Past NFIB/Hawaii Legislative Victories

Date: July 06, 2015

Defeated Mandatory Employer-Paid Sick and Family Leave
NFIB/Hawaii helped defeat proposals to require employer-paid sick or family leave for all employees. Legislators considered but set aside proposals that would have expanded Hawaii’s family leave law from four weeks of unpaid leave for qualified workers to up to 16 weeks of paid leave.

Stopped Minimum Wage Increases
NFIB/Hawaii helped to defeat proposals to increase the minimum wage up to $22 per hour.

Halted State-Run Retirement Program
NFIB Hawaii also opposed Senate Bill 2333, which would have required a study on the feasibility of implementing the Hawaii Retirement Savings Program. Like the family leave bills, the retirement savings bill was crafted in a way that made it appear to be merely a study but required implementation of the savings program even though the study had not been performed. The proposed savings program would require employers to deduct contributions to a savings plan for employees unless they opt out. It would have created a state-run savings program but prohibited employers who offer savings plans from joining in the state program. The bill was defeated in the House Labor Committee.

Defeated Paid Leave Proposal
Intense lobbying from NFIB helped defeat House Bill 4, which would have required employer-paid sick leave for both full-time and part-time employees. It would have tied a mandate for employers to provide sick leave to their employees’ pay. The measure also would have required employers to pay for up to 40 hours of leave per year for employees who earn less than about $15 per hour.

NFIB pointed out HB 4’s flawed care out for highly paid employees, its potential conflict with other laws, and its numerous costs and logistical challenges. More information available here. The measure was also opposed by the state Human Resources Department.

Stopped Three Minimum-Wage Proposals
Current law is already scheduled to increase Hawaii’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour on January 1, 2018, but this did not stop lawmakers from proposing it be raised even higher. NFIB worked to defeat three bills that called for it to rise to $15 per hours, allowed counties to establish rates even higher than the state’s, and link future increases to the Honolulu region consumer price index.

Won Eminent Domain Case
Taking its message to the highest state court in Hawaii, the NFIB Small Business Legal Center recently helped advocate – and win — a decision by the Hawaii Supreme Court in the County of Kauai v. Hanalei River Holdings, Ltd. NFIB, speaking on behalf of Hawaii’s small-business community, sought just compensation for an eminent domain condemnation.

A key issue in the case was whether a landowner should be compensated for the devaluation of a nearby property that suffers because of a government taking of another parcel. NFIB filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief on behalf of the defendant, a position supported by the Hawaii Supreme Court. Small-business owners often use separate properties as part of an integrated commercial operation. In a joint brief with Owners Counsel of America, NFIB argued that full and fair compensation for a taking of one parcel must cover resulting depreciation in the other parcel. Click here for related news release.

Helped Hold back a Proposed Minimum-Wage Increase
Legislators did not advance proposals to increase the state’s minimum wage by $2 per hour over four years. NFIB/Hawaii successfully opposed tying future minimum wage increases to a Consumer Price Index.
Defeated Mandatory Employer-Paid Sick Leave
NFIB/Hawaii helped to defeat the proposed law which would have required both large and small employers to pay for at least 5 days of sick leave per employee and limited an employer’s right to request a doctor’s note when employees’ are out sick.
Defeated the “Successor” Employer Bill
NFIB/Hawaii opposed a bill that would have required the purchaser of a company to hire 100 percent of the seller’s employees. The sale and closure of several high-profile companies in Hawaii’s caused legislators to seek ways to ensure continued employment. NFIB/Hawaii successfully opposed the measure.
Defeated Job-Killing Family Leave Bill
Hawaii legislators proposed an expansive new version of a paid sick leave bill in 2015, but it failed a week before the Hawaii legislature adjourned and won’t be considered again until January 2016.  In 2012, a federal court invalidated a similar bill, applicable to businesses with more than 100 employees. Proponents of the new measure wanted to require all food establishments, regardless of size, to provide paid leave for all employees, including those working fewer than 20 hours per week. In one version of the bill, employees would have been entitled to use the leave whether they, or a close family member, were sick, creating a de facto paid family leave plan. Other businesses would “only” have to provide paid leave to employees who work 20 hours per week or more. Earlier in the session, legislators considered but dismissed an employee paid version of sick leave. NFIB and other business groups objected that it constituted a tax on employees and failed to allow employees to opt out of the benefit.
Stopped Attempt to Alter Workers’ Compensation Law
Independent medical exams are the tool used to validate an employee’s fitness to return to work following a workplace injury. Legislators considered altering the process for selecting an independent medical exam physician, which small business advocates – including NFIB – opposed. The bill would have required an independent medical examination to be conducted by a physician selected by the “mutual agreement” of the employee and employer. Small businesses opposed the measure for the potential to delay selection of the physician and to delay the return of fit employees to the workplace. Currently, state law allows employers to select the independent medical exam physicians. General contractors opposed the bill as “unfair but also because it will increase the cost and delay medical treatment when the issue of compensability is contested by the employer.” Other construction industry advocates pointed out that “current statutes have numerous safeguards in place to allow injured employees full disclosure of an employer/insurance carrier’s IME report, the right to seek their own medical opinion if they disagree, and an appeal process if the parties cannot agree.” Business owners testified that a “vocal minority” has made it appear as though the IME process as it exists today is totally one-sided. The bill passed both houses of the Legislature but failed to gain approval of a conference committee scheduled to hammer out details in the bill. It continued to receive legislative hearings up to the last day for bills to be considered. NFIB will oppose this bill in 2016.

