Phoenix Earns High Marks From NFIB

City judged one of five best in nation for welcoming small business

In an e-newsletter to its more than 330,000 members nationwide today, including 7,000 in Arizona, the National Federation of Independent Business, America’s voice of small business, ranked Phoenix as one of the top five cities in the country “Opening Their Doors to Small Business.”

“Phoenix’s rebounding economy, favorable climate and entrepreneurial culture attracts many transplanted residents,” said the NFIB article. “Two years ago, the Phoenix City Council implemented reforms that shifted a significant portion of city permitting and inspection functions to the private sector and created 24-hour turnarounds for projects such as city and building permits that used to take four to six months. With quicker turnarounds, doing business in Phoenix has become faster and more convenient.”

Noted Farrell Quinlan, NFIB’s Arizona state director, “The majority of people starting small businesses and prospering here were born somewhere else. That kind of new blood and vitality means opportunities in Phoenix aren’t encumbered by an old-boys network.”

In a news release issued by Mayor Greg Stanton, he said, “This ranking is a testament to the actions we’re taking to lift small and local businesses. We’re moving in a new economic direction – one that creates real opportunity for business owners and entrepreneurs.”

sal diciccio council chambers

Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio

City Councilman Sal DiCiccio added, “This puts Phoenix in a position to compete in the global economy, making us faster, smarter and better than our competitor cities. Getting 24-hour permitting and the ability to submit plans online allows businesses to open today, not months from now. The Mayor and Council recognized that it grows our economy faster when we help businesses take off quickly.”

DiCiccio, a longtime NFIB member, led the 125-member Ad Hoc Development Task Force that produced the reform recommendations for how to streamline the city’s permit process.

Phoenix has also been helped by a better state climate, Quinlan pointed out. “The state has been a leader in low tax rates and regulatory reform. For instance, Arizona simplifies the process state agencies must follow when creating rules and regulations they impose on Arizona businesses. That leadership ensures government serves as a facilitator of economic dynamism rather than a frustrator of job creation.”

Other cities making the top five list were Caspar, Wyoming; Jackson, Mississippi; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Orlando, Florida.

For more than 70 years, the National Federation of Independent Business has been the Voice of Small Business, taking the message from Main Street to the halls of Congress and all 50 state legislatures. NFIB annually surveys its members on state and federal issues vital to their survival as America’s economic engine and biggest creator of jobs. NFIB’s educational mission is to remind policymakers that small businesses are not smaller versions of bigger businesses; they have very different challenges and priorities.

NFIB Arizona weighs in on latest economic report

Congress can help where Arizona fell down

PHOENIX, Ariz., June 10, 2014Today’s release of one of the nation’s most trusted economic surveys casts in sharp relief how pervasive our political leaders’ inattention to small-business job creation is, according to the Arizona state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, America’s voice of small business.

As it does very month, NFIB releases its Index of Small Business Optimism, which measures the pulse of the nation’s largest employer group—Main Street entrepreneurs. Although the index rose to its highest level since 2007, the underpinnings of a strong economy are still not seismically sound.

“What stood out for me in the latest optimism index was Arizona’s missed opportunity to spur capital spending and new job creation by our own small businesses when Governor Brewer vetoed House Bill 2664 earlier this year,” said Farrell Quinlan, Arizona state director for NFIB. The bill, which passed the Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan majorities, would have created an immediate state income tax allowance for qualifying business equipment investments valued up to $500,000, similar to federal Section 179 expensing.

Indeed, in summarizing the latest optimism index, economist William Dunkelberg, its author, noted, “May’s numbers bring the Index to its highest level since September 2007. However, the four components most closely related to GDP and employment growth (job openings, job creation plans, inventory and capital spending plans) collectively fell 1 point in May.”

“Shifting capital spending into a higher gear is essential to a full and sustainable economic recovery,” said Quinlan. “Now, even though Arizona’s capital expensing vehicle stalled, Congress can turn on the ignition of job creation by passing H.R. 4457, the Small Business Tax Relief Act, when it comes up for a full House vote Thursday.

H.R. 4457 would allow small businesses to immediately deduct on their federal taxes the full value of equipment in the same year the investment is made, instead of depreciating the investment over time. This simplifies accounting and frees up cash to be reinvested and grow the business.

“The job-creation user’s manual is pretty straightforward and easy to follow,” said Quinlan. “If business owners have an incentive to invest in more equipment, they will need to hire more employees to meet the increased sales that equipment will generate. But I worry H.R. 4457 may face a similar grim fate in Congress as House Bill 2664 suffered in Arizona, despite everyone—Democrats, Republicans, business and labor—favoring it, a tragic misreading of the economy’s weakness will lead to continued inertia and another missed opportunity.”

Despite broad, bipartisan support, small-business federal expensing fell from $500,000 to $25,000 this year because previous extensions were temporary. H.R. 4457 would provide small businesses with expensing levels that are permanent, predictable and at a level adequate to their needs.Click here to read a letter 154 business associations signed and sent to Congress.

NOTE: The NFIB Research Foundation has collected Small Business Economic Trends data with quarterly surveys since 1974 and monthly surveys since 1986. Survey respondents are drawn from NFIB’s membership. The report is released on the second Tuesday of each month. For almost 40 years, NFIB’s Index of Small Business Optimism has been one of the nation’s bellwether economic barometers, used by Federal Reserve, chairmen, congressional leaders and presidential administrations.

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For more than 70 years, the National Federation of Independent Business has been the Voice of Small Business, taking the message from Main Street to the halls of Congress and all 50 state legislatures. NFIB annually surveys its members on state and federal issues vital to their survival as America’s economic engine and biggest creator of jobs. NFIB’s educational mission is to remind policymakers that small businesses are not smaller versions of bigger businesses; they have very different challenges and priorities.

Will Kyrsten Sinema Support Obama’s Job Destroying Cap-and-Trade Scheme?

NRCC

Kyrsten Sinema Will Have to Choose Between Saving Jobs or Backing her Friends in D.C.

WASHINGTON – Is Kyrsten Sinema going to listen to Arizona voters and save American jobs, or will she fall in line with her Democrat allies and support President Obama’s latest cap-and-trade scheme that could cost the U.S. economy $50 billion a year and eliminate an estimated 224,000 jobs?

A recent study, issued by the United States Chamber of Commerce, found that President Obama’s new cap-and-trade edict will force more than a “third of the coal-fired power capacity to close by 2030.”

“Not only will this new Obama regulation cost billions of dollars for taxpayers, but it will limit American energy production and spike electricity prices – hurting families across America,” said NRCC Communications Director Andrea Bozek. “Arizona families deserve a Republican leader in Congress that will stand up to President Obama and his Administration’s job-destroying regulations.”

