Union showdown spreading to other states
As we watch Wisconsin’s public employee protests unfold, Michigan, Ohio and Indiana are also bracing for protests aimed at legislation targeting public employee unions.
Read more – Stateline.org: Union Showdown Spreads
Michigan teachers in West Bloomfield didn’t show up for work on Feb. 15 in the midst of contract negotiations.
Read more – MichiganCapitolConfidential.com: The West Bloomfield Teacher ‘Sick Out’
Ohio’s state house doors have been locked as thousands of union protesters gather to hear a bill regarding public employee bargaining rights.
Read more – DaytonDailyNews.com: Ohio Statehouse locked amid union protest
Indiana’s democratic lawmakers imitate Wisconsin and flee the state delaying the legislative process.
Read more – IndyStar.com: Indiana Democrats trigger Statehouse showdown over anti-union legislation
Thirty years ago, the public sided with Reagan during a labor dispute. How will the public react to Wisconsin?
Public Opinion History from Pew Research Center for the People & Press: In Showdown with Air Traffic Controllers, the Public Sided with Reagan
Main Street Fairness Act
The subheader for H.R.5660 – Main Street Fairness Act is “To promote simplification and fairness in the administration and collection of sales and use taxes, and for other purposes.”
This legislation would require online retailers to collect sales tax for all purchases. This changes the current law, which requires sales tax be charged on purchases when the retailer has a physical presence in the state.
Many states already require consumers to report online purchases when they file their taxes and remit the sales tax if the retailer does not collect it, but many, if not most consumers either do not know they are required to make these payments or fail to mention their online purchases on their state tax forms. Collectively, states are losing from $21.5 billion to $33.7 billion in sales tax revenue every year.
The Main Street Fairness act claims that charging sales tax for online purchases will bring fairness back to small local business that are required to collect sales tax and thus charge consumers more at checkout. It will also remove the burden on taxpayers to report their online purchases and revenue to state and local budgets. Argument for Main Street Fairness Act: International Council for Shopping Centers or StandWithMainStreet.com
Groups opposing the act claim that instead of helping small local businesses, the Main Street Fairness act would become a burden to small businesses that sell online and other online entrepreneurs. Articles presenting the side against and the consequences of the Main Street Fairness act: Bloomberg.com, TechJournalSouth.com, and WSJ.com
I reached out to the Council on State Taxation (COST) to see if they had an official position on the Main Street Fairness Act. Here is COST’s official policy statement on the issue: Simplification of the Sales and Use Tax System. Fred Nicely, Tax Counsel for COST, says that "COST supports the MSFA so long as it has the required simplifications in our policy statement. At issue with the MSFA is how compensation and central administration of the telecommunication transaction taxes is addressed in the MSFA. The version introduced in the House last year “punted” on those issues for the interested parties to work out the details. We do not feel the compensation provided by the SSUTA Governing Board is adequate and we are still waiting to see what happens on the telecommunications issue."
Full Text of Bill: Main Street Fairness Act
Has your chamber taken a position on the Main Street Fairness Act? Are your members pushing for you to take a position?
Two Chambers Consolidate: So far so good?
At the end of last year, the boards of the Dutchess County (NY) Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Southern Dutchess (NY) Chamber of Commerce decided to consolidate both organizations. Now that the merger is just about complete, how are things going? According to Charles North, president of the newly-consolidated Chamber, "I am so very pleased that things are working well. I didn't know what to expect." Certainly there were a number of matters that had to be undertaken in such a merger, including: combining staffs, addressing each organization's philosophy, merging events hosted by each of the chambers, combining foundations and more. Read more about the consolidation, how it was handled, and what members think of the new Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce here: http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/article/20110213/BUSINESS/102130341/Consolidation-working-well-
Busy Week in Kentucky
The week kicked off with Dave Adkisson, President of the Kentucky Chamber appearing on PBS NewsHour to offer his reactions to President Obama’s speech to the U.S. Chamber.
