Workers’ Compensation Bills Make Return Engagement
In his report from the State Capitol on the legislative week ending January 27, NFIB/Alaska State Director Denny DeWitt writes about the return of some bad-for-small-business bills.
The Legislature is back in session and working on the budget. Once again, the fiscal situation is the focus of everyone, which is why action on legislation is, as expected, slow.
There is a raft of workers’ compensation legislation. All of them were introduced in the 29th legislative session in 2015 and 2016, and Gov. Bill Walker has introduced House Bill 79 and Senate Bill 40 as omnibus workers’ compensation bills.
They include stiff penalties for employers and strait jacket criteria for determining who is an independent contractor. NFIB is working on getting the IRS criteria for independent contractors and softening the over-aggressive fine system.
Another scary element is that the fines called for would go to support the agency, whose general fund budget, by the way, has been reduced.
Split-Roll Property Tax
House Bill 84 would increase the amount of value a municipality can exempt from property taxes. It is a hidden way to move more closely to a split-roll property tax, shifting more taxation to commercial property. It does require a vote of the people to raise the exemption.
House Bill 42 was heard this week and held in committee. This bill would offer protections from property forfeiture when a person has not been convicted of a crime. There are discussions with the Department of Law, police agencies and sponsors to resolve differences of interpretations of several sections. In last year’s NFIB-member ballot, 77 percent of small-business owners support this concept.
Senate Bill 35 would allow a process for individuals to invest in an LNG project. NFIB asked its Alaska members about this concept and got mixed results, with 45 percent supporting, 31 percent opposed, and 24 percent undecided.
We now have three spending limit proposals, Senate Joint Resolution 2, House Joint Resolution 2, and House Joint Resolution 7. NFIB has generally supported attempts to limit the size and scope of government.
Previous Reports & Related News Releases
[Tile photo of Joint Budget & Audit Committee courtesy of The Alaska State Legislature website.]