Will Kyrsten Sinema Support Obama’s Job Destroying Cap-and-Trade Scheme.
(Michael Bastasch, EPA To Unilaterally Push Cap And Trade On Carbon Emissions, The Daily Caller, 5/27/14)

“President Obama’s climate rule change will force more than a “third of the coal-fired power capacity to close by 2030.”
(Mark Drajem, Chamber Study Predicts Obama Climate Rule Will Kill Jobs, Bloomberg, 5/28/14)

Cost nearly $50 billion and eliminate an estimated 224,000 jobs
(Energy Institute Report Finds That Potential New EPA Carbon Regulations Will Damage U.S. Economy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 5/28/14)

It will limit American energy production and spike electricity prices.
(Ralph Vartabedian, U.S. electricity prices may be going up for good, LA Times, 4/25/14)

ELECTRICITY: “U.S. electricity prices may be going up for good. There is a growing fragility in the U.S. electricity system, experts warn, the result of the shutdown of coal-fired plants, reductions in nuclear power, a shift to more expensive renewable energy and natural gas pipeline constraints. … ‘We are now in an era of rising electricity prices,’ said Philip Moeller, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission…” (Los Angeles Times)

HEALTH CARE: “More employees are getting hit with higher health insurance premiums and co-payments, and many don’t have the money to cover unexpected medical expenses, a new report finds. More than half of companies (56%) increased employees’ share of health care premiums or co-payments for doctors’ visits in 2013, and 59% of employers say they intend to do the same in 2014, according to the annual Aflac WorkForces Report.” (USA TODAY)

FOOD: “Rising food prices bite into household budgets. Prices are rising for a range of food staples, from meat and pork to fruits and vegetables, squeezing consumers still struggling with modest wage gains.” (USA TODAY)

FLYING, THE MOVIES, OIL CHANGES, AND MORE: “David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Gluskin Sheff, said other areas beyond food and energy … are getting costlier as well. ‘Airline fares are on the rise,’ he said in his morning note Tuesday. ‘Movie tickets and other such recreational services are on the rise. Repair service fees are on the rise. Shelter costs in general are on the rise. Tuition costs are on the rise. Medical service prices are on the rise.’” (NBC News)

An Arizona Rancher Speaks Out On The BLM Bundy Battle

An open letter to Greta Van Susteran by Gail Tobin

Dear Greta,

Thank you for your coverage of the situation in Clark County, Nevada. As a public lands rancher myself, I know that there is more to the story than appears. First off, the major issue is that of States’ Rights. Originally, the lands of the western Territories, then termed “waste lands” were to revert to the jurisdiction of the various states as they were formed. This was supposed to happen but did not and as a result, today we have enormous, top heavy bureauracies that really have little to do with what is good for the land.True, there are some in the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management that do care for the land. Unfortunately there are many more that are concerned only about continuing and extending the power of their fiefdoms. In the more than thirty years that I have been involved in public lands ranching, I have seen the relationship with the administrators of public lands (in our case the Forest Service) go from a partnership doing what is best for the resource, to a more adversarial situation. I expect that this is what the Bundy family encountered as well. Basically what Cliven Bundy is standing for is his family’s right to continue ranching. Believe me, someone whose family has been on that land for 140 years or so, cares more and knows more of the land than some bureaucrat in Washington or some starry eyed young graduate with a brand new degree in Range Management. What tipped the situation back in the nineties was the straw horse of the endangered desert tortoise To my knowledge, the tortise fare well indeed, they do not compete with cattle for food or resources. This is simply a canard to draw attention away for the real issue, control. The lands controled by the Federal Government in the West are extremely rich in natural resources, including water. Those that control this wealth and power at the federal level will not return this wealth to those to whom it belongs, the people of the various western states.

Another issue is that most people do not realize that in the desert southwest it takes far more acreage to support one cow/calf unit (the basic unit of range management) than it does east of the Rockies. Also, here we are managing for wildlife, range conservation and our cattle. This means that we run cattle in what to most seem to be huge amounts of acreage. Since we do this on public land, most of which would not produce anything but scenery we are paying to help support the resource. Though our basic grazing fee is small we have the added costs of maintaining the infrastructure and providing water (in droughty years like this) to both our cattle and wildlife. Where we might be watering 46 head of mother cows, we might also be watering elk, deer and antelope in the hundreds. With fuel at almost $4.00 per gallon this is no small expense.

It should also be noted that the situation came to a head just recently. Please note that since Harry Reid’s trip to China in 2011 the move is on to build an even larger solar power facility outside Laughlin Nv. .Also, ENN Energy (China) is going to build a solar panel facility in southern Nevada. Total investment is said to be about 5 billion dollars. Coincidentally, the law firm in which Rory Reid is a partner, just happens to be handling the legal work for this company in the United States. As I understand it, the BLM has to take a certain amount of land out of production to mitigate the effects of a large solar panel array as they are not particularly environmentally friendly to the immediate surrounding area (Look up “Solar Regional Mitigating Plan”). It is my guess that Cliven Bundy became a convenient target due to his stand on states rights. (You might also note, Kornze, now director of the BLM is a former senior aide to Senator Reid.)

The Bundy family should be left alone to do what they have done for generations, care for their cattle and the land. I have learned from observation, if you do not take care of the land, it will not take care of you. And for those that think that desert ranching is a rich man’s game, it is not. You often get up tired and go to bed exhausted, you work most days from dawn to dusk and hope that you have enough daylight to get everything done that you need to (horses don’t come with headlights).

Greta, please don’t let this fall off your radar, this is just another twist on the Biodiversity Treaty, “The Wildlands Project” and Agenda 21. This is a situation that I have following since the effort to initiate “Rangeland Reform” back in the early 90′s. If you wish to learn more about the issues (which eventually will affect all Americans) please read “The War on the West” by William T. Pendley of the Mountain States Legal Foundation. If you think that this is over you are wrong. The moment that the federal government thinks that no one is watching, they will be back to finish what they started.

Thank you for your kind attention,

Sincerely,
Gail M. Tobin, Elk Springs Ranch
Parks, Arizona

Rep Michelle Ugenti Proposes County Regulatory Reform

Scottsdale, AZ (Dec 16th, 2013) – In an effort to reduce the regulatory burden and reduce costs on Arizona businesses, Rep. Michelle Ugenti, R-Scottsdale, has introduced legislation that will create greater accountability of county government.

House Bill 2013 is loosely modeled after the Arizona Administrative Procedures Act which governs the process state agencies must follow when creating rules and regulations they impose on Arizona businesses.

Ugenti first introduced this legislation in 2012, at the request of many members of Arizona’s business community, to provide them with more certainty and greater input in the development of county regulatory policies.  As a result of that effort, in 2013 Maricopa County in conjunction with various stakeholders made several modifications to its regulatory process resulting in greater transparency, additional stakeholder input and expedited processes.

Last session Ugenti sponsored legislation to apply the model created by Maricopa County to the other 14 counties in Arizona.  Businesses all across the state should benefit from a process that is less complicated, less costly and more predictable.

