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Costs, worker safety weighed in health insurance proposal (access required)

By Caitlin Coakley CHARLOTTE — A proposed amendment to the U.S. Senate health care bill is drawing opposition from contractors who believe it could trigger layoffs, while others believe it’s necessary given the dangerous nature of construction work. The so-called Merkley Amendment would require construction firms with more than five employees or $250,000 in payroll to provide employees with health insurance, or pay a $750 fine per employee. Non-construction firms with fewer than 50 employees would be exempted from the requirement. It was sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. Mark Baldwin, executive vice president of the Homebuilders Association of Charlotte, believes the amendment would be disastrous to residential construction companies.

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