It wasn’t standing-room-only but it was a decent first effort, one that broke new ground in Mississippi’s First Congressional District. U.S. Rep. Travis Childers held a multi-location teleconference called “Putting Government to Work for Small Business” July 25 to detail his proposals to help small business.
Broadcasting from the U.S. Capitol, Childers talked about bills he’s introduced, signed onto as sponsor and supports. He was joined by Nick Owens, ombudsman for the Small Business Administration. The two men talked to attendees in five locations on North Mississippi college campuses from Senatobia to Oxford to Mayhew.
“I’m proud this is my first piece of legislation,” Childers said of H.R. 6507, his proposed “Invest in Small Business Act.” According to a handout given at the roundtable video conference, the bill “makes changes to the tax code to assist small businesses in attracting investment and accessing capital.”
The bill would make four primary changes to Section 1202 of the tax code, enacted in 1993, that allowed small business to sell stock as a means of raising funds. The changes would:
• Raise from 50% to 100% the excluded amount of capital gains from sale of small-business stock.
• Decrease the holding period of stock from five to three years.
• Allow corporations, rather than only individuals, to benefit from the tax provision.
• Increase the asset limitation for investing corporations from $50 million to $100 million.
Childers also touted H.R. 6210, the “Small Business Health Options Program” (SHOP), which he cosponsored. The act would allow small-business owners to join a statewide purchasing pool for health insurance and provide some other measures aimed at making health insurance more available and affordable for small businesses.
“Fifty percent of the uninsured are family or employees of small business,” Childers said.
Other programs Childers declared support for ranged from expansion of the fuel supply through more domestic drilling to cracking down on speculation and price gouging of fuel to allowing diesel tax credits for farmers and truckers.
After the formal session, Childers fielded questions from people in the audiences at the various locations. One participant asked if Childers thinks there is a future for young farmers in America.
“I was so pleased to get here in time to override the president’s veto of the farm bill,” said Childers. “Agriculture is still the number one industry in the State of Mississippi. I see it as a very bright time for farmers.”
Chuck Moffatt, owner of Select Connect Communications in Tupelo, attended the University of Mississippi session. “I think it was very valuable to the congressman and all the attendees. I would like to see this done at least quarterly,” he said.
While Moffatt’s concern for network neutrality — continuation of free access to the Internet — was not addressed, he was happy to get Childers to thinking about it since at least one Internet service provider is being fined by the Federal Communications Commission for attempting to limit its customers’ access to the Web.
Mark Tapp, senior vice president of Farmers & Merchants Bank in Booneville and a close friend of Childers, said H.R. 6507 is a step in the right direction. “I think the tax break on small company stock will encourage investment in small business. It’s important to invest in small business,” he said.
As for the teleconference, Tapp said, “I’m impressed with the opportunity to be involved.”
Greg Deakle, executive director of the Itawamba County Development Council, called the teleconference “hugely beneficial.”
“It was very, very well received here,” Deakle said of the Fulton location. “There wasn’t as much interaction as I would have liked but I was pleasantly surprised.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer C. Richard Cotton at firstname.lastname@example.org .