“I am appreciative that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors recognized the merits of what was being proposed and acted to improve their regulatory process for Arizona’s business.  They recognized the value in working with the regulated community to improve transparency, reduce costs and increase accountability.  This legislation is worth fighting for so that businesses all across the state receive those same benefits,” Ugenti said.

Many in the business community agree with her. The National Federation of Independent Business, a voice for small business, gave Ugenti’s voting record on business issues the highest score possible in 2011 and 2012, the most recent years available.  Others who have supported this legislation include the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, and the Arizona Chapter of Associated General Contractors.

MBQF Launches Public Opinion Survey Service – Electric Deregulation Top Issue for Maiden Release

MBQF

Public Policy and Public Education Objective of Service

(Scottsdale, AZ) — MBQF Consulting founder and CEO Mike Noble today announced his objective to provide a quarterly service to inform and enlighten Arizonans on the public policy issues being debated in Arizona and around the Nation. Noble, who is not representing or retained by either side of Arizona’s Electric Deregulation debate being considered by the Arizona Corporation Commission, indicated that future topics would concern issues being considered by the Arizona legislature, the Congress of the United States, as well as multiple ballot initiatives.

“Arizona voters are some of the most engaged in the nation,” Noble said. “By helping identify voters public policy attitudes to decision makers and key stakeholders, we are ensuring their concerns are more clearly understood. It helps enhance the quality of discourse in our state and brings more people to the table.”

MBQF surveyed 516 high efficacy Arizona voters between August 5th and 7th, 2013. Voters were given a summary explanation of the deregulation issue, and then asked whether they supported, opposed or were undecided about electric deregulation. Issue explanations were randomized to present the question in a different order to each half of respondents.

Among Arizona high efficacy voters, 32% of respondents say they support deregulation, 41% say they oppose it, and 27% remain undecided. Republicans are split nearly evenly, with 35% supporting deregulation to 38% who oppose it, and 27% still undecided. Just 26% of Democrats support deregulation, while 45% oppose and 28% remain undecided.   Independent voters showed 34% support, 42% oppose and 24% remain undecided.

“A lesson we take from this is that no side in this debate has really gained any huge dominance over the other,” said Noble. “As is so frequently the case, influence rests with the undecided voters, and that puts all the more pressure on the companies and the stakeholders in this debate to develop new and more convincing arguments to reach Arizona citizens.”

For more information about this survey, or a summary of topline data and wording, please contact Mike Noble at the number above. Included in this survey were 516 autodial responses with rotating samples to ensure issue fairness. The Margin of Error for this survey is +/-4.3% at the 95% confidence level.

EPA overreach at Navajo Generating Station yields bad energy policy for Arizona

By Douglas Little, Phoenix Conservative Examiner

In one of the most egregious abuses of it regulatory power, the EPA is forcing the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) located near Page, AZ to make unnecessary and costly modifications to the generation facilities that would have no measurable effect on emissions in the region.

Using the Clean Air Act as its regulatory authority, the EPA claims that emissions from NGS are contributing to haze in the Grand Canyon area and in February of this year, proposed a regional haze restriction that would require NGS expenditures of $1.1 billion on additional emission reduction controls. This claim also ignores the fact that prevailing winds in the region result in plant emissions being blown away from the Grand Canyon, not towards it.

At the same time the EPA issued their ruling, a U.S. Department of Energy study concluded there would be no visibility improvement at the Grand Canyon after the controls were added. Why would the EPA pursue such a expensive and punitive rule when it would have no perceptible effect on haze at the Grand Canyon?

Opponents of the EPA action are reporting that the EPA doesn’t care about haze at all. They say what the EPA really wants is to provide a precedent for shutting down coal-fired electric generating plants. The Obama administration has a stated objective to reduce carbon emissions and last year attempted to implement a “cap and trade” approach to regulating fossil fuels. Republicans in the US Congress voted down the enabling legislation, with some calling it a “war on coal”.

Why is the EPA going after NGS and why is NGS so critical to Arizona?

The Navajo Generating Station was constructed at a cost of $650 million beginning in 1970 and ending in 1976 when the last of the three generating units was completed. The project was sited in its current location based on readily available coal fuel, a reliable source of water for cooling and the proximity of the city of Page which could provide for many of the project’s infrastructure needs, including an available skilled labor pool. The plant is located approximately 100 miles northeast of the Grand Canyon.

The primary purpose of the NGS was to provide power to support the Central Arizona Project (CAP) which is responsible for supplying Arizona’s share of Colorado River water to central and southern Arizona. To get water from the far northwest corner of Arizona to the rest of the state, CAP built a network of pumps, pipelines and and surface canals over 336 miles in length to transport Arizona’s annual allocation of 1.5 million acre-feet of water to Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties. The pumps must raise the water over 3000 feet to allow it to flow into central Arizona. The majority of the power generated by NGS powers the CAP pumps.

NGS has a long history of taking a proactive approach to emissions reduction. In 1999, NGS completed a $420 million retrofit that reduced sulfur dioxide emissions from the plant by 90%. In additional overhauls conducted between 2003 and 2005, electrostatic precipitators were overhauled for reliability and performance gains. In 2007, the Salt River Project, the plant operator, conducted studies on how to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions to reduce haze in the region and voluntarily installed emission reduction equipment on each of their three plants between 2009 and 2011.

Apparently, the best efforts of NGS were not good enough. The EPA rule proposed in February is one of the most stringent regional haze rules in the entire nation. It imposes a standard that is more rigorous that the standards for a brand new coal plant. At the 1600 megawatt Prairie State Energy Campus which first came online in 2012, the permitted level of NO emissions are 0.07 parts per million (ppm) while the standard for NGS, a 37 year old plant, is 0.055 ppm.

In an attempt to find a reasonable middle ground, a working group consisting of the EPA, U.S. Department of the Interior, the Salt River Project, the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Gila River Indian Community, the Navajo Nation and the Western Resource Advocates began negotiations to find a “Reasonable Progress Alternative” to the BART rule issued by the EPA in February.

These negotiations were closed-door sessions and while the working group included non-stakeholder environmental activists like the Environmental Defense Fund, they did not solicit or accept input from important stakeholders like the Arizona Corporation Commission, which is the primary regulatory body for energy and water resources in the state. Arizona’s Attorney General was also excluded from legal review and comment on the proposed agreement.

Under the proposed settlement, visibility standards and haze causing nitrogen oxide standards are not even addressed. However, in one section of the proposed agreement, the Department of the Interior makes commitments to reduce or offset carbon dioxide emissions by 3% per year “in furtherance of the President’s 2013 Climate Action Plan”. It further states that “This commitment is intended to accomplish two aims: reduce carbon dioxide emissions and demonstrate the workability of a credit-based system to achieve carbon dioxide emission reductions” (emphasis added).

This action by the Department of the Interior and the EPA essentially unilaterally implements “cap and trade” at NGS even though they do not have Congressional authority to do so.

The working group proposal also calls for the early shutdown of one generation unit in 2020 or the equivalent reduction of output equal to the closure of one unit from 2020 to 2030. There is no consideration in the plan for any increased cost in replacement power or an increase in water rates due to those increased power costs.

