2019 Challenges in the Washington State Legislature

Date: June 12, 2018

Renewed effort to classify independent contractors as employees expected

The 66th session of the Washington State Legislature opens for business on January 14, 2019, with some immediate challenges for small business NFIB will set to work on.

Protecting Small Employers From Harmful Regulations
Several agencies are writing rules detailing how employers must comply with a variety of new laws impacting minimum wage, paid sick and safe leave, paid family and medical leave, overtime exemptions, tips and gratuities, equal pay requirements, and ban the box. NFIB is engaged in these rule-making processes and continues to insist that any new or updated rules are clear and easy to understand, consistent with similar federal requirements, contain sample policies employers can use or modify, require agencies to provide technical assistance and guidance, allow a reasonable transition and implementation period for small business, and include a stepped enforcement approach that first helps employers properly comply before citations and penalties are issued.

Preventing New or Higher Taxes
Seattle’s new “head tax,” their attempted municipal income tax, on-going McCleary and mental health-related court decisions, and recent state legislative proposals to impose a capital gains tax and increase various other taxes all suggest that small business owners must watch their wallets when the legislature convenes in January. NFIB will continue to vigorously oppose new or higher taxes targeting small businesses.

Defending Independent Contractors
Legislators are exploring ways to provide state-administered or at least state-sanctioned health insurance, paid leave, and other benefits to so-called “gig economy workers” who would traditionally be considered independent contractors. Agency officials also seem eager to find new ways to classify self-employed independent contractors as employees, subjecting them to unemployment and workers’ compensation taxes. NFIB will fight to protect entrepreneurship and innovation, defending individuals’ right to own, operate, and grow their own small businesses.

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