2018 Challenges in the Washington State Legislature

Date: August 01, 2017

Will paid leave advocates leave well enough alone? Will labor uphold its end of the deal?

The Washington State Legislature convenes the second half of its 65th session on Jan. 8, 2018. The following issues are expected to resurface almost immediately.

Stopping Expansion of Paid Family and Medical Leave Law
After threatening a ballot initiative if labor unions did not get their way, a new paid family and medical leave law was passed in 2017. The big questions for 2018 are will Big Labor honor its part of the bargain and will various advocacy groups leave well enough alone. NFIB was the only business association to fight the law from beginning to end, winning some changes making it less onerous to small business. For 2018, it will be ready to fight any expansion of the law. For a history of the law, NFIB’s position on paid leave, and what the law portends for the future, click here for a fuller story.

Protecting an Employer’s Right to Know
Advocates for prohibiting employers from asking a job-seeker up front if he or she has ever been convicted of a crime, popularly called ‘ban the box,’ have been gaining ground in some states with both Republicans and Democrats. In the 2017 session of the Washington State Legislature, two attempts were made to pass bills taking away employers’ right to know.

Significant research from even left-of-center institutes shows ban-the-box laws are having a harmful, not helpful, effect on job-seekers, especially those with no criminal record. From the Brookings Institution: “Overall the unintended consequences of ‘ban the box’ are large, and run counter to one of its goals: reducing racial disparities in employment. For this reason, I hope jurisdictions repeal their ‘ban the box’ laws … Advocates could push for policies that would provide more information to employers about ex-offenders’ job-readiness, rather than taking information away.”

From Princeton University: “Withholding information about criminal records could risk encouraging statistical discrimination: employers may make assumptions about criminality based on the applicant’s race.” From researchers at Georgetown University, University of California Berkeley, and UCLA: “We find that employers who check criminal backgrounds are more likely to hire African American workers, especially men. This effect is stronger among those employers who report an aversion to hiring those with criminal records than among those who do not … These results suggest that, in the absence of criminal background checks, some employers discriminate statistically against black men and/or those with weak employment records.”

An editorial with more information and links to the research can be found here.

Protecting the Right to Hire Independent Contractors
A perennial issue in state legislatures across the nation is Big Labor’s annual assault on independent contractors. NFIB/Washington is ready for another fight to stop Big Labor from forcing independent contractors from being classified as W-2 employees.

Related Content: Issues | Labor | Paid Leave | Taxes | Washington

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