House Still Struggling With State Budget

Date: April 02, 2018

NFIB continues opposition to the ‘Save Our Salmon’ bill

State Director Denny DeWitt reports from Juneau on the small-business agenda for the legislative week ending March 30.

The Legislature slowed down this past week because the House has not been able to pass the budget to the Senate, which was supposed to have been done by March 10. The Senate Finance Committee has had to cancel its scheduled public hearings. As of this report, the House has begun working on the budget.

The House Majority voted to adopt an amendment reducing the Permanent Fund Dividend to $1,600—well below the $2,700 it voted March 26. Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon then recessed the House to the call of the chairman. NFIB awaits the outcome to make any comment.

Workers’ Compensation

Next week we expect to see action on workers’ compensation. House Bill 79 has the language to protect independent contractors and the computerization of aspects of the program. Senate Bill 112 will have a limit on attorney fees and a commission to look further into needed workers’ compensation reform. Both bills are scheduled to be heard in the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee.

Health Insurance

Senate Bill 119 by Sen. Shelley Hughes is an attempt to provide incentives for individuals to choose lower-cost health care and would require disclosure of prices for many procedures. NFIB is cautiously supportive. The cost of health care has been and continues to be a high concern of our members. While the current language has problems that are being addresses, NFIB wants to keep the pressure on for help in lowering health-care costs. The Senate Labor & Commerce passed SB 119 to the Finance Committee.

House Bill 193, dealing with insurance payment for out-of-network providers, passed the House Health & Social Services Committee and is scheduled for hearing in the House Finance Committee. NFIB continues to have reservations because we are not convinced the protection for those receiving emergency services out of network, the original intent of the bill, offsets the potential for premium increases driven by requiring other payments to out-of-network providers.

House Bill 25 would require health insurance to cover 12 months of contraceptive prescriptions, rather than the typical 90 days. It is on the House floor waiting for a vote. Bill sponsors are working to gather 21 votes. NFIB opposes any mandate, regardless of its topic. The interesting part of this bill is that it includes the state employee programs and all municipal governments.

Save Our Salmon

House Bill 199, the “Save our Salmon” measure, has been amended and will have its first hearing in the amended form April 7 in the House Fisheries committee. NFIB continues its opposition as voted by our membership. This bill continues to over-define salmon spawning areas to the extent it would inhibit use of private property and economic development, including expansion of many small businesses.

Disposable Bag Fee

House Bill 264, the disposable bag $0.20 tax bill, is scheduled for hearing in the House Labor & Commerce Bill. NFIB opposes this bill as it unnecessarily complicates the operation of retail activity without really getting anything accomplished. The difficulty is that the sponsor announced it would be amended, but NFIB has not yet seen what those changes might be. We are always hopeful that our concerns will be addressed but do not bet the farm on that one.

NFIB’s 75th Anniversary

NFIB is celebrating 75 years of serving its members in Washington D.C. and in every state capitol in the nation. State Director Denny DeWitt will attend the June meeting in D.C. and hopes some NFIB Alaska members will join him. This is time to learn about the activities of NFIB in D.C. and meet with Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young. They support small Alaskan businesses and need to talk with you, so they know your concerns.

As a valued NFIB member, you’re invited to register now for the big event. NFIB’s 75th-anniversary celebration will sell out quickly, so please register as soon as possible.

Previous Reports, News Releases, Guest Editorials, Action Alerts

March 9 Report—Flus, Vacancy Slow Legislative Work

March 2 Report—NFIB Opposed Appointment to Workers’ Comp. Board Bounced

February 23 Report—NFIB-Crafted Language in Workers’ Compensation Bill

February 16 Report—NFIB Members Succeed in Delaying UI Tax Increase

February 9 Report—Will Bag Bill Create Checkout Line Arguments

February 2 Report—NFIB Takes Lead in Fight Against UI Tax Increase

January 29 Action Alert—Register Your Opposition to House Bill 142

January 26 Report—Plastic Bag Fee Called ‘Administrative Nightmare’

January 19 Report—To Slow Down or Speed Up Governor’s Tax Proposal

January 12 Report—Alaska Legislators Return for Business, January 16

December 19 News Release—Alaska Small-Business Owners Vote on Four Issues Ahead of Session

[Tile photo courtesy of The Alaska State Legislature’s Capitol Updates]

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