Restoration of loser pays attorney fees, defeat of minimum-wage proposals highlight small-business achievements
The 2017 half of the 64th Idaho Legislature adjourned March 29 with some important accomplishments for small business. The 2018 half commences on Jan. 9, 2018.
Won Loser Pays Rule for Frivolous Lawsuits
With strong backing from NFIB, House Bill 97 restores in state statute the rule of making the losing party who brought a frivolous lawsuit also pay the attorney fees of the defendant. This restoration overrides recently modified Idaho Supreme Court Rules. H97 passed the House 61-8, passed the Senate 34-1, and was signed by Gov. Butch Otter. NFIB is part of Idaho Liability Reform Coalition. A frivolous lawsuit is no small matter for small businesses which often have to consider settling an unfair claim on them in order to avoid paying further attorney costs.
Defeated Minimum-Wage Increase
NFIB reminded legislators of the minimum wage’s central role in serving as an entry-level wage for teens and young adults starting out on their working lives and the damage done to those opportunities when minimum-wage rates are increased. For the small minority of minimum-wage workers not still living at home, increasing the rate lifts no one out of poverty. House Bill 72 would have increased the minimum wage annually from its current $7.25 per hour to $8.75 (7-1-17), $10.50 (7-1-18), $12.00 (7-1-19), and, in 2020, indexes the wage increase thereafter to the Consumer Price Index. The bill did not get a hearing in the House.
Secured Balanced State Budget Without Raising Taxes
Balancing the state budget is every legislature’s No. 1 job in the nation. Doing so without further burdening every state’s top job-creators, small-business owners, is the trick, which, with a constant reminder from NFIB, Idaho’s lawmakers managed to pull off.
Secured Stable Local Government Spending
Cities, counties, and special taxing districts are limited by state law to no more than a 3 percent increase in their budgets every year. House Bill 207 now gives them the flexibility to set a budget less than 3 percent but also allows them the ability to release any forgone balances so they are not added to future budgets, which keeps a rein on government spending and higher property taxes. With the support of NFIB, H207 passed the House 65-4 and passed the Senate 27-8 and was signed by the governor.