The Maine Small Business Coalition has been busy throughout 2012. Small business owners often serve as the perfect messengers to help elected officials and community members understand the impact of public policy on Main Street and the local economy, and this year MSBC members weighed in on issues at the national and the state level, and effectively countered many extreme and out-of-touch conservative ideas with clear and straightforward stories about the sort of policies that work best for their businesses.
For instance, more than 70 MSBC members lent their support to an effort to keep BPA out of food and packaging for toddlers and infants. This sort of policy is about as common-sense as could be imagined, particularly since there are affordable and safe alternatives to BPA readily available. Unfortunately, some conservatives are all-too-willing to label any regulation as over-regulation and stand opposed to long-term solutions that help guarantee safer products for children. Moments like this are perfect opportunities for the small business community to speak up and clearly express the imperative to sell safe products in safe packaging for the benefit of healthy kids. We appreciate members who helped the Department of Environmental Protection understand that being pro-business also means being pro-environment and pro-reasonable regulation.
Representing more than 3,400 small business owners across the state, MSBC is often in the best position to hear the concerns of small business owners attempting to maintain a livelihood during a difficult economic time, and we believe that those small business owners should have an opportunity to speak out about the issues that affect their business.
Nowhere is the need for small business voices more apparent than in the conversations MSBC has had about limiting corporate money in politics. This summer, MSBC members spoke out against the national Chamber of Commerce after they purchased nearly half a million dollars in TV advertising to run attack ads in Maine. MSBC has not endorsed a candidate in the race for U.S. Senate, but the more extreme out-of-state groups that pretend to represent Maine small businesses spend large amounts of money shaping public opinion to support a series of half-truths, the tougher it will be for small business owners to have a say with elected officials. At a time when many MSBC members are burning the candle at both ends to avoid cutting back on staff or sacrificing health insurance benefits, we should be making it easier for them to communicate with candidates and elected officials, not more difficult. MSBC will continue to speak out against attempts by right-wing front organizations, like the national Chamber of Commerce and NFIB, and speak up for policies and politicians who make Maine a great state for small business.
As usual, the high cost of health insurance is at the front of the minds of many small business owners. The legislature’s insistence on putting profits before people gave power to Anthem to discriminate against policyholders in rural areas of the state as well as against small business owners attempting to offer health care benefits to seniors. Public Law 90, the rate hike bill, is a crystal-clear example of the need to move beyond talking points and understand that controlling health care costs for small business owners means limiting the influence of insurance companies in the legislature. When a person is pulled over for speeding, the police officer doesn’t ask the driver what she thinks the speed limit should be before writing a ticket –the officer enforces the law. Letting Anthem have a seat at the table to write rules governing their own profit margins is a recipe for disaster, and MSBC members intend to share stories of sky-high insurance rates with candidates for office to find out who really stands with small business owners.
MSBC continues to expand, so if you know small business owners, please direct them to our website: www.mainesmallbusiness.org.