We’re Trying to Improve the Business Climate

After convincing voters to pass his $1.2 billion income tax plan, Gov. Cellucci is refocusing his attention on business taxes, saying that a cut in the jobless insurance premiums paid by employers "would help businesses remain competitive in a period of uncertainty, particularly when we have about $2 billion in the unemployment insurance trust fund. We've got plenty of money in that trust fund." The trust fund pays wages to laid-off workers.

And, the Governor isn’t the only one trying to improve the business climate in Massachusetts.

AIM—Associated Industries of Massachusetts—has given the legislature 38 bills to consider during the 2001-2002 session. Covering everything from taxation to the environment, product liability to job training. The bills have received bipartisan support, with 67 legislators from both parties agreeing to co-sponsor the legislation.

I’m proud to say that my bill, creating a sales and use tax exemption for the sale of aircraft and repair and replacement parts, has been included in AIM’s list of priorities.

Other bills provide for a 20 year carryforward and a two-year carry back for operating expenses of corporations, encourage e-business and simplify the state’s tax code for manufacturers.

Still others would allow self-employed people to fully deduct the cost of their health insurance premiums as a business expense, specify that sales tax applies only to the cost of generation of power and not to various other costs appearing on your electric bill, and reduce the unemployment insurance rates.

One of my favorite bills clarifies the definition of "employee" to allow unpaid students participating in School-to-Work programs to be covered by the mandatory workers compensation insurance policy of the employer.

Another allows semimonthly pay. And, still another amends the personnel records law to limit employee’s ability to review their personnel records to no more than two times a year and provides employers immunity from disclosing information about current or former employees
Another eliminates the requirement for manufacturing facilities to obtain operating permits for Sundays and holidays.

An act relative to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination limits the amount of emotional distress damages that may be awarded by MCAD at $50,000.

Under the job-training category, a 10 percent tax credit would be given to employers for qualified job-training expenses, and companies would be eligible for grants if they provide job training through pre-approved programs, such as English as a second language
To encourage recycling, material sorting, and re-manufacturing, tax credit incentives would offered to businesses.

Other legislation from AIM would establish a Secretary of Economic Development, to elevate the current position of Director of Economic Development to a member of the Governor’s cabinet, in order to reflect the importance of economic development in Massachusetts.

One of my favorite pieces of legislation is a bill that would require administrative agencies in the state to conduct a cost-benefit analysis for proposed rules and regulations, and to forward a copy of the analysis to the appropriate legislative committee before those rules and regulations are promulgated. If this had been law several years ago, we wouldn’t have Title V and all the septic tank issues surrounding it.

Still another reflects the new electronic age by allowing corporations to contact shareholders by e-mail, to webcast annual meetings, and to allow stockholders to vote electronically.

I’ve only mentioned a few and, then, given just the highlights of the bill. And, I’m not predicting if any will actually become law.

Remembering that I first ran on the slogan of "business sense and common sense," I’ll be supporting AIM and pro-business legislation during this session.

In another column, I’ll outline others that have been introduced, and some of the bills I’ve sponsored.

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