The second regular session of the 31st Alaska Legislature will begin January 21, 2020 in Juneau.
On February 5 – 7, 2020 the Alaska State Home Building Association will travel to Juneau to engage our state’s policy leaders in conversations about the interests of our builders and associate members.
These efforts by our State Board Members to travel to Juneau and advocate for the interests of our members is commendable, and reflects positively on the entire building industry.
The Board will hold a meeting board meeting on Wednesday to establish priorities regarding the bills the legislature, and how these bills will impact the building industry. Then we prepared a list of talking points to discuss these issues with legislators and their staff.
On Thursday, we will spend the entire day in the Capital Building meeting with legislators. At each meeting, we present our talking points about the issues that matter to our industry, and we also hear from them about how things are going in the session.
Friday morning we will meet to discuss what we all heard in our legislative meetings. Hearing this feedback will give us an indication where there is support or opposition to our issues, and also how we can provide information to legislators that need it.
Our primary goal this half of the session is to support a bill that recognizes the 2018 International Residential Code for statewide residential construction. We would like to see this adopted under the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC).
We will also speak with legislators about the cost of workers’ compensation. We supported a bill (HB79) to define independent contractors, and although HB79 passed and was signed into law, we’re now hearing about insurance audits that are classifying subcontractors as employees.
It gets complicated, but the bottom line is if you hire a contractor, and they fail to meet the definition requirements of an independent contractor, you can be liable for their workers’ compensation.
Owners of sole proprietorships, partnerships, and LLC’s are not required by state law to buy workers’ compensation coverage on themselves. This is where contractors can be found liable for their subcontractors who don’t have coverage and who fail to meet all criteria required to define them as an independent contractor.
We are going to continue looking at the definition of independent contractor, how it can be changed to strengthen the distinction between a constructor and a subcontractor, and how we can help our members under the current requirements. In the meantime, we would encourage our members to talk with their own insurance agent about understanding independent contractor requirements for their coverage.
Our constant concern is to express support for funding towards the Cold Climate Housing Research Center. For many years CCHRC has received state funding through the AHFC budget, which has allowed them to bring added funding into their research programs and all the other help they provide toward supporting our industry.
In the meanwhile, our state building association is always watching things in Juneau and looking out for the interests of our local associations and their members. Please keep yourself updated through your local association about what is happening in Juneau, and let us know if there’s anything we need to keep an eye on.