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Sen. Holtzclaw speaks at luncheon

Sen. Bill Holtzclaw presented a speech at Thursday's Madison Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon.

Senator Bill Holtzclaw was the guest speaker at Thursday’s Madison Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon. The topic was how to enable business opportunities in Alabama.

“First of all, I realize the importance of what you do. You are the small business owners,” Holtzclaw said. “I recognize the importance of having a relationship with you.”

He said only businesses, not the government, can grow the economy.

He began by explaining what the state legislature has done during the most recent session. He touched on a few of the pro-business bills they passed.

One of them is the Healthcare Incentive Bill for Small Businesses and Their Employees.

“It allows small businesses and their employees to deduct 200 percent in the amount that you pay for healthcare premiums from your state income tax,” Holtzclaw said. “The intent of it is that we recognize that healthcare costs are rising and we want you to continue to draw a great employee base, but we also recognize that comes with additional costs of providing those premiums and those opportunities.”

He said the bill is a way to help counter some of those costs.

The next bill discussed was the Full Employment Act of 2011. Holtzclaw reminded the crowd that Gov. Robert Bentley pledged not to take a salary until the state comes down to match the average unemployment rate nationwide.

He said the bill allows the state to offer a $1,000 tax credit for companies who hire workers directly off the unemployment line.

Another bill discussed is the Made in Alabama Job Incentives Act.

“This act was the brainchild of people like you,” Holtzclaw explained.

The act allows the state to offer a temporary state income tax incentive to offset tariff costs for international companies bringing jobs to the state.

He also said he believes the immigration law is pro-business.

“I firmly believe that there are some businesses in our state that are operating on unlevel playing fields,” Holtzclaw said.

He said the businesses hiring illegal immigrants have an opportunity for a larger profit margin.

As a side note, he mentioned two constitutional amendments that citizens will have the opportunity to vote on in November 2012. One is going to ensure that Alabama remains a Right to Work state. The other will prohibit forced participation in a national healthcare system.

Holtzclaw serves as the chair of the Legislative Oversight for Contract Review.

“I became increasingly concerned as I watched these contracts when these contracts were awarded and with how they were awarded,” Holtzclaw explained.

In a report to be released Aug. 4, 2011, contracts approved over the last six months have been released.

“I was concered about the number of dollars that were awarded in contracts that were rolling out of state,” Holtzclaw said.

Contracts have been granted to 332 personal service contracts within the past six months. Those contracts combined were worth $88.4 million. While only 59 of those contracts were granted out of state, those 59 contracts make up $44 million of that money given. So half of the contract money is going out of state, Holtzclaw explained. $40 million of that are state dollars from taxpayer money.

“I know we have the capability to do these contracts,” Holtzclaw said. “I know we have the capability to do this work.”

He said it will be his drive to fix that.

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