2019 Victories from the 66th North Dakota Legislative Assembly

Date: July 08, 2019

Stopping unemployment insurance surcharge, paid leave, and local minimum-wage ordinances highlight accomplishments for small business

Legislators adjourned their 2019 session April 26 with some big accomplishments for small businesses won by NFIB. The next session, the 67th Legislative Assembly will convene Jan. 5, 2021.

Defeated Local Minimum-Wage Ordinances
NFIB intensely lobbied lawmakers against passing House Bill 1193, which would have allowed cities and counties to impose minimum-wage rates higher than the state’s. Had it passed, it would have created a crazy quilt of differing minimum wages throughout the state and a gargantuan paperwork headache for small-business owners.

Stopped an Unemployment Insurance Surcharge
NFIB helped defeat House Bill 1060 when it came to the Senate, which rejected it 44-0. This bill would have added a surcharge onto Unemployment Insurance assessments for employers who are in a negative balance position.

Blocked Costly Paid Family Leave Program
House Bill 1509 would have created a mandatory paid family leave program. NFIB reminded lawmakers that the vast majority of businesses already offer paid or unpaid time off, and for any reason the employee chooses: sickness, care for a family member, parental duties, personal or family member victim of domestic violence, etc. (see infographic here). Also, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act “provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave.” NFIB continues to point out that unlike the heads of corporations, small-business owners know personally each of their employees and their families, and most offer paid time off on a case-by-case basis, providing the employee what he or she needs in a way the business can afford. Mandatory paid leave would only impose unnecessary limitations on these businesses. Such initiatives assume one size fits all. In the small-business world, what works in one company could be detrimental for the next. The rigid nature of mandated paid leave often has a negative impact on employee morale. HB 1509 was defeated on the floor of the House.

Relatedly, NFIB also succeeded in stopping fertility treatments on health insurance plans; defeated a proposal (HB 1293) mandating one day of rest per week for employees; and beat back another bill, HB 1456, that would have made mental/psychological conditions compensable under workforce safety. 

Beat Back a Tax on Plastic Bags, Containers
NFIB testified in support of House Bill 1200, which would prohibit taxes on items like plastic bags or other auxiliary containers. Gov. Doug Burgum signed HB 1200 into law.

Won Funding for Train ND
NFIB helped advocate for $2 million in financing for Train ND, which provides companies with help in training staff in technical, health, computer, organizational and organizational and soft skills. The training is provided in person or online and is beneficial for companies looking to keep training their workforce.

Secured Tort Reform in Business Names
NFIB helped secure passage of House Bill 1127, which will change the standard from “deceptively similar” to “distinguishable in the record” for business names.  North Dakota was only one of three states that still had deceptively similar.

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