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BPAA Biweekly State Policy Updates - August 23, 2019

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  • Arizona Law Makes Cities Pay For Increasing Their Minimum Wage Arizona cities and counties that raise their minimum wage above that of the state could be forced to cover the extra associated costs under a new law that goes into effect Aug. 27. Under the guidelines, part of House Bill 2756, officials will calculate how much money these local governments must reimburse the state. According to the Arizona Republic, when cities raise their minimum wage, the government ends up having to pay more for services in that area by increasing wages for government contractors. For example, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Regina Cobb (R-Kingman) told the Arizona Republic that the state received a request to increase funding for organizations that provide services to people with developmental disabilities after the city of Flagstaff raised its minimum wage. Arizona pays for these services, so the workers' higher minimum wage increased the state's costs. Read more at US News
  • Lawmakers Propose Doubling State Minimum Wage Two Democratic lawmakers in Kentucky say they have a proposal that would eventually more than double the state’s minimum wage. Sen. Reggie Thomas of Lexington and Rep. Kathy Hinkle of Louisa say they’ll introduce the measure in the House and Senate during the 2020 session. Their legislation would gradually raise the state’s minimum wage until it reaches $15 an hour by 2027. The lawmakers say the increase would result in a livable wage for more Kentuckians. Hinkle says the bill is aimed at helping people now juggling two or three jobs to support their families. The minimum wage in Kentucky is now $7.25 an hour. Their bill would not apply to businesses with annual gross revenues under $500,000. Previous efforts to raise the minimum wage have died in the legislature. Read more at WCLU
  • Bernalillo County, New Mexico Adopts Paid Leave For “Any Reason” Law The patchwork of paid leave laws around the country is getting increasingly more intricate as local governments adopt mandatory paid time off laws. This week, Bernalillo County, New Mexico added its patch adopting the first paid time off ordinance in New Mexico. Beginning on July 1, 2020, the Employee Wellness Act will require employers within the unincorporated limits of Bernalillo County to permit most employees to accrue paid time off and use that paid time off for any reason. While the ordinance was originally considered earlier this summer as a more traditional paid sick leave law, it was amended to allow for employees to use the time off for “any reason.” The County is following what looks to be a trend started by Maine and Nevada which both passed laws this summer allowing employees to use mandatory accrued paid time off for any reason. Under Bernalillo County’s new law, covered employers must permit employees to accrue a minimum of one hour of earned paid time off for every 32 hours worked, or employers may choose to use a frontload method and provide for accrual of all earned paid time off at the beginning of the year. The law sets out a three-year phase in period. Employers must allow employees to accrue up to 24 hours of paid time off as of July 1, 2020, 40 hours of paid time off as of July 1, 2021, and 56 hours of paid time off as of July 1, 2022 and thereafter. To be covered by the ordinance, employers must have “a physical premises within the unincorporated limits of the County, which employs two or more employees within the unincorporated limits of the County.” Read more at National Law Review


