(Anchorage) - House Labor and Commerce Committee chair Kurt Olson, R-Kenai, commented on Alaska Governor Sean Parnell signing a package of Labor and Commerce bills relating to interest rates, antitrust penalties, residential sprinkler systems, and public construction contract labor rates.
We try and promote a healthy business atmosphere in the state and we can do that through these technical laws that keep the state current and enforce the rights of Alaskans.
~ Rep. Kurt Olson
"These bills are good for consumers and business: for Alaskan small businesses, state business transactions, staying out of homeowners' business, and for facilitating property sales," Olson said. "We try and promote a healthy business atmosphere in the state and we can do that through these technical laws that keep the state current and enforce the rights of Alaskans."
House Bill 188 allows an individual offering a loan of $25,000 or less, to charge an interest rate that would be the greater of 10 percent or 5 percent above the 12th Federal Reserve District rate at the time of the loan. Today that would allow a maximum rate of 10 percent. HB 188 passed the legislature unanimously on April 16, 2011.
House Bill 87 passed the legislature unanimously on April 16, 2011. HB 87 updates the criminal penalties for the state's anti-trust laws, and adds a civil penalty provision. Under current law, an antitrust violation under AS 45.50.562 or 45.50.564 is a misdemeanor that is punishable by a fine of up to $20,000 for natural persons or $50,000 for organizations. Olson said these penalties do not serve as a significant deterrent to individuals and companies engaging in antitrust violations. "Current penalties amount to paying for a new car", Olson said. "HB 87 makes a dramatic increase to these penalties. The limit on fines will increase to $1,000,000 and $50,000,000 for persons and organization, respectively."
House Bill 130 is in response to a national movement to require fire sprinkler systems in one and two-family dwellings. This legislation would require a more robust public process be followed before sprinklers can be mandated in new one and two-family home construction. HB 130 passed the legislature on April 16, 2011. Olson acknowledged the work done in prior years by Sen. Linda Menard and Rep. Bob Herron on this legislation.
House Bill 155 passed the legislature unanimously on April 17, 2011. HB 155 calls for an increase to the dollar threshold that public works contracts must meet before they qualify for prevailing wages. Currently, Alaska's Little Davis-Bacon Act (LDBA) applies to public construction contracts over $2,000. This legislation would raise the threshold to $25,000. "This is a paperwork reduction act for small businesses", Olson said. "According to a recent article in the Associated General Contractors' monthly magazine, Forty-seven percent of all construction projects in the state fall under this limit."
All of the bills signed today will take effect October 21, 2011.