With just two weeks-plus left in the 2019 General Assembly session, CBIA and allied organizations have stopped a number of bills that negatively impacted businesses and the state's economy.

While the state House passed a minimum wage hike with adverse consequences many small businesses, a number of proposals pushed by the Labor and Public Employees Committee failed to advance.

Among those bills was HB 6913, which placed new restrictions on noncompete agreements.

Had it survived its referral to the Appropriations Committee, this bill would prevent anyone earning less than twice the minimum wage from entering into noncompete agreements.

It also made agreements unenforceable after July 1, 2019 if made in anticipation of the sale of a business, if employment was terminated by an employer, or if an employee terminated employment for good cause attributable to the employer.

The bill is an example of how far the labor committee will go to interfere with the employer-employee relationship.

Business Model Interference

This theme of interference was also demonstrated in SB 989, which did not survive referral to the Judiciary Committee.

SB 989 mandated a change in the business model of transportation network companies, setting in statute the precise revenue sharing terms between the companies and their independent contract drivers.

While the legislation was only applicable to the ridesharing industry, the implications of the labor committee involving itself in setting the business model of a private sector company was far more wide-reaching and dangerous.

Employer Gag Order

SB 64, one of the two so-called captive audience bills, was also recently sent back to the labor committee after its previous approval on a 9-5 party line vote.

The bill allows any employee attending a company meeting to walk out if they believed the meeting was discussing "political matters."

SB 64 defined political matters to include things like legislation or regulations impacting the business, or any community or civic activities.

The bill silences businesses by drastically restricting discussions with employees—particularly on unionization or legislative policy choices.

This legislation's goal is to silence businesses by drastically restricting discussions with employees—particularly on unionization or anything regarding legislative policy choices.

While another nearly identical bill, SB 440, remains on the Senate calendar, it was a welcome sign to see this version fail.

Criminal History

HB 6921 initially made it a discriminatory practice to exclude any individual from being considered for hiring based on information obtained from the Judicial Department related to arrests, indictments, convictions, outstanding judgments, or any other conviction information.

One implication of the bill is the potential for an unsuccessful job applicant with a criminal record claiming they were discriminated against, even if an employer learned of their record through other sources, such as media stories.

This bill survived referral to the Appropriations Committee, but committee lawmakers agreed to scrap its language and create a task force to study the issue.

The legislation clearly needed more scrutiny, and hopefully will benefit from further study.


For more information, contact CBIA's Eric Gjede (860.480.1784) | @egjede