Earlier this year, we blogged on HB 2246, which would have allowed trial lawyers in auto cases to suggest the amount of compensation their plaintiffs should receive for their “pain and suffering.” This legislation would have worsened the Commonwealth’s already unfavorable tort climate, which ranks the 5th worst in the nation. Grassroots activists helped kill this bill, preventing lawyers from preying on juries emotions, driving up insurance costs, and encouraging lawsuit abuse.
Unfortunately, special interests succeeded in getting HB 400, nicknamed the Subcontractor Extinction Act, out of the Senate Appropriation Committee. The measure is essentially an effort to build up the bankrupt unemployment compensation fund, while making it more difficult for companies to hire independent contractors, a goal of the construction union bosses.
. . . the legislation will force many employers who hire contractors for construction, expansion or landscaping projects to treat these individuals as employees, requiring the payment of unemployment compensation taxes and workers’ compensation insurance.
Independent contractors will also be saddled with a new requirement to purchase liability insurance coverage. Failure to meet these standards will result in hefty fines and possible criminal charges. In layman’s terms, this new legislation means higher costs and fewer jobs.
It appears the unions are wielding a lot of power this election season, to get legislation like this moving with everything else going on. Five Senate Republicans have already voted for the measure in committee. The bill is expected to be voted on in the full Senate in the next few days.