NFIB tells MI senate committee: state must reopen now

The state’s leading small business organization, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), told the Senate Economic and Small Business Development Committee this afternon that Michigan’s small businesses are dying and need to re-open now.

“While we are pleased to see some movement from the governor in reopening Michigan’s economy, the timelines and specific announcements of businesses allowed to open have been inconsistent and often arbitrary”, said NFIB State Director Charlie Owens. “Her vague and open-ended reopening plan, along with the unlimited ability under the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 to continually declare emergencies and issue executive orders, allows Governor Whitmer alone to decide the fate of the state’s small businesses into perpetuity.”

Owens added that NFIB members support the repeal of the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945, and that they also support allowing businesses that follow safety precautions with their employees and customers to reopen.

“NFIB recently supported Senate Bill 858, as amended in the House, that would have allowed most small businesses that were ordered closed in March to open on May 16 if they practice social distancing and use Personal Protective Equipment,” said Owens. “The bill passed both chambers and was sent to Governor Whitmer, where it was promptly vetoed.”

Owens referenced the most recent NFIB Small Business Optimism Index that showed April’s sales expectations for the next six months dropped to their lowest level in the index’s 46-year history. “If the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic lasts any longer about half of all small businesses could be in danger of failing”, said Owens. “Keep in mind this is national data and because Michigan is lagging other states in reopening its economy it could be much worse here.”

Owens said the absence of the governor’s cooperation with the legislature is to blame for the problems in Michigan and it appeared the only hope for a change in course will be found in the courts as was the case in Wisconsin where their Supreme Court ruled against similar tactics by their governor.

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