While clearly not a great deal for SRP, the Navajo and CAP, why are they supporting it? The original rule issued by the EPA would have imposed the most stringent nitrogen oxide standards in the country and would require retrofits to the generating plants at a cost of over a billion dollars. Had that rule been implemented, the economic viability of the entire plant was in jeopardy. The Arizona stakeholders felt that the EPA was holding the plant hostage under its rule-making authority. They felt that the working group agreement was probably the best deal they could get under the circumstances, enabling them to keep the plant going at least until 2035.

Unfortunately, the working group agreement has some fairly large holes in it. Many of the commitments made by the Department of the Interior may require Congressional action to implement. In the current belt-tightening by the federal government, Congress may not be willing to fund the $100 million in commitments made by the Department of the Interior. Furthermore, the agreement anticipates a dramatic increase in water rates, but make no provision for it. In addition, it does not address the loss of jobs, economic benefit and tribal revenues that will result from the terms of the agreement.

A critical reading of the proposed working group agreement seems to indicate that these regulations are not about reducing regional haze. There is no meaningful reduction of nitrogen oxide in the proposed agreement. Instead, there is a focus on carbon dioxide emission reduction. Carbon dioxide is an odorless, colorless gas and has no impact on visible haze.

In addition, the agreement is an apparent attempt to unilaterally implement a “cap and trade” system for regulating carbon emissions for which the Department of the Interior and the EPA have no statutory or regulatory authority.

Finally, it appears to be a blatant EPA attack on coal-fired generating plants with the full support and encouragement of environmental activists.

Is the EPA doing all of this for a reduction in haze that the federal government’s own study said would be imperceptible to the human eye? More likely, the haze standard simply gives the EPA the opening they need to accomplish their real objectives of shutting another coal plant and promoting Obama’s energy agenda.

EPA overreach? Good energy policy? The right choice for Arizona? You decide.

The public comment period on the proposed agreement will close on October 4th, 2013.

You can go here to comment: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=EPA-R09-OAR-2013-0009-0111

Maricopa GOP Chair Rallies LD Censures

To all Arizona County and LD Republican Committee Chairmen -
Below is the front page article of the July 15 Arizona Capitol Times. I want to express my appreciation to those courageous and principled County and LD Republican Committees who have already conducted votes of “censure” and/or “no confidence.”
Jan Brewer, the legislators and their crony capitalist friends that support ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion have betrayed Americans, Arizona Republicans and the Republican Party Platform.  Their lack of ethics, integrity and egregious acts are motivated by only two things – greed and the lust for power – at the expense of hard working tax paying Americans.
The law was expected to cost $898 billion over the first decade when the bill was first passed, but this year the Congressional Budget Office revised that estimate to $1.85 trillion.  Money that will have to be borrowed from the Chinese or printed in the backroom of the Federal Reserve.  Latest polls indicate a majority of Americans are opposed to ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion with an overwhelming majority of Republicans in opposition.
During the past six months, we did everything we could to make a solid argument against ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion, we tried to reason with these people and even tried to make them see the light.  Unfortunately, our lobbying efforts fell on deaf ears and without success.
During one of Ronald Reagan’s difficult political battles he said,
               “When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.”
I’m asking all the County and LD Republican Committees to make these people feel the heat by passing public censures for their actions.  They are elitists who think what they have done should be forgiven. They are mistaken.  We are not going to be able to defeat all of them, but we can defeat a majority of them in the 2014 Primary Election.
You can go to “MCRC Briefs” and get examples of public censures that have already been passed.  http://briefs.maricopagop.org/  Just type “censure” in the search field on the left.
Warmest regards,
 A. J. LaFaro
Chairman, Maricopa County Republican Committee
P.S.  Please encourage all of your PCs to keep up their daily efforts in getting petition signatures for www.urapc.org  Getting ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion on the November 2014 ballot will be historic for Arizona’s grassroots conservatives.

APS Stock Price, Profits Should Be Secondary to Arizona Solar Energy Consumer Choice

During their last earnings call, as reported in the Arizona Republic, Arizona Public Service (APS) CEO Don Brandt was asked about the financial impact rooftop solar could have on APS if solar’s popularity continued to soar.

RooftopSolarJust like the public education monopoly, the APS utility monopoly is concerned that more energy efficiency and choice, specifically more rooftop solar, is starting to eat into its profits and revenue growth.  APS clearly disclosed this to its investors when it revealed that between now and 2015, it expects its electricity sales to grow by less than 1% even though its customer base will grow 2% annually. The reason? APS customers are investing in more energy efficiency with rooftop solar being the primary technology of choice.

Frankly, how APS addresses this with investors is no concern of mine. And neither should it concern the Arizona Corporation Commission.  A more innovative future with more energy choices for Arizona consumers should not and must not be dictated by the utility’s bottom line. By that same logic, we would have harnessed the Internet because of the challenge it posed to newspapers and many other technologies.

I would think by now that any astute energy consumer would recognize that APS’s sudden concern about the proliferation of rooftop solar in Arizona has nothing to do with empathy for Arizona ratepayers.  It has everything to do with curbing a disruptive technology growing quickly in their existing marketplace. As one pollster has opined, allowing APS to do this would be “political malpractice.”

But there appears to be a far greater threat to APS’ stock price (PNW) on the horizon and that, fortunately for consumers, is a healthy competitive change.  Because of their blatantly naked attempts to kill independent solar in Arizona, along with other reasons, the Arizona Corporation Commission is rightfully looking at opening up more utility competition in Arizona.  In fact, they took the first step down this path last week. Kudos to Chairman Bob Stump and Commissioners Gary Pierce, Brenda Burns, Susan Bitter Smith and Bob Burns for their actions. Clearly, APS’ effort to thwart more solar choice in Arizona is exactly why we need more competition in Arizona.

Choice and competition – these are concepts all conservatives can rally behind.  And it is one all Wall Street stock investors will surely be watching.  The bottom line for consumers is we simply cannot have a better energy future in Arizona if the primary focus is on APS profits rather than innovation and competition that always best serves the marketplace.

New Republican, Business Organization Forms To Save Solar in Arizona

T.U.S.K.: Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed
Group chairman Barry Goldwater Jr.: ‘Republicans want the freedom to make the best choice and the competition to drive down rates’ 

(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) — A new force is organizing to ensure solar remains viable in Arizona. To show backing for the solar industry and to stave off attempts by Arizona Public Service to extinguish the independent rooftop solar energy market in Arizona, a new organization has announced its formation, T.U.S.K.—Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed. It will be dedicated to keeping the solar industry in Arizona and help the state’s business owners, homeowners and schools to keep their energy costs lower and to provide more energy choice for state taxpayers.

T.U.S.K. will work to educate the public about the threats posed by the efforts of the utility monopoly. If the threats come to fruition, thousands of jobs in Arizona will be lost. In fact, a recent study by Elliot D. Pollack & Associates found that the solar industry has created 16,000 jobs for Arizonans.

