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The outcome of several of the bills before the legislature is very important to employers.

We are asking you to make your voice heard by IMMEDIATELY contacting our legislators and expressing your views on pertinent legislation.  

An efficient way to contact them is through the iPhone App "LobbyUp." Also email addresses and phone numbers are available on the General Assembly Website.

Here is a list of bills affecting the HR Industry.

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

***HB 2206 by Rep. Hank Wilkins, which was filed as a shell bill, is on today’s House calendar for amendment. Amendment No. 1 amends § 11-10-210, the Department of Workforce Services Law, excluding services performed under a contract by a licensed person from the definition of “employment” and providing that the Department is under the Administrative Procedure Act. It also amends § 11- 10-308(d), requiring petitions for review of Department determinations to be filed in the circuit court in which the petitioner resides or does business under the AAPA.       _

 ***SB 575 by Sen. Linda Chesterfield is on today’s House calendar for final consideration. This bill would amend various provisions related to unemployment compensation, including the addition of a definition of misconduct in connection with work as a disqualification for benefits, procedure for recovery of overpayments and more. SB 575 was filed on behalf of the Department of Workforce Services. The State Chamber/AIA supports this bill.                _

 ***SB 802 by Sen. David Sanders is on the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee agenda. This bill would specify that owner/operators providing commercial motor vehicles or drivers to a motor carrier under contract are not employees of the carrier but independent contractors for purposes of workers' compensation law.           _

 ***SB 850 by Sen. Jim Hendren is on Monday’s Senate calendar for amendment. Amendment No. 3 makes technical changes to clarify effective dates. As originally drafted, the bill would reduce the rate of the Unemployment Stabilization Tax from 0.7 percent to 0.5 percent and, when assets of the Unemployment Compensation Fund are less than 0.4 percent of total payrolls during the preceding calendar, from 0.8 percent to 0.6 percent. Amendment No. 1 sets the effective date for the tax changes in this bill as 2014 rather than 2013. Amendment No. 2 adds an additional section that amends § 11-10-705(a), requiring an employer's tax record to include a payment representing a stabilization tax payment on wages paid by the employer. The amendment also clarifies that the changes in this bill only apply to calendar years 2014 and after.      _

 ***SB 857 by Sen. Alan Clark is on Monday’s House calendar. This bill would require the Department of Workforce Services to enforce provisions concerning ineligibility for extended unemployment benefits for failure to accept or seek work and to report results to the Legislative Council quarterly. Amendment No. 1 would create specific requirements for the director's reports to the Legislative Council and require the Department to facilitate electronic reporting of unemployment benefit recipients who refuse to take jobs or fail drug tests. It also would require the Department to notify employers with instructions for reporting such cases and remove liability for an employer who makes such a report with the belief that it is true.            _

 ***SB 875 by Sen. Bart Hester is on Monday’s Senate calendar for amendment.  Amendment No. 2 clarifies that the changes in this bill are effective for initial claims filed on the latter of the effective dates stated in this bill. As originally drafted, this bill would reduce weekly unemployment benefits from 66 2/3 percent to 60 percent of the average weekly wage for insured employment, with a maximum benefit amount of $325 per week. Amendment No. 1 would prevent the 10 percent reduction in weekly benefits mandated by this bill from reducing an individual's weekly benefit amount below $81.                _

 ***SB 884 by Sen. Stephanie Flowers is on the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee agenda. This bill would amend ACA 11-10- 210(f), exempting licensed unemployment agencies that report payments to individuals through IRS Form 1099 from the provisions of the section, and makes the exemption retroactive through January 1, 2003.                        _

 ***SB 1112 by Sen. Robert Thompson is on the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee agenda. This bill would repeal most of the changes made by the Department of Workforce Service’s (DWS) bill in the 2011 Regular Session. Act 1040 of 2011 extended the expiration date from 2011 to 2015 for mandatory deposits of portions of proceeds from the stabilization tax in the UI Trust Fund and Workforce Services Training Trust Fund. The language in SB 1112 addresses UI eligibility related to certain employment in an educational setting.              _

 ***SB 1116 by Sen. Ronald Caldwell is on Monday’s Senate calendar for amendment. Amendment No. 2 states that the additional rate increases created by this bill only apply to calendar years beginning January 1, 2014 and thereafter. As originally drafted, SB 1116 would provide for an increase in an employer's additional contribution assessments of the unemployment insurance stabilization tax. Amendment No. 1 sets rate calculations effective January 1, 2014. It also adds a new section, amending ACA 11-10-706(a)(2), allowing the stabilization tax to be credited to the separate accounts of each employer.       _ 

 

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

***SB 813 by Sen. Jon Woods is on the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee agenda. This bill would amend Workers' Compensation law to require a complaint of muscle spasms to be an objective finding, with a specific diagnosis of palpable muscle spasms to qualify as a compensable impairment.            ***HB 2107 by Rep. Stephanie Malone would amend § 11-9-410, allowing an employer to receive a future credit in a claim for workers' compensation benefits if the employer has been reimbursed for payment of such benefits as a result of bringing a successful action against a liable third party. The bill states that the right of an employer or carrier to recover damages against a third party is absolute and that the employer's consent is required before any other action in tort against the third party may be taken.  Amendment No. 2 instructs a court hearing a case under this section to not consider the “made whole doctrine” when considering the entitlement of an employer to an absolute lien in a third party claim regarding workers' compensation. This bill has been referred to the House Insurance and Commerce Committee. The State Chamber/AIA supports this bill.                             _

 ***SB 515 by Sen. Cecile Bledsoe would amend Workers' Compensation Law, providing that an employee who retains a compensable injury is entitled to benefits during the healing period only if the employer does not have work available with the employee's medical restrictions. This bill received a Do Pass recommendation from the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee, but has not yet been considered by the Senate.               _

 ***SB 589 by Sen. Jon Woods received a Do Pass as Amended recommendation from the Senate Judiciary Committee, but has not been put on the Senate calendar. Amendment No. 1 restricts the scope of this bill to firefighters and law enforcement officers only, removing mention of medical and other emergency personnel. The amendment also removes the provision that would increase temporary and total disability from 26 to 52 weeks (as was included in the original bill). As originally drafted, this bill would have defined an emergency responder for purposes of workers' compensation for mental injury or illness as a compensated person or volunteer who is acting in an assigned role in public safety and emergency services. It would also have increased temporary total disability from 26 to 52 weeks. The State Chamber/AIA is opposed to this bill.                   

EMPLOYEE HANDGUNS ON COMPANY PROPERTY

***HB 1269 by Rep. John Catlett remains on the deferred list in the House Judiciary Committee. The bill would prohibit an employer from basing an employee’s employment status on concealed handgun licensure and would require employers to permit employees with handgun licenses to possess a handgun locked inside a vehicle in the employer's parking lot. It includes exemptions for certain properties owned by chemical, oil, or gas companies and for property owned by a person other than the employer that is subject to a mineral lease. It also precludes liability of an employer for damages resulting from an employee's possession of a handgun and states that the employer does not have a duty to patrol or secure the parking area.

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

State Senators: 501-682-2902

State Representatives: 501-682-6211

To view schedules, calendars, bill information and legislator information, visit:  www.arkleg.state.ar.us.

To view live stream video and audio from the Arkansas House of Representatives, visit www.arkansashouse.org.

Content provided by Beverly Morrison and Arkansas Chamber of Commerce

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