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News & Press: Public Policy

Small business issues did well in 2014 Legislature

Friday, May 2, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jerry Bustamante
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The Arizona Legislature said sine die at 1:46 a.m., April 24th and, after a sixteen-hour workday, concluding the regular session for this year. Many of us who closely follow the state Legislature thought that this might have been the first year in recent memory for lawmakers to complete the business of the state in 100 days or less. They missed it by one day.

They left a pretty significant piece of work undone: What to do about protecting the children of Arizona. As a result, the Legislature will reconvene for a special session sometime in May and focus exclusively on creating a new agency to replace Arizona’s failed Child Protective Services.

With the exception of some turbulent days and SB1062, the religious freedom bill that turned America against Arizona for about a week, this year’s legislative session pretty much transpired as expected. We expected a short legislative session given that it’s an election year and members of both political parties were eager to get the business of the state done and start campaigning.

We also expected the children of Arizona to be a major issue after it was revealed in November that CPS closed roughly 6,000 cases of child abuse without investigation.

We also expected the budget to be a major issue of debate now that our state’s economy is on the mend and some lawmakers were anxious to restore funding to their state programs/agencies of choice.

Now that the session is over, it’s a good time to assess how Arizona businesses will be impacted be affected by the more than 220 bills signed into law. I am pleased to report that Arizona businesses can claim victory on a solid session and have much to celebrate. Let me share with you some of the highlights.

Gov. Brewer’s moratorium on new regulations – Regulatory burdens increase the cost of doing business in Arizona and also discourage innovation and job creation. Each year, business groups like the Arizona Small Business Association play a lot of defense at the state capitol by killing bills that would increase regulations on Arizona businesses. Despite pressure from different groups, Brewer held strong and maintained her moratorium on new regulations, and we thank her for her leadership.

Common Core was kept on track – Despite how many people feel about Common Core, it is the new initiative that Arizona has adopted that outlines what K-12 students should know at the end of each grade level. Common Core stayed on track this year, and the Legislature decided to fund the implementation of a student-level tracking system to better understand what is succeeding in our K-12 educations system.

Reduced reporting requirements for small business tax payers – Small businesses in Arizona that collect as little as $2,000 annually in transaction privilege tax are required to file a report and pay taxes on a monthly basis. The passage of HB2288 will reduce that requirement to quarterly for businesses that collect between $2,000 and $8,000 annually in TPT, and annually for those that collect less than $2,000.

More state agencies can now operate like servicearizona.com – When was the last time you went to the MVD to renew your vehicle license plate? I can’t remember either, thanks to servicearizona.com, which I believe is the best service that the state delivers. The passage of HB2404 will now allow any state agency to use a “third party electronic service provider” to conduct their business. This new law will allow state agencies to operate more efficiently by using online resources, resulting in less paper and fewer visits to agency offices.

Large manufacturers will find Arizona more attractive – Attracting the Tesla’s of the world and retaining existing manufacturers like Raytheon and Intel is not easy. The passage of SB1413, the biggest economic development bill of the year, will exempt large manufacturers in Arizona from paying taxes on the electricity they consume in their manufacturing process. Arizona is one of the last states to do away with this tax.

On behalf of the Arizona Small Business Association and our 10,000-plus small business members across the state, I wish to thank our state lawmakers for a successful legislative session. Arizona’s economy continues to improve and the good public policy developed this year at the state capitol will continue to fuel our recovery and growth.

Jerry Bustamante is the ASBA vice president for public policy and Southern Arizona. His column appears monthly in Inside Tucson Business.


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