Steven Selleck

California Takes Aim at Gig Economy

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Posted by Steven Selleck on Friday, August 9th, 2019, 2:46 PM PERMALINK

A bill that risks ending the sharing economy as we know is close to becoming reality in California.

Assembly Bill 5 calls for sharing-economy workers, contract workers like ride share drivers or online writers, to become official employees. It passed the California Assembly Floor on May 29th and the Senate Labor Committee on July 10.

More specifically, the bill will narrow the definition of an independent contractor to meet three conditions: the worker must be free from the company’s control, the worker must do work that is not central to the business, and the worker has an independent business in the industry.

If the business is not able to meet all three criteria, then the independent worker will be categorized as an employee and will be automatically enlisted in employee benefits like overtime pay, health coverage, and more. If the bill passes the Senate and is approved by Gov. Newsom, it will result in serious ramifications for businesses, consumers, and employees in the state of California.

These restrictions will kill worker freedom.  And businesses will raise prices in order to keep the lights on.

Large businesses are not the only suppliers to take a hit. Small, online businesses also partner with contract workers for services such as writing, consulting, marketing, graphic design, and more. For companies with thin profit margins, this legislation could force them out of the market – and out of California.

Finally, 8.5% of California’s 19-million workforce worked via independent contracting in 2016. This comes out to over 1.5 million workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This number is certainly growing, as the state’s entire workforce has grown by 500,000 since 2016. Potentially 1 in 10 California workers will suffer the costs of misguided labor policy.

AB is an attack on worker rights, hours, flexibility, and the free market. It would be another crushing blow for a state that is one of the leaders in bad ideas, and cause out-migration for people who can’t afford it anymore.

Photo Credit: Jon/Flickr

Massachusetts Lawmakers Approve Oft-Failed Amendment to Tax Millionaires

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Posted by Steven Selleck on Wednesday, July 31st, 2019, 9:23 AM PERMALINK


The Massachusetts House and Senate approved a constitutional amendment on June 12th that would impose a 4.0% income surtax on top of the existing 5.05% flat state income tax for individuals, families, and small businesses earning more than $1,000,000 annually (representing a 79% rate increases). The good news for Massachusetts taxpayers is this tax hike will not take effect any time soon and there are still opportunities to stop it.

In order for a constitutional amendment to take effect in Massachusetts, both chambers of the Massachusetts legislature must pass the amendment in two consecutive legislative sessions, after which it is subject to a vote of the people in the form of a statewide ballot measure.  

Massachusetts is a blue state known for electing Democrats to office, yet voters have declined similar progressive income tax hikes five times over the past 30 years

“Some lawmakers think history started in 2019,” said Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance’s Paul Craney, “but this policy idea is the most rejected in the state’s history.”

Lawmakers in the Bay State plan to redistribute the revenue raised by this tax hike towards infrastructure reparation, public transportation, and public education.

In a June 13th Lowell Sun article, sponsor of the amendment Representative James O’Day (D) said, “The Massachusetts economy is working great for those in the upper 1%, but the time is now for all residents to reap the benefits of what this great state can accomplish through the revenue of the fair share amendment.”

While Representative O’Day markets the proposed “millionaire’s tax” as a way to soak the rich, the reality is it would hit thousands of small businesses across Massachusetts. In an article for Forbes, Patrick Gleason wrote,

According to IRS data, more than 529,000 Massachusetts sole proprietors, along with 184,000 S-Corps shareholders and partners filed under the individual income tax system in 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, and more than 15,000 of those small business owners would be hit by the progressive income tax hike proposed by Senator Lewis as a way to soak the rich."

Massachusetts legislators will need to pass the millionaire’s tax hike once more in the next legislative session. Concerned taxpayers should contact their representative on Beacon Hills and urge them to vote against this misguided tax hike. If lawmakers pass the amendment again, then voters will vote directly on the proposal in 2022 when it will appear on the state’s ballot.


