Main Street Alliance of Ohio Members Call for Pregnancy Accommodation Bill

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Main Street small business owners from across Ohio call on Legislature to pass the Reasonable Accommodation Act.

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Small Business Owners, Faith Leaders, and Doctors Gather Tomorrow to Urge Lawmakers to Support SB 301, the Pregnancy Accommodation Act

The act is supported by dozens of small business owners across Ohio, many of whom will be in attendance at Trinity Episcopal Church and are available for comment

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DURING SMALL BUSINESS WEEK, MINNESOTA SMALL BUSINESSES URGE COMMUNITY INVESTMENTS, NOT TAX CUTS

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, May 4th 2016

Contact: Corinne Horowitz (612) 232-1655

corinne@mainstreetalliance.org

 

DURING SMALL BUSINESS WEEK, MINNESOTA SMALL BUSINESSES URGE COMMUNITY INVESTMENTS, NOT TAX CUTS

While Minnesota enjoys a budget surplus, Main Street businesses weigh in on how to put the added revenue to use, favoring local infrastructure investments over tax cuts. 

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Vermont Governor Shumlin Signs Bill to ‘Ban the Box’

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Sue Bette of Bluebird Barbeque in  Burlington testifies in support of Ban the Box legislation

This afternoon, Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill to ‘Ban the Box’ on employment applications. This new law will require employers to delay inquiring about criminal history until after their other qualifications have been assessed. Banning the box that asks about criminal history on an initial application form gives those with a criminal conviction a fair shot at employment.

“When the legislature began considering a bill to ‘Ban the Box,’ there was no shortage of interest and involvement from small business owners,” said Lindsay DesLauriers, Director of Main Street Alliance of Vermont. “We were happy to work with a great coalition of organizations on this issue, including Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and the Governor’s Council on Pathways from Poverty." 

Sue Bette, owner of Bluebird Barbecue in Burlington, testified during committee hearings and gave a voice to business owners who support fair chance hiring practices.

“During my seven years of owning a business in Vermont, I have employed community members who have a criminal record. In working with these individuals, I have witnessed the difficulties of recovering from this past. I have seen the challenges of balancing a healthy recovery, managing work, life, finances, and family obligations,” said Bette during her testimony to the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs. “I believe that this policy change will assist in creating a path to success for those who have served their sentence and have earned an opportunity for recovery and to pursue new dreams.”

Other small business owners submitted written testimony, and opinion editorials that helped to inform the conversation. Jason Aprea, owner of BBetter Inc., shared his experience of struggling to get a job post-incarceration and deciding instead to open a gym with his wife. The bill passed with overwhelming support in both the House and Senate.

In addition to Vermont, Main Street Alliance leaders have spoken out in support of Ban the Box and Fair Chance hiring legislation across the national network, most notably in Florida, Oregon, New York, and Virginia. 


Main Street Alliance of Oregon Welcomes New State Director

Khanh_pix.jpgMain Street Alliance of Oregon is proud to announce we have finalized our State Director candidate reviews and have selected Khanh Le to lead the statewide coalition of over 3,000 small business owners.

Khanh brings a wealth of experience in state and local government, having served as the Community Relations Coordinator for the Oregon Office of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). While with AFSCME, he developed, established, and led the organization's first community relations program. Under his leadership, the group successfully built broad-based coalitions to advance economic justice, and equity development and workforce equity policies.

Prior to returning to Portland and assuming his role with AFSCME, Khanh served on the D.C. staff of U.S. Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) and worked on various national and state-level campaigns.

He obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon and received a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Oregon State University. With loyalties to both the Ducks and the Beavers, Khahn finds himself torn each November as his two alma maters compete for the Platypus Trophy.

With several small business owners in his family, Khanh has experienced and witnessed firsthand the challenges small businesses face on a daily basis, as well as the countless contributions they make to their community. He looks forward to interacting with the Oregon Executive Committee and our membership and using his experience to interact with lawmakers and advance public policies important to Oregon’s small business community.

“We are excited to welcome Khanh to our team and hit the ground running together. There is no better time than Small Business Week to bolster the Main Street Alliance team and lift up the voices of Oregon’s small business community. Khanh’s experience will help us build on the work of our coalitions and weigh in on important public policy,” says Jim Houser, owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic in Portland and Main Street Alliance Executive Committee member.

