The most important legislation the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) championed this cycle was House Joint Resolution 43, the Small Business Bill of Rights. Essentially, this resolution declares that small businesses should be key contributors when legislation is being considered that affects the success, growth and development of small businesses in the State of Oregon. When rules or regulations are passed along the Legislature’s desk, they refer to the small business bill of rights for any conflicts.
“We want to make sure that small businesses are protected and this resolution is a great start to giving businesses a greater role in economic development in our state,” says Jenna Kaluza, Oregon State Director for NFIB. “The state is beginning to recognize that small businesses are integral to growth and is including them in the process.”
While the bill was passed unanimously in the House and the Senate, it was carried on the floor by Rep. Chris Edwards (D-West Eugene). The resolution came to NFIB through two of its members; Chuck Jones, owner of Portland-based Chuck Jones & Associates, a financial planning and investment management company, and Fred King, owner of Silkin Management Group, a business consulting firm also in the Portland area. Jones had followed similar legislation in other states that proved to be very successful for small businesses and helped champion
Passionate business owners like Chuck Jones and Fred King make up a majority of the 7,000 current NFIB members, according to Kaluza, who credits them for a number of the successes during the 2009 Legislative session, as few and far between as they may have been.
“Oregon’s NFIB members are recognized nationally for being sophisticated, intelligent and active in every possible manner. They call their legislators, they work with fellow entrepreneurs and even work with their communities on a regular basis because they recognize that small business is our backbone,” says Kaluza.
Most importantly, NFIB’s members stood up against the corporate minimum tax increase and the personal income tax increase, even though they eventually and unfortunately passed in the final days. Kaluza expects that the members will strongly back a statewide ballot measure asking for a referral to overturn these increases.
Also defeated this session, was the cap and trade bill, which would raise energy rates an which NFIB strongly believes should be considered strictly on a national level, not state or even regional. “If we allow states to create their own regulations like the cap and trade bill would have, we’ll lose businesses left and right,” says Kaluza. “Defeating this bill was a big win for our members, a big win for all businesses, and it’s a big win for Oregon.”
Both looking back and looking ahead, Kaluza says it was probably the most difficult and anti-business legislative session for NFIB, its members and for small business across the state, however she doesn’t believe all the legislators are out to get the small businesses. “We understand that sometimes, serving in the legislature can be a power struggle and that’s just how the game is played,” says Kaluza. “At the end of the day, it’s the moderates that are going to have a harder time facing their communities and constituents as they run for re-election. Facing a staple business and saying ‘Hey, I’m on your side, but voted for the other’ isn’t going to be very popular come 2010.”
Kaluza said she’s proud of what NFIB was able to accomplish in the legislative session, especially given the circumstances, but will always come back and fight next time, whether it’s through supporting key candidates in the 2010 election or getting a jumpstart on legislation for the 2011 cycle.
For more information on small businesses in our state, you can reach Oregon State Director Jenna Kaluza at [email protected].
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