Like school choice and health care choice, solar choice holds great promise for Arizona, and should be an important part of the Republican agenda, according to well-known Arizona Republican and former U.S. Congressman Barry Goldwater Jr.

Goldwater, who is supporting T.U.S.K. and its efforts, said: “As a son of Arizona, I know we have no greater resource than our sun. Republicans want the freedom to make the best choice and the competition to drive down rates. That choice may mean they save money and with solar that is the case. Solar companies have a track record of aggressively reducing costs in Arizona. It’s crucial that we don’t let solar energy—and all its advantages and benefits it provides us—be pushed aside by those wanting to limit energy choice. That’s not the Republican way and it’s not the American way. Energy independence is what we should all stand up for and that’s what I intend to encourage.”

Goldwater served 14 years in Washington and amassed expertise in energy, the space program, aviation and defense and government procurement. Goldwater was particularly instrumental in all facets of energy policy and research and development, including authoring the Solar Photovoltaic Act. Besides serving as chairman of the new organization, Goldwater will be advising the group on policy, politics and engage in substantial outreach for the solar industry.

T.U.S.K. also believes that rooftop solar is similar to a charter school—it provides a competitive alternative to the monopoly. Monopoly utilities aren’t known for reducing costs or for driving business innovation, but the Arizona solar industry is. Solar companies have a track record of aggressively reducing costs in Arizona. The more people use rooftop solar, the less power they need to buy from the utilities. Energy independence for Arizonans means smaller profits for the utilities.

T.U.S.K. backs net metering, a successful policy in 43 states that gives property owners fair credit for the solar they deliver to the grid. Net metering is the latest target by APS to curtail competition. In simple terms, it’s like the rollover minutes on your cell phone bill. Net metering is one of the most important policy tools that elected officials have to empower homes, businesses, schools, and public agencies to invest private capital to install solar on their property. Eliminating net metering would amount to a tax hike on hundreds of Arizona schools that are saving millions of dollars by installing solar to decrease their electric bills. Local taxpayers would be left to pick up the tab if schools are no longer able to save this money. It also will waste energy being generated by the rooftop systems.

The state’s leading providers of rooftop solar are backing the organizational efforts with pending support from a diverse coalition upset at what APS is attempting to convince the Arizona Corporation Commission to do.

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Is Michael Bloomberg Channeling Obama and Global Warming to Save His Skin?

by Bob Quasius

Global warming Climate change is junk science, just as Obamanomics is junk economics!

New York City was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Neighborhoods are flooded, residents are homeless, hungry residents are dumpster diving for food, there are endless lines at gasoline stations, and widespread power outages continue days after Sandy ended.

Not surprisingly, climate alarmists were quick to claim Sandy is compelling evidence that global warming will end civilization as we know it. They never miss an opportunity to blame global warming every time there’s a major storm, drought, or other event. Obama’s former green jobs czar took to twitter to demand that global warming skeptics apologize to Al Gore. They’re not getting an apology from me!

When severe snow storms hit the mid-Atlantic region in 2010 climate alarmists were quick to blame global warming! In recent years as evidence of warming eased, climate alarmists quietly shifted from using the term “global warming” to “climate change.” During the 1970s, many of these same climate alarmists warned we faced catastrophe from a new ice age, with the Earth covered in miles deep layers of glaciers!

It’s apparent that New York City and the Obama administration were caught unprepared for Sandy, unpreparedness which would put many politician’s careers at risk. Obama surveyed the devastation in New Jersey for 30 minutes, then promptly flew to Las Vegas for another celebrity dominated fund raiser.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made a slick political move and endorsed Obama, channeling Obama’s climate change rhetoric to shift the blame for New York City’s unpreparedness to global warming. From Bloomberg’s endorsement of Obama:

The floods and fires that swept through our city left a path of destruction that will require years of recovery and rebuilding work. And in the short term, our subway system remains partially shut down, and many city residents and businesses still have no power. In just 14 months, two hurricanes have forced us to evacuate neighborhoods — something our city government had never done before. If this is a trend, it is simply not sustainable.

But we can’t do it alone. We need leadership from the White House — and over the past four years, President Barack Obama has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption, including setting higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. His administration also has adopted tighter controls on mercury emissions, which will help to close the dirtiest coal power plants (an effort I have supported through my philanthropy), which are estimated to kill 13,000 Americans a year.

In his 2008 Denver speech, in one of his most megalomaniacal moments ever, Obama preached: “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.

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Apparently, Obama wasn’t able to spare us from the ravages of Hurricane Sandy, but would like for you to believe if he’s reelected he will ‘heal’ our planet.

In fact, Obama’s radical “green” agenda also failed to create the millions of “green” jobs he promised despite $90 billion in spending and loans from taxpayers, and many ‘green’ companies have already gone bust, and higher energy costs are killing jobs and stunting economic growth.

The dramatic rise in energy costs but nothing as compared with what will come in a second term with the carbon tax Obama’s EPA is implementing. High energy costs are a drag on the economy, and consumers are paying near double for gasoline as compared to four years ago. Perhaps Obama would have us believe we need decades of Obamanomics to ‘heal the planet.’

The greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon where the earth receives solar energy from the Sun. About 50% of that energy is absorbed by the Earth and the rest radiated back towards space. Clouds trap part of this radiated energy in the earth’s atmosphere, further warming the Earth. Principal greenhouse gases include water vapor (i.e. clouds), carbon dioxide, and methane (from rotting vegetation, manure, etc.). Carbon dioxide is actually a weak greenhouse gas as compared to water vapor and methane, but imagine politicians trying to convince us to tax water because water results in clouds! Ditto for human manure creating methane gas, and we never hear politicians mention taxing our breathing, but business where large numbers of people congregate, like schools, will end up being taxed because humans exhale carbon dioxide!

Climate alarmists use terminology intended to alarm everyday people. For example, everyone knows about water, but how many know that Dihydrogen Monoxide is water? To prove the point, there’s even a spoof web site warning about the dangers of dihydrogen monoxideJohn Stossel even circulated a petition to ban dihydrogen monoxide in Times Square and almost everyone he asked signed the petition banning water! Water vapor from the natural process of evaporation is a much stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide but somehow I doubt politicians could convince us to tax water, so they call for a carbon tax, knowing that many of us don’t know that carbon dioxide is not pollution and all of us exhale it constantly.

It should surprise nobody that often the ‘solution’ to problems involves more taxes, more government regulation, which results in more power in the hands of politicians, who reward their supporters with taxpayer goodies and notoriety for those who create alarm among the general public. Not surprisingly, Al Gore has made a mint from his ‘green energy’ investments!

