Retail theft measure dead for the year
State Director Patrick Connor reports from Olympia on the small-business agenda for the legislative week ending February 25.
Week 7. House bills not budget-related had to pass a Senate policy committee by close of business February 24, and vice versa for Senate bills. This second policy cut-off has winnowed the list of those potentially affecting small business to about a dozen and a half. The February 28, fiscal cut-off may trim a few more from that total.
In advance of the second fiscal cut-off, the House Appropriations and Senate Ways & Means committees are planning marathon meetings to consider legislation with a budget impact. On February 25, Appropriations heard 25 bills. Senate Ways & Means will hear 51 bills February 26, and take will action February 28.
In the meantime, the Senate planned to approve its budget plan on February 25. The House will vote on its budget package February 26.
- SB 5722, Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in buildings – This bill continues to move forward, having passed the Senate on a near party-line vote of 27-22 before being approved by the House Environment & Energy Committee. It was heard in House Appropriations February 25. NFIB is signed-in opposed to the bill.
- HB 1688, Balance billing – The bill passed the Senate Health & Long-Term Care Committee February 24. It was sent to Senate Ways & Means for further consideration. Strangely, it is not yet scheduled for a public hearing, but has been slated for executive action February 28. This is likely an administrative oversight, and the bill could still be added to the February 26 Ways & Means agenda. NFIB supports the bill.
- HB 1837, Ergonomics – The Senate Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs Committee amended and approved the bill on February 24, directing the Department of Labor & Industries to begin a five-year process of industry-specific rulemaking, beginning with janitorial services. The bill was sent to Senate Rules. If this version of the bill is approved by the full Senate, the bill will return to the House for a concurrence vote. NFIB opposes the bill.
- SB 5801, Loser-pays for workers’ comp appeals – The House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee approved the bill this week, rejecting an amendment submitted by an NFIB-led coalition of 11 State Fund employer groups seeking to shift the full cost of these few appeals to the employer-paid workers’ comp Accident Fund. The bill was sent to House Rules. NFIB and our fellow State Fund employer groups have requested that our amendment be considered on the House floor if the bill is scheduled for a vote. Without amendment, NFIB opposes the bill.
- SB 5781, Organized retail theft penalties – The House Public Safety Committee refused to hear this bill, which had passed the Senate with significant bipartisan support, 46-3. The bill is now dead. NFIB supported the bill.
Tax & Fiscal
- HB 1957, small business disaster assistance – Senate Ways & Means will hear this bill February 26. It would create an account to provide emergency assistance to small businesses affected by natural disasters. The new fund would be administered by the state Department of Commerce. The amount of funding is subject to appropriation by the Legislature. NFIB has signed in supporting the bill.
- HB 2018, back-to-school sales tax holiday – Thanks to the state’s overflowing coffers, this concept may finally be gaining traction in the Legislature. Long a priority of the state’s Retail Association, the bill passed the House Finance Committee on February 17, and was heard in the House Appropriations Committee February 24. It has not yet been scheduled for a vote in House Appropriations, however. NFIB signed-in supporting HB 2018 in both the House Finance and Appropriations committees.
- SB 5459, B&O tax credit for credit card processing fees – NFIB also signed-in supporting this bill, which was heard in the Senate Ways & Means Committee February 22 and approved February 24. The bill corrects a recent change in interpretation by the state Department of Revenue that subjects credit card processing fees to double taxation. These additional taxes get passed along to small businesses.
- SB 5980, Increasing small-business B&O tax credit – In a surprising move, retiring Sen. Reuven Carlyle introduced SB 5980 on February 22. It was fast-tracked with a hearing February 24, in Senate Ways & Means and is scheduled for executive action in that committee February 28. The bill would increase the small-business B&O tax credit to effectively exempt the first $125,000 in gross receipts for all qualifying businesses. A reduced tax credit would apply to gross earnings up to nearly double that amount. NFIB’s state director, and its Leadership Council vice chair, Lois Cook, testified in favor of the bill February 24. NFIB supports the bill.
As mentioned above, February 28 is Fiscal Cut-Off II. The Opposite House Cut-Off, where bills from one chamber must pass the other chamber, is March 4. Certain budget-related bills can be exempted from those deadlines.
NFIB will be calling on members to respond to Action Alerts opposing HB 1837, ergonomics, in the Senate, and SB 5801, loser-pays for workers’ comp appeals (unless amended), in the House. Watch your email for updates, or visit this page to Take Action now.
Prior Legislative Updates
- February 18—Ergonomics Bill Passes House After Marathon Debate
- February 11—Weekend Work for Legislature Ahead of Big February 15 Deadline
- February 4—NFIB-Backed Retail Theft Bill Advances
- January 28—Governor Signs Bill Delaying WA Cares Payroll Tax
- January 21—House Approves Delaying WA Cares Payroll Tax
- January 14—Ergonomics is Back! Bill Would Repeal Initiative 841
- January 7—Pre-Session Glance