Taxes, health care are two key issues for state's small businesses


Health care.

Those are two legislative issues on the minds of the state's small business owners as the General Assembly prepares to go back into session next week.

A handful or two of bills in the House or Senate are of major interest to small employers who stand to be affected economically, depending on their outcome.

One priority is HB 1023, the Jobs, Opportunities and Business Success Act of 2010. Among other business benefits, the bill would provide tax credits to employers who hire and retain workers currently on unemployment, as well as providing tax credits to angel investors who invest in small firms.

The bill, which small business advocates believe would spark hiring and investment, could be stymied by the state's budget woes, however.

The legislation has passed the House Committee on  Small Business Development and Job Creation, and David Raynor, Georgia director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said, "We're looking for the House floor."

Gov. Sonny Perdue vetoed a version of the bill last year.

Another tax bill, HB 1093, now in committee, would help identify businesses not correctly reporting sales tax to the state by requiring local governments to collect certain information from businesses applying for a license.

Raynor called it "an innovative way for the state to capture more revenue without increasing the tax burden on small business."

Health care remains a key concern for small businesses. Nearly half of the NFIB's members, for example, don't provide health care to their employees.

SB 331 and SB 408 would allow small business owners to form health cooperatives that could purchase health insurance as a group, widening the insurance risk pool and lowering costs.

SB 407 and HB 1184 would allow insurance plans approved in other states  but not offered in Georgia to be sold here as long as the insurer is licensed in Georgia. Small business advocates say that would increase competition and reduce the cost for insurance.

None of the bills has advanced far in the Legislature.