“With Khanh at the helm, our coalition of over 3,000 business owners is poised for growth and expansion into additional regions of the state. As our organization's numbers increase, so too will our influence on state and local government and our ability to stand up for Oregon’s small and independently owned businesses,” says Mark Kellenbeck, owner of Brain Joy in Medford and Main Street Alliance of Oregon Co-Chair. 


Vermont Governor Shumlin Signs Automatic Voter Registration Bill

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Today, Vermont became the fourth state with a secure automatic voter registration process on its books. The new law modernizes Vermont’s current voter registration system by automatically registering eligible Vermonters when they apply for or renew their driver’s license or other state-issued I.D.

Jaquelyn Reike, owner of Nutty Steph’s in Middlesex and member of the Main Street Alliance of Vermont spoke at the bill signing. She said, “This new law will protect the right of every eligible voter in Vermont – be they Democrat, Republican, Progressive, or Independent – to have their voice heard and their vote counted.”

“In Vermont at least, voting is an idea that leaders of all political stripes can get behind,” said Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. “The simple truth is, this law will mean more people voting, and that’s healthy for our democracy.“  

The law creates a secure and more accurate system that helps those who are eligible to vote get registered. It passed with near unanimous tri-partisan support in the legislature and includes language that protects noncitizens from prosecution should they inadvertently fail to decline to register.

“What struck me most about this process was that the debate turned entirely on ensuring that every part of this bill increased access broadly and equitably for all Vermonters,” said Lindsay DesLauriers, Director of the Main Street Alliance of Vermont. “While there is a push to limit voter access in other parts of this country, the members of all parties in Vermont questioned only the extent to which this legislation could be more inclusive and create more opportunities for people to vote.”

Main Street Alliance of Vermont, VPIRG, and Rights & Democracy worked closely with bill sponsor, Representative Chris Pearson (P-Burlington), the Senate Committee on Government Operations and Secretary of State Jim Condos to ensure that Vermont’s new law would protect and enhance the rights of all Vermonters. It also makes the system nimble and portable, so that a voter’s registration information is automatically updated whenever they change their address.

“At a time when several other states are busy setting up roadblocks to voter registration and participation, we are proud to be part of the effort to take an important step forward for democracy,” said Sheila Reed, board member of Rights & Democracy from Ryegate. 


Connecticut House Passes Retirement Security Act

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H.B. 5591, the Act to create a state-run Retirement Security Program, passed the State House with overwhelming support from the small business community and will now head to the Senate for consideration. 

Today, the Connecticut General Assembly passed House Bill 5591 as amended, moving the bill on to the State Senate for final approval. If passed, the Act will create a state-run retirement security program that will improve the retirement security of workers in the state who do not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan or payroll deduction individual retirement account.

Over 600,000 Connecticuters go to work each day without a workplace-based retirement savings program, leaving too many of our state’s residents without an option to live out their golden years with a level of comfort and stability that many with access to employer-provided plans take for granted.

The Retirement Security Program provides a well-researched option that has taken into consideration input provided by employees and finance sector professionals alike. The efficacy of the program has been tested and it’s been found to be financially feasible in a range of market scenarios and it will work for the private-sector employers on Main St. 

In addition to putting employers in the best position to meet the needs of their workforce, the program will reduce high turnover costs. Employee acquisition and training have a significant impact on profitability, making it so important that small business owners have policies in place that encourage their team members to stay with them long-term. This program allows small business owners to match or exceed the offerings of their larger competitors–leveling the playing field for businesses of all sizes. 

“House Bill 5591 creates an option for businesses like mine that reduces our administrative cost and legal burden and makes it possible for us to address our employees' options for retirement without breaking the bank,” says Mark Soukop, owner of New Haven Pizzeria in Avon.

“I urge our Senators to vote in support of the Retirement Security Program, a program that will help me provide a peace of mind to my workforce while mitigating the time consuming and costly administration of a privately purchased plan—allowing me to focus on running my business,” says Matthew Feiner, owner of Devil’s Gear Bike Shop in New Haven.

Mark and Matthew joined dozens of other small business owners across the state of Connecticut in raising awareness of the bill and vocalizing their support in local media outlets. 

Read Mark's letter to the editor in the Hartford Courant, and check out Matthew's op-ed in the CT News Junkie


Main Street Members Took to the Media on Tax Day

On Tax Day, Main Street Alliance members from Oregon to Florida placed op-eds and letters to the editor in local and national publications to call on Congress to establish rules that hold large multinational corporations accountable to pay the taxes they owe. Check out some of the clips of the work that went on across our network. 

