for small-business owners and their workers. A state-wide purchasing pool will provide small-business owners powerful health insurance purchasing leverage, greater price stability with improved coverage, and more health plan options for small-business employers and employees.
As a result of action taken by the Governor and intensive lobbying by NFIB, the recycling surcharge exemption was increased from $1 million in gross receipts to $4 million, eliminating 15,000 small businesses from having to pay the recycling surcharge. NFIB also played a key role in reducing recycling taxes -- paid businesses -- by over $30 million.
A requirement that all K-12 public schools start the fall term after Labor Day has the strong support of small business, according to NFIB member ballot results. Although the Legislature failed to adopt the post-Labor Day requirement, NFIB-backed legislation that requires a post-Sep. 1 fall starting date has been enacted into law, as an important step in the right direction.
1997-1998: Reducing taxes, always high on the small business legislative agenda, became a reality as lawmakers approved an across-the-board tax-rate cut that saves taxpayers over $50 million. In addition, NFIB strongly supported a 100 percent capital gains exclusion on business assets transferred to family members -- a $5 million annual tax-savings, and extending the sales and tax credit on fuel, and electricity used in manufacturing to sole proprietors and partnerships - resulting in saving small business manufacturers nearly $2 million per year.
1995-1996: Modifying the legal doctrine of joint and several liability and establishing a cap on non-economic damages were finally enacted into law as landmark legal reforms. An aggressive lobbying effort, led by NFIB, resulted in these key legislative victories that will restore some fairness and predictability to Wisconsin civil justice system.
Notwithstanding a hard fought battle with a group of well-organized opponents, NFIB won a major health care victory with the passage of Medical Savings Account legislation. Medical Savings Accounts can be an effective tool for reducing the cost of health insurance while providing small employers and their employees with incentives to manage their health-care costs.
Wisconsin's small-business owners now have access to more reliable job reference information as a result of passage of the NFIB-backed Employer Reference Immunity Law. Supported by an overwhelming 84 percent of Wisconsin's NFIB members, this new law, a top NFIB legislative priority, provides immunity from lawsuits for employers who provide job reference information for a current or former employee. The Employer Reference Immunity Law had the support of 84 percent of NFIB's members, based on member ballot results.
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