Efforts to pass a worker misclassification bill are moving forward after what was called "the big stakeholders meeting" on Monday. Sen. John Carona, Chairman of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee, brought groups like the Texas Construction Association, AGC Texas Building Branch, some individual companies and others to hash out the best way to deal with the growing problem that has often been referred to as payroll fraud. One longtime observer of the legislature told me that this kind of meeting of the minds is part and parcel of the way Sen. Carona operates when he's on board with something and thinks he can win on an issue.
Sen. Carona told me that "The meeting was very positive, with a healthy discussion centering on how the definitions will be handled, the appropriate level of fines, and whether and how enforcement should be approached." He said that we've moved past the point of having to convince people that there is a problem and into the phase of figuring out how it will be addressed. "There is general acceptance that the problems exist and need to be addressed. The outlook is very good going forward," he said.
Vice President of AGC Texas Building Branch, Corbin Van Arsdale, who was in a closed-door session, said "I think everyone in the room learned something, probably even a few things they didn’t know previously on this issue. Most interesting to me was the mechanics of how the Workforce Commission currently handles the issue, how they would be affected by the bill, and how their funding on this comes exclusively from the feds."
Some have suggested that one of the things that needs to happen is simply providing more resources for the Workforce Commission to do audits. Rep. Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont, has said it really doesn't matter how high the fines are if there's no enforcement. He's authored one of three bills that have been filed this session to deal with this issue.