Senate Panel Passes Business Help

    LANSING — A state Senate panel yesterday passed a bill that would help distressed businesses, including an amendment to ensure accountability by the Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA) in its implementation of the plan.

    HB 5445, sponsored by Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, now goes to the full Senate. It passed in the House in December.

    The bill establishes tax credits for distressed businesses that have resorted to major layoffs during tough economic times. A business that has seen at least a 30-percent reduction in its full-time work force over a 36-month period can apply to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. for a Single Business Tax credit based on the company’s unemployment insurance liability.

    The Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor adopted an amendment, supported by Huizenga, which calls for MEGA to submit a report to the Legislature by Sept. 1 providing an update on how the credit is being implemented, development of an application form, qualification criteria, the number of businesses applying and the number of certificates issued.

    Qualifying businesses would receive up to a 25-percent credit on their unemployment insurance liability for current employees, and 50 percent of the liability incurred for re-hiring laid-off employees. The bill sunsets in 2007 and would have minimal fiscal impact, according to the House Fiscal Agency. The Michigan Manufacturers Association, MEDC and Grand Rapids and Detroit chambers of commerce support the measure.

    Only businesses with at least 150 employees can apply for the credit, and the work force reduction must have occurred within the four years prior to application for the tax credit.

    Huizenga said Michigan’s manufacturing community, especially the furniture, tool and die and automotive sectors, would benefit from the legislation.           

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