To read more about Dave’s appearance on PBS NewsHour: PBS NewsHour Reaction to Obama’s Speech to US Chamber
The Kentucky capitol building was also buzzing with activity.
Yesterday, The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Executives (KCCE) Executive Director, Ali Crain, sent out a kybizvoice.com email regarding tax reform and mandatory high school attendance age; two very important issues for the Kentucky business community.
She urged chambers to forward on the following message about Senate Bill 1 (comprehensive tax reform) and House Bill 225 (mandatory high school attendance).
Two pieces of legislation are currently being considered in the Kentucky General Assembly with the potential to impact Kentucky’s climate for business and the competitiveness of your company – and community.
Senate Bill 1 would institute a first step toward comprehensive tax reform for Kentucky. The bill creates a non-partisan commission of business and other representatives to recommend a completely new tax code, which would be presented to the legislature for a vote. The commission would be charged with creating a tax code that makes Kentucky more competitive for business. Business groups, such as state and local chambers, would be consulted for input. SB1 has passed the Senate, and is now being considered by the House. Click here to send an email to your Representative supporting HB 1, or call (502) 564-8100 to leave a message for him or her.
House Bill 225 would also impact the business climate by creating a more educated workforce for Kentucky businesses. The bill would raise the mandatory high school attendance age to 18. It is estimated that approximately 6,000 students drop out of school each year in Kentucky, impacting not only those individuals’ lifetime earning abilities, but the educated workforce from which businesses can hire employees. HB 225 has passed the House, and now is being considered in the Senate. Click here to send an email to your Senator supporting HB 225, or call (502) 564-8100 to leave a message for him or her.
Building momentum in the business community – and ensuring legislators hear from their constituents on these issues – will be critical to getting both bills passed. Please contact your elected officials today, and thank you for supporting Kentucky’s climate for business.
Jody Wassmer, President of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce, brought their leadership class to Frankfort on Thursday which happened to be when the house passed the mandatory high school attendance age bill, a bill that enjoys strong support from the business community.
Kybizvoice.com, a new initiative by Crain, Wassmer and Becky Ruby from Greater Louisville Inc., is an email system being used by the Kentucky execs to get the word out about business legislation. They are very proud of their efforts and it looks like it is off to a great start.
To see a full recap of the Kentucky Chamber’s efforts this week: click here
More on Transportation Funding
To supplement yesterday’s blog entry on transportation, here are a couple of additional resources:
Fed’s transportation dollars will be tight
The President’s administration announced that they would seek another $53 billion over the next six years to build high-speed rail projects but the U.S. House isn’t sure that’s the right path to take in their efforts to trim spending.
Not only will SAFETEA-LU run out this year, but so will federal stimulus money that has helped states maintain roads during the economic downturn.
Read more: Stateline.org
LaHood says high-speed train plan will not be derailed
The administration is reaching out to state executives, including Maryland Governor, Martin O’Malley and they are willing to work state by state if necessary.
Read more: The Baltimore Sun
Chamber CEO Briefs Congressional Staff
President and CEO of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro (NC) Chamber of Commerce Aaron Nelson spoke to over 90 staffers from congressional offices at the U.S. Capitol today on how to make it cheaper and easier for businesses to purchase and install money-saving, job-creating green technologies. The briefing centered on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs, which allow property owners to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for their homes and commercial buildings, easily and with no government subsidies. According to Nelson, “There is a connection between clean energy, jobs and U.S. technological and economic competitiveness, and local chambers of commerce can play an important role in growing the economy and restoring the nation’s leadership in innovation and prosperity.” The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber was recognized at the briefing for its national leadership in helping small businesses access clean energy.
In addition to representing the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, Nelson spoke on behalf of more than a dozen members of Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy, a new network of local chambers of commerce working to grow the clean energy economy and expand clean energy opportunities for member businesses across America.
