Several items today…
I went to the testimony table twice today.
The first time was in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill in question is SB 167, which has been proposed by State Treasurer Kate Marshall. It deals with unclaimed property, which is a complicated subject that I won’t delve into here.
Chamber member IGT offered an amendment to the bill, which would protect businesses from invasive outside audits performed in the name of claiming unclaimed property. I signed in neutral on the bill itself and urged the committee to consider and support the amendment. I pointed out that anything we can do to make our unclaimed property laws less onerous and more business-friendly would have a positive affect on attracting new businesses and industries to our state.
During the 11 am floor session today, the Assembly unanimously passed AB 165, a bill sponsored by Speaker Buckley that would implement required transfers from the state’s general fund to the rainy day fund. In other words, the Governor and the Legislature would be forced to set aside funds in the boom times to assist us in the down times. I testified in favor of this bill a few weeks ago in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, as it is one step in our long-term spending reform agenda. There are other bills of the same nature that have been proposed by other legislators and the Governor, so we anxiously await those proposals.
I spent most of the afternoon in the Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee. AB 167, which would mandate that all insurance policies cover acupuncture treatment (except those offered by large companies covered under the federal ERISA law and labor union plans).
The Chamber is opposed to ALL insurance mandates, as they end up driving up the cost of insurance coverage, hitting our small employers the hardest. That could result in even more people ending up uninsured, which nobody wants. This hearing certainly had a different feel than the autism hearing a few days ago. The room was mostly empty and acupuncture is not nearly as emotional of an issue. The argument was made that acupuncture treatment could actually lower health insurance costs. If that is the case, then the Chamber fully supports allowing our members, the employers, to make the decision on whether or not to cover it. Some of them may jump at the chance! But they should not be required to cover it.
Finally, the Committee held a hearing on AB 150, which would require tanning bed operators to be regulated for the first time by the State Board of Cosmetology. The bill includes new posting requirements, parental consent forms for minors, and a requirement that any employee who operates a tanning machine must be 18 years old.
I have not heard back from any of our tanning bed members, so the Chamber has no official position on this bill. I am concerned, however, that the requirements of this bill may be too onerous for a small business operator, a concern also voiced by Assemblyman Settelmeyer at the hearing. The Indoor Tanning Association did oppose the bill, claiming that most of these protections are in place and operable already.
If you are a tanning bed operator and have interest in this bill, shoot me an e-mail.