Michigan cannot afford “city-states”

CityRegsThe “think globally – act locally” community organizing crowd is always looking for a group of gullible and malleable city or local officials to help them with their next social experiment.

Ironically, it is usually the city or county that can least afford the luxury of the experiment in question that bites. Take, for example, the issue of mandated local paid leave. Currently there are three cities in the United States with local ordinances mandating paid leave of private employers within their jurisdiction. San Francisco, for example, requires all employers regardless of size to offer up to 72 hours of paid leave to each of their employees, whether they are full-time or part-time.

Legislation currently being debated in the Michigan legislature would prohibit local governments from requiring businesses in their jurisdiction to provide paid leave to employees. The National Federation of Independent Business and the Michigan Restaurant Association view such legislation as a preemptive move to head off paid leave advocates at the pass before they can bring their show to local governments in Michigan.

The efforts of state lawmakers and the administration to transform our business climate into one that retains and attracts business, and the jobs they provide, is put into jeopardy when local governments create their own islands of regulation and micro management that tarnish the perception of Michigan as a development destination.

New investment entering the state can just avoid these activist local areas – much to the detriment of their citizens. Expanding businesses that are already established in areas where local governments seek to over-regulate will likely move out of that area when they grow out of their current facilities. Other businesses that cannot move because of a captive customer base will cut jobs, raise prices or reduce services to cope with the additional cost and hassle of poorly thought out local rules and regulations. When this happens the local citizens suffer the consequences and it becomes more likely that they too will consider moving out of the area, further diminishing the tax base of the local government and contributing to a vicious cycle of decline (Detroit is a relevant example).

Finally, with all of the hue and cry from local governments about revenue sharing cuts and budget shortfalls, perhaps they might better serve their residents by focusing on the basic services that their citizens want and deserve rather than expanding into policy areas that are more appropriately the venue of the state and federal government.

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About Charles Owens

Charles Owens has been advocating the interests of small business in the Michigan Legislature for over 25 years, beginning with his tenure at the Michigan Institute of Laundering and Dry-cleaning and currently with the National Federation of Independent Business / Michigan. As the State Director of one of Michigan's most respected small business organizations, Owens is responsible for directing the NFIB in its mission to maintain the viability of small business in the face of expanded legislative and regulatory challenges. Owens has been an active participant in the legislative debate over numerous landmark Michigan issues including: the Michigan Environmental Protection Act, inheritance tax, tort liability reform, Unemployment Insurance reform, Workers’ Compensation, and Michigan Occupational Safety & Health Act (MIOSHA) issues. Owens and the NFIB spearheaded the efforts of other small business groups in the fight for fairness and equity for small business in the debate over the repeal and replacement for the Michigan Business Tax. Owens is a 25 year member of the Capitol Club, a dedicated group of association executives committed to the advancement of legislative advocacy for their respective organizations. In 2005 he was elected by his peers to be President of the organization. In 2006, Owens was ranked as number five of the top ten single interest individual lobbyists in Michigan by Inside Michigan Politics. Under his leadership, NFIB was also ranked in the top twenty lobbyist organizations and top ten single interest lobbying organizations by the same publication. Originally a native of Rockford, Illinois, Owens graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelors Degree in Finance and Business Administration. follow on twitter: @OwensNFIB
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