NFIB Scores Big Wins for Small Business in 2014 General Assembly

Date: March 20, 2014

Here’s a look at some of the bills we helped pass in the general session of the General Assembly, which ended on March 20:

HB 714: “Unemployment Reform” (Rep. Mark Hamilton; carried in the Senate by Sen. Fran Millar). The bill makes important reforms to the state’s unemployment system and all told means about $90 million per year in savings. The largest component for small employers would close a loophole between the treatment of publicly-employed educational workers and privately-employed educational workers.  

Today, a handful of companies in Georgia are taking advantage of a loophole to subsidize their employees’ pay via unemployment system. Seasonal employees are allowed, if not encouraged, to file for unemployment for the month or months between school years at a cost of roughly $8 million-$10 million per year. The bill in total represents roughly $90 million per year to small business.

While all companies pay into the unemployment trust fund via taxes, these companies are drawing down millions more in benefits than what they pay in to the system. Because the maximum experience rating is set by the federal government (essentially the maximum any company must pay into the system), the net result is that every employer in the state of Georgia is in some way subsidizing the business practices of these companies
NFIB supported the bill. It passed the House and Senate and is awaiting the governor’s signature.  
HB 658: “Elimination of the Death Tax” (Rep. BJ Pak; carried in the Senate by Sen. Charlie Bethel). The bill would eliminate Georgia’s estate tax and the entire code section in Georgia law. A big victory for small business, the estate or “death” tax has long been a challenge for multi-generational family businesses. Its elimination is a victory for Georgia’s small family businesses.
NFIB supported the bill. It passed the House and Senate and is awaiting the governor’s signature.  
SB 125: “Trespasser Liability/Civil Justice Reform” (Sen. Jesse Stone). SB 125 deals with trespasser liability and includes important protections for anybody in Georgia who owns land. The bill was introduced in response to efforts by the trial bar to force new responsibilities and liability on Georgia’s landowners.
NFIB supported the bill. It passed the House and Senate and is awaiting the governor’s signature.  
Senate Resolution 371 – “Balanced Budget Admendment” (Sen. Bill Cowsert) – Petitions Congress to call a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution of the United States to require a balanced federal budget.
The Resolution is a nationwide effort to use the Article V process outlined in the U.S. Constitution to move Congress toward adopting a Balanced Budget Amendment. The process requires 34 state legislatures to adopt similar resolutions that would call for a Convention to adopt the amendment. Twenty-one states have already passed the Resolution.
To prevent what some have termed a “runaway convention” (i.e. a convention that would more broadly discuss things other than a balanced budget), the legislature also passed Senate Bill 206, also sponsored by Sen. Cowsert, that would provide specific instructions and narrow the scope of any Georgian’s involvement in a Constitutional Convention.
NFIB Position: Support
NFIB supported the bill. It passed the House and Senate and is awaiting the governor’s signature.  
SB 397: “Health-Insurance Mandate” (Sen. Tim Golden). SB 397 was pushed by advocates who want greater access and coverage for applied behavioral therapy as part of treatment for autism. The treatment is very expensive and, instead of giving small employers the option to cover it, the bill would have required all insurance plans for businesses with 10 or more employees to cover the care.
NFIB opposed the bill on grounds that mandates such as this win help comparatively few families while driving up the cost of health insurance for everyone. The bill cleared the Senate but wasn’t called up for a vote in the House.

SR 415:“Cap on State Income Tax” (Sen. David Shafter). This resolution will allow Georgia voters to decide whether amend the state Constitution to cap the state income tax rate at 6%. This would prevent future legislators and governors from increasing taxes on small business and provide some certainty and predictability to Georgia’s tax code.
NFIB supported the bill. It passed the House and Senate. If signed by the governor, the proposed amendment will appear on the November ballot.

PHOTO: AUtiger/Wikimedia Commons

Related Content: Small Business News | Georgia

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