Assault on independent contractors continues; jail time for petty theft measure coming up for a hearing
NFIB/Alaska State Director Denny DeWitt reports on the small-business agenda for the legislative week ending March 17
As a result of the time spent on the budget debate, few policy committees acted on legislation this week.
Sen. Click Bishop introduced a bill that would create a lottery to help fund legislation. Senate Bill 78 would allow Alaskans to voluntarily designate an amount of the Permanent Fund Dividend to the lottery at $100 per chance. Twenty-five percent of the total amount of voluntary donations would be reserved for prizes and 75 percent would go to education funding.
Senator Bishop says he will work on this bill and set aside SB 12, the education head-tax opposed by NFIB. This is clearly a victory for NFIB opposing an income tax that was given a deceptive name.
State Income Tax Proposals
House Bill 146, by Rep. Matt Claman, is scheduled for a hearing in the House Education Committee March 22. This is an income tax dedicated to education funding. It begins at $100 for those with adjusted gross incomes below $20,000 and tops out at $8,500 tax on those with adjusted gross incomes over $250,000.
Another income tax measure, House Bill 115 by the House Finance Committee, will be heard again in the committee March 23. NFIB has indicated its opposition to both bills.
House Bill 79, the assault on independent contractors, continues. Hearings this week were canceled as the House was on the floor working on the budget bill. NFIB has communicated with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development expressing our opposition. The current language in the bill would require small businesses to cover many independent contractors and consultants with workers’ compensation insurance.
While this bill only covers workers’ compensation insurance, it would become the template for all other government mandated employee standards. HB 79 is scheduled to be heard in the House Labor & Commerce Committee March 20 at 3:15 PM. Chris Nettels will testify in opposition for NFIB.
Senate Bill 54, by Sen. John Coghill, is expected to be heard in the Senate Finance Committee the week beginning March 20, depending on whether the committee is finished with the Senate version of the state budget.
This bill makes important changes to last year’s crime bill by adding jail time for fourth-degree theft. The hope is that this will give law enforcement tools to help stop the petty theft epidemic occurring in many communities. Ron Flint will testify again for NFIB, indicating the importance of passing this bill this year.
The House spent the week discussing the state budget on the House Floor. There were more than 130 amendments proposed, surprisingly, several by majority members.
The House majority, in an unusual move, voted to limit debate on amendments. At about 11:25 a.m. Friday, the House adopted an amendment to extend the time for debate to 1:30 PM and limit time for debating each amendment to three minutes per legislators. The House will continue dealing with the budget bills Monday, March 20.
Previous Reports & Related News Releases
[Tile photo of Senate Majority Leader Peter Micciche, left, and Bill Wielechowski conferring courtesy of The Alaska State Legislature website.]