Chamber Coalition Backs House


    GRAND RAPIDS — Because businesses are “taxed to death,” the West Michigan Chamber Coalition threw its support last week behind a 12-pack of bills sponsored by a group of area Republican state representatives. The bills pledge to cut red tape and reduce bureaucratic costs for employers in Michigan.

    The aim of the package, part of a three-prong effort being pushed by House Republicans, is to create new jobs and retain the ones already in place.

    “We need to give tax relief to our businesses and lower the regulatory hoops that businesses have to jump through,” said State Rep. Fulton Sheen, R-Plainwell, at a press conference held at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce last week.

    The bills would accomplish both goals largely by giving employers more power when they confront the Michigan Department of Treasury on a tax matter. In fact, the House members labeled the package as the “Job Provider Bill of Rights.”

    “It’s very important that business has something it can see and count on. We have too much uncertainty,” added Sheen.

    In a nutshell, the dozen bills would:

    • Protect employers from retroactive regulations and penalties.
    • Require the state to notify job providers if they’ve overpaid their taxes.
    • Give businesses the ability to settle disputes directly with Treasury.
    • Provide quick appeals to protect employers against unreasonable delays on decisions.

    “These bills will speed up the process of resolving issues,” said State Rep. Kevin Green, R-Wyoming.

    The “bill of rights” is the third piece of a program being promoted by House Republicans to create and retain jobs in the state. It joins a $1 billion business tax relief package and a $1 billion job fund that have both been passed in the junior chamber.

    “It’s really a three-part package with this being the third part,” said Jerry Kooiman, R-Grand Rapids.

    Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Grandville, also introduced their respective job-creation programs last week.

    The chamber coalition includes the business groups from Grand Haven-Spring Lake, Ferrysburg, Holland, Muskegon and Grand Rapids.

    Jared Rodriquez, director of Public Policy and Government Affairs for the Grand Rapids chamber, opened the conference by saying employers need the bill of rights because businesses are being “taxed to death.”

    “The benefit of this legislation is that it enhances growth for small business,” said State Rep. Judy Emmons, R-Greenville. “Small business is the backbone of this state and the strength of our communities.”     BJX

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