This Week in Augusta – 03.06.2017 edition

Date: March 06, 2017

SESSION

Tuesday – Senate & House, 10 a.m.

Thursday – Senate & House, 10 a.m.

http://legislature.maine.gov/

LEGISLATION

LD 728 – LD 916 printed

New titles of interest include:

  • Municipal local option sales tax for education funding (LD 741)
  • Eliminate health insurance rating based on age, geographic location or smoking history; reduce variability based on group size (LD 769)
  • Create a training wage for students under age of 20 (LD 774)
  • Prohibit minimum wage from exceeding New England average (LD 775)
  • Eliminate indexing minimum wage to inflation (LD 778)
  • Increase the 3% income surtax threshold based on household income (LD 829)
  • Base minimum wage on New England average; restore the tip credit (LD 831)
  • Repeal, subject to referendum, 3% income surtax (LD 851)
  • Create risk modification factor to reduce WC rates of small businesses (LD 913)

NFIB QUESTIONS SIZE OF UNEMPLOYMENT FUND

Are employers paying too much into the Unemployment Trust Fund? That is a question NFIB raised last week in testimony about the Maine Department of Labor budget for 2018-2019 (LD 390, Part CCCCC). MDOL data show that the lowest balance in the Trust Fund was $269.9 million in 2001 despite the most severe recession since the 1930s. The balance stood at $394.3 million at the end of 2016. NFIB supported the proposal to drop the lowest Schedule A tax to 0.0% from 0.5%, noting that 21 states have a 0.0% rate and another 7 have a 0.1% rate. NFIB also noted that a change in the experience rating system, from charging the most recent employer to charging employers based on ratio inversely proportional to claimant’s employment, is something employers may view as a fairer method. The hearing was held by the Appropriations Committee jointly with the Labor, Commerce, Research & Economic Development Committee.

LAWMAKERS CRITICIZED FOR SUPPORTING TIP WAGE CREDIT

Eight Democrats came under criticism last week for cosponsoring legislation (LD 673 & LD 702) that restores the tip wage credit under Maine’s minimum wage law. Phase out of the tip credit was part of the minimum wage changes contained in Question 4 approved by voters last November. The Maine Peoples Alliance said the Democrats were siding with Governor LePage in a “minimum wage rollback attempt.” The targeted legislators include: Sen. Bill Diamond (Windham), Sen. James Dill (Old Town), Rep. Robert Alley (Beals), Rep. Martin Grohman (Biddeford), Rep. Brian Hubbel (Bar Harbor), Rep. Louis Luchini (Ellsworth), Rep. Anne-Marie Mastraccio (Sanford), and Rep. Catherine Nadeau (Winslow). Restauranteurs with tip-wage staff say that elimination of the tip credit will radically alter their traditional business model and negatively impact both tip-wage staff and their customers.

NOTABLE HEARINGS SCHEDULED

Here is a schedule of hearings on selected issues that may interest small business owners:

Mar. 9, 1 p.m. – Insurance & Financial Services

  • Enable MEMIC to eliminate its high-risk rating program (LD 592)

NOTABLE WORK SESSIONS SCHEDULED

Here is a schedule of work sessions on selected issues that may interest small business owners:

Mar. 6, 10 a.m. – Taxation

  • Provide income tax credit for retailers collecting sales tax (LD 91)
  • Eliminate business tax incentives and reduce taxes on business income (LD 311)

Mar. 8, 10 a.m. – Labor, Commerce, Research & Economic Development

  • Protect employees from abusive work environments (LD 466)
  • Restrict use of noncompete agreements (LD 487)

Mar. 8, 1 p.m. – Judiciary

  • Increase jurisdictional limits for small claims to $15,000 from $6,000 (LD 283)

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