Small business priorities, short list, for the 2015 Minnesota Legislative Session

Small Business Minnesota is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership association for all small business, defined has having less than 100 employees, owners in the state of Minnesota. There are more than 500,000 small businesses in Minnesota. Small businesses employ 52% of the workforce, contribute 50% of the GDP, make up 70% of our exporters (contributing 30% revenue), create the vast majority of patents and are creating two of every three new jobs.

Support Crowdfunding, MNvest effort

Small Business Minnesota was one of the earliest supporters of crowdfunding for small business owners in Minnesota. We joined MNvest in this effort. Learn more at mnvest.org

Support small business owners affected by environmental policy

Generally, we support and ask for legislators’ consideration of small businesses that are affected by environmental policies. This includes small businesses that are literally downstream from other businesses, i.e.,  Minnesota’s wild rice small business owners. They are once again battling the GOP’s recommendation that makes “the sky the limit” on sulfur/sulfate dumping into wild rice fields.  We remain dismayed, as we have in years past, at the manner in which these small business owners are treated. They are given far less time than the big-business counterparts to testify and have been treated as intruders rather than voters and constituents.

State budget

We are once again concerned about the  uncontrolled borrowing, shifts and gimmicks that create the allusion of a balanced budget.  We call for long-term responsible budgeting.

We remain concerned about the continued “off the books” tax expenditures (upwards of $27 billion) that are not accounted for in the regular $42 billion biennial budget.  The state auditor and the state economist have raised red flags about this in the past.

MNsure

Little has been done to address small business owners’ top concern, access to affordable healthcare.

We ask that MNsure appoint a qualified, knowledgeable small-business advocate to the MNsure board, as was the spirit and intent of the law.

We gained active purchaser which has yet to be implemented and may be the only hope to lowering costs for small business owners, who once in MNsure should gain access to large-group rates.

Market flooding continues to be a concern, which we outlined in the past.

We have not seen a concerted effort to reach small business owners to make them aware of the MNsure program.

Retain the Internet access program for small businesses in Greater MN

Last session Small Business Minnesota supported a grant to help small businesses in Greater Minnesota gain adequate Internet access. This year the House cut the program saying “free market forces” will serve customers. Yes, free market forces will, when demand is high enough which some estimate will take another decade.

Restore the program to help small businesses (and our customers and employees) gain adequate Internet access in Greater Minnesota.

We support changes to the program to broaden it to all types of Internet access, not just cable, that makes the most sense for the area it will serve.

Transportation/Transit

Small Business Minnesota has been a longtime supporter of properly funding transportation to get small business goods to market, customers to our doors and our employees to work. However, after a decade of neglect, unmet needs have piled up calling for an unprecedented amount of funding.

To fund transportation/transit, the House recommends an inadequate amount and borrowing. Small Business Minnesota has been highly critical of past budgets that used accounting gimmicks, shifts and uncontrolled borrowing to create an allusion of a balanced budget.

We ask for adequate funding that doesn’t involve unsustainable borrowing into the future.  Read more at MoveMN.org

Predatory lenders targeting small business owners

We support last year’s proposed regulations on predatory lenders who are now targeting small business owners as a new market. Since small business owners have a difficult time accessing capital, this makes them particularly vulnerable.

Small-business property tax relief

We continue to support property tax relieve for small businesses. This remains a top concern of many Small Business Minnesota members. In the previous session, Small Business Minnesota testified in favor of the new law that exempts the first $150,000 of small-business property value from the statewide general property tax. This law applies to commercial and industrial property valued at less than $1.1 million.

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