Keeping up with the Capitol – The Importance of Knowing Legislation

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An important strategy in economic development surrounds the need to have a robust legislative agenda and the relationships required to move that agenda forward.  In particular, we need to be the eyes and ears for small businesses who typically do not have their own government relations staff while supporting the efforts of larger businesses and municipalities that fall within our policy agenda.

In its simplest form, our legislative priorities fall under three main categories:

  • Business Climate
  • Infrastructure
  • Preschool – 20 Education

For example, there is a Dark Store Tax Issue that the County of Marquette has been working diligently to get corrected.  This falls under the “business climate” category because it is important that taxes be fair and consistent for all businesses, and we continue to support this effort.

Our partners are an important part of our strategy as well.  When there is a legislative policy issue that needs to be addressed, oftentimes we engage our partners through an “Action Alert” so they have all of the information at their fingertips to weigh in with the appropriate legislator(s) or departments.  This helps to elevate the support or opposition of an issue in short order.

Have you heard about the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed changes to overtime exemption regulations?  Do you know how they may affect your business, non-profit or governmental bottom line?

On July 6, 2015 the U.S. DOL issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would change the regulations that exempt administrative, executive and professionals from the Fair Labor Standards minimum wage and overtime requirements which are often times referred to as the “white collar” exemptions.

The proposed rules would change the current salary threshold for employees currently exempt from overtime requirements from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $921 per week ($47,892).  That is over a 100% increase!  The threshold does not take into account whether your business is in a metropolitan or rural area, where in the country it is or its size.  Increase is across the board.

The DOL accepted comments on the proposed rule until September 4th of last year.  Remember, however, that this change is coming from the DOL and is not legislation that our elected officials will vote on.

Based on a recent conference put on by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, we expect a final decision on the proposed changes to come this fall with compliance expected within 60 days of their decision.  So, please, take time to review your wage and hour practices, contact your financial advisor to determine how many of your employees may be subject to the new dollar threshold and be prepared to either increase your exempt employee’s base salary, begin paying overtime or make other appropriate adjustments.

Editor’s note: MEDA Members have access to weekly legislative updates through our weekly newsletter and updates on our website! Click here for this week’s legislation.

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Amy Clickner is the CEO of the Lake Superior Community Partnership. She can be reached at aclickner@marquette.org.

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