In their rush to offer “solutions” to global warming, climate alarmists are missing an important first step: proof that man-made emissions of Carbon Dioxide is causing climate change in the first place. Earth’s climate has changed from the beginning of time, long before the industrial age resulted in increases in emissions of Carbon Dioxide. Carbon Dioxide is a naturally occurring gas in our atmosphere, not pollution. Humans and animal life forms breathe oxygen, and exhale Carbon Dioxide. Plants do the reverse, absorbing Carbon Dioxide and release oxygen, using the carbon to grow.

Over 31,000 scientists have signed a petition stating:

We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.

There’s an excellent compilation of peer-reviewed research papers on their web site as well as a video debunking man-made global warming claims, written at a level easy for anyone with a background in science or engineering to understand. I have a background in engineering, and will summarize several key points using charts from the Global Warming Petition Project.

First, a review of the Earth’s temperature over the past 3,000 years shows temperatures have always changed, and our recent temperatures are actually below the 3,000 year average. Notably the Earth’s temperatures are increasing after a “little ice age” which peaked when George Washington was camped at Valley Forge, but even then temperatures were about 1 degree Centigrade below the 3,000 year average.

In fact, surface temperatures closely follow solar activity:

Despite recent claims, especially after Hurricane Sandy, there has been no increase increase in Atlantic hurricanes, and the number of tornadoes is actually declining!

There has not been an increase in severity of Atlantic hurricanes despite claims of climate alarmists, who most claimed Hurricane Sandy was likely more severe due to global warming.

Actually, the number of tornadoes in the U.S. has been decreasing, but every time there is a rash of tornadoes climate alarmists warn us again about global warming!

Climate alarmists are fond of pointing to glacier ice loss as evidence of global warming, even as they often point to snowstorms as evidence of global warming! However, the glacier shortening phenomenon began long before man-made emissions of Carbon Dioxide started! Perhaps we should dub this argument ‘effect and cause’ rather than the widely accepted notion of ’cause and effect’!

The Global Warming Petition Project claims glacier shortening is due to solar activity, not Carbon Dioxide emissions:

Glaciers regularly lengthen and shorten in delayed correlation with cooling and warming trends. Shortening lags temperature by about 20 years, so the current warming trend began in about 1800.

Lastly, climate alarmist would have us believe carbon dioxide is lethal, destroying the planet, etc. As mentioned earlier, however, carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring gas that plants breathe in order to grow. The Global Warming Petition Project concludes that producing more carbon dioxide is a benefit to our planet, and rather than increase towards level harmful to man, plants, especially trees, are responding to increased emissions of carbon dioxide by growing faster!

Plant growth is also enhanced. Chart shows 279 experiments in which plants of various types were raised under CO2-enhanced conditions. Plants under stress from less-than-ideal conditions (red) – a common occurrence in nature – respond more to CO2 fertilization (blue).

In summary, global warming is an environmental scam designed to support growth in government, especially world government, and as Obama’s failed green energy programs show, crony capitalism benefits as well. In several failed green energy companies funded by taxpayers, Obama campaign finance bundlers have been identified as key players in winning taxpayer funding.

Hugh Hewitt: Memo to the States’ Governors and AGs on The Decision On Obamacare’s Exchanges: Go Churchill Or Go Home

By Hugh Hewitt
So brilliant needed to be reposted from Townhall.com.

With the president mobilizing for a barnstorming tour in support of massive tax hikes and to, in effect, overturn last week’s vote to keep the House in GOP hands and the gavel in John Boehner’s –details here on the president’s plan– the GOP is getting organized in the House and laying down markers.

The media is focused on speculation about the “big deal” and the various scandals, but a huge story is brewing that few are watching.

The deadline for the most important political and legal decisions of the near term is being made in every state: Whether or not to establish a state health insurance exchange pursuant to Obamacare. The original deadline for each governor to decide was this Friday, but HHS has graciously given the states another month to decide which poison to pick: Subservience via establishment of a puppet exchange or takeover of the state’s insurance business via a big foot federal health exchange. The rules the feds have dictated the states must follow in making their choice are here.

Yesterday, Governor Robert Bentley of Alabama announced that Alabama would not be establishing the exchange or expanding Medicaid. The latter is not surprising, as the expansion will quickly eat away at state budgets.

But Bentley’s position on the exchange –he joins at least Alaska, Florida and Texas in just saying no– is very welcome and hopefully a model for other Republican governors who must by law indicate their decisions on the exchange set-up by mid-December. Other states ought also to study the example set by Oklahoma, and sue to overturn the Hobbesian choice on exchanges being forced on them.

Only one state lawsuit against the forced choice on health exchanges has been filed –by the Sooners’ AG, and the amended complaint is here– and the national opposition to Obamacare should be looking for other governors to say no and other attorneys general to file similar challenges to the health exchange jam down.

The amended complaint of the State of Oklahoma argues in crucial part:

 

II. The New Claims 

8. In addition to that claim, Plaintiff raises new claims seeking declaratory and injunctive relief with respect to final federal regulations (the “Final Rule”) that were issued under Internal Revenue Code Section 36B, as added by Section 1401 of the Act, while proceedings in this action were stayed. The Final Rule was issued in contravention of the procedural and substantive requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act (“the APA”), 5 U.S.C. § 702; has no basis in any law of the United States; and directly conflicts with the unambiguous language of the very provision of the Internal Revenue Code it purports to interpret.

9. More specifically, Sections 1311 and 1321(c) of the Act allows States to choose to establish an “American Health Benefit Exchange” to operate in the State to facilitate execution of the Act’s key provisions. If a State elects not to establish an Exchange under Section 1311, Section 1321(b) authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to create an Exchange to operate in that state.

10. Under the Act, this choice has important consequences for the State’s people and the State’s economy, because health insurance premium tax credits for low-income employed individuals and employer obligations under the Act both depend on which alternative the State chooses. If the State elects to establish its own Exchange, the Federal Government will make “advance payments” of premium tax credits to insurance companies on behalf of some of the State’s residents to subsidize health insurance enrollment through the State-created Exchange, but the payment of the subsidy for even one employee triggers costly obligations on the part of the employer that would not be triggered in a non-electing State, placing the electing State at a competitive disadvantage for jobs and job growth.

11. The Act leaves this policy judgment to each State and provides a mechanism for each State to choose the alternative it thinks is better for its people. The Final Rule upsets this balance by providing, contrary to the Act, that qualifying taxpayers are eligible for premium tax credits and “advance payments” if they enroll for health insurance through the Exchange where they live, regardless of whether it is a State-established Exchange or an HHS-established Exchange. Thus, if the Final Rule is permitted to stand, federal subsidies will be paid under circumstances not authorized by the Congress; employers will be subjected to liabilities and obligations under circumstances not authorized by Congress; and States will be deprived of the opportunity created by the Act to choose for itself whether creating a competitive environment to promote economic and job growth is better for its people than access to federal subsidies.

