Workplace mandates are on the legislative agenda again in 2017.
The 2017-2018 legislative session began on Jan. 4, and the Legislature is comprised of 41 Republicans and 159 Democrats. What can small businesses expect from lawmakers this year? NFIB/MA State Director Bill Vernon outlines the issues like to come up.
While Gov. Charlie Baker aims to keep government reined in and House Speaker Robert DeLeo is, by Massachusetts standards, more business-friendly than many lawmakers, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg has staked out territory further to the left. So, the Senate can be expected to push many issues that will negatively impact small businesses, including:
- Paid family leave
- Restrictions on employers’ ability to change employee work schedules
- Increasing the minimum wage (which is already the highest in the nation)
- Making innocent employers vicariously liable for wage violations by employers they do business with
“The Senate leadership will oppose spending reductions and seek new revenues to solve the state’s budget problems, possibly even a broad-based tax increase and certainly a constitutional amendment that would impose a surtax on incomes over $1 million and/or a tax on carbon-based tax energy,” Vernon said.
There may also be tweaks to the state’s new law legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, including a tax increase to pay for regulatory functions over the industry and restrictions on youth-friendly products.
“I think Massachusetts, like other blue states, can look forward to attempts to mitigate the positive economic impacts of any regulatory and financial relief offered at the federal level,” Vernon said. “In other words, what the federal government giveth to small business owners, the state government will often seek to taketh away.”