NFIB/Alaska State Director Denny DeWitt reports from the State Capitol on the legislative week ending February 19, 2016
While we all know that we do need to face the revenue issue, we must also push for reducing our government to a sustainable level over time, or we will continue to face deficits, but soon without the reserves or tax revenues to fill the void.
This week has kept us busy.
- NFIB continues its opposition to the increasing in the felony threshold called for in Senate Bill 91, the omnibus crime reform package. We continue to talk with the sponsor and committee members to amend that out of the bill, so that many good issues can be addressed. The felony threshold is neither an integral part of the reform nor a pivotal part of the bill. Chris Nettles testified last Saturday for NFIB. We sent out a request for action asking members to register their opposition and got several members’ responses.
- Senate Bill 156 mandating insurance coverage of contraceptives and voluntary sterilizations is scheduled for hearing on Wednesday, February 24 at 1:30 p.m. in the Senate Health & Social Services Committee. We continue to oppose all mandates, and point out that this mandate does not include public employees, only those – small businesses – who purchase insurance in the market. Click here to read our letter of opposition.
- Senate Bill 134, the personal income tax bill, was postponed until next week, February 25, at 6 p.m. before the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee. Our letter of opposition can be read here.
- The Legislature continues to discuss how the Permanent Fund, through use of earnings, will play a role in financing state government. Senate State Affairs has held extensive hearings on Senate Bill 114 as well as on Senate Bill 128, the governor’s bill. House Finance will continue hearings on House Bill 245, the governor’s proposal and House Bill 303, the companion to SB 114.
- Senate Bill 132, the motor vehicle fuel tax moved out of the Senate Transportation Committee to the Senate Finance Committee on February 16. Thus far it is the only tax bill to move from a committee.
- House Bill 313 by the House Labor & Commerce would increase the level of public projects exempt from prevailing wage requirements to $75,000. This makes it easier for small businesses to bid on those contracts. NFIB has sent a letter of support.
- NFIB is monitoring House Bill 307, which would change the definition of independent contractor for workers’ compensation purposes. Of particular interest are any negative impacts it would have on members contained in Section 9, beginning on Page 4.
February 22 is the last day to introduce personal legislation. It usually means a flock of ideas coming forth. Next week may see a host of issues NFIB will have to watch.