Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Raised Bill No. 1044

January Session, 2015

 

LCO No. 4390

 

*04390_______HS_*

Referred to Committee on HUMAN SERVICES

 

Introduced by:

 

(HS)

 

AN ACT CONCERNING THE RECOUPMENT OF STATE COSTS ATTRIBUTABLE TO LOW WAGE EMPLOYERS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective from passage) (a) As used in this section and sections 2 to 4, inclusive, of this act:

(1) "Person" has the same meaning as provided in section 42-133e of the general statutes, except "person" shall not include the state or any department, agency or political subdivision thereof;

(2) "Franchise" has the same meaning as provided in section 42-133e of the general statutes;

(3) "Franchisor" has the same meaning as provided in section 42-133e of the general statutes;

(4) "Franchisee" has the same meaning as provided in section 42-133e of the general statutes;

(5) "Employee" means any individual employed or permitted to work by an employer, but does not include any individual employed in any park, camp or resort that is open not more than six months of the year;

(6) "Covered employer" means:

(A) Any person, firm, business, educational institution, corporation, limited liability company or other entity that directly employs five hundred or more employees in the state in any one quarter in the previous year, which shall be determined annually on January first, based upon the wage information submitted to the Labor Commissioner pursuant to subsection (j) of section 31-225a of the general statutes; or

(B) Any franchisor whose franchisees, collectively, employ five hundred or more employees in the state in any one quarter in the previous year, which shall be determined annually on January fifteenth, based upon the information submitted to the Labor Commissioner pursuant to section 4 of this act;

(C) "Covered employer" does not include any private nonprofit entity, the state or any instrumentality or political subdivision thereof;

(7) "Low wage employer fee" means any fee assessed pursuant to subsection (b) of this section and paid to the state in accordance with this act; and

(8) "Wage" means compensation due to an employee by reason of his or her employment.

(b) Any covered employer that employs, or whose franchisee employs, any employee (1) who was listed on such covered employer's or such franchisee's payroll for at least ninety calendar days prior to the completion of the most recent calendar quarter, and (2) whose wages paid by such covered employer, or such covered employer's franchisee, during such quarter were less than or equal to fifteen dollars per hour, shall pay a fee to the Labor Commissioner for each such employee. Such fee shall be assessed quarterly and shall be equal to one dollar for each hour such employee worked for such covered employer during the previous quarter. Such fee shall not accrue until January 1, 2016.

(c) The Labor Commissioner shall collect such fees from each covered employer not later than sixty days after the completion of the quarter in which such fees were assessed. The commissioner shall deposit such revenue derived therefrom with the State Treasurer who shall deposit such revenue in the General Fund. Such revenue shall be appropriated to (1) the Departments of Social Services and Developmental Services to support and improve the quality of state-supported consumer-directed services for elderly and disabled persons, and (2) the Office of Early Childhood to increase access to, support and improve the quality of school readiness programs, the child-care subsidy program authorized pursuant to section 17b-749 of the general statutes, child development centers, Head Start, Early Head Start or other programs overseen by said office to provide child care and early learning opportunities for the children of low wage workers. For the purposes of improving quality of services pursuant to subdivisions (1) and (2) of this subsection, revenue may be used to recruit, retain and offer professional development to a qualified workforce.

(d) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (c) of this section, and in accordance with the budgetary process applicable to appropriations, fees received by the Labor Commissioner pursuant to subsection (b) of this section may be used for the purpose of administering and enforcing said subsection.

(e) On and after October 1, 2015, the Labor Commissioner shall adopt regulations for the determination of and collection of fees pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, including the establishment of reasonable penalties or other remedies for failure to file timely reports and for delinquent or unpaid fees assessed pursuant to this section.

Sec. 2. (NEW) (Effective from passage) (a) There is established the Connecticut Low Wage Employer Advisory Board that shall advise the Labor Commissioner, the Departments of Social Services and Developmental Services and the Office of Early Childhood generally on matters related to the implementation of the low wage employer fee, public assistance usage among working residents of the state, improvement of the quality of public assistance programs affecting such residents, wages and working conditions for the workforce delivering services to low-wage working families and reliance of large businesses on state-funded public assistance programs. The board shall:

(1) Advise the Labor Department and other agencies as needed on matters related to the implementation of sections 1 to 4, inclusive, of this act;

(2) Engage in further study and monitoring of the causes and effects of large businesses paying low wages to residents of the state, including the impact of such labor practices on workers' need for public assistance, the benefits received by employers from the provision of public assistance to the state workforce and solutions to associated problems;

(3) Consider, suggest and review legislative and agency proposals and actions;

(4) Foster communication between working residents of the state who provide or receive public assistance and employers and state agencies for the purpose of improving the quality of state public assistance programs serving lower-income residents; and

(5) Advise the Labor Commissioner, and other interested state agencies or officials, on policies and procedures related to public assistance usage among lower-income working residents and the impact of public assistance programs on workforce quality and stability.

