Articles

18Feb

Vera Cooley, MRA Member, Testifies Against Washington H.B. 1440

Independent marketing research professional Vera Cooley testified yesterday in defense of respondent incentives at a state legislative committee hearing.

Vera, an MRA member, responded to MRA's request for help and leaped at the chance to testify on February 18 before the Washington House Committee on Finance against the "Employee Fair Classification Act," H.B. 1440, legislation which would create the presumption that every respondent receiving an incentive for participating in survey, opinion and marketing research is an employee of the research company conducting the study.

"The overhead that would be required" by Washington H.B. 1440, according to Vera's testimony, "would mean that we couldn't have focus groups in this state."

H.B. 1440 would have a detrimental impact on any research company or organization using incentives for respondents. Rather than the current practice in Washington and other states, the "employer" would have to rebut the presumption that every person receiving payment for services is an employee. This would impose massive administrative overhead, as well as costly payments into workers compensation and unemployment compensation funds on behalf of every respondent receiving an incentive for participating in a research study. Research companies in Washington would have to do all that until they are able to provide sufficient evidence to the Department of Labor and Industries that the respondents are independent contractors and not employees. Upon receiving such evidence, the State would then have to refund the money that was erroneously collected from the company or organization.

MRA contacted the members of the House Committee on Finance in advance of their February 18 meeting to request that they bottle up this legislation in their committee and not allow it to advance.

If the legislators seek to advance H.B. 1440, MRA has suggested an amendment to the bill to carve out research participants, similar to the language in the Research Fairness Act.

Any MRA members in Washington state willing to contact their state Representatives about H.B. 1440 should contact MRA Director of Government Affairs, Howard Fienberg.

About the Author

Howard Fienberg

Howard Fienberg

Based in Washington, DC, Howard is the Insights Association's lobbyist for the marketing research and data analytics industry, focusing primarily on consumer privacy and data security, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), tort reform, and the funding and integrity of the decennial Census and the American Community Survey (ACS). Howard has more than two decades of public policy experience. Before the Insights Association, he worked in Congress as senior legislative staffer for then-Representatives Christopher Cox (CA-48) and Cliff Stearns (FL-06). He also served more than four years with a science policy think tank, working to improve the understanding of scientific and social research and methodology among journalists and policymakers. Howard is also co-director of The Census Project, a 900+ member coalition in support of a fair and accurate Census and ACS. He has also served previously on the Board of Directors for the National Institute for Lobbying and Ethics and and the Association of Government Relations Professionals. Howard has an MA International Relations from the University of Essex in England and a BA Honors Political Studies from Trent University in Canada, and has obtained the Certified Association Executive (CAE), Professional Lobbying Certificate (PLC) and the Public Policy Certificate (PPC). When not running advocacy for the Insights Association, Howard enjoys hockey, NFL football, sci-fi and horror movies, playing with his dog, and spending time with family and friends.

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