State director summoned to committee table for advice on independent contractors' component
State Director Denny DeWitt reports from Juneau on the small-business agenda for the legislative week ending April 13
It does appear that the end of this legislative session is in view. Lawmakers will not make the 90-day target and adjourn by April 15. The state budget has gone into conference committee and other key bills are moving into positions for final action. Maybe adjournment in a couple of weeks. Here is what is happening for now.
House Bill 25 that mandates coverage for a one-year supply of prescribed contraceptives passed the House, April 9 on a 21-17 vote. NFIB opposes all insurance mandates believing that the design of insurance programs should be a decision of the payer (business) considering the needs of his or her employees. We also object to the fact that these mandates don’t cover larger businesses who can afford ERISA plans. We believe it is unfair competition. Rep. Dan Saddler led the opposition raising NFIB’s objections. Rep. Tammie Wilson read from the NFIB letter of opposition. Reps. Chris Birch, Lora Reinbold, Jennifer Johnston, and David Eastman also spoke in opposition, raising points similar to NFIB. The sponsor, Rep. Matt Claman, and Reps. Geran Tarr, Les Garza, and Ivy Spohnholz spoke in favor of the bill.
House Bill 264, the disposable bag bill by Rep. Andy Josephson, was amended April 6. It now bans plastic shopping bags that are common in grocery and other stores. The charge for bags and recycling requirements were dropped along with sections that would have caused huge problems for retailers and caused problems with regulators trying to interpret the poorly drafted legislation. NFIB lead the opposition to this bill that was the definition of over-regulation.
House Bill 199 by Rep. Louise Stutes would protect salmon habitat but stifle economic development, similar to the “Save our Salmon” initiative. NFIB members voted to oppose this bill. NFIB joined a group of resource and economic development advocates in a joint letter of opposition delivered to the committee April 10. The bill was held in committee.
House Bill 38, also by Representative Josephson, adds a benefit in the workers’ compensation program for non-dependent parents or the estate. It has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.
House Bill 79, the workers’ compensation bill containing protection for independent contractors has had two hearings in the Senate Finance Committee. NFIB was called to the committee table to discuss the independent contractor language and to assure the committee that we agreed with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. NFIB was pleased the committee wanted to be sure NFIB’s concerns were met.
House Bill 142, the unemployment insurance benefit and tax increase, is now tentatively set for a hearing April 14. While there are conversations to amend the bill to bring it balance, NFIB will continue its opposition until we see changes in print.
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[Tile photo courtesy of The Alaska State Legislature’s Capitol Updates]