Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Rep. Ed Case (D, Manoa) discussed efforts to extend the state's Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Act at a business breakfast yesterday that brought together state legislators and members of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Lawmakers seek
business leaders’ support
on workers’ comp,
health care premiums

Star-Bulletin staff

Sen. Norman Sakamoto (D, Moanalua) scored rhetorical points with a group of business leaders yesterday morning, challenging them to voice their concerns about workers' compensation costs.

Legislature 2002 If the community can be moved to outrage over $150 speeding tickets, he said, there should be even more political pressure to control workers' comp premiums, which can add up to $150 every day, or more, for a business.

Government-mandated costs topped the agenda at a breakfast meeting of state legislators and members of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Health care expenses, in particular, came up throughout the meeting. The federation's state director, Bette Tatum, urged attendees to support HB2750, which would allow companies to have employees pay 40 percent of their insurance premiums.

Later in the day, the bill was held over by a joint meeting of the House Labor and Economic Development committees. It is expected to be heard again Friday.

Tax attorney Ron Heller also called attention to SB2391, which would create an income tax credit for employers who pay 100 percent of employee premium costs. He said, though, that the group would much rather see the cost-sharing bill become law. A sales tax holiday and various proposals for general excise tax relief also made the priority list.

In order to execute the group's agenda, NFIB members "adopt" state legislators each session, which involves getting to know them better.

"They visit their legislators at work. They invite their adoptees to their place of business," Tatum said.

"It not that (legislators) don't want to help small business. They don't know what small business is," she said. The program was developed five years ago to address that.

This year, about 40 NFIB members have adopted 64 of 76 legislators.

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Testimony by email:
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