posted Jun 11, 2012, 3:08 PM by Elysse Magnotto-Cleary

For Immediate Release                              For Further Information Contact:

6/6/2012                                                                Elysse Magnotto – 617-722-2090


(Boston)- Representatives Cleon Turner (D-Dennis), Randy Hunt (R-Sandwich), and Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown) are pleased to announce that an amendment addressing small business fair share contribution assessments regarding health care coverage to employees has passed the Massachusetts House of Representatives. The amendment was filed to the health care cost containment legislation, which aims at saving $160 billion in health care costs over the next fifteen years. The Cape delegation's amendment will provide Cape Cod's small businesses with significant savings in health care costs.


The original “Fair Share Assessment Amendment,” filed by Representative Linda Dorcena-Forry (D-Boston) and co-sponsored by Rep. Peake states, essentially, that employers would no longer need to include in the count of full time equivalent employees any employee covered by health insurance through a spouse, parent, veteran’s plan, Medicare, Medicaid or disability.


Representative Turner filed an amendment that redefines “seasonal employee” in such a way that assists small year round business that also hire seasonal employees. The current definition of a seasonal employee is someone who works for a seasonal employer.  Rep. Turner’s amendment, in response to concerns aired by constituents with both year round and seasonal employees, changes the definition to include employees who work for a specific season of sixteen or fewer consecutive weeks.  


Turner’s amendment also exempts seasonal employees from the calculation of full time equivalent employees. Those changes are significant because some small business which have had to count seasonal employees when making the full time employee equivalency calculation would no longer need to include those employees. 


“Re-defining seasonal employee is vital to ensuring that small, year round businesses, the backbone of the Cape’s economy, that also hire seasonal employees are protected when determining employee benefits,” said Turner. 


Representative Hunt filed an amendment that increases the threshold of full time equivalent employees from more than 10 to more than 20. "Combined with the other two changes, owners of many of our smallest businesses, the ones least able to deal with the mandates of our current law, will be able to focus on the task at hand and, hopefully, find it easier to expand and hire additional workers," Hunt remarked.


Through discussions with leadership and the Health Care Finance Committee Chair, the three amendments were combined into one amendment and received unanimous support from house members. The amendment also garnered the support of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Massachusetts Food Association, the Massachusetts Package Stores Association, and the Restaurant and Business Alliance, among others. The amendment will now be discussed in a Conference Committee with members from both the House of Representatives and the Senate.