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Every Thursday we take a look at Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

There’s an eight-bill package working its way through the legislature right now aimed at eliminating the personal property tax. This sounds like something that would affect individuals but this is actually a business tax.

Sikkema says, “This is basically a tax on business equipment, computer, office furniture and manufacturing equipment. It’s generally acknowledged to be a bad tax because it taxes new business purchases and business growth and investment.”

Demas indicates that some cities receive up to 40% of their tax base from the personal property tax. However, not all cities would be affected in the same way. Some cities wouldn’t be affected at all.

“The municipalities have been looking for ways that they can get some of that revenue replaced, but so far they haven’t had a lot of takers because their solution is a constitutional amendment that would guarantee the same money, and nobody really wants to tie the legislature’s hands with that," she says.

Sikkema believes eliminating the tax is a good move for Michigan. He says, “Other states, particularly in the Midwest have already eliminated it, principality Ohio. Michigan and Indiana are the only ones in the Great Lakes region that I’m aware of who currently collect the personal property tax.”

But he adds, “It’s not without its down side…for some it is a major source of revenue and republicans are trying to address that with this promise to replace it in the future.”

Demas adds, “I do think we do need to pay attention to however many communities there are that really rely on this and could be pushed over the edge, because certainly it’s not health for our state to have our cities keep getting financial managers.”

Ohio-based Huntington Bank says it plans to open branches in dozens of Meijer stores in Michigan. The bank and the Grand Rapids-based retailer have announced a 10-year partnership.

They say this will add 500 jobs for Huntington Bank in Michigan. The branches will operate with extended hours, giving shoppers time to conduct business on evenings and weekends. Huntington has partnered with another Grand Rapids based company, Steelcase, to design the branches.

There’s an old Russian saying that, even, if you covered the world with asphalt, eventually a crack would form.

And in that crack, grass would grow. I was reminded of that yesterday by an Italian businessman my age, a man who is betting on green shoots coming through a town caked with many layers of asphalt. His name is Sergio Marchionne, and he is the CEO of a company called Fiat. Three years ago, he did something many at the time thought stupid. He took over a dying bankrupt company.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow will introduce a bill next week to prevent companies from getting tax write-offs for moving overseas.

Currently businesses can write off moving expenses on their taxes if they’re moving within or out of the country.  But no such break exists for businesses moving into the U.S.

“That makes absolutely no sense,” Stabenow said at a press conference Monday at Grand Valley State University.

Univ. of Mich. / YouTube

What do you get when you put dozens of college students in the basement of a parking garage with some office furniture, a WiFi connection and free coffee?

Well, it turns out you’ll end up with some pretty innovative ideas - as long as those students all happen to have diverse interests and a passion for entrepreneurship.

That’s the idea behind TechArb, a University of Michigan program that aims to provide student entrepreneurs with the mentoring, workspace and, in a few cases, funding needed to start their own businesses.

Nike

Nike worked with the Grand Rapids-based skateboarding shop Premier to create the shoe style.

The Petoskey stone inspired shoes will go on sale at Premier on April 28 with a price of $104.

Here's more, appropriately, from the Petoskey News:

To pay tribute to the store's Great Lakes roots, the leather of the blue and gray shoe is embossed with Petoskey stones and will feature a tote bag with a Petoskey stone print.

"We decided to do something a little more in-depth than the state colors or theme colors. We wanted to take different elements from the landscape and nature side of the state," said Premier co-owner Eric Blanding. "The Petoskey stone had a different print on it that we've always thought would look cool on a shoe."

Premier has worked on several other store-exclusive shoes in the past. Blanding said from design to the rack the entire shoe creation process can take up to a year and a half.

You can see more images of the shoe here at "Kicks on Fire."

user lehigh valley, PA / Flickr

It could be welcome news for all the ocularists, auctioneers, and acupuncturists out there.

The Michigan's Office of Regulatory Reinvention (yes, the agency was created by Gov. Snyder) has issued a report proposing the state should drop oversight of 18 occupations, and get rid of nine "occupational boards," while increasing inspection fees for ski resorts and carnivals.

More from the ORR's press release:

"According to a 2007 study, Michigan is the sixth most heavily-regulated state with respect to occupational licensing. This study found that for each occupation that a state regulated, that occupation would experience a decrease in the rate of job growth by 20 percent on average," said Steven H. Hilfinger, Chief Regulatory Officer and LARA Director. "Occupational regulations, while in many cases necessary to protect consumers and public health, operate as a barrier to entry into a given profession. This inhibits entrepreneurship and restricts competition, leading to increased costs and decreased levels of service for consumers."

Even though two of the boards they suggest cutting are the Carnival Amusement Safety Board and the Ski Area Safety Board, state officials say inspections for these operations should continue:

While the ORR recommends abolishing the Carnival Amusement Safety Board, the ORR recommends the licensing and inspections should continue and fees should be increased to be sufficient to cover administrative costs of regulation. Similarly, the ORR recommends that Ski Area Safety licensing and inspections should continue and fees should be increased to be sufficient to cover administrative costs.

Here's a list of the occupations officials recommended deregulating and the boards they recommend be cut:

The 18 occupations recommended for deregulation are:

  • Acupuncturist
  • Auctioneers
  • Community Planner
  • Consumer Finance Services
  • Dieticians & Nutritionists
  • Forensic Polygraph Examiner
  • Forester
  • Immigration Clerical Assistant
  • Insurance Solicitor
  • Interior Designer
  • Landscape Architect
  • Ocularist
  • Professional Employer Organizations
  • Proprietary School Solicitors
  • Respiratory Care
  • Security Alarm Contractors
  • Speech Pathologist
  • Vehicle Protection Product Warrantor

The 9 occupational boards recommended for elimination are:

  • Board of Acupuncture
  • Board of Auctioneers
  • Board of Carnivals & Amusement Rides
  • Board of Dietetics & Nutrition
  • Board of Occupational Therapy
  • Board of Respiratory Care
  • Board of Speech Language Pathology
  • Osteopathic Medicine Advisory Board
  • Ski Area Safety Board

The Office of Regulatory Reinvention was created in February 2011 within  the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

It's charged with overseeing current and proposed rules and regulations in the state and with "creating a regulatory environment and regulatory processes that are fair, efficient, and conducive to business growth and job creation."

On its website, the ORR boasts a "net reduction" of 363 rules in the state since April 23, 2011.
 

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