Op-Ed: Legislative advocacy, member activism priorities for NFIB/Small Business in new year

Date: December 22, 2016

As we wrap up 2016, NFIB California reflects on what has been an overall successful year for our members and the organization, but not without important legislative and electoral challenges along the way. 2017 will bring new challenges at the State Capitol which we intend to face head-on with our 22,000 members to defend our small business policy priorities while increasing engagement with members directly across the state.

Following the November General Election, we certainly acknowledge a level of optimism on the federal level with the incoming Trump Administration and what this may mean for small business. A number of key NFIB policy priorities in Washington are now revitalized following the Presidential Election, such as the Overtime Rule injunction and the EPA Waters of the United States regulatory challenge. These federal victories will certainly benefit small business owners across the nation, but an aggressive 2/3 supermajority party in both houses of the California legislature threatens to overshadow them.

The supermajority party in Sacramento has already stated in no uncertain terms that they believe they have a mandate to fight against the incoming President and his policies whenever possible on issues such as immigration and environmental regulations. Will small business be caught in the crossfire of legislative leadership and their maneuvers to undermine the next President? For now, we will have to wait and see. However, there are a number of issues regardless of the national backdrop which we expect to face during the 2017-18 legislative session.

Efforts to establish an unprecedented sales tax on services have been introduced over the last couple of years, and we fully expect Senator Bob Hertzberg to revive this effort in the new year. While NFIB certainly acknowledges the need for comprehensive tax reform in this state, we also urge severe caution on this issue as a tax on services would have a deeply disproportionate negative impact on small businesses which rely heavily on contracting with third parties for legal, payroll, and human resources services.

We also expect to see the legislature consider making alterations to the critically important taxpayer protection Proposition 13. Any split-roll proposal which raises taxes on commercial properties would have a direct negative impact on small, independent business owners who would be subjected to spiking rent costs. These new costs would result in reduced hours and wages for employees, along with higher prices to consumers.

These are just two of many legislative challenges we expect to face next year. At the same time though, NFIB California seeks to rally behind any legislation that provides some relief to small business. The small business community must encourage both sides of the aisle to find solutions and tackle important issues such as legal reform and regulatory streamlining, for example. We continue to offer the insight and perspective of our 22,000 small business members to any legislator committed to supporting our state’s job creators.

Our challenges ahead cannot be met solely from our physical office in Sacramento though. Our voice at the State Capitol is only as strong as our members across the state. This is why we plan to increase member engagement with several member meetings in different parts of the state throughout the year. Through these efforts and building on our success this year, we intend to maximize our efforts to protect small business in California in the year.

Tom Scott is the State Executive Director for NFIB California, which represents 22,000 dues-paying small business members across the state.

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