  • Philly Soda Tax: Here’s How Much Money It Has Raised, And How It’s Been Spent Philadelphia’s tax on sweetened beverages has been in effect for 2½ years, withstanding legal challenges, continued opposition by the beverage industry, and Democratic primary challenges to Mayor Jim Kenney as he seeks a second term. The amount of money it will raise has also been a bit of a moving target, as the city has made a few reductions to its revenue estimates. The latest adjustment is reflected in the city’s preliminary total for fiscal year 2019: $76.9 million, a revenue official said last week. That amount is a bit less than the $78 million that the city had initially budgeted for the year — an estimate that Kenney’s administration adjusted down before the year ended, attributing the difference to a lack of available data about similar taxes and a decline in soda consumption. Meanwhile, the programs that the tax funds — pre-K, community schools, and improvements to parks, recreation centers, and libraries — are growing. Read more at The Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Arizona Ranks 36th Highest On Beer Taxes, Study Finds The state beer excise taxes in Arizona ranked in a tie for 36th in the nation, according to a new analysis from the Tax Foundation based on January 2019 data. The state’s effective excise tax on a gallon of beer in Arizona stood at 16 cents, the Tax Foundation study found. That amount is on top of a federal rate of 11 to 58 cents per gallon that’s based on both location and quantity. Most beer taxes are usually applied before the products hit store shelves, according to the foundation. Because the taxes are often placed at the brewer and wholesaler level, consumers don’t usually see all the taxes levied, with the exception of a general sales tax or alcohol-specific sales tax, the analysis said. About 40 percent of the retail price of beer goes to taxation, according to the foundation. Read more at The Arizona Business Daily
  • Do Cannabis Or Alcohol Taxes Have Higher Upside For Society? Which helps society more? Alcohol or cannabis. That sounds like a funny question, but it may be an important one with more local governments embracing the opportunity to bring in tax revenue from cannabis sales. A new report from Wikileaf, an online resource for medical and recreational marijuana patients and consumers, titled Data for Alcohol vs. Cannabis: Which Taxes Help Society More?, examines alcohol and cannabis taxation in five states: Alaska; California; Colorado; Oregon; and Washington. The report reviews three aspects of each state’s tax scheme and provides an overview of actual revenue received from cannabis and alcohol taxes. It also summarizes cannabis and alcohol tax distributions. The report gives cannabis the nod as the more helpful to society. After analyzing the data, the report lands on the conclusion that in these five states, cannabis taxes provide slightly more support to social programs than taxes from alcohol. Read more at The Insurance Journal


  • Who Gets A Refund? North Carolina lawmakers are pushing to give refunds this fall to millions of taxpayers, with the state currently enjoying a $900 million surplus, The Associated Press reports. The plan from GOP legislative leaders would give maximum refunds of $125 to single filers and $250 to married couples, adding up to $680 million in tax refunds for 3.6 million households. The state Senate leader said plans were for his chamber to vote on the measure on Tuesday. Democrats said their constituents would prefer the surplus be spent on improving education, the environment and health care.
  • Rolling In The Money: California pulled in more revenues than expected from legalized recreational marijuana during the 2018-19 fiscal year, our Alexander Nieves reports. The $317 million in actual revenues beat a couple of previous projections — a $307 million estimate from the state's Legislative Analyst's Office in May and the $288 million from Gov. Gavin Newsom's enacted budget. Not only that, cannabis revenues are growing at a quick clip, too. Fourth-quarter revenues came in at $97 million, up from $80 million in the previous quarter. And yet: Revenues are still far below the $630 million in annual revenues originally predicted by former Gov. Jerry Brown.
  • Murphy Conditionally Vetoes Corporate Tax Break Extension Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ) on Friday conditionally vetoed a bill that would extend the state’s controversial corporate tax program until January next year, doubling down on his push for a set of five new economic incentives. Murphy sent back Assembly Bill 5343 along with a 143-page veto message saying he would only approve the bill if it included the five tax incentives he proposed in October, which would be capped at $400 million a year. Legislative leadership has stood in opposition to those very incentives, meaning the statehouse and governor’s office could be in yet another political gridlock over the state’s flagship incentives. Read more at NJ Biz
  • Revenue Committee Talking Corporate Tax The Wyoming Legislature only has a small period of each year where they are in Cheyenne full time and during the interim, committee work keeps Legislators busy. A topic that has come up in the Revenue Committee is the possibility of adding a tax for corporations to the current system. A bill that would have added the tax failed in the Senate during the 2019 Session. Local Representative for House District 51 and member of the Revenue Committee Cyrus Western shared more details about the subject. After voting in favor of House Bill 220 in committee work during the 2019 General Session, Western did vote against the measure on third reading by the whole house body along with other local legislators Mark Jennings and Richard Tass. Representative Mark Kinner was the lone member of the local delegation that voted in favor on third reading. Representative Western shared his reasons for opposing the legislation. Read more at Sheridan Media
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