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Mack makes rounds to garner business input

By Staff | Feb 3, 2011

A local congressman listened to what federal regulations and laws are impeding small business during a roundtable discussion Thursday.
U.S. Rep. Connie Mack met with area business leaders in a series of four forums held in Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres and Port Charlotte. The meetings were hosted by each area’s chamber of commerce to discuss what needs to be repealed in the new Congress moving forward to help business.
“What can we do in Washington?” Mack asked the group gathered at Aubuchon Homes. “What can we repeal to make your life a little easier?”
Mack is spearheading a task force to repeal federal laws.
Joe Mazurkiewicz, a consultant, raised the issue of alternative funding for expansion and the penalties associated with withdrawing from a 401K early.
He suggested a provision to putting the money back before being penalized.
“I used to be able to go to the bank and take a loan out,” he said.
Mack agreed that looking into the 10 percent penalty “makes sense.”
State Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral, brought forward a problem with federal flood protection. A home builder, Aubuchon said people cannot close on their home because of the continual expiration of the insurance program and the reauthorization of funding. Policies cannot be written for lenders.
“Lots of closings could not move forward,” he said.
“Let’s put a system in place that people can rely on,” he added.
Aubuchon also touched on elevation regulations under FEMA. He said the lowest point of a home is not measured as the living slab, but typically the shower pan. It then costs more to raise the home to be within regulation.
“So the cost to the consumer is more,” Aubuchon said.
Cape chamber president Mike Quaintance asked about health care reform.
Mack voiced hope that the law would be deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, he conceded that in the meantime, “it’s the law.” He noted that the House recently repealed 1099, the tax reporting requirement for small business.
Quaintance also questioned whether Florida would receive any assistance from the federal government in dealing with the unemployment payouts and debt. He explained that businesses would eventually have to pay that back and that could inhibit hiring and growth.
Mack said there is no move by Washington to bail out the states.
Aubuchon chimed in that the governor recently released his road map in dealing with the state’s problems and this was addressed. It appears it will cost businesses $50 per employee per year until the monies are paid back.
“It’s not some of the crazy numbers people were hearing,” he said.
The Davis-Bacon Act, which requires federal contractors to pay workers the local prevailing wage, also came up. Mack said that repeals to that could save about $1 billion. For example, with transportation there should be a return of about 94 cents for every dollar.
“We’re really getting much less than the 94 cents on a dollar,” he said.
Wayne Kirkwood, of Kirkwood Electric, added that the act has a local impact.
“The Davis-Bacon Act, to me, is just so wrong on so many levels,” he said.
The participants for the forum were picked by the chamber.
“I tried to get different representatives of the business community by sector,” Quaintance said, adding that it was so each could explain to the congressman what regulations and laws negatively impacted their area.
The group was comprised of just under a dozen people.