It might depend on whether they are loose or contained
State Director Denny DeWitt reports from Juneau on the small-business agenda for the legislative week ending February 9
As expected, House Bill 142 increasing the unemployment insurance tax passed out of the House Finance Committee. It is strongly backed by labor unions and Gov. Bill Walker’s administration. NFIB expects to see it on the House Floor in the next week or so. NFIB maintains its opposition that increasing any taxes in Alaska’s current recession is bad economics.
Senate Bill 112, the workers’ compensation reform by Sen. Cathy Giessel was heard in the Labor & Commerce Committee. It was held for further amendments. In a letter sent to the senator, NFIB wrote, “We support the need for compensation to those who are ultimately unable to return to work. However, Alaska’s current program is not serving those goals and its costs are limiting the ability of small businesses viability.”
House Bill 2 moved from the Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee to the Labor & Commerce Committee. It would allow private employers to offer veteran preferences in hiring. Without state-authorized legislation, it would violate the federal civil rights laws.
House Bill 307 has many parts concerning military justice. The part that concerns NFIB is the ability to cancel contracts if mobilized more than 90 days. In a letter to Rep. Chris Tuck, the measure’s sponsor, NFIB wrote:
“On behalf of the NFIB/Alaska, I wish to respectfully share our concern with House Bill 307. NFIB, the Voice of Small Business is the largest small-business advocacy group in Alaska.
“We appreciate the need to extend the certain protections of the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to Alaska’s organized militia. The extension to additional contracted services is concerning to small businesses. Small Alaska businesses, many of which are operated by veterans, have difficulty maintaining viability. Thus there must be a balance between support for militia members and local businesses.
“We believe that the notice should be delivered to the business within a limited period after the orders are received then be effective on the date of deployment or the providing of written notice, whichever is later.”
Next week will be busy:
House Bill 38 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Finance Committee February 15. This bill, opposed by NFIB, creates a death benefit for a worker without a current dependent. This changes the concept of workers’ compensation, which is to take care of injured employees and dependents, to a windfall for folks who might be related to a worker killed on the job.
House Bill 264, by Rep. Andy Josephson, will be heard February 10 and 13. It places a tax on each non-reusable bag used in retail establishments. It will create arguments at checkout about whether the bagger should have used fewer bags and about which things are exempt from the tax because they were loose items. Think a six pack (in a container) and an onion (no packaging) and what if the retailer puts them in the same bag.
Senate Joint Resolutions 2, the state spending limit will get its first hearing on February 15. The Senate wants a spending cap, the House majority is partially with them, they want state spending.
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[Tile photo courtesy of The Alaska State Legislature’s Capitol Updates]