By PATRICK LYONS
Capital News Service
LANSING — Executives and presidents of companies accepting “corporate welfare” from the state would be tested for illegal drugs if legislation in the House passes.
Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, said he sponsored the bill in response to proposed legislation that would require social welfare recipients to pass a drug test to qualify for assistance.
“It is more than a statement,” McMillin said. “If we end up going down that road with greater discussion about drug testing welfare recipients, I will be very bold in making sure that this gets into that debate, and will not rest until we treat corporate welfare the same as social welfare.”
This bill would affect only companies that receive loans and grants from the Michigan Strategic Fund.
The strategic fund is administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and supports business development, community development and state marketing activities, including promotion of tourism, film industry and arts and cultural affairs, said Kathy Fagan, communications specialist for the agency.
The legislation would take effect only if the similar welfare beneficiaries bill passes.
Co-sponsors are Reps. Pat Somerville, R-New Boston; Judson Gilbert, R-Algonac; Mike Shirkey, R- Clarklake; and Jim Ananich, D- Flint.
However, Shirkey now opposes the bill after giving the issue more consideration.
McMillin emphasized that he opposes drug testing of any welfare recipient.
“It is invasive and there are privacy issues, but if we are going to do one, then we should treat corporate welfare the same,” he said.
He said the measure would not hurt state businesses, and that “corporate welfare” itself hurts established Michigan businesses.
“The problem with corporate welfare is that companies that have been here for 30 years, paying their taxes, end up having the state use their taxes to pay a company to come compete with them,” McMillin said.
“We shouldn’t be picking winners and losers.”
Bonnie Bochniak, vice president of government relations at the Michigan Business and Professional Association in Warren, said McMillin’s legislation might not directly hurt business, but would do nothing to improve business in the state.
And runs counter to Gov. Rick Snyder’s agenda, Bochniak said.
“Snyder’s administration is doing a really good job of streamlining,” she said.
“This doesn’t seem like streamlining to me, and if a person is going to open a business and they have jumped through the hoops on their way to get their loan, this is just another hoop. We are trying to attract business here, not deter them,” she said.
The bill is pending in the House Commerce Committee.
By PATRICK LYONS