NFIB lobbying to stop Ban the Box, minimum wage, and rest period proposals
NFIB/Nebraska State Director Bob Hallstrom’s report on the small-business agenda for the legislative week ending March 17
With Speaker Jim Scheer’s priority bills having been designated, the agenda for the balance of the session has essentially been established. Except for budget bills and bills to be considered on “Consent Calendar,” only priority bills will be scheduled for floor debate during the remainder of the session.
Unemployment Insurance Abusers
NFIB is supporting one of the bills designated as a priority by the Business and Labor Committee. Legislative Bill 203, introduced by Sen. John Kuehn (Heartwell), would revise the requirements for individuals receiving unemployment benefits who voluntarily leave a job without good cause by providing that such an individual would not be eligible for unemployment benefits until they have earned four times their weekly benefit amount in insured work and has separated from the most recent subsequent employment under non-disqualifying conditions.
The bill would address habitual abusers of the unemployment insurance program and is estimated to save employers between $2.75 million and $7.5 million annually. LB 203 was advanced to Final Reading during floor debate March 13.
The Business and Labor Committee conducted public hearings this week on a number of bills of interest to small businesses. NFIB State Director Bob Hallstrom presented testimony in opposition to each of the following measures.
Ban the Box
Legislative Bill 420 – Fair Chance Hiring Act/Ban the Box: Introduced by Sen. John McCollister (Omaha), LB 420 would prohibit public and private employers and employment agencies from asking an applicant to disclose, orally or in writing, information concerning the applicant’s criminal record or history, including any inquiries on any employment application, until the employer or employment agency has determined the applicant meets the minimum employment qualifications. The bill would apply to employers with 15 or more employees.
In opposing the measure, Hallstrom noted that “the bill would delay the hiring process, which would particularly hurt small businesses. If a criminal record ultimately will disqualify an applicant, employers should have that information sooner, rather than later.” In addition, Hallstrom suggested that “LB 420 would lead to more lawsuits from job applicants alleging that an employer rejected them at the final stage because of their criminal record.”
Mandated Rest Periods
Legislative Bill 473 – Mandated Employee Rest Periods: Sen. Lynne Walz (Fremont) is the sponsor of a measure that would require employers employing six or more individuals to allow employees a rest period of at least 15 minutes during each four hours worked, in addition to the regularly scheduled lunch period for the employees. Senator Walz has asked the Committee to hold the bill for further study.
Minimum Wage for Tipped Employees
Sen. Matt Hansen (Lincoln) introduced Legislative Bill 211, which would increase the state minimum wage for “tipped” employees from the current rate $2.13 per hour to $3.60 on August 1, 2017, and to $4.50 on January 1, 2018. The bill would also require the summary of the Wage and Hour Act posted by employers to include a summary of the minimum wage amounts in effect under the Act. The measure, which is opposed by NFIB, advanced out of the Business and Labor Committee on the following vote of 4-3.
- Ayes: Senators Chambers, Crawford, Hansen and Howard
- Nays: Senators Albrecht, Halloran and Lowe.
Small Business Day at the Capitol
NFIB/Nebraska will co-sponsor Small Business Day in Lincoln at the State Capitol on April 12.
NFIB’s co-sponsors are the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, Lincoln Independent Business Association and Nebraskans for Workers’ Compensation Equity and Fairness.
Small Business Day gives NFIB members an opportunity to network with other small business owners. Gov. Pete Ricketts will speak to the group, followed by legislative briefings by state senators.
Reservations are required and cost $20 per person. More information and online registration can be found here.
Previous Reports and Related News Releases
[Tile photo of Sen. John McCollister courtesy of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature]