The Legislature has wrapped up its 2014 regular session. Here's a look at some of the bills we followed that affect small-business owners like you:
- Fought for reforms to the Kansas Court of Tax Appeals. The new law makes several positive changes to improve access and adjudication for tax payers, including small business, who are dissatisfied with local property tax assessments.
- Fought for a bill that requires new transparency measures in property tax. The new law will shed light on municipalities when they increase property tax revenue through increased valuation. As many small businesses have experienced, this often serves as a backdoor tax increase and requires no action by the municipal governing body.
- Secured passage of a bill which allows small businesses to band together and buy health insurance through self funded association health plans. This will allow employers to voluntarily join with other employers to form larger, more stable risk pools. These association plans can move participating small businesses toward a more level playing field with larger entities.
- Won passage of a bill which includes a provision requiring an act of the Legislature to expand Medicaid, as anticipated under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the federal health-care law better known as Obamacare. This ensures Medicaid expansion won't occur in Kansas until at least the next legislative session.
- Stopped several bills which would have mandated new health insurance benefits. These mandates increase the cost of health insurance for small business.
- Fought for a bill to codify liability protections for small businesses against trespassers. The new law provides long-term certainty that small businesses won’t be subject to financial ruin because a trespasser—a criminal—sustains an injury while trespassing on a small business owner’s property.
- Secured passage of a bill which ensures that proper standards are placed on scientific evidence presented in court, keeping junk science and speculation from tainting a jury. Liability reforms, like this, inject a measure of fairness into a legal system that currently preys on business, often without regard to legal merit.
- Fought for a bill that preserves our non-economic damage caps. The new law addresses a warning from the Kansas Supreme Court that our statutory caps may not meet Constitutional muster. If we were to lose the caps, medical malpractice and liability insurance premiums will soar and drive businesses and doctors from Kansas.
- Beat back attempts to increase the state minimum wage. The bills would have increased the minimum wage to $10.10 and permanently index it to inflation. Like most government mandates on business, raising the minimum wage will have a deep and disproportionate impact on the small-business sector.
- A bill passed allowing employers to improve their unemployment insurance rate by “buying up” rate groups. Currently employers are restricted to buying up 5 rate groups, this bill removes that limitation. The new law will give small businesses some flexibility to decrease their UI tax rate.