Killed Effort to Tamper with Physician Selection in Workers’ Compensation Cases
NFIB opposed and helped to defeat a workers’ compensation measure, Senate Bill 2123, which would have altered the way in which independent, medical-exam physicians are selected. The bill would have increased the length of time for physician selection and attempted to alter employers’ right to select an independent doctor.  The bill was deferred and did not advance this session.

Stopped Attempt to Further Conflict Paid Leave Laws
NFIB/Hawaii also successfully opposed House Bill 2097 that would have required 12 weeks of partially-paid leave, financed through a governmental trust fund and administered through payroll deductions. The bill would have created further conflict between state, federal and local provisions regarding employee leave.
Defeated Drive to Restore Paid Sick Leave Law Invalidated by Court
In another victory for small business, NFIB/Hawaii successfully opposed Senate Bill 2939, which would have reinstituted provisions of a mandatory employer-paid sick leave bill that was invalidated in federal court. The faulty law, and its more recent version, would have prohibited employers from requesting a doctor’s note unless the employee had been absent three consecutive days.
Minimum Wage
Halted Legislative Push to Link Minimum-Increases to Consumer Price Index.
NFIB Hawaii fought hard against the most severe proposals concerning the state’s minimum wage increase, averting the automatic increases that would have ensued had a consumer price index provision been included in Senate Bill 2609.  The minimum wage bill, signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie on May 23, will push the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour in 2018. NFIB Hawaii opposed the increase. The additional year delay in implementing the full increase was due in part to the opposition voice of business owners and NFIB Hawaii members.

Defeated the “Successor” Employer Bill
NFIB/Hawaii opposed a bill that would have required the purchaser of a company to hire 100 percent of the seller’s employees. The sale and closure of several high profile companies in Hawaii’s caused legislators to seek ways to ensure continued employment. NFIB/Hawaii successfully opposed the measure.

Helped defeat employer-paid, sick-and-safe leave proposal
NFIB/Hawaii advocated against a sick-and-safe leave law, which would have required small employers to pay both full-
and part-time employees for time off for themselves or to care for family members.

Helped defeat additional mandated employer-paid time off
NFIB/Hawaii opposed a bill to provide paid time off during the work day, and instead favored one giving employers and employees the flexibility to offer shorter hours or longer breaks.

Helped hold back a proposed state excise tax increase
NFIB/Hawaii worked to defeat increases in the state excise tax, currently at 4.5 percent on Oahu and 4 percent elsewhere in the state), to 5.5 percent on Oahu and 5 percent elsewhere in the state.

Advocated for exemption of LLC owners from workers’ compensation coverage
NFIB/Hawaii supported legislative passage of House Bill 519, the exemption of limited liability company owners from the requirement to cover themselves by workers’ compensation insurance. It awaits the governor’s signature as of this posting.

Raised the threshold for the new sick-leave law to large unionized employers
Hawaii currently does not have an employer-paid sick-leave law. But unions advocated for and secured limitations on employers’ use of attendance policies when employees have earned sick leave. NFIB/Hawaii advocated for an exemption for employers with fewer than 100 employees and for all employers who have not been union organized (Senate Bill 1076).

Helped hold back a proposed state excise tax increase
Legislators did not advance proposals to increase the states excise tax.  Members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee defeated a proposal in House Bill 793 which would have increased the state excise tax (currently at 4.5 percent on Oahu and 4 percent elsewhere in the state) to 5.5 percent on Oahu and 5 percent elsewhere in the state.

Reduced the unemployment insurance rate increase  
NFIB/Hawaii supported unemployment insurance rate relief and helped secure passage of Act 2 (House Bill 2169), approved by Gov. Lingle March 11, which reduced the average UI tax rate from a projected $1,070 per employee for Fiscal Year 2010 to $630

Won Governor’s veto of a sick leave bill
Hawaii currently does not have a sick-leave law. In the last session of the Legislature, lawmakers tried a back-door way of implementing one by at first attempting to pass a bill that would have prohibited employers from disciplining employees for misusing a company’s sick-leave policy. When that failed, the bill was amended to prohibit employers from disciplining employees for legitimately using sick leave policy, but the measure contained conflicts with other company policies, so NFIB continued to lobby against it. When it eventually passed, we succeeded in getting the governor’s veto of the legislation.

Helped hold back a proposed state excise tax increase
Legislators did not advance proposals to increase the state’s excise tax.

Defeated an onerous successor-employer proposal from becoming law
NFIB fought for the rights of business owners who purchase a company to make their own decisions about whom to hire. Legislators considered, but did not pass, a bill that would have required the purchaser of a company to hire 100 percent of the seller’s employees.

Won changes that limit union organizing from harming small businesses
NFIB fought for and won another gubernatorial veto on a proposal that would have eliminated secret-ballot elections for union organizing. However, the 2009 legislature, in special session, overrode the governor’s veto. NFIB fought for and won an exclusion for most Hawaii employers, limiting the scope of the bill to only large agriculture companies with over $5 million in revenues. The secret ballot is an essential protection for both employers and employees from unfair union organizing tactics

Related Content: Small Business Victories | Hawaii

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