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Saved employers as much as $400 per worker with unemployment insurance fix

Author: R Stell Date: November 27, 2006

Recent NFIB/Pennsylvania victories:

Saved employers as much as $400 per worker with unemployment insurance fix
The legislature passed SB 464 to correct a recent Commonwealth Court decision requiring employers to be represented by an attorney who is a member of the Pennsylvania bar when defending an unemployment insurance claim at the hearing level. Left unchecked, the court decision was expected to significantly increase costs for Pennsylvania employers as some attorneys were charging as much as $400 per worker to defend a claim. NFIB's Legal Foundation joined with the state chamber to prepare an amicus brief in that case.

Saved typical NFIB member almost $1,000 by making HSA contributions tax-free
NFIB led the fight to make contributions into a health savings account free from Pennsylvania state income taxes. HSA contributions already were free from federal taxes. 

Helped cut workers' comp premiums by over $224 million -- or almost $250 per worker
NFIB/Pennsylvania won passage of legislation continuing the five percent discount on workers' compensation premiums for employers who maintain safety committees, saving companies about $224 million in premiums! NFIB also helped pass legislation correcting recent court rulings that eliminated earning power assessments in workers' compensation cases which are vital to small-business owners as they provide an objective determination of the length and amount of workers' compensation. 

Saved small businesses over $23 million with Capital Stock and Franchise tax cuts
NFIB helped accelerate the phase-out of the Capital Stock and Franchise tax and raised the fixed formula deduction to provide more relief to small business. The Capital Stock and Franchise tax is imposed on the capital stock value of businesses in Pennsylvania. Determined through a complex formula, it is a tax paid regardless of whether a business reports a profit.

Saved manufacturers over $21 million by raising cap on net operating losses
NFIB helped to pass a law to raise the cap on net operating loss carry forwards to $3 million or 12.5 percent of taxable income.

Won fair competition rules for government contracts
NFIB won significant changes to the state's new "Strategic Sourcing" procurement program. The new law protects jobs and ensures small businesses have the ability to compete for purchasing contracts with local governments and schools.

Won passage of the nation's toughest law to protect rights of private property owners
NFIB/Pennsylvania won passage of the nation's toughest rules to curb the government's abuse of eminent domain powers to take private property. NFIB also won passage of a state law requiring local townships and municipalities to notify affected property owners by mail of proposed local zoning changes.

Helped pass unemployment insurance fix
The state House and Senate passed SB 464 to correct a recent Commonwealth Court decision that requires employers to be represented by an attorney who is a member of the Pennsylvania bar when defending an unemployment insurance claim at the hearing level. NFIB strongly supported this legislative fix. Left unchecked, the court decision requiring attorneys was expected to significantly increase costs for Pennsylvania employers and create a great injustice within the unemployment compensation system.

Secured workers' compensation savings
NFIB/Pennsylvania won passage of legislation continuing the 5 percent discount on workers' compensation premiums for employers who maintain safety committees. Since 1996, the committees have saved companies $178 million in premiums! NFIB also helped pass legislation correcting recent court rulings that eliminated earning power assessments in workers' compensation cases. The assessments are vital to small-business owners because they provide an objective determination of the length and amount of workers' compensation.

Enhanced property rights
NFIB won passage of a state law requiring local townships and municipalities to notify affected property owners by mail of proposed local zoning changes.

Workers' compensation reform enacted
NFIB helped pass legislation, Act 53 of 2003, which corrected recent court rulings that would have eliminated earning power assessments in workers compensation cases. The assessments are vital to small-business owners because they provide an objective determination of the length and amount of workers compensation.  

Workers' compensation claimants have been participating in earning power assessments since Act 57 of 1996. The earning power assessments are used to determine the work the injured employee is capable of performing. The assessment can then be used as a basis for determining the length or amount of workers' compensation benefits. The assessments help to curtail insurance fraud, which increase the insurance premiums of small-business owners.

