Matters of Public Policy
Hispanic chamber takes
on key issues
From immigration reform to healthcare affordability, the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is once again wading into the turbulent waters of public policy and its already tackling big issues. The chamber’s public policy committee became active again last September and its 25 members have been busy the past several months educating themselves on state and federal issues.
“As an arm of an organization that represents primarily small Hispanic businesses, the committee explores issues that affect chamber members on a daily basis and their ability to grow and thrive,” says Jessica Pacheco, committee chairwoman and chamber board member and treasurer. “Not all Hispanic small businesses view these issues the same. We have a lot of debate and dialogue.”
So far, the Hispanic chamber has let other chambers take the lead on immigration reform, but Pacheco says her committee has its opinions on one facet of this issue—penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers. The committee has no problem with employer sanctions as a concept but opposes them as a “stand-alone issue” outside the context of comprehensive immigration reform. In June, Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed a House immigration bill that included employer penalties. Its membership favors comprehensive immigration reform and the Hispanic chamber prefers that Congress address this issue, Pacheco says. “I can’t imagine a more difficult business environment than with each state having its own immigration laws.”
This fall, the chamber plans to help Arizona launch a “disparity study” to demonstrate how the state awards contracts for goods and services. It wants small business to garner a more equitable share of state procurement dollars, possibly an additional 10 percent. The chamber teamed with a variety of organizations to raise funds to pay for the study. The U.S. Department of Transportation is expected to provide $450,000 and a like amount must be raised locally through a public-private partnership, according to Pacheco. The first meeting with local donors was slated for June 14.
Federal Estate Tax
“There is a misconception that the federal estate tax affects very wealthy Americans, but if you look at the structure of the tax, it really hurts small businesses, especially Hispanic small businesses where 90 percent of them are inherited by family,” Pacheco says. The chamber believes the tax should be eliminated and committee members are communicating with Arizona’s congressional delegation.
Every small business grapples with the cost of providing health insurance, Pacheco says. “We would like to see a reduction in the cost of health insurance plans offered in the small group market. We also want to increase the number of workers in small business that have health insurance.”
The chamber supports tax relief for small business. It favors reduction in dividend and capital gains taxes and supports accelerated depreciation for equipment and software. “Software depreciation is critical because small businesses often have to purchase very expensive software for accounting and networking,” Pacheco says.
Access to Capital
The Small Business Administration provides considerable capital for small businesses and the chamber is keenly interested that the SBA continuing to receive adequate funding. “The SBA has been a great partner and we want to be sure our membership knows what is out there and available to them,” Pacheco says.