Weaver looking to help small businesses, employees with first bill

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

An Alabaster legislator said she is looking to give small businesses and their employees a break with the first bill she sponsored in the Alabama House of Representatives.

District 49 Rep. April Weaver, R-Alabaster, recently sponsored a bill aimed at allowing businesses with fewer than 25 employees to deduct a larger amount from their state income tax returns each year.

The bill passed the house March 22, and it will now move on to be considered by the Alabama Senate.

If the bill passes the Senate, it will allow those companies to deduct from their state tax returns 100 percent of the amount the company pays for health insurance premiums on behalf of qualifying employees as part of an employer-provided health insurance plan.

Currently, those companies are only allowed to deduct from their tax returns 50 percent of the amount they pay in health insurance premiums.

“The bill would double that deduction for qualified employers,” Weaver said. “It’s going to provide small businesses with extra capital.”

The bill would also allow employees who earn less than $50,000 per year and are employed by companies with fewer than 25 employees to also deduct from their state tax returns 100 percent of the amount they pay in health insurance premiums as part of an employer-provided insurance plan.

Currently, those employees are also only allowed to deduct 50 percent of the amount they pay in health insurance premiums.

By allowing small businesses and their employees to save money on their state tax returns each year, the bill could help improve the state’s economy, Weaver said.

“I grew up working in a small business. Small businesses are at the heart of our economy,” Weaver said. “This bill is designed to give small businesses a break. It puts money back in the pockets of small businesses.

“This legislation would also assist the employees at those businesses,” Weaver added. “It’s a free-market solution for those who need and desire private health care.”

Because of the current economic climate, the bill could also help the state market itself to small businesses, Weaver said.

“By taking it to 100 percent, this bill would send a message that we understand the struggles small businesses are facing right now, and we want to help in any way we can,” Weaver said. “That’s what we are trying to do with this bill.”

House Bill 61 has already passed through the House’s Committee on Commerce and Small Business, and is scheduled to be taken up in the full House this week.

“It’s really exciting for me, as a freshman legislator, to sponsor one of our handshake with Alabama bills,” Weaver said.