Blog Archives

Legislative Updates
2017 Legislative Session Predictions

The legislative session is going to start in just a couple of days.  In order to help HEC members begin thinking about what they will likely see from our lawmakers over the next several months, I recently conducted a 90-minute webinar forecasting possible employment-related legislation for the upcoming legislative session.

To set the context for what types of bills we may see get introduced, heard and possibly passed, I first discussed the political context we are currently experiencing, including (1) a new Labor chair for the House of Representatives, (2) political influencers such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and the new chair of the Hawaii Democratic Party Tim Vandeveer.  I also mentioned the possible trickle-down impact that having President-elect Trump take over the White House may have at the state level.

The possible legislation I then discussed included the following:

  • Salary thresholds for exempt employees
  • Paid sick and save leave
  • Pay transparency and pay equity
  • Minimum wage (and the “Fight for $15″)
  • Hawaii Family Leave Law expansion
  • Social Media privacy
  • Increased regulation of construction industry
  • Employment discrimination (Adams v. CDM Media case)
  • Medical information privacy (PRO v. Queen’s case)
  • Independent Contractors
  • Incentives for hiring disabled individuals
  • Small business preferences for state procurement
  • Price caps on WC medication
  • Increased HIOSH penalties
  • Electronic notices for DLIR hearings
  • Funding for DLIR positions

As the bills start to get introduced and hearings get underway, I’ll be busy tracking legislation on these topics (and likely others).  As a non-election year, it will be interesting to see what kind of legislation has the most movement in 2017.

 
Hawaii Senate Committees Finalized

The Hawaii State Senate has finalized their committee assignments for the 2017 legislative session.  The committees will be chaired as follows:

Ways and Means:  Jill Tokuda
Commerce and Consumer Protection:  Roz Baker
Judiciary and Labor:  Gil Keith-Agaran
Economic Development, Tourism and Technology:  Glenn Wakai
Agriculture and Environment Committee:  Mike Gabbard
Education:  Michelle Kidani
Government Operations:  Donna Kim
Hawaiian Affairs:  Maile Shimabukuro
Higher Education:  Kal Kahele
Housing Committee:  Will Espero
Human Services:  Josh Green
Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs:  Clarence Nishihara
Transportation and Energy:  Lorraine Inouye
Water and Land:  Karl Rhoads

 
Hawaii State House Finalizes Committee Assignments

The Hawaii State House of Representatives recently finalized their committee assignments for the 2017 legislative session.  Here are some of the committee assignments that may be of interest to employers:

Consumer Protection & Commerce (CPC)
Chair:  Angus McKelvey
Vice Chair:  Linda Ichiyama

Economic Development & Business (EDB)
Chair:  Mark Nakashima (former Labor Chair)
Vice Chair:  Jarrett Keohokalole

Finance (FIN)
Chair:  Sylvia Luke
Vice Chair:  Ty Cullen

Health (HLT)
Chair:  Della Au Belatti
Vice Chair:  Bert Kobayashi

Judiciary (JUD)
Chair:  Scott Nishimoto
Vice Chair:  Joy San Buenaventura

Labor & Public Employment
Chair:  Aaron Johanson
Vice Chair:  Daniel Holt

 
Leadership Assignments at the Capitol Mostly Still the Same

The election cycle is finally over and the nation’s politicians are starting to prepare for the next round of lawmaking.  At the local level, the Hawaii State Senate and House of Representatives recently announced their leadership structure for the upcoming legislative session.

kouchi_souki

The Senate reaffirmed Ron Kouchi as Senate President and the House retained Joe Souki as Speaker.  Other leadership posts in both chambers will remain mostly the same:

For the Senate:

President:  Ron Kouchi
Vice President:  Michelle Kidani (former Education Chair)
Majority Floor Leader:  Will Espero (former Vice President)
Majority Leader:  Kalani English
Majority Caucus Leader:  Brickwood Galuteria
Majority Whip:  Donovan Dela Cruz

Ways and Means Chair:  Jill Tokuda
Commerce and Consumer Protection:  Roz Baker
Judiciary and Labor:  Gil Keith-Agaran
Human Services Commitee:  Josh Green (former Majority Floor Leader/Whip)

(Other Senate committee chairs have not yet been finalized.)

For the House of Representatives:

Speaker:  Joe Souki
Vice Speaker:  John Mizuno
Majority Leader:  Scott Saiki
Majority Floor Leader:  Cindy Evans
Majority Whip:  Ken Ito
Assistant Majority Leaders:  Roy Takumi, Chris Lee and Dee Morikawa
Majority Policy Leader (new position):  Marcus Oshiro
Speaker Emeritus:  Calvin Say

(No House committee chairs have been announced.)

 
Two Lawsuits and Several Bills Challenging the DOL’s New FLSA Rules

UPDATE:  OMG!  Contrary to very-widely-held speculation, a federal district court actually did issue a preliminary injunction against the new FLSA rules!  And, the injunction applies nationwide!  Click here for further details:  Nationwide Injunction Imposed Against New FLSA Rules

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This has been a busy couple of weeks for the U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) new FLSA rules.  First, two lawsuits have been filed in a Texas federal court to seek an order preventing the DOL from enforcing its new overtimes rules.  In addition, a House bill - HR 6094 – is making its way through Congress to postpone implementation of the new FLSA rules for six months.  The new rules are currently set to take effect on December 1, 2016, which is just about two months away.

lawsuit

The first lawsuit was filed by 21 states and argues that the DOL overstepped its authority by raising the salary level for the FLSA’s Executive, Administrative and Professional exemptions (“EAP exemptions”).  The lawsuit argues that, instead of raising the salary level, the DOL should have reexamined the duties of the EAP exemptions.  In addition, the 21 states also challenged the automatic increases that are set to increase every three years “without regard for current economic conditions or the effect on public and private resources.”  Finally, the lawsuit posits that new DOL’s rules violate the Tenth Amendment because employment budgetary matters such as the pay requirements of state employees are subject to state sovereignty.

The second lawsuit was filed by a coalition of business groups, including the National Federal of Independent Businesses (“NFIB”) and several Chambers of Commerce.  This lawsuit argues that setting new salary threshold at an exceedingly high level and scheduling automatic increases both violate the Administrative Procedure Act.

(Both lawsuits have been assigned to Judge Amos Mazzant, who was appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama.  So, that’s not exactly great news…)

Finally, there are several bills pending in Congress that seek either (1) a delay of the new rules or (2) a phase-in of the increased salary threshold over several years.  Specifically, HR 6094 and S. 3462 both seek a six-month delay of the effective date of the new rules and HR 5813 and S. 3464 seek to phase-in the increases over several years.

Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives just voted 241-177 in favor of passing HR 6094.  The bill will now go to the U.S. Senate for consideration.  However, President Obama has previously threatened to veto the measure if it is passed and the Office of Management and Budget issued a statement that “strongly opposes” the bill.

Therefore, despite all these legal challenges to the new FLSA rules, employers should plan to implement whatever changes they deem necessary by the December 1, 2016 effective date.