Chamber looks at which bills passed - and which didn't
Now that the Arizona Legislature has adjourned the 2010 regular session, groups such as chambers of commerce will take a closer look at what passed and what didn't pass. In the final days of the session, the Prescott Chamber was part of an effort by 33 chambers and business organizations to offer a solution to keep the state's unemployment insurance trust fund solvent. The Department of Economic Security, manager of the UI Trust Fund, told chamber leaders a couple of months ago that the fund was essentially drained due to the increased number of unemployed workers. As a result, DES will need to borrow money from the federal Department of Labor - as much as $240 million for the remainder of 2010.
Senate Bill 1041 would have set up a temporary, two-year special assessment to businesses that would result in repayment of the loan to the DOL, thus avoiding the loss of FUTA tax credits. Currently, all Arizona employers are subject to a 6.2 percent unemployment insurance tax reduced to 0.8 percent on the first $7,000 because of a 5.4 percent FUTA credit due to the fact that Arizona has an approved UI program. If Arizona does not repay the DOL loan by January 2012, the FUTA tax credit could be lost, resulting in higher bills for employers.
By imposing a 0.6 percent special assessment for the next two years beginning in 2011, the DOL loans could have been repaid, thus assuring the business community that future FUTA credits will remain in place. DES discussed a variety of scenarios with the chambers and business organizations before moving ahead with this preferred alternative. However, the Legislature failed to act on SB 1041 and groups are now evaluating what the financial impact to businesses will be.
Also, several attempts were also made during the session to pass legislation that would create jobs, primarily through a series of tax cuts to businesses, but legislators failed to pass any of the proposed bills that were considered to be "jobs bills."
Women in Business lunch features
A little Prescott history comes to life at the chamber's quarterly Women in Business lunch program Wednesday, May 19, 12 1:15 p.m., at the Hassayampa Inn's Marina Room. Elisabeth Ruffner, local historian and community volunteer, will be the guest speaker. She will be talking about her life experiences and particularly about the upcoming re-opening of the Elks Opera House in July. She was the recent recipient of a Governor's Arts Award in the "individual" category.
Prepaid reservations are required in order to attend. Call Anne Confer at the chamber to make a reservation. Cost of the lunch is $20 for chamber members; $25 for others.
Windows 7 workshop
Upgrading your computer and entering the world of Windows 7? Even if you're just considering Windows 7 right now, why not take advantage of a free, one-hour workshop sponsored by Microsoft and the Prescott Chamber of Commerce? This special program will take place Friday, May 21, from 9-10 a.m. at the Residence Inn by Marriott in Prescott. Although there is no charge to attend, please RSVP to Anne Confer at the chamber so we have adequate seating in the meeting room.
The program will be led by Michael Effertz of the I. S. Department, a local Microsoft-certified partner. Effertz will lead you through a tour of Windows 7 and highlight some of the key changes from previous Windows programs. There will be information that you can take with you, and there will be some great door prizes from Microsoft.
PYP food drive
Prescott Young Professionals, the Chamber's affiliate group for 21-40-year-olds in the business community, will conduct a food drive Saturday, May 22, to benefit the Yavapai Food Bank. There will be two locations to drop off food donations: the Walmart on Route 69 across from Prescott Gateway Mall and the Prescott Valley Albertson's. The food drive will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Help replenish the Yavapai Food Bank's supplies of food for the needy. And PYP encourages you to also support the Mail Carriers' food drive Saturday, May 8, too.
The Prescott Chamber welcomes the following new members: Ronnie Carey; Autumn Blaze Construction; BoTech Communications Corp.; Citizens Tax Committee; Colon Cancer Coalition; Dry Force; Fashion Bug; Goodwin Street Community Thrift; Iridescent Smiles; Mile High Rent 2 Ride; Nuskin Enterprises/Successful Intentions; Olive U; Prescott Glass & Mirror; Project Insight; Rev. Julia McKenna Johnson; Rosie on the House/Roth Productions; Send Gratitude; Send Out Cards.