Fair competition for government contracts enacted
NFIB led the fight to pass legislation, Act 77 of 2004, which makes significant changes to the Rendell administration's new "Strategic Sourcing" procurement program that bundled state contracts making it impossible for small business to compete for contracts. The legislation ensures small businesses have the ability to compete for purchasing contracts with local governments and schools.

Costly health mandates defeated
NFIB grassroots helped to defeat a host of costly new mandated health coverages. While well intentioned, mandated benefits raise the cost of health insurance, which forces some small businesses to drop coverage altogether. In essence, enacting benefit mandates has the opposite effect than the intended purpose of covering more individuals. Further, these mandated benefits apply only to Pennsylvania's smallest employers, who unlike large employers are not exempt by federal law. Small-business owners already are struggling with high insurance costs. More mandates make insurance even more expensive and increase the number of uninsured.

Trash taxes defeated
NFIB helped lead the fight to defeat Gov. Rendell's $200 million in trash taxes and fees on businesses and manufacturers for disposal of solid waste, non-hazardous residual waste or for materials listed on the federal toxic release inventory. The revenue would be used to finance an $800 million environmental bond issue.

Lawsuit abuse reform
Won passage of landmark lawsuit abuse reform legislation that repeals the unfair legal doctrine of joint and several liability which had resulted in massive increases in liability premiums for small-business owners in Pennsylvania. We fought the trial lawyers and won passage of landmark lawsuit abuse reform legislation, the Fair Share Act, which repeals the unfair legal doctrine of Joint and Several Liability.

Fairness for unemployment compensation
Helped pass legislation to help restore fairness to the state's unemployment compensation system. Specifically, the measure gives employers relief from charges when a separation is the result of a non-work related activity that would make a claimant ineligible (under Section 3); disallows benefits when an employee fails to pass a drug test; requires unemployment compensation service centers to refer all claimants eligible for compensation to employment offices for re-employment services; allow referees to hear all issues, not just those in the department's initial determination; and prohibits unemployment compensation findings, judgments, etc. from being used in other proceedings and vice versa.


VICTORY: 2002 -- NFIB/Pennsylvania fought the trial lawyers and won passage of landmark lawsuit abuse reform legislation. The new law restores common sense and fairness to Pennsylvania's civil justice system and protects small business from frivolous and abusive lawsuits.

VICTORY: NFIB/Pennsylvania won passage of a state law requiring local townships and municipalities to notify affected property owners by mail of proposed local zoning changes.

VICTORY: 2002 -- Workers' Compensation Victory -- Gov. Schweiker signed NFIB-supported legislation continuing the 5 percent discount on worker's compensation premiums for employers who maintain safety committees. Since '96, the committees have saved companies $95.2 million in premiums and resulted in record low workplace injuries and fatalities.

VICTORY: NFIB was instrumental in garnering a complete phase-out of the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax (this is a tax that's paid whether or not a business is making a profit). In addition to obtaining a 2 mil reduction in the CSFT rate, NFIB/PA singlehandedly won the complete elimination of the minimum payment of the tax.

VICTORY: NFIB/Pennsylvania saved its members $78 million in inheritance taxes in 2000. The death tax rates were reduced on lineal descendants from 6 to 4.5 percent. On siblings, the rate was reduced from 15 to 12 percent. The Pennsylvania inheritance tax is charged on every estate without exemptions.

VICTORY: NFIB was instrumental in eliminating the $200 minimum payment of the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax. The Capital Stock and Franchise Tax is paid on the assets of the business in Pennsylvania. The minimum payment was made by the smallest businesses, regardless of whether they made a profit.

VICTORY: For three years in a row, NFIB/PA secured Workers' Compensation rate reductions. The average Workers' Compensation rate was reduced 37 percent. Since 1996, a small business that pays $5000 a year in WC premiums has received an average reduction of at least $1850.

VICTORY: In 1997, NFIB brought some relief to small business owners suffering from unfair competition by non-profit corporations. Act 55 prohibits non-profits from subsidizing unrelated commercial businesses that directly compete with a small business. Unfair competition by non-profits hurt small businesses ranging from dry cleaners and health clubs to catering services.

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