Photo Credit: Sarah Oliver/Flickr

Good and Bad Minimum Wage Legislation in the States

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Posted by Steven Selleck on Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019, 2:36 PM PERMALINK

Over the course of this legislative session, many states passed minimum-wage increases, supposedly to help low-income workers. An article from National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reported that 10 states increased their minimum wages due to prior legislation, and that Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, and New Mexico all plan to hike their minimum wages to $15, $15, $15, and $12, respectively.

However, minimum wage increases harm-low income workers more than they help. New York and Seattle are two key case-studies that illustrate the harm of a $15 minimum-wage.

An article from Reason reports that New York City’s minimum-wage increase forced 75 percent of restaurants to cut employee hours, and nearly 50 percent to eliminate jobs entirely. On top of that there is a dramatic cost increase for menu items, which makes consumption less affordable for low-income residents.

The state’s largest metro area is not the only region to enact the policy, as the state of New York also passed legislation to increase the minimum wage. To nobody’s surprise, the Empire Center found that many more jobs will be lost throughout the Empire state.

Seattle’s minimum-wage hike actually hurt take-home pay. The University of Washington conducted a study which concluded that minimum-wage workers earned less take-home pay on average in Seattle, due to a decline in hours. A Subway manager in Seattle, Heidi Mann, explained in an article for Minimum Wage, “After Seattle implemented a $15 minimum wage, my business went from having seven employees to three.” The manager further elaborated, “Now, we’re faced with the very real prospect of closing.”

Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois, and New Mexico which all passed radical wage hikes can expect to see similarly poor results.

It’s not all bad though. Delaware nearly passed a $15 minimum wage proposal, but the bill did not make it through both chambers of the state’s legislature before the session ended on June 30th. In the article, State Sen. Bryan Townsend (D) commented, “There is a fiscal note attached to the bill because its financial impact to the state was not factored in when we debated the bill.”

Some states are fighting back. In March, North Dakota approved House Bill 1193, which prohibits local governments from increasing the minimum wage above the state’s current rate ($7.25).  

Louisiana lawmakers also rejected a minimum wage hike during this legislative session.

Lawmakers in Louisiana and North Dakota both demonstrated their commitment to the minimum-wage constituents of their states, which will allow them to work more hours, have more jobs, and face lower costs for consumer goods.

Photo Credit: Davien Orion/Flickr

Different Fates for Tax-Hiking Paid Family Leave in Maine, Vermont

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Posted by Steven Selleck on Friday, June 21st, 2019, 2:39 PM PERMALINK

The Vermont legislature wrapped up its 2019 session last month without giving final approval to House Bill 107, legislation that called for 12 weeks of state-mandate paid-leave after childbirth for all Vermont workers, men and women alike. Under HB 107, workers would be compensated for 90% of their wages until $27,000 of their salary, and 55% of their higher earnings.

The bill also mandated the same benefit for paid family leave to take care of a sick relative for up to 6 weeks. A 0.2% payroll tax would be used to fund the proposal, as if taxes in Vermont aren’t high enough (Vermont currently has some of the highest income taxes in the country, according to Tax Foundation, with the 6th highest tax collections per capita of any state).

In an article for Seven Days, Vermont Senator Randy Brock (R) objected to the tax, saying, “This is a plan that thousands of people don’t want and can’t use, and it’s being forced down their throats". Brock also notes that there are many hard-working Vertmonters who are planning on having children or have a sick relative at home.

Another point made by Brock in a VPR article is that Vermont lawmakers may seek higher pay rates for off-duty workers in the future, possibly up to 100% of their wages. This will further burden the taxpayers of the Green Mountain State, where only a small percentage of the workforce will ever use paid leave.

Vermont is not the only state in New England to consider a paid leave mandate bill this year. Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed a similar bill on Tuesday, May 28th. The new Maine law calls for up to 40 hours annually of paid leave. Maine workers will be paid their full wages for the hours taken off. Predictably, funding comes from a tax hike of 0.77 percent of payroll taxes.