Oregon:

The Hill- Op-ed: Small businesses pay their taxes. Why don’t big corporations?- http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-budget/276424-small-businesses-pay-their-taxes-why-dont-big-corporations

The Skanner- Op-ed: Panama Papers Should Re-Ignite Focus on Closing Shell Companies and Tax Havens-http://www.theskanner.com/opinion/commentary/23734-panama-papers-should-re-ignite-focus-on-closing-shell-companies-and-tax-havens

The Portland Observer- Op-ed: Shady Shell Companies and Tax Havens- http://portlandobserver.com/news/2016/apr/27/shady-shell-companies-and-tax-havens/

The Daily Journal of Commerce- Op-ed: Corporate Tax Dodging Threatens Public Projects-http://djcoregon.com/news/2016/04/14/op-ed-public-suffering-because-of-tax-dodging-corporations/

The Atlantic- Quote: The Cost of Corporate Tax Avoidance- http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/04/corporate-tax-avoidance/478293/

Oxfam America Blog- Quote: Top 50 US companies stash a trillion dollars offshore while benefiting from trillions in government support- http://www.oxfamamerica.org/press/top-50-us-companies-stash-a-trillion-dollars-offshore-while-benefitting-from-trillions-in-government-support/

Borderzine- Quote: Top US companies stash over a trillion dollars in offshore tax havens- http://borderzine.com/2016/04/top-u-s-companies-stash-over-a-trillion-dollars-in-offshore-tax-havens/

Blue Oregon- Op-ed: Steer clear of rewards for corporate tax dodging-http://www.blueoregon.com/2016/04/steer-clear-rewards-corporate-tax-dodging/

Florida:

Tampa Bay Times- Letter: Big business doesn’t pay fair share of taxes - http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/letters/saturdays-letters-big-business-doesnt-pay-fair-share-of-taxes/2273363

Palm Beach Post- Letter: Offshore subsidies unfair to majority- http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/opinion/letters/nq55z/

Ohio:

Columbus Dispatch- Letter: To some, Tax Day is no big deal- http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/editorials/2016/04/17/1-tax-day.html

Cincinnati Enquirer- Op-ed: Companies Skipping Out on Their Tabs -http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/03/31/opinion-companies-skipping-tabs/82472480/

Illinois:

Chicago Tribune- Op-ed: Tax Day should mean something to big corporations, too- http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/northbrook/community/chi-ugc-article-tax-day-should-mean-something-to-big-corporat-1-2016-04-12-story.html

Iowa:

The Des Moines Register- Op-ed: Big corporations sat out on Tax Day again this year-http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/iowa-view/2016/04/25/big-corporations-sat-out-tax-day-again-year/83515466/

Vermont:

Times-Argus- Op-ed: Tax Day–the real April fools http://www.timesargus.com/article/20160416/OPINION01/160419730

Maine:

Bangor Daily News- Event coverage/Quote: Maine group joins in post-Panama papers lobby effort-  https://bangordailynews.com/2016/04/12/business/maine-group-joins-in-post-panama-papers-lobbying-effort/?ref=moreInstate

New Jersey:

Politico- Quote: More tax breaks- State EDA approves $113 million in tax breaks- http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/new-jersey-playbook/2016/04/hespe-ominous-on-ac-schools-njea-walks-back-ac-takeover-statement-new-brunswick-courts-george-lucas-213724#ixzz45qJTGHAI 

NJ.com- Event coverage/Quote: NJ small businesses: Tax breaks for big corporations unfair to us-  http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/04/nj_small_businesses_take_aim_at_tax_subsidies_for.html

The Record- Event coverage/Quote: Companies that battled regulators receive millions in tax breaks-http://www.northjersey.com/news/companies-that-battled-regulators-receive-millions-in-tax-breaks-from-nj-1.1543343

NJ Spotlight- Event coverage/Quote: Does New Jersey’s largesse to large corporations hurt small businesses? -http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/16/04/13/does-new-jersey-s-largesse-to-large-corporations-hurt-small-businesses/

Newsworks.org- Event coverage/Quote: Group questions NJ’s use of tax incentives to attract companies-http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/92821-group-questions-njs-use-of-tax-incentives-to-attract-companies

NJ.com- Mention: No NJ estate tax cut without transportation funding fix- http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/04/prieto_says_no_nj_estate_tax_cut_without_transport.html


Tax Day Focused Social Media Graphics Show Parity Between Main St. Business Owners and Tax Dodging Corporations

Members of the Main Street Alliance took to social and traditional media this Tax Day to call on large multinational corporations to pay what they owe. 

