Bid to limit who could be one would have been severe blow to economy
NFIB/Alaska State Director Denny DeWitt reports from Juneau on the small-business agenda for the legislative week ending April 14.
Were it to adhere to a voter-passed initiative limiting legislative sessions to 90 days, The Alaska Legislature would have to wrap-up business Easter Sunday. But it will continue working 30 days more under the constitutional deadline because the big stuff still remains to be done.
- The House Finance Committee has a full schedule next week.
- Both houses have passed measures restructuring the use of Permanent Fund earnings and capping the size of the dividend. Beyond that general description, they are far apart on the specifics, which a conference committee will need to iron out.
- The state budget has not gone into conference committee. which is the one thing that has to happen.
- The House has gotten its income tax bill to the floor but has not yet taken it up for debate and vote.
- The House has passed a tax increase on oil companies, but the Senate has expressed no support for that bill.
NFIB Victory: Independent Contractors
NFIB succeeded in protecting independent contractors from an all-out assault from the state Department of Labor in the form of House Bill 79. Rep. Lora Reinbold was tireless in her work to support small businesses and the NFIB position. Rep Matt Claman also worked hard in developing language. So, too, did NFIB members who responded to NFIB’s request to contact their legislators, including Chris Nettels who spent many hours testifying on behalf of NFIB.
State Income Tax
NFIB continues its strong opposition to a state income tax, which House Bill 115 calls for the creation of. It barely passed the House Finance Committee on a 6-5 vote, after NFIB made it a Key Vote. House Minority Leader Charisse Millett posted the Key Vote notice on her office door. NFIB continues to believe that the size and scope of government must be reduced before enacting taxes.
Senate Bill 54, which would fix a huge hole in the passage of last year’s crime reform bill, has passed the Senate and awaits action by the House. It would put back into law penalties for petty theft. NFIB-member Ron Flint has been a strong advocate for NFIB with his passionate and accurate testimony in several committees. Small business is now waiting on the House State Affairs Committee to schedule the first hearing on SB 54.
Although NFIB opposes any and all insurance mandates that drive up the cost of premiums on small-business owners, outright defeat of House Bill 25, which would require insurance payments for 12 months of birth control pills, looks to be headed for passage. NFIB did succeed, however, in getting all state employees included in the mandate by pointing out to legislators the hypocrisy of requiring something it deems good for private enterprises employees but not for state employees. HB 25 passed the Health and Social Services Committee and is scheduled for a hearing in House Finance on April 17.
House Bill 142 would increase unemployment insurance payments passed the House Labor and Commerce Committee and is now before the Finance Committee, which has not set a hearing date. NFIB opposes HB 142 as just one more tax increase and unsustainable during a bad economy.
House Bill 38 would not only increase partial disability payments but also require a death benefit be paid to non-dependents. NFIB continues its opposition. This bill is scheduled for a Finance Committee hearing on April 17.
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