What's Happening in the Legislature?
March 2006

The Arizona Legislature is back in session. As we’ve done in the past, we’ll follow the progress of bills that may affect you, keeping in mind that most of them will die before ever getting heard. Remember, however, that you can affect the bills’ direction by letting your representatives know what you think.

We encourage you to have your voice heard on the issues that affect your business.

Making the Call

Making the call can make a difference. But, please keep a few important points in mind when you decide to contact legislators:

  • Legislators and staff have little time and long memories, so brevity is generally appreciated and poor manners are remembered long past the resolution of the issue that prompted the comment.
  • Your opinions do matter, and your comments may even trigger a dialogue with a legislator.
  • Always remember that you can share only your views; otherwise, you have to register as a lobbyist.

So, What’s Up in the Arizona Legislature?

Below is a summary of all the employment-related bills that have been introduced in the Arizona Legislature this session, and their status as of press time:

Bills Related to Workers’ Compensation

H2111: Workers’ Comp; Drugs and Alcohol

The former statutory provision stating that an employee was ineligible for workers comp if an accident resulted from the employee’s use of alcohol or controlled substance is deleted because the statute was declared unconstitutional last year. The employer has the burden of proving that the employee’s use of drugs or alcohol was a “substantial contributing cause” of the accident.

Status: This bill was passed in the House on a vote of 36-21 and was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce and Economic Development.

Bills Related to Compensation, Overtime and Leave

H2231: State Employees; Annual Leave Transfers

Under this bill, accumulated annual leave may be transferred to an employee who is seriously incapacitated caused by pregnancy or childbirth. The person who receives transferred leave is allowed to be absent for six consecutive months or, if the leave is intermittent, up to 1,040 hours per occurrence.

Status: This bill has been referred to the House Committee on Government Reform and Government Finance Accountability.

H2234: Overtime Compensation; Law Enforcement

This bill allows the county sheriff or governing body of a city or town to establish alternate work periods in accordance with federal law to determine overtime compensation for a person engaged in law enforcement activities.

Status: This bill has been referred to the House Committee on Counties, Municipalities and Military Affairs.

S1096: Probation Officers; Overtime Compensation

This bill would change the definition of probation officer for overtime compensation purpose to a “person engaged in probation officer activities” involved in court, adult probation or adult surveillance activities, but who does not serve in an executive or administrative capacity.

Status: This bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Government.

H2542: Minimum Wage

All employers would be required to pay all employees a minimum wage of $7.10/hour. On the first of each new year, the amount would be increased based on the average annual percentage increase of the consumer price index.

Status: This bill has been referred to the House Committee on Government Reform and Government Finance Accountability and the Committee on Commerce.

Bills Affecting Union Activity

H2421: Political Subdivisions; Funds; Unions

This bill would introduce various changes to statutes relating to union organizing and political subdivisions, including provisions prohibiting political subdivisions from using funds to reimburse contractors for any costs incurred in assisting, promoting, or deterring union organizing.

Status: This bill has been referred to the House Committee on Counties, Municipalities and Military Affairs.

H2423/S1113: Right to Work

These bills introduce changes to various statutes to protect the right of workers to join a union. Among other things, it makes it illegal for an employer to attempt to interfere or threaten a person or the person’s family if the person wants to join a union.

Status: These bills have been referred to the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Committees on Commerce and Economic Development and Appropriations.

H2541/S1201: Labor Organizations; Nonunion Employees

These bills would make a non-union member of a collective bargaining unit that is also represented by a labor union liable to the union for “actual costs of grievance representation” if an employee represented by the union initiates a grievance. The employee’s maximum liability cannot exceed an amount equal to the dues of a union member under the most recent contract.

Status: These bills have been referred to the House Committee on Government Reform and Government Finance Accountability and the Senate Committee on Commerce and Economic Development.

SB1513: Illegal Aliens; Employment Verification

This bill cites the federal and state laws that employers already must follow and impose fines from $200 to $2,000 for each employee wrongly hired. Under this provision, employers would be punished for “knowingly and intentionally” hiring illegal workers.

Status: Endorsed by the Senate Committee on Commerce and Economic Development and proceeding to a vote of the full Senate.

SB1216: Employment; Illegal Aliens

This bill provides that employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens would be subject to a $5,000 fine for each violation.

Status: This bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce and Economic Development.

H2667: Occupational Safety; Employee Death; Penalty

This bill would entitled the Industrial Commission to charge an employer additional penalties in the event of a workplace accident that results in an employee’s death in situations where the deceased had no dependents. Employers are not currently liable for any additional penalties in the absence of dependents.

Status: Referred to the House Judiciary and Commerce Committees.

Miscellaneous Bills Affecting Employers or Corporations

H2823: Unlawful Employment Practices; Penalties

This bill mandates that employers comply with security; workers’ compensation and income tax withholding state laws. Employers will be required to complete and retain I-9 employment eligibility verification forms for all employees.

Status: This bill has been referred to the House Committee on Federal Mandates and Property Rights.

H2418: Employer Communications; Religious, Political

This bill would prohibit an employer or its designee from requiring any employee to attend a meeting or event that has the primary purpose of communicating the employer’s opinion about religious or political matters unless required by law. Any violation of this provision may be communicated to the Industrial Commission. An employee may also file an action with Superior Court within 90 days of the alleged violation. Religious organizations, political organizations, and educational institutions are exempt in regard to communicating information directly related to their purpose.

Status: This bill has been referred to the House Judiciary and Commerce Committees.

S1105: Personnel Files: Rights to Copies

This bill would allow an employee or former employee whose employment has been terminated to make a written request for a copy of all personnel file documents within a year of the termination. If available, the employer must provide the information within 10 business days. Employers are not required to release the information more than once every six months. If an employer fails to comply, a complaint may be submitted to the Labor Department of the Arizona Industrial Commission. Employers that still fail to comply after notification from the Commission can be charged a maximum of $100 for a first violation and $1,000 for each subsequent violation.

Status: This bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce and Economic Development.

Stay Tuned! We will be following the progress of these bills as the legislative session continues.

View entire article in PDF format here.

 

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