Across the country, small business owners and everyday taxpayers are meeting their tax responsibility this Tax Day, and they are outraged by their large, multinational competitors ability to duck their obligations and pass their bill onto them. A report from Citizens for Tax Justice illustrates how profitable Fortune 500 companies in a range of sectors of the U.S. economy have been remarkably successful in manipulating the tax system to avoid paying even a dime of tax on billions of dollars in U.S. profits.

By highlighting 15 corporations’ tax situations they shed light on the widespread nature of corporate tax avoidance.  As a group, the 15 companies paid no federal income tax on $21 billion in profits in 2015. Even more astonishingly, as a group, they paid no federal income tax on $93 billion in profits over the past five years. Seven of these companies received federal tax rebates in 2015, and almost all paid exceedingly low rates over five years.

These 15 companies, most notably Netflix, JetBlue, Qualcomm, Century Link, and International Paper, don't just turn their backs on the communities that support them when they shirk their tax responsibility, they shift their bill onto Main St. business owners and their customers. Check out the graphics designed to spotlight the need for a level playing field for businesses of all sizes and a tax system that holds multinational corporations accountable to pay their fair share. 

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Main Street Members Take Part in Post-Panama Papers Lobby Days in DC

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Oregon members meet with Representative Blumenauer's office

Following the recent exposé dubbed the “Panama Papers,” members of the Main Street Alliance joined a bi-partisan grouping of more than 70 faith leaders, small business owners, local leaders, and public interest advocates from 25 states on Capitol Hill this week to urge lawmakers to support tax and transparency legislation that benefits small businesses, taxpayers, and vulnerable communities.

Advocating for legislation to make it harder to set up anonymous shell companies in the U.S. and to prevent offshore tax haven abuse, the event was organized by the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition, a non-partisan coalition of over 100 small business, faith-based, anti-corruption, government watchdog, human rights, investor, labor, public interest, and global development organizations.

These issues are front-and-center after the massive “Panama Papers” leaks—a trove of more than 11 million documents from a Panamanian law firm obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The investigation exposed the devastating toll that anonymous companies and offshore tax havens take on the world, highlighting the need for U.S. action.

The delegation participating in FACT's Bi-Partisan Tax and Transparency Fly-In Days included MSA members from 8 states, former Rep. Claudine Schneider (R-RI) and former Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH) along with several ministers, rabbis, fellow small business owners, law enforcement officials, and local leaders.

Attendees will meet with their Senators and Representatives about the importance of the Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act (H.R.4450S. 2489) and the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act (H.R. 297S. 174)—two pieces of legislation that would crack down on the abuses exposed in the Panama Papers stories.

Attendees also attended workshops and a reception featuring speeches by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Former Rep. Claudine Schneider (R-RI), and Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), in addition to former Treasury Special Agent John Cassara, Tim Richardson of the Fraternal Order of Police, Rabbi Menachem Creditor, and small business owner Crystal Mario.

Following the lobby days, MSA members penned letters to the editor and op-eds discussing corporate taxation and transparency to bring their message to the cities and towns that are home to their businesses.

One of the business owners in attendance, Rosalind McCallard, owner of Snackrilege, an Oregon-based vegan sandwich wholesaler had her editorial placed in The Hill, and offered the following reflection on the lobby day activities:

"When I was asked to come to Washington and represent not only my business but the Main St. Alliance, I immediately agreed. Although I wasn't entirely sure what specifically I'd be doing, I knew that it would be in line with both my personal and company values and that it would be an opportunity to have my voice heard. Saying no wasn't even an option.

After several days of training, educational seminars, and meetings with congressional staffers, I was joyfully affirmed in my decision to visit our nation's capital. This trip afforded me the opportunity for a multitude of new experiences (both personal and professional), and the opportunity to represent forward thinking small business owners.

I work hard to put into practice my ideals: fair wages, corporate transparency, and a just democracy. Being in Washington with FACT and the MSA gave me the chance to let our congressional leaders know how much these beliefs mean to me and my company."


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