NFIB Washington Legislative Update | Week 14

Date: April 16, 2021

Business-punishing wage liens and ‘worker protection’ bills sent to the governor for his signature

State Director Patrick Connor reports from Olympia on the small-business agenda for the legislative and political week ending April 16

The Legislature focused this week on bills on the concurrence and dispute calendars. This is the process for resolving differences in legislation that passed both chambers, but in somewhat different forms.

In addition, two bills of interest to small business owners – capital gains tax and cap-and-trade – were the subject of committee action this week.

#OpenSafeOpenNow

Gov. Jay Inslee this week announced three counties will regress back to Phase 2 re-opening effective today. The three are Cowlitz, Pierce, and Whitman counties.

All other counties will remain in Phase 3 until the next evaluation on May 3.

In a related move, House Republicans offered House Concurrent Resolution 4402 to exempt HB 1557 from earlier deadlines, and allow a vote on it. That bill would require legislative action to extend a governor’s emergency powers beyond 60 days. It was referred to the House State Government & Tribal Relations Committee on March 19, but never scheduled for a hearing. This was likely due to it being introduced more than a month after the first policy bill cut-off. Majority Democrats defeated the resolution this afternoon, April 16.

Environment
  • HB 1091, Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) – No action taken this week. The bill will return to the state House of Representatives for consideration on the concurrence or dispute calendar, since it was amended by the Senate. NFIB opposes the bill.
  • SB 5126, Cap and Trade – The bill is expected to be approved this afternoon, April 16, by the House Environment & Energy Committee. It has already been scheduled in the House Appropriations Committee for a public hearing Monday, April 19, and executive session Tuesday, April 20. Clearly, the House intends to pass this bill. NFIB encourages members to visit the legislative website to sign in CON for SB 5126. (Select “Appropriations” and “4/19/2021 9:00 a.m.”) NFIB opposes the bill.
Labor
  • HB 1097, Gov. Inslee’s “worker protection” act – The House concurred with Senate amendments to the bill. It now heads to the governor for signature. This legislation adds new daily penalties on businesses operating in defiance of an L&I stop-work order, gives workers more time to file complaints alleging retaliation by their employer, and creates a fund for L&I to provide safety grants to selected employers during a state of emergency. While “less bad” than the original version, NFIB still opposes the bill.
  • HB 1455, restricting state agency release of workers’ full social security numbers on certain correspondence to employers or other parties – The bill was sent to the governor this week for signature. NFIB supports this bill.
  • SB 5046, allowing lump sum settlements for certain workers’ compensation claims – It was sent to the governor this week for signature. NFIB supports the bill.
  • SB 5355, wage liens – This bill allows workers to file wage liens against a business owner’s real and personal property, including community property and the owner’s estate. It was also sent to the governor this week for signature. NFIB opposes the bill.
  • SB 5478, unemployment insurance relief – This bill to provide $500 million in targeted unemployment insurance tax relief to employers hit by hardest shutdowns and slowdowns ordered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is scheduled for public hearing in the House Appropriations Committee on Monday, April 19, and executive session Tuesday, April 20. NFIB supports the bill.
Tax & Fiscal

The Senate refused to concur with House amendments to the operating and transportation budgets, and requested conference committees be appointed for both bills. This is intended to facilitate negotiations on final budget deals before the Legislature must adjourn Sunday, April 25.

  • HB 1332, county property tax deferrals for businesses suffering 25% or greater revenue loss in 2020 – The House concurred with Senate amendments this week, and the bill has already been sent to the governor for signature. NFIB supports the bill.
  • SB 5096, capital gains tax – The House Finance Committee this morning, April 16, approved an amended version of the bill. Since this legislation has not been scheduled for hearing or executive action in the House Appropriations Committee, we expect it will instead be sent to the House Rules Committee. Proceeds from the new tax would be directed to education and childcare if the House Finance Committee version is enacted. NFIB is concerned its recommendations regarding the sale or transfer of less than 90% of a small business have not been included in committee amendments. Consequently, those sales or transfers are not adequately protected from the tax.
  • SB 5483, the “Forward Washington” transportation revenue package – The Senate Transportation Committee this week approved the bill, which includes a 9.8¢ per gallon gas tax increase, as well as per trip fees on for-hire transportation (like Uber and Lyft) and third-party food delivery services (such as DoorDash, Grubhub, and Postmates). These would be in addition to cost increases resulting from LCFS and cap-and-trade bills. Combined, these bills are estimated to cause fuel charges to skyrocket between 60¢ and $1 (or more) per gallon. NFIB opposes the bill.

The Legislature is taking the weekend off, but your state director will again appear on KGMI Radio’s Wealth Wake Up program at 11:15 a.m. tomorrow, Saturday, April 17. You can listen live, or at your convenience, using this link. Previous appearances (March 20, February 20, and January 23) are also available on that site.

Previous Reports and Related News
Photo snip courtesy of TVW

 

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