By Jacob Barron

From L to R: Jim Lammers, President of Dart Container Corporation, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Bill Carteaux, SPI President and CEO.

Twelve executives of SPI member companies in Michigan met on August 18 with U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) at the headquarters of Dart Container Corporation in Mason, Michigan (see more photos here). Held in a roundtable format, the discussion provided Senator Stabenow and SPI members the opportunity for a dialogue on issues of mutual concern. Stabenow is an early cosponsor of SPI-backed S. 697, TSCA reform legislation awaiting a Senate floor vote. She reaffirmed her support for the legislation and told the SPI members that the bill has the votes to pass. Separately, all agreed that finding skilled workers is one of the major concerns for the industry and for manufacturing in general. The Senator urged industry members to work with school districts to provide equipment and expertise to help redefine careers in manufacturing at the high school level. Other issues facing the companies represented were federal regulatory overreach, the need for modernization of the nation’s infrastructure including the electrical grid, and the uncertainty of waiting for yearly renewals of the Sec. 179 small business expensing and “bonus depreciation” tax provisions. With regard to infrastructure, the Senator commented on her support for a long-term reauthorization of the federal Highway Trust Fund as well as her recent committee vote on energy legislation. Long a supporter of tax credits for manufacturing, Senator Stabenow wants to push for the permanent extension of Sec. 179 and bonus depreciation. In July, she voted for legislation that would provide two-year extensions until December 31, 2016, for certain tax credits including research and development, Sec. 179 and bonus depreciation.