Lansing’s Small Business Association of Michigan has presented policy change recommendations to state and federal officials stemming from a COVID-19 task force the organization convened. It says additional steps beyond a reopening schedule are necessary to protect the state’s small businesses.
“As we work to help small businesses through this pandemic, it has become clear that they need much more than a reopening plan to be able to succeed in the future,” says Brian Calley, president of the organization. “The task force identified a thorough list of recommendations for state and federal leaders and regulators that will go a long way in saving as many small businesses as possible.”
The recommendations cover liability protection, regulations, taxes, unemployment insurance costs, workers’ compensation, and economic development. Specific suggested changes include:
- Liability protections for businesses working to comply with COVID-19 rules and regulations.
- Ensuring that local regulations are not stricter than state regulations and that they do not conflict with them.
- A focus on compliance and remediation over penalties as businesses implement regulations.
- Deferral of summer property tax bills through 2020 without penalties or interest.
- Allowance by the federal government for full deductibility of expenses paid by Paycheck Protection Program proceeds.
- No new costs for small businesses related to unemployment insurance changes or usage during the pandemic.
- A stronger unemployment system to provide for more effective protections against fraud.
- Development of policies that achieve long-term solvency of the unemployment insurance trust fund while providing competitive rates compared to other states.
- No automatic presumption that a person with COVID-19 was infected at work, and no expectation that employers will be responsible for employees’ activities or conduct outside of the workplace.
- Enhancement of economic development programs that will focus on small businesses, including rural broadband expansion, stronger small business state procurement policies, and entrepreneurship-led economic development.
“How small businesses operate will likely never be the same after the COVID-19 pandemic, and changes are needed to ensure small business can succeed now and into the future,” says Milan Gandhi, chair of the task force and owner of Med-Share Inc., a mobile diagnostic imaging company in Southfield. “Our task force took a hard look at small business operations and policies we are required to follow and created a roadmap that we hope elected officials and regulators will use going forward.”
Gandhi also represents small businesses on the Michigan Economic Recovery Council convened by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to provide recommendations for getting the state back to work after the pandemic.
The full report is available here.
The association serves the state’s small businesses through advocacy, collaboration, and buying power. It has more than 28,000 members in all 83 Michigan counties.