12. Oklahoma has not established or elected to establish an Exchange, and does not expect to do so. As a result, under the plain terms of the Act, employers in Oklahoma should not be subject to the Employer Mandate because of a determination that an Oklahoma resident employed by the employer in Oklahoma is entitled to advance payment of a premium tax credit because of enrolling for coverage through an Exchange established by HHS to operate in Oklahoma. However, the Final Rule purports to make such an individual eligible for a premium tax credit based on enrolling for coverage through an Exchange established by HHS to operate in Oklahoma, with the result that an Oklahoma employer employing such an individual will be exposed to liability under the Employer Mandate under circumstances not provided for under the Act. Thus, Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief declaring the Final Rule invalid.

 

This is a narrow argument aimed at a specific rule, but there are other arguments to make, including the damage done to federalism when, upon saying no, the enormous supertanker of Obamacare sails into a state’s legal harbor via the federal exchange and smashes all the docks and other ships, displacing not merely the opportunity to run an exchange but destroying countless other state-administered relationships and regulatory balances.

States have to defend themselves against the giant takeover of states’ powers and duties by Obamacare. The decision to “just say no” so has to be taken by mid-December. Encourage your governor to say no and to sue alongside of Oklahoma, perhaps engaging one of the country’s leading experts on structural federalism like Georgetown’s Randy Barnett or my own colleague at Chapman John Eastman to make the arguments to preserve the state’s legislative integrity and their independence from D.C. Not only is this the right way to proceed for a state intent on protecting its citizens from an ever-expanding federal government, it may also present the Supreme Court with a second bite at the Obamacare apple via a different set of issues not dependent on the “is the penalty a tax” debate.

Some states are tired of the fight and their law departments not eager to spend another year battling the DOJ.

But that isn’t their choice. That choice belongs to their governor and their attorney general. Those who don’t choose to fight now cannot expect conservatives to fight for them in the future. Go Churchill or go home.

The status of states’ decision-making on the exchanges is reviewed on a state-by-state basis here.

The left is attempting to declare the Obamacare fight over. It isn’t. It is a 15 round fight. Conservatives won rounds when they elected Chris Christie, Bob McDonnell and then Scott Brown after the debate was begun. The left won a round when the law passed was passed, and it won a round when the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate, but conservatives won in that opinion as well, on Medicaid and on the reach of the Commerce Clause.

The left scored a knock-down with the president’s re-election, but the fight isn’t over if the conservatives opposed to the law get up off the canvas and fight on. Oklahoma has, and some states have joined them, though not yet in the courts. They should, and soon. Obamacare was nightmare before the election, and it is a nightmare still. The president’s re-election was manifestly not about Obamacare, and the decision is not final and won’t be until every good argument is made and every opportunity given the Supreme Court to review the law in full.

Even if the legal fight should fail, it is important for federalism that many states pass on becoming puppets of the feds via the state exchanges. The fiasco-in-waiting of the federal exchange should be on the president’s head, with blame not easily shifted to bungling governors. The president broke it, so he should buy and operate it.

But only after every argument has been made, and the Supreme Court offered the opportunity to rule on the law as a whole.

Passengers in the Same Cab: Free Speech and Economic Liberty

By Nick Dranias, Goldwater Institute

Last week the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in the Goldwater Institute’s favor that the First Amendment protected a tattoo business from being shut down by the City of Mesa, Arizona. The Court held that tattooing is a form of protected communication, just like painting or writing. Just as booksellers and art dealers are protected by First Amendment, so too are tattoo businesses. The decision illustrates that there is often no real distinction between economic liberty and free speech.

But that hasn’t stopped taxi regulators in New York City from trying to ban a smart phone app that hails cabs. Although the app simply allows passengers and taxi drivers to communicate with each other, regulators don’t like how the app bypasses laws that force passengers to call a service company’s dispatch center to arrange a ride. It is okay for a would-be passenger to stand in the rain on a street corner and wave their hand or whistle, but it is forbidden to sit at a table in Starbucks and press a button on a smart phone that communicates the same information directly to a taxi driver. Regulators want to stop taxi drivers and passengers from more conveniently communicating with each other—in practice, they want to ban a form of speech.

This is not just absurd regulation; like Mesa’s effort to close down a tattoo business, New York City’s action highlights the artificial divide between economic liberty and free speech that still drives much of constitutional law. In footnote 4 of a case called United States v. Carolene Products, the Supreme Court famously declared that economic liberty deserved less constitutional protection from the judiciary than so-called fundamental rights, like free speech. Most conservatives and libertarians have long denounced this decision, arguing that there is no principled way to justify treating free speech as more fundamental than economic liberty. This is because, in reality, neither right can be exercised freely without the other.

Modern technology is making this point ever more clear. Communication is increasingly the most important and dominant element of economic activity. Economic activities that previously required vast investments in physical and human capital, such as dispatched taxi service, now only need a couple of smartphones and the willingness to communicate through them.  It is becoming easier and easier to see that the regulation of most economic activities is, in substance, equally the regulation of speech—if not more so.

These trends will eventually swamp the artificial constitutional divide between free speech and economic liberty. And courts will have to decide whether to protect all forms of liberty equally. Let’s hope they follow the Arizona Supreme Court’s lead and choose to robustly protect both economic liberty and free speech, recognizing that freedom is freedom.

Nick Dranias holds the Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan Chair for Constitutional Government and is director of the Joseph and Dorothy Donnelly Moller Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute.

Learn More:

New York Times: As a Taxi-Hailing App Comes to New York, Its Legality Is Questioned

U.S. Supreme Court: United States v. Carolene Products

NEW REPORT: “Uncertainty” Dominates the Top Five Small-Business Concerns

Only the cost of health insurance is greater

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 22, 2012 — Small-business owners prominently rank “Uncertainty Over Economic Conditions” and “Uncertainty Over Government Actions” as their second and fourth most serious problems in the quadrennial National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) report, Problems and Priorities. The top problem remains “Cost of Health Insurance,” which has historically been the No. 1 problem for small employers; 52 percent labeled it as “critical”. Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed said that economic uncertainty is the most critical problem, followed by 35 percent who identified “Energy Costs, Except Electricity” as critical for their firms; another 35 percent of owners named  “Uncertainty Over Government Actions” as their most critical issue.

“This year’s survey was conducted on the heels of the worst U.S. recession since the 1930s; historically high levels of unemployment and housing foreclosures, and historically low levels of consumer confidence and hiring still plague the small-business community,” said Holly Wade, senior policy analyst and survey author. “The high level of uncertainty cited by small employers helps to explain the sector’s inability to recover and expand. Fears over increasing health insurance costs continue to dominate the list of concerns for small businesses, very much in spite of the president’s health insurance reform law—certainly not an endorsement of the policy, nor a good sign for the future of the sector.”

The “Cost of Health Insurance” has been the top problem for small employers for the 25 years of the survey history. The percent of small-business owners who cite this problem as critical overshadowed the runner-up by 14 percentage points. Health-insurance costs for small firms have risen 103 percent in the last decade, an increase outpacing wages and inflation, and rendering insurance unaffordable for many small-business owners. The contention around the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called “Obamacare,” has proven valid, as it has failed to address the fundamental causes of rising health-care cost while opting to focus on coverage. NFIB challenged the law in the Supreme Court of the United States, after the overwhelming majority of its membership expressed a desire to have it repealed. Without a major refocus of current thinking, the cost of health insurance will almost certainly be the most critical business problem facing small-business owners again in four years.

