Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are entering the last few days of the regularly scheduled 2019 session. Each spring, the cherry blossoms signal the close of our work at the state Capitol. With the exception of budget matters, initiatives, and bills necessary to implement the budget, today is the last day for the Senate and House to consider the opposite chamber's bills.
Here's a list of business-related Senate and House bills to watch:
Senate Bill 5497 — would create a group to come up with ways to expand immigrant career opportunities. It also requires state agencies to provide services without considering their citizenship or immigration status and limits the exchange of information and enforcement activities with federal agencies. Because of those limitations, I voted “no” on this measure. The bill passed on a party-line vote, 57 to 38. It now heads to the governor's desk for signature.
Senate Bill 5478 — would create new restrictions on the use of non-competition agreements in the state. These contracts are typically used to protect companies from employees who might unfairly take insider information and knowledge to a competitor. Because of today's deadline, it may be “dead.” However, the bill does have a fiscal note which means there's always a possibility it could be pulled to the House floor for a vote.
Senate Bill 5035 — would extend the time period for filing a prevailing wage complaint from 30 to 60 days. Contractors would also be required to retain payroll records for three years and to submit certified payroll records at least once per month. This bill would apply to a very narrow, small group of workers. The majority of wages and penalties are already adequate. That's why I voted “no.” The bill was approved 59 to 36. It now heads to the governor's desk for signature.
Senate Bill 5258 — would require employers with isolated workers to adopt a sexual harassment policy and provide mandatory sexual harassment training, a list of resources to employees, and electronic panic buttons to isolated workers. Although well-intentioned, this bill needs some work. I voted “no.” The bill passed on a party-line vote of 57 to 35. It now heads to the governor's desk for signature.
Senate Bill 5600 — would modify the residential landlord-tenant act. It extends the notice up to 14-days for rent to be paid. After property taxes and operating costs, the narrow profit-loss margin for many landlords, especially those who only own a handful of properties, may force them out of business. In addition, the bill reduces a landlords flexibility to work with tenants—they won't be able to risk it. That's why I voted “no.” The bill passed 51-46. It now heads to the governor's desk for signature.
Senate Bill 5740 — would create the Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program at the Department of Commerce. It requires certain employers to enroll their employees into individual retirement accounts. The bill is currently in the Rules Committee where it awaits a vote on the House floor.
House Bill 2171 — would require that unused vested vacation time or paid time off be paid to the employee as wages at the employee's final rate. This bill was introduced to the Legislature late in session and did not receive a public hearing. It's likely that the sponsor will re-introduce it next year.
At this point in the session, several public policy decisions still remain on the table, including approval of the state's final operating budget. The Senate and House have already approved their respective proposals. Negotiators are now meeting to reconcile differences in both the Democrat-sponsored spending plans. It's disappointing that with historic levels of state revenue, both plans include significant tax increases. The question for Democratic budget writers seems to be not if they should include more taxes, but just how high they will go.
If you have any questions on the business bills discussed in this update or other state government-related matters, please feel free to give me a call. My contact information is listed below.
It is an honor to serve you!