Small Business Says Local Governments Need to “Butt Out” of Benefit Decisions

Date: December 09, 2014

Small Business Says Local Governments Need to “Butt Out” of Benefit Decisions

Small business cannot afford local micromanagement of
employer benefit policies, according to testimony today by the National
Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) before the House  Michigan
Competitiveness Committee. The committee held a hearing on House Bill 5977 –
The Local Government Employer Mandate Prohibition Act – that would prohibit a
local unit of government from requiring an employer to provide employee
benefits, paid or unpaid, that were not required by federal or state law. The
bill is sponsored by Representative Earl Poleski (R-Jackson area). The bill has been reported out of committee and moved to the House floor for further action.

“As
Michigan moves forward in changing our business climate to one that retains and
attracts business and the jobs they provide, policy makers must be vigilant in
avoiding the ‘one step forward – two steps back’ effect of state agencies and
local governments,” said NFIB State Director Charlie Owens. “We have worked
hard as a state to transform our image as a place to do business with important
tax, regulatory and labor policy changes, but that hard work is put into
jeopardy when local governments attempt to create their own islands of
regulation and micro-management.”

Owens
said that too many times local governments layer on duplicative requirements
and regulations on small business at the behest of local activist groups or
advocates who are unsuccessful in accomplishing these policies at the federal
and state level. Owens also provided the committee with data from the Bureau of
Labor Statistics (BLS) that documented the high cost to employers of mandated
local benefit policies.

“Local
governments have enough challenges providing the basic services that their
citizens want and deserve,” said Owens. “It is irresponsible of them to expand
into policy areas that are more efficiently and appropriately the jurisdiction
of the state and/or federal government.”

In
some states, local governments have passed ordinances that establish a higher
minimum wage, require certain leave policies or other employer benefits that
are not required by state or federal law. Activists have indicated that
Michigan could be a target for such efforts in the coming year. According to
Owens and the bill sponsor, Rep. Earl Poleski, House Bill 5977 would prevent
these anti-business efforts from gaining ground in cities and communities
around the state.

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