Assault on Independent Contractors Defeated
Even-numbered-year sessions of the Wyoming Legislature are supposed to limit themselves to just budget matters, but in his wrap-up report, NFIB State Director Tony Gagliardi explains why small business must be ever vigilant for the unexpected.
As a reminder that Wyoming small-business owners should never let their guard down, even in a 20-day legislative budget session, two bills that would have seriously restricted the use of independent contractors by Wyoming businesses and citizens were introduced and eventually defeated.
At a summer interim committee hearing in Sheridan, the Joint Corporations Committee had debate on a bill that would have changed Wyoming definitions of independent contractors and would have guaranteed audits by the Wyoming Department of Workforce and Labor.
NFIB/Wyoming State Director Tony Gagliardi provided testimony opposing any attempt of the Legislature to restrict the use of independent contractors or expose our members to additional audits concerning misclassification of employees. NFIB/Wyoming enlisted the assistance of the Wyoming Trucking Association and the Wyoming Contractors Association on the independent contractor legislation.
A bill introduced by Sen. Charles Scott, SF 096, was aimed at protecting the use of independent contractors. Sen. Wayne Johnson, however, attempted to amend the bill to clamp down on the use of independent contractors.
Senator Scott, while working with NFIB/Wyoming and its coalition of other business groups, led all attempts to make sure the bill was kept in line with its original intent. When the bill was sent to the House of Representatives, several attempts to amend the bill were undertaken. Finally, the bill was defeated on a 6-to-54 vote.
By his constant efforts to block all attempts at further exposure of small-business owners to needless and frivolous audits by the Wyoming Workforce and Labor Divisions, Senator Scott truly was the standout of the 2014 session. The issue, however, is expected the to be readdressed in the 2015 General Session, which convenes January 13.
Other legislation in which NFIB/Wyoming was involved in was House Bill 23. This bill raised the concern of the agricultural community in that it appeared to be restricting a landowner’s right to protection from trespassers and would have exposed him or her to a private right of action should a trespasser be injured while on private property.
But in the end, HB 23 made sure landowners remained protected under current Wyoming case law for trespassers, which do not extend duty of care to those trespassers.
The Wyoming Legislature convened for its budget session February 10 and adjourned March 6. There were 184 bills introduced by the Valentine’s Day deadline on the House side alone. A total of 304 pieces of legislation were introduced for the Budget session.
Legislation to legalize medical marijuana, name a state cookie, and use a firing squad for execution were all quickly defeated in committee.