2 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, July 6, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com THE WEEKLY Hammer

The Weekly Hammer

Wade?s Newspaper

by John Hammer Paid circulation newspapers and their highly paid lobbyists are wailing and gnashing their teeth over the passage of a bill sponsored by state Sen. Trudy Wade that primarily does two things concerning newspapers. One, it removes a state statute for newspapers that decreed that people who deliver newspapers are not employees. Newspapers have a special exemption to the laws governing employees passed for their exclusive benefit and to the detriment of newspaper carriers. It prevents newspaper carriers from receiving the protections and benefits of employees, such as insurance and retirement plans. It also means that newspaper carriers don?t get half of their Social Security and Medicare tax paid for them by their employer but have to pay the full amount themselves as independent contractors. And it means that the newspapers don?t have to pay unemployment taxes

Bill Causing Press to Howl

on the newspaper carriers, so newspaper carriers, defined by law as independent contractors, cannot collect unemployment if they lost their jobs. In short, it is a great deal for newspapers and a bad deal for newspaper carriers. The bill, HB205, was passed by the legislature last week, but has not yet been signed into law by the governor, and some expect the governor will veto the bill. When newspapers were delivered by boys on bicycles, the special exemption may have made sense. But times have changed. Very few newspapers are delivered by boys on bicycles. They are delivered by men and women in cars who have far bigger routes than the newspaper boys ever had; and carriers don?t collect the subscription money anymore, that is mainly done by the newspaper. But newspapers want to keep their exemption from the employment laws that apply to every other business because it saves newspapers a lot of money. Wade said that she sponsored the legislation in part because of a series that ran in the Raleigh News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer on construction companies improperly classifying workers as independent contractors when they should have been classified as employees. The series was critical of this abuse of workers in the construction industry, but the same newspapers don?t feel the same way about their own industry. It appears to be a bad case of hypocrisy. While newspapers have in fact been obeying the law, it?s only because the newspaper lobby was strong enough to get a special law passed through the Democratic legislature 20 years ago that exempted newspapers, and only newspapers, from being required to comply with the laws governing employees. Because, well, because newspapers think they deserve special treatment and in the past the Democratic legislature was more than willing to give the newspapers, which routinely endorsed Democrats, that special treatment. Now with Republicans in control of the legislature, and mainstream newspapers continuing their liberal ways, it should be a new day in Raleigh, but the newspaper lobby is still immensely powerful. If HB205 is signed into law, newspapers will be treated like every other business ? something newspapers and their lobbyists say is unfair. It?s also worth noting that these same newspapers are highly critical of the powerful lobbyists for other industries, but as far as their own powerful lobbyists, well, they think they are just fine. In addition, HB205 has a pilot program for Guilford County that would remove the state-mandated monopoly for paid circulation newspapers on legally required advertising, whether it is placed by the government or by an attorney. This bill removes that statemandated monopoly for legally required advertising in Guilford County and would allow governments and attorneys to place the ads on the Guilford County website. The law doesn?t require advertising on the Guilford County website but allows that option if Guilford County chooses to put the infrastructure in place to accept the advertising. It provides some competition for the advertising, something that is generally believed to be good, and results in lower prices, which is one reason monopolies are for the most part illegal. Guilford County will charge a fee of $10 for other governments, such as Greensboro, who choose to place legally required advertising for public hearings, zoning and economic development and other matters on its website. For legal advertising, such as foreclosures, the fee is set at $450, and other legally required advertising other than by the government the fee is $100. Greensboro could meet the legal requirement for advertising by placing an ad in the News & Record if it chose. Attorneys would have the (continued on page 4)

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