Gas Tax Increase, State Income Tax Bills Still Alive

Date: February 24, 2017

Property forfeiture, petty theft measures inching along

NFIB/Alaska State Director Denny DeWitt’s report from Juneau on the legislative week ending February 24

The fiscal situation of Alaska’s state government remains the focus of both the House and Senate as February 24 came to an end, the 39th day of the 30th Legislature. 

The House Finance Committee is hearing House Bill 115, which NFIB has sent a letter in opposition. It contemplates:

  • using Permanent Fund earnings to fund government 
  • providing a $1,000 dividend
  • instituting a state income tax of 15 percent of your federal income tax payment
  • requiring employers withhold state taxes.
  • taxing dividend income
  • allowing a person to pay their taxes with their Permanent Fund Dividend

The Senate introduced its fiscal plan, Senate Bill 70, February 24. This measure:

  • also uses Permanent Fund earnings to fund government
  • guarantees a $1,000 dividend for the next three years
  • imposes a limit on government spending
  • allows an annual draw from the Permanent Fund’s earnings to help pay for government and fund a dividend.

Gas Tax Increase

The House Transportation Committee passed House Bill 60, the gas tax bill, but not before amending it to have the increase from 16 cents to 24 cents a gallon take effect in 2019, a year later than the original proposal. The measure is now before the Finance Committee.

Independent Contracting

NFIB continues to object to House Bill 79 and Senate Bill 40, companion measures sponsored by Gov. Bill Walker, because they limit who would be an independent contractor for purposes of workers’ compensation coverage.

NFIB/Alaska Leadership Council member Chris Nettels and State Director Denny DeWitt met with the Commissioner Heidi Drygas of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to discuss the difficulty the proposal causes for small businesses. We are expecting to see some changes to the bill, but are not expecting them to resolve our opposition. Both bills will have committee hearings next week, HB 79 March 1 and HB 40 February 28.

Contraceptive Insurance Coverage

House Bill 25, by Rep. Matt Claman, is scheduled to be heard February 28. It mandates insurance coverage for contraceptives, including 12 month supplies. NFIB continues its opposition to mandated benefits. Given the recession Alaska’s small businesses are facing, added mandates would seem to be a very harsh decision by the Legislature.

Property Forfeiture

House Bill 42, by Rep. Tammie Wilson, will be heard again in the House Judiciary. This measure would offer protection from civil forfeiture without a conviction. NFIB members voted 79 percent in support of this bill.

Petty Theft

Senate Bill 54 corrects some of the problems with last year’s major crime reform bill. It will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee March 1. The measure would restore jail time for misdemeanors so that there is leverage to get folks into treatment. NFIB member Ron Flint will be testifying on behalf of small business for SB 54’s passage.

Regulations

Check out the sidebar story on this page for an editorial sent to the Alaska media about NFIB’s extensive poll of small-business owners regarding one of their biggest worries–regulations. 

Previous Reports & Related News Releases

February 17 Report—NFIB to Testify Against Assault on Independent Contractors

February 10 Report—NFIB Looking at Four Fixes to Omnibus Crime Bill

February 3 Report—Flaw in SB 91: What Penalty for Petty Theft?

January 27 Report—Independent Contractors Once Again in Crosshairs of Alaska Legislature

January 20 Report—Costly Bills Make Return Engagement in Juneau

January 5 News Release—Poll: Alaska Should Not Be in The Retirement Business

[Tile photo of U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan addressing a joint session of the Legislature courtesy of The Alaska State Legislature website.]

 

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Click the graphic below to read NFIB's editorial about the poll of small-business owners and their views on regulations.

graphic-co-2-21-regs
“Rarely does a public policy bandwagon come along playing music to the ears of small-business owners, but one is traveling through the nation now, and it would benefit Alaska enormously if its state Legislature jumped on. Lawmakers in Juneau would do the state a service by examining the results from a national poll of small-business owners released February 15 by the National Federation of Independent Business.” — NFIB/Alaska State Director Denny DeWitt

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