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Donnelly vows ‘heart’ for small biz

Cites recent vote to repeal 2.3% medical devices tax

U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly pledged Tuesday to be an advocate for small businesses.

“You are the heart and soul of our country and our economy,” Donnelly, D-Ind., told a roundtable discussion group of nearly 20 people at the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce.

“I’m a small-business guy. That’s where my heart is,” said Donnelly, a lawyer and printing shop owner in St. Joseph County before his election to a U.S. House seat in 2006.

He said “one of the best things” the federal government can do for small businesses is consider their regulatory burdens.

“My goal is to try to make it so that we’re out of your way in creating trouble but there is a partner (in the government) to try to help,” he told the group, which included people from steel and plastic manufacturing, retailing, consulting, a computer software developer and a beer wholesaler.

Topics during the roundtable discussion ranged among workforce training, foreign trade, economic conditions, the federal deficit and insurance requirements of the health care law.

Don Ehlerding of Ehlerding Motorsports Inc., a motorcycle dealer, said he wants to see parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act delayed.

“It’s like an elephant coming down the pike. It just has its own sense of momentum,” Ehlerding said.

Donnelly, who voted in favor of the Affordable Care Act as a House member, said lawmakers listened to small businesses when drafting the legislation and will continue to do so as they refine it. He mentioned that the Senate voted overwhelmingly last week to repeal the 2.3 percent tax on the sale of medical devices.

“Where you find it not working, let us know,” he instructed.

On another matter, Donnelly said he could support Ehlerding’s suggestion that people who receive long-term unemployment compensation be required to enroll in training for skills demanded by local employers.

Donnelly has conducted similar roundtable discussions this week in Gary, Lafayette and Noblesville.