Legislature plays musical chairs with members while getting serious about the state budget
State Director Denny DeWitt reports from Juneau on the small-business agenda for the legislative week ending February 2
Budget deliberations began in earnest this week with the schedule filled with budget subcommittees. The House seated a new member, John Lincoln from District 40, replacing Dean Westlake who resigned in December. It still remains to be seen whom Gov. Bill Walker will appoint to replace Mike Dunleavy from the Mat-Su, who resigned in January. And, to close out the week, Rep. Zach Fansler from Bethel submitted his resignation.
The hearing on House Bill 264 was canceled and is not scheduled for next week. The bill by Rep. Andy Josephson would charge a $0.20 tax on plastic bags. The retailer would keep $0.05 to comply with requirements of recycling and the balance would be sent to the government as a tax. NFIB will continue its opposition because of the added burden it places on retailers.
Senate Bill 130 was heard and held for more work in the committee, including the possibility of changing it into a constitutional amendment. This measure by Sen. Kevin Meyer proposes that any statewide sales tax or income tax must be approved by a vote of the people. In a letter to Senator Meyer, NFIB registered its support of the bill because it is another way to slow the tax and spend appetite of many legislators.
Senate Bill 112, by Senator Cathy Giessel, got its first hearing before the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee. This bill reforms the workers’ compensation program and addresses vocational rehabilitation, limits attorney fees, and protects independent contractors from being classified as employees for purposes of workers’ compensation. NFIB supports this legislation because it has the great possibility of reducing workers compensation costs, getting injured workers back to productivity working and protects independent contractors. Click here to read NFIB’s letter of support
House Bill 142, by Rep. Chris Tuck, which deals with the unemployment insurance benefit and tax increase, was heard in the House Finance Committee. It is scheduled for a second hearing on February 8. NFIB was a bit lonely testifying against the bill, which pitted it against several dozen union employees testifying for the bill. NFIB encourages all small-business owners to record their opposition by sending an email to [email protected] and copying to NFIB State Director Denny DeWitt, [email protected] Remember, it is your dollar that will be taxed away from you. Click here to read NFIB’s letter of opposition.
House Bill 79, the administration-sponsored workers’ compensation bill will be heard February 5 in the House Finance Committee. The purpose is to improve the process in the workers’ compensation program. NFIB won the battle on protecting independent contractors and has withdrawn its opposition to the bill. There are administrative improvements in the bill, but NFIB doubts they will result in noticeable reductions in premiums.
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[Tile photo courtesy of The Alaska State Legislature’s Capitol Updates]