Workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, health insurance, and plastic-bag ban bills are bad for small business
State Director Denny DeWitt reports from Juneau on the small-business agenda for the legislative week ending April 6
The House passed the budget bill to the Senate, April 2. The Senate held public hearings on it April 6. It is likely it will be on the Senate floor next week. There is much activity next week, and it appears that there is interest in concluding the session in a “timely” manner. They won’t make 90 days, but lawmakers could well adjourn before the Constitutional 121-day limit.
House Bill 38 passed the House on 21-18 vote, April 5. This bill would add a death benefit to nondependent parents or the estate. It also raises the compensation level for partial permanent disability. For both reasons NFIB opposes the bill and made it a Key Vote. In the Senate, it was referred to the Finance Committee to be considered with other workers’ compensation bills. On the House floor, Rep. Chris Birch and Rep. Dan Saddler led the opposition with Reps. Gary Knopp, Tammie Wilson and David Eastman also speaking in opposition. Rep. Andy Josephson, the sponsor, spoke passionately about the good of giving benefits to nondependent to punish the employer and mitigate the sorrow of the parents. He was joined in speaking for the bill by Reps. Chris Tuck and Justin Parish.
Yeas: Reps. Claman, Drummond, Edgmon, Foster, Gara, Grenn, Guttenberg, Josephson, Kawasaki, Kito, Kreiss-Tomkins, LeDoux, Lincoln, Ortiz, Parish, Seaton, Spohnholz, Stutes, Tuck, Wool,Zulkosky
Nays: Reps. Birch, Chenault, Eastman, Johnson, Johnston, Knopp, Kopp, Millett, Neuman, Pruitt, Rauscher, Reinbold, Saddler, Sullivan-Leonard, Talerico, Thompson, Tilton, Wilson
House Bill 142, which would increase unemployment benefits and, commensurately, UI taxes is scheduled for hearing in Senate Labor & Commerce, April 10. In a letter of opposition to Chairwoman Mia Costello, NFIB pointed out that the measure “further provides future increases would be moved outside the legislative process. Employer costs would increase by an estimated $124 per employee and the employee estimated costs by $58. The cost to the state is estimated at $230,000.”
House Bill 193 that requires payment to non-network providers in certain circumstances will be heard, April 9. “Unfortunately, HB 193 mandates specified coverage for which small employers providing health insurance bear the cost,” wrote State Director Denny DeWitt in a letter of opposition to Rep. Sam Kito, chairman of the House Labor & Commerce Committee. “Increased mandates force employers to consider whether they can afford to continue coverage or are forced by increased prices to eliminate health insurance for their employees.”
Plastic Bag Ban
In another letter of opposition sent to Representative Kito on House Bill 264, the ban on plastic bags and required a charge for another bag, NFIB details the problems it has with this very poorly written proposal, which will create unnecessary work for retailers and lead to arguments about its enforcement.
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[Tile photo courtesy of The Alaska State Legislature’s Capitol Updates]