Aloha Chamber members:
A majority of our laws and regulations impact the expense side of businesses. As the “Voice of Business,” the Chamber team actively advocates policy for business and delivers results.
Our legislature hears from a wide variety of stakeholders on policy issues; the business community cannot afford to stay silent. Collectively, when we take action, we can make a difference. This is one of the reasons why we are working hard to reach our 2017 members by the end of 2017 goal. To date, we are 1,600 members strong. The more members we have, the larger the army and the stronger our voice.
This legislative session, we have reviewed and testified on a number of bills that impact business. The first major legislative milestone is upon us when bills that are still alive move to the final committee before a floor vote is taken in each respective chamber, after which these bills crossover for another set of hearings in the opposite chamber.
Some of the bills that we support and continue to move forward are economic development bills. Other bills relate to mandates, such as paid sick and safe leave, while others increase the cost of doing business, including minimum wage and tax bills.
The Chamber certainly understands the intent of these bills. However, some may have unintended consequences. For example, a provision in HB 209 that restores income tax rates for high income brackets that was repealed at the end of 2015 will increase taxes on small businesses, if passed.
A paid sick and safe leave bill will have a significant impact on the cost of doing business, particularly for small businesses.
A minimum wage increase is already in effect and next year it will be further increased. Without studying the effects of the increase on businesses, we cannot support this session’s bill, which increases minimum wage to $15. As we have stated in our testimony, Hawaii is the only state that has Pre-paid Healthcare. At the present minimum wage increase for 2018, with other mandates factored in, including Workers’ Compensation and TDI, the average hourly benefit provided rises to over $14.66/hour. At the proposed minimum wage hike to $15/hour, the benefit cost will be anywhere from $19 to over $23/hour.
According to a University of Washington study, when the minimum wage increased in Seattle, many hourly workers saw their hours reduced. Furthermore, tying wage increases to the Consumer Price Index does not take into account situations when the economy takes a downturn.
For these reasons, the Chamber will continue to advocate on legislation that impacts business and serve as your voice. Equally important is your voice. We strongly encourage you to respond to our Action Alerts and bring a unified voice to our legislators.
Laulima & mahalo,
President & CEO