(b) The board may form working groups, as necessary, to solicit feedback from stakeholders to enable the board to fulfill the duties and responsibilities set forth in subsection (a) of this section.

(c) On December first of each calendar year, the board shall report its findings and recommendations in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes to the Labor Commissioner, Commissioner of Social Services and Director of the Office of Early Childhood. The report shall be made available to the public and to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to labor, human services and education.

(d) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 4-9a of the general statutes, the board shall consist of the following members each of whom shall serve an initial term of four years following the date of appointment:

(1) Five appointed by the Governor: (A) One of whom shall be an expert on the issues facing low wage workers, (B) one of whom shall be an expert on the labor force needs of the large business community, (C) one of whom shall be an expert on the labor force needs of the small business community, (D) one of whom shall be a recipient of consumer-directed Medicaid services, and (E) one of whom shall be a person enrolled in a state child care program;

(2) One appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate, who shall represent an organization whose principal purpose is advocacy for services funded by consumer-directed Medicaid programs;

(3) One appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives, who shall represent an organization whose principal purpose is advocacy for services funded by state child care programs;

(4) One appointed by the majority leader of the Senate, who shall be an organized labor representative who represents workers who provide services funded by consumer-directed Medicaid programs;

(5) One appointed by the majority leader of the House of Representatives, who shall be an organized labor representative who represents workers who provide child care services funded by state child care programs;

(6) One appointed by the minority leader of the Senate, who shall be a person with experience in the labor force needs of the large business community;

(7) One appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives, who shall be a person with experience in the labor force needs of the small business community;

(8) The Labor Commissioner, or the commissioner's designee; and

(9) The Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, or the secretary's designee.

(e) All appointments to the board shall be made not later than July 31, 2015. Following the expiration of their initial terms, subsequent members appointed by the Governor and members of the General Assembly shall serve three-year terms. Any vacancy shall be filled by the appointing authority not later than thirty calendar days after the office becomes vacant. Any member previously appointed to the board may be reappointed.

(f) The members of the board shall elect two chairpersons of the board at the first meeting of the board, which shall be held not later than forty calendar days after the effective date of this section. The board shall meet at least quarterly.

(g) Each member shall serve without compensation but shall, within available appropriations, be reimbursed in accordance with standard travel reimbursement for state employees for all necessary expenses that they may incur through service on the board.

(h) Each member shall, not later than ten calendar days after appointment, take an oath of office to diligently and honestly administer the affairs of the board, and will not knowingly violate or willingly permit to be violated any of the provisions of law applicable to their service on the board. The oath shall be administered by a chairperson of the board.

(i) Each member shall be entitled to one vote on the board. A majority of the members who have been appointed to the board shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of any business, the exercise of any power or the performance of any duty authorized or imposed by law.

(j) The board shall be within the Labor Department for administrative purposes only.

Sec. 3. (NEW) (Effective from passage) (a) Any covered employer aggrieved by the Labor Commissioner's determination of fees pursuant to subsection (b) of section 1 of this act may file a complaint with the commissioner. Upon receipt of the complaint, the commissioner shall investigate such complaint and may conduct a hearing in accordance with the provisions of sections 4-176 to 4-181a, inclusive, of the general statutes.

(b) The Labor Commissioner may request the Attorney General to investigate any violation of subsection (b) of section 1 of this act. Any information obtained pursuant to such investigation shall be exempt from disclosure under section 1-210 of the general statutes. If the Attorney General finds that a covered employer has violated or is violating any provision of section 1, 2 or 4 of this act, the Attorney General may bring a civil action in the superior court for the judicial district of Hartford in the name of the state against such covered employer.

(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to require a fee based on the hourly pay of any employee whose pay was established by a collective bargaining agreement executed prior to the effective date of this section for the term of such agreement.

Sec. 4. (NEW) (Effective from passage) Not later than January 1, 2016, and annually thereafter, each employer that submits wage information to the Labor Commissioner pursuant to subsection (j) of section 31-225a of the general statutes shall inform the commissioner if such employer is a franchisee. If such employer is a franchisee, such employer shall provide to the commissioner the name and address of the franchisor that granted the franchise to such employer and any other information the commissioner may require.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

from passage

New section

Sec. 2

from passage

New section

Sec. 3

from passage

New section

Sec. 4

from passage

New section

Statement of Purpose:

To require employers whose wages cause employees to rely on public assistance to contribute to state costs.

[Proposed deletions are enclosed in brackets. Proposed additions are indicated by underline, except that when the entire text of a bill or resolution or a section of a bill or resolution is new, it is not underlined.]