In his latest report from Lincoln for the legislative week ending January 13, NFIB/Nebraska State Director Bob Hallstrom keys on 10 measures.
- Legislative Bill 147 – Nebraska Workers Compensation – Waiting Time Penalties: Sen. Matt Hansen (Lincoln) has introduced Legislative Bill 147 that would eliminate additional payments for waiting time if the employer or his or her workers’ compensation insurer has conducted a reasonable investigation into whether benefits were owed to the employee — the results of the reasonable investigation where the actual basis relied upon to deny, delay payment of, or terminate benefits, and the basis for the denial, delay of payment, or termination of benefits has been conveyed to the employee contemporaneously with such denial, delay or termination. The bill would also only allow compensation, once commenced, to be terminated when the employee has returned to work or upon 30 days’ notice from the employer or the workers’ compensation insurer to the employee stating the reason for the termination and advising the employee of the right to file a claim with the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court.
- Legislative Bill 181 – Workers Compensation – Independent Medical Examinations: Introduced by Sen. Dan Quick (Grand Island), LB 181 would require an employer to provide reimbursement to an employee for the reasonable fee associated with a subsequent report and examination by a physician selected by the employee along with reasonably necessary transportation expenses incurred for the examination in any case in which a physician selected by the employer or its workers’ compensation insurer renders medical findings on the medical condition of the employee if the employee disputes the medical findings of the physician selected by the employer or its workers’ compensation carrier.
- Legislative Bill 244 – Workers’ Compensation – Mental Injuries and Mental Illnesses: Sen. Kate Boz (Lincoln) has introduced Legislative Bill 244 that would extend the ability to recover benefits for mental injuries and mental illness unaccompanied by physical injury to “frontline state employees” (an employee of the Department of Correctional Services or the Department of Health and Human Services whose duties involve regular and direct interaction with high-risk individuals). Under current law, only “first responders” can recover benefits for mental injuries and mental illness unaccompanied by physical injury.
- Legislative Bill 319 – Workers Compensation – Confidentiality of First Injury Reports: Sen. Steve Halloran (Hastings) is the sponsor of LB 319, which would make first injury reports relating to workplace injuries confidential, unless the employee waives confidentiality to allow the report to be made available for public inspection.
- Legislative Bill 408 – Workers’ Compensation – Evidenced-Based Drug Formulary: Sen. John Lowe (Kearney) has introduced legislation that would establish an evidence-based drug formulary consisting of Schedule II, III, IV and V prescription drugs in connection with workers’ compensation claims with a date of injury on or after January 1, 2018. Over-prescribing of opioids is an epidemic which brings about delays in the ability of employees to return to work because of addiction and dependencies resulting from over-utilization of pain-killers.
- Legislative Bill 52 – Modern Tax Act: Introduced by Sen. Paul Schumacher (Columbus), LB 52 would impose a tax of five and one-half percent on the amount of interest paid by a qualified debtor (resident of Nebraska, trust created under Nebraska law or business entity organized under Nebraska law or which has its principal office located in Nebraska) on any eligible loan (loan secured by real estate located in Nebraska, loan secured by Uniform Commercial Code filing, loan secured by a security or commercial paper held in or delivered to a creditor in Nebraska, loan secured by a vehicle titled in Nebraska or loan over which Nebraska courts have jurisdiction and venue in any action for default in payment). The bill would require the lender to collect the tax from the qualified debtor at the time any regularly scheduled payment on the eligible loan is due and to remit the taxes collected to the Tax Commissioner monthly. Loans to governmental entities, publicly traded bonds and loans the proceeds of which are used by a licensed financial institution or insurance company to make loans subject to the tax, would be exempt.
- Legislative Bill 169 – Income Taxation/Social Security Benefits and Retirement Income: Sen. Justin Wayne (Omaha) has introduced Legislative Bill 169 that would exempt social security benefits and retirement income from income taxation.
- Legislative Bill 165 – Federal Immigration Verification System: Sen. Tom Brewer (Gordon) is the sponsor of Legislative Bill 165 that would require every employer making payment of wages subject to withholding to register with the Tax Commissioner and be assigned a state employer identification number. The legislation would also require employers to register with and use the federal immigration verification system to determine the work eligibility status of new employee’s subject to withholding and physically performing services within the state of Nebraska.
- Legislative Bill 203 – Unemployment Insurance: Introduced by Sen. John Kuehn (Heartwell), LB 203 would change provisions relating to maximum annual benefits and disqualification for benefits under the Employment Security Law. The measure would revise the requirements for individuals receiving unemployment benefits who voluntarily leave a job without good cause if such an individual would not be eligible for unemployment benefits until they have earned six times their weekly benefit amount in insured work and has separated from the most recent subsequent employment under non-disqualifying conditions.
- Legislative Bill 211 – Minimum Wage Tipped Employees: Sen. Matt Hansen (Lincoln) has introduced a measure that 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.
Small Business Day at the Capitol
NFIB/Nebraska will co-sponsor a Small Business Day at the Capitol April 12 in Lincoln.
NFIB’s co-sponsors are the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, the 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. Governor Ricketts is expected to speak, and there will be a legislative briefing by state senators.
Details on the time and location of Small Business Day at the Capitol will be released soon. Check www.NFIB.com/NE for the latest information.
Previous Reports & Other Legislative News
[Photo of Sen. Matt Hansen courtesy of the Nebraska State Legislature.]