Read more about Nelson's appearance at the Capitol and the PACE program in this press release issued by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber.
Transportation Funding Uncertain
Transportation leaders, from both the private and public sector, are pushing Congress to enact long-term transportation funding.
The previous transportation funding law, SAFETEA-LU, has been granted short-term extensions, the latest of which expires on March 4. The uncertainty of transportation funds is causing reluctance to plan big projects and make capital purchases.
President Obama is expected to include a six-year transportation plan in his upcoming budget proposal. However, Congress is looking to cut the budget and there is little support for increasing the gas tax.
Tom Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber, and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka are scheduled to testify at a February 16 hearing in the Senate on the need for a new transportation bill.
For more information: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
PBS NewsHour Reaction to Obama's Speech to U.S. Chamber
ACCE’s former chairman and President of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Dave Adkisson, and Harold Meyerson, editor-at-large for “The American Prospect” and a columnist for the Washington Post, appeared with Gwen Iffil on PBS’s NewsHour to offer reaction to President Obama’s speech to the U.S. Chamber.
Adkisson said that President Obama’s message was good for the business community to hear. He said that the business community and the administration share the same goal of the economic recovery becoming a jobs recovery.
Adkisson mentioned how important trade agreements are to the business community. He said that business shares the administration’s goal of increasing exports by 50% in five years.
To watch the video clip and read the interview transcript visit: PBS NewsHour
Video of President Obama’s speech and Washington Post Recap: voices.washingtonpost.com
Greater Chambersburg (PA) Chamber: The Roaring 20s
The Greater Chambersburg (PA) Chamber of Commerce is 100 years old this year. To commemorate the anniversary, the Chamber is writing a monthly column for its local paper that looks back at its own history, one decade at a time. This month focuses on the 1920s, and this fascinating look back:
- Gives a glimpse of the Chamber's successes for the decade (ex. recruiting the H.J. Heinz Co. in 1924),
- Highlights how the Chamber promoted Chambersburg to attract businesses and families (ex. "The City of Opportunity." "The Ideal Hometown," "Healthy, Moral (and) Religious")
- Offers a peek at its 1926 directory (ex. "10 chain grocery stores, 50 other grocery stores, 10 hotels, six jewelers, three daily newspapers, 27 doctors and dentists, 15 restaurants, nine ladies' ready-to-wear stores, and five "10 cent and variety stores")
This is one series that's definitely worth following and see how, in some respects, the work of chambers hasn't changed. Read more about the Greater Chambersburg Chamber's early years here:
President Obama addresses the U.S. Chamber
President Obama addressed an audience at the U.S. Chamber comprised of U.S. Chamber members; state and local chambers and businesses.
President Obama’s speech echoed a number of business issues from his State of the Union address. He focused on what both government and the private sector can do to help America “win the future.”
He said that the government is committed to making America the best place on earth to do business. Among the things he pledged were:
- Tax credits for research and development and to invest in education.
- To cut spending and put the nation on sounder financial ground. He said that the administration will be making tough but smart choices.
- The administration will be reviewing agencies and regulations to make sure that they are not standing in the way of getting business done in the U.S.
- He thanked the Chamber and the AFL-CIO for coming together and pushing for increase and more efficient infrastructure to take the U.S. into 21st century.
- He also said that he understands the concerns about the Health Care bill and is happy to look at ways to improve that legislation.
President Obama then presented a few items that he asked of businesses. Those include:
- He asked businesses to recognize the perils of under regulation.
- All American workers need to have a stake in trade, productivity and innovation.
- He asked business to help rebuild the middle class.
- Finally, the President challenged businesses to aggressively reinvest in America.
His largest applause line: “Now is the time to invest in America.”
Full prepared remarks are available at:
Full prepared remarks are available at: New York Times
Former ACCE Chairman Dave Adkisson will be on PBS NewsHour tonight discussing his reaction to the President’s remarks. It will be taped live today at 6 p.m. Eastern.