Uncertainty has emerged as a major hurdle to small-business recovery and growth, prompting the addition of two new problems, “Uncertainty over Economic Conditions” and “Uncertainty over Government Actions” to this year’s survey. Small-business owners ranked these two problems as the second and fourth (respectively) most severe problems facing their businesses. In the last four years, the federal government has enacted significant policy changes of an immense nature; their impact will continue as the regulatory system works to implement new policy directives. Uncertainty also surrounds pending government action on the expiring 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, the debt ceiling and the federal budget. All of these policy changes create a huge “question mark” for small-business owners, impeding their ability to make short and long-term business decisions.

Other notable survey findings include:

  • As a category, “Taxes” takes the top position as the most severe problem cluster in the 2012 survey, followed by the category “Regulations.” Five of the top 10 most severe problems are tax-related, including “Tax Complexity,” “Frequent Changes to Tax Rules and Regulations,” and “Federal and State Taxes on Business Income.” Comparatively, the most severe problem cluster in 2008 was “Costs.”
  • Regulations and financing lead the problems of increasing importance to small-business owners. “Environmental Regulations” topped the list, rising 20 positions from a rank of 47th in 2008 to 27th in 2012. “Finding Out about Regulatory Requirements” increased 13 positions from a ranking of 38th in 2008 to its current 25th position. “Obtaining Long-Term (five years or more) Business Loans” moved up 17 positions from 73rd to 56th. “Obtaining Short-Term (less than 12 months or revolving) Business Loans” follows moving 14 positions from 72nd to 58th.
  • The least severe problems identified by small-business owners include: “Exporting My Products/Services,” “Undocumented Workers,” “Access to High-Speed Internet.” Exporting, the least severe problem proves critical for three percent of small business owners, virtually unchanged from 2008. “Undocumented Workers” and “Access to High-Speed Internet” are both a critical problem for seven percent of respondents.
  • While the critical nature of some problems increased, for others, it declined, perhaps as a sign of the times. The largest decline in the ranking was “Interest Rates”, falling 30 positions from 32nd to 62nd. Also declining in importance and severity were “Finding and Keeping Skilled Employees” and “Employee Turnover”. Both fell 21 positions from 17th to 38th for the former and 51st to 72nd for the latter.

While small-business owners tended to evaluate most problems in the 2012 survey as they did in 2008, the major changes that did occur are largely related to the recession and increased regulations. The magnitude and duration of the recession significantly altered the small-business landscape along with the problems owners now face in operating their businesses. The four years between the last edition published in 2008 and the current edition saw a near collapse of the financial system and housing market, unprecedented government bailouts of the banking and automotive industries, and the enactment of massive economic stimulus programs. While the economy is over two years into its recovery, progress is painfully slow as economic headwinds and uncertainty remain. The effects of the recession and fragile economic recovery are reflected in owners’ assessment of business problems.

The findings of this publication are based on the responses of 3,856 NFIB small-business owner/members to a mail survey conducted from mid-January through April 2012. A sample of 23,000 members was drawn for a response rate of 17 percent. Owners evaluated 75 potential business problems individually and assessed their severity on a scale of “1” for a “Critical Problem” to “7” for “Not a Problem.” A mean (average) was calculated from the responses for each problem. Problems are ranked by mean score. A copy of the report is available at http://nfib.com/priorities. More information about the NFIB Small Business Research Foundation is available at http://nfib.com/research.

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NFIB is the nation’s leading small business association, with offices in Washington, D.C., and all 50 state capitals. Founded in 1943 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, NFIB gives small and independent business owners a voice in shaping the public policy issues that affect their business. NFIB’s powerful network of grassroots activists send their views directly to state and federal lawmakers through our unique member-only ballot, thus playing a critical role in supporting America’s free enterprise system. NFIB’s mission is to promote and protect the right of our members to own, operate and grow their businesses. More information is available online at www.NFIB.com/newsroom.

Rep. Ben Quayle’s Regulatory Reform Bill Passes the House

WASHINGTON (DC) – Congressman Ben Quayle released the following statement after his bill, the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act passed the House of Representatives as part of the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation package.

“Over-regulation is one of the biggest impediments to the growth of our nation’s small businesses, and the job creation that comes from that growth. Harmful regulations have been piled on during the Obama Administration, and many of these rules were promulgated without public knowledge or input as a result of the regulation-by-litigation tactics employed by special interest groups.

“My bill shines a light on the murky ‘sue and settle’ process that has led to costly consent decrees like Utility MACT, Cement MACT and the regional haze rules which threaten power plants in Arizona and around the country. As things stand, the American people are being bound by costly rules made behind closed doors, but they are rarely offered the opportunity to take part in the creation of these rules. My bill will open the process to public comment and make these decrees more flexible to meet changing circumstances.

“With this package, the House has taken a major step in fighting back against the regulatory onslaught on our nation’s small businesses.”

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What President Obama REALLY Said

This is the same clip President Obama is using to try and recant his comments that denigrated small business owners, but we know the truth. He said it and he meant it. If you keep attacking success, you’ll continue to have less of it. It’s as simple as that. See for yourself — you be the judge.

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Rep. David Schweikert Introduces Amendment to Dismantle Dodd-Frank

Washington, D.C. – Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Vice Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government-Sponsored Enterprises, introduced the Schweikert Amendment to H.R. 4078 that would halt all rule promulgation of Dodd-Frank. This amendment is the first introduced to dismantle Dodd-Frank that has seen a vote in the House of Representatives.

“Fresh off the second anniversary of Dodd-Frank, we are still waiting for the transparency, simplification, and safeguards that we were promised when this bill was introduced. Instead what we have is 2,300 pages, 400 new rule proposals, and 24,180,856 hours each year required for compliance.

“Every day, we discover new powers that unconstitutionally appointed bureaucrats and regulators have bestowed upon themselves. Dodd-Frank’s marketplace disturbances were endless then and they are endless now.

“The Schweikert Amendment is key to dismantling these suffocating, nonsensical regulations. I hope all of my colleagues realize this and support it,” said Rep. Schweikert.

BACKGROUND: This amendment will halt all outstanding promulgation of Dodd-Frank regulations by requiring costs to businesses be recognized in evaluating the bill’s “annual cost to the economy” guidelines.

By more specifically defining “annual cost to the economy,” the Schweikert Amendment will prevent the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) from ignoring real costs borne by corporations due to new rulemakings.

Most significantly, the Schweikert Amendment also ensures that preparatory costs are part of that calculation, which would include actions companies have taken to prepare themselves for Dodd-Frank rulemakings that have cost them revenues. Those costs will now be a part of the calculations for “annual cost to the economy.”

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