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Small-business advocate says it pushes politicians based on members’ desires

NJBIZ STAFF//September 27, 2011//

Small-business advocate says it pushes politicians based on members’ desires

NJBIZ STAFF//September 27, 2011//

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Each year, the National Federation of Independent Business polls its members on legislation to find out the important issues and where small businesses stand.

Each year, the National Federation of Independent Business polls its members on legislation to find out the important issues and where small businesses stand.

Laurie Ehlbeck, state director of NFIB, said she tries to narrow the list of bills to take legislative voting records for based upon which issues NFIB has taken an official stance.

For this year’s voting record, which considered 11 Assembly bills from 2010 to 2011 and 18 Senate bills from 2008 to 2011, the top concerns ranged from tax incentives to health care.

“You ask our members, and their number-one concern right now is the cost of health care,” Ehlbeck said, adding that health care reform issues will continue to be an important issue to business owners in the state.

Additionally, “we supported pension reform, we always support a balanced budget … and there were several reform issues that we were supporting,” Ehlbeck said, including unemployment insurance reform laws that unanimously passed.

Ehlbeck said she’s “hesitant to take up” some issues, like Urban Enterprise Zone legislation, because business owners take their stance on the issue based upon their own locations. Industry-specific legislation also is avoided when looking at voting records, because a consensus among members would be difficult to achieve.

Lawmakers’ voting records for the so-called “millionaire’s tax,” state employee benefit reform and corporate tax issues were also important issues to the state’s small-business owners, she said.

Voting record results show 31 Assembly members and eight senators voted in lockstep with the NFIB.

“It’s a victory that no one scored a zero this year,” Ehlbeck said. “It was common in previous sessions to have a number of lawmakers voting against small business on every single issue. That didn’t happen this time, which means that we’re making progress.”