Our efforts to get the Judiciary Committee to act on the “business activity” tax issue need member “grass-roots” support for the pending legislation. NAFEM needs to be able to cite specific member companies affected by these taxes – and also those who would like to help us head this off before they are affected – when talking with Congressional offices. Support is especially needed from members in Michigan – home to Judiciary Chairman Conyers – and from California, home to several Judiciary Committee members.
The chair and ranking minority member of the House Committee on Small Business have asked the House Judiciary Committee to take action on pending legislation to clarify that states cannot impose “business activity” taxes on firms that make sales in their states but have no office or other physical presence there. The letter to Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), signed by both Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) chair of the Small Business Committee and Congressmen Steve Chabot (R-OH), ranking minority member, as a direct result of a hearing February 14 at which four small business representatives, including NAFEM Government Relations Committee Chairman David Rolston, CFSP, Hatco Corporation, Milwaukee, Wisc., outlined problems created for small manufacturers by these taxes.
Although headlines have emphasized individual tax rebates. President Bush’s recently signed Economic Stimulus Act of 2006 includes several very important incentives for businesses – including restaurants – to invest in new equipment. While chase incentives will be most useful for small businesses, they also could stimulate immediate purchases of food equipment by restaurants and other commercial foodservice establishments.
With Government Relations Committee Chairman David Rolston, CFSP, president, Hatco Corporation, testifying at a recent Congressional hearing, NAFEM has placed itself at the center of a renewed effort to rein in the proliferation of taxes that many states are placing on firms that have sales in those states but no office or other physical presence.
Shortly before adjourning for the July 4th recess, the U.S. Senate, on the procedural vote, killed for this Congress the “Employee Free Choice Act” – a bill that would unionize a workplace if a majority of the employee simply sign a union authorization card. The bill would do away with current law, which requires that a majority of employees vote for the union in secret ballot before a union is authorized. The bill had previously been passed by the House of Representatives.
Congressman Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) has reintroduced “The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act” (H.R. 1127), legislation that gives users of industrial materials the right to participate effectively in hearings before the International Trade Commission (ITC) and the Department of Commerce (DOC) in trade cases, such as anti-dumping complaints against foreign producers exporting to the United States.
In early March, the Democratic-dominated House of Representatives passed H.R. 800, the “Employee Free Choice Act.” Also called the “card check bill,” H.R. 800 allows a union to organize if a majority of employees sign an authorization card – no election to follow.
International trade issues have come quickly to the forefront of the new Congress that convened in late January. U.S. International Trade Representative (USTR) Susan Schwab, moving to head-off Congressional complaints of inaction, announced February 2 that the Administration was initiating a complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) over practices of the Chinese government that promote exports and discriminate against imports.
The new line-up in Washington, with Democrats in control of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, changes the political equation on many issues important to the foodservice equipment and supplies industry, and to the business community in general. While it would be an error to consider the Democratic majorities as hostile to business, there will be a noticeable shift from corporate-friendly to business-friendly. At least for the next two years, however, Congress will be limited by the potential veto power of President Bush. Many of the newly-elected Democrats are somewhat more conservative than the current Democratic House leadership.