House Approves Delaying WA Cares Payroll Tax

Date: January 21, 2022

NFIB Washington Small Business Day, January 26

State Director Patrick Connor reports from Olympia on the small-business agenda for the legislative week ending January 21.

Several bills impacting small business received public hearings this week, and the WA Care delay was approved by the state House of Representatives.

Small Business Day

Registration is open for this year’s virtual Small Business Day, which will be held from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, January 26.

Thanks to our sponsors, Rock Point Oyster Co. and CA Logue Public Affairs, there is no charge to participate. However, advance registration is required. Please register here.

B&O Tax Replacement Survey

Washington state’s Business & Occupations (B&O) Tax is universally reviled. This tax on gross receipts is fundamentally regressive and has drawn criticism from legislative Republicans and Democrats alike. There is a growing interest in replacing the B&O tax. The question is, what do we replace it with?

The state Tax Structure Work Group is developing options to replace the B&O, but your input is needed. They’ve posted an online survey to gather feedback. It will remain open until January 31.

NFIB encourages small-business owners to complete this survey. Please note, there are two versions. You should be able to complete the short survey in 10 minutes or less. The long version could take as much as 45 minutes, but most people complete it in about half an hour. Results from the long version will be most useful, but even completing the short form will be helpful.

  • House Bill 1838 and Senate Bill 5727, Governor’s salmon recovery bill – Agricultural groups mobilized this week to oppose HB 1838. These companion bills would impose 250-foot riparian buffers on waterways, such as both sides of rivers and streams, as well as around ponds, lakes, and shorelines. Due to the large number of people wanting to testify, the House agriculture committee held two public hearings. The Senate bill has not (yet) been scheduled for hearing. NFIB opposes these bills.
Health Care
  • HB 1688 and SB 5618, Balance billing – The House bill is scheduled for executive action (amendment and approval) in the House Health Care & Wellness next week. The Senate bill was heard in the Senate Health & Long-Term Care Committee January 21. NFIB signed in supporting the bill in both committees.
  • HB 1837, Ergonomics – This bill, which seeks to repeal Initiative 841 prohibiting the state Department of Labor & Industries from promulgating ergonomics rules, was heard in the House labor committee this week and is scheduled for executive action on January 25. NFIB opposes the bill, and will be deploying an Action Alert asking members to express objections to their state representatives.

  • SB 5517, Employment of individuals who consume cannabis – The bill would prohibit employers from terminating or refusing to hire individuals who test positive for cannabis use. Due to safety concerns and further regulatory intrusion into workforce relations, NFIB signed in opposed to the bill during its hearing in the Senate labor committee this week.
  • HB 1614 and SB 5533, Online marketplaces / organized retail theft – HB 1614 advanced from committee this week and is now in House Rules. SB 5533 was scheduled for a public hearing Thursday but was bumped to next week. Based on a “rejoinder” from some of the Big Box stores supporting this legislation to questions we posed, NFIB has moved from concerns to opposed. The bill places new reporting obligations on legitimate small businesses, including disclosure of personally identifiable information that poses data privacy risks, while effectively doing nothing to enhance law enforcement’s ability to stop organized retail theft. NFIB intends to testify against the bill next week.
  • HB 1810, Right to Repair – This bill, which NFIB supports, was approved in the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Business this week and sent to House Appropriations for further action.
Tax & Fiscal
  • HB 1732, WA Cares delay – The House approved this bill Wednesday, 96-1. It is scheduled for a hearing and executive action in the Senate Ways & Means Committee next week. The bill could see a Senate floor vote as early as Wednesday, February 2. NFIB supports this delay.
  • HB 1819 and HJR 4208, Business personal property tax exemption – The House Finance Committee this week heard these bills, which would increase the business personal property tax exemption to $100,000 and apply it to all businesses in the state. The state Department of Revenue finally released the long-awaited draft fiscal note the day before the hearing. It estimates local governments may lose about $2 million annually due to this change. The tax shift could be between $30-$40 million. Rep. Mari Leavitt, prime sponsor, is convening meetings with other legislators interested in supporting the bills, as well as stakeholders that could be impacted by this change. NFIB testified in favor of the package and is engaged in stakeholder discussions.
  • HB 2031, UI and PFML tax relief – A House companion to SB 5873, which we discussed in last week’s update, was introduced this week, and scheduled for a public hearing in the House labor committee next Friday. NFIB supports the bill.
Prior Legislative Updates


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