An article from The Maine Heritage Policy Center explained that the proposal would be particularly harmful to low-income workers in Maine. According to the think tank, individuals earning $25,000 annually will pay $100 each year for the new tax. This tax hike will reduce consumption for the low-income residents, who spend a higher amount of income on consumption than high-income residents.

Maine joins Washington, DC, and five other states in the progressive efforts to tax all workers for the benefit of very few.

Photo Credit: Jennifer/Flickr

CT Ban on Plastic Bags & Styrofoam Would Squeeze Low-Income Residents & Throttle Jobs

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Posted by Steven Selleck on Thursday, May 30th, 2019, 1:34 PM PERMALINK

Low-income residents, small businesses, and jobs would all take a hit with a statewide ban on plastic bags and Styrofoam containers in Connecticut.

The Senate environment committee recently approved a bill that would ban plastic bags, Styrofoam containers, and require paper bags be recyclable and contain 40 percent recycled materials (which begs the question, why not allow recycled plastic?).

The committee already approved a bill barring straws from being handed out unless requested.

Town after town in the state have banned plastic bags, straws, and Styrofoam, leading to this moment.

In addition to not even being effective (World Resources Institute), and the unintended consequences, if the goal is to deal with highly publicized world ocean pollution, it is misguided because the United States has virtually no share of that pollution, according to Statista.

Governor Ned Lamont (D) recommended a 10 cent per-bag tax in February. According to the Yankee Institute, this tax would cost shoppers approximately $30 million. But still, even Lamont was short of proposing an all-out ban.

This move does not just hurt manufacturers and workers in the industry, but it will negatively impact small businesses that will have to change the containers they use, adding costs for them, and worse products for consumers.

Finally, shipping companies like Amazon will have to use different materials to ship orders, possibly increasing costs of shipping and handling.

 Other states that banned these materials are California, Hawaii, Maine, New York, and others, according to National Conference of State Legislators.


See More on Plastic Bans:

Cuomo & Legislators Will Ban Plastic Bags, Tax Paper in NY

Worst-in-Nation Bill to Ban Plastic Bags, Straws, Styrofoam Containers Advances in NJ

Maryland About to Become First Nanny-State to Ban Styrofoam


See More on Connecticut:

Connecticut Could Become Most Tolled State in the Nation

CT Governor Ned Lamont Demands Regressive Statewide Soda Tax

Connecticut Examples of Tax Reform Good News

Photo Credit: buymmogold/Flickr

Second Chance Act Would Strengthen Communities, Boost Economy, Reduce Crime

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Posted by Steven Selleck on Friday, May 17th, 2019, 8:59 AM PERMALINK

The North Carolina state Senate recently passed the “Second Chance Act”, a solid criminal justice reform bill that will help former non-violent offenders, who have maintained a clean record since their release, fully reintegrate with society.  

The bill removes barriers to economic opportunities for former offenders, allowing them to expunge non-violent offenses from their records if they have gone 10 years or more under the following conditions: no new charges, completed sentencing, paid all fines. The one-time fee of $175 is far more reasonable than the costly legal hurdles that people have to deal with now.

Senate Bill 562 was passed unanimously, with strong support from both Democrats and Republicans. This coming the day after Rebecca Tisdale, former non-violent criminal and founder of Justice Served, NC, marched along with over 1,000 supporters of the criminal reform bill.

Her story shows the personal impact of these reforms, as ABC 11 reports, “For Tisdale, it's a whole new life. At 40, she is finally able to get a driver's license. She's now enrolled at Wake Tech, and, hope has returned.”

Now the bill needs to be approved by the North Carolina House. The House has every reason to support the bill. This legislation is a win for taxpayers and communities. People who have proven they have moved on from their crimes should have the chance to leave that past behind, build new lives, and contribute to their communities. The opportunity to clear one’s record is an important incentive for people to avoid committing another crime later.

According to Tisdale, “It’s a second chance. It’s a big chance”. 

Photo Credit: Max Pixel