Unions bus in more than a thousand people to intimidate proceedings. State police called in.
NFIB/Washington State Director Patrick Connor’s weekly report from Olympia for the legislative week ending February 10
Week Five was another busy one for NFIB in the Washington State Legislature. February 17 is the deadline for policy committees to approve bills originating in their respective chambers, so there was a rush to hold public hearings on as many bills as possible this past week.
Labor issues were front and center. On February 6, the Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee heard seven bills related primarily to public-sector union transparency and member rights. NFIB supported them all and testified in favor of requiring recertification elections every four years.
Right to Work
On February 8, the committee considered a Right to Work bill. Big Labor bussed in some 1,100 people to oppose the legislation. NFIB was the only business organization to testify on the bill. We joined the Freedom Foundation and Washington Policy Center to make the case for worker rights (audio is available here).
The Washington Retail Association was the only other business group to sign in supporting the bill, but did not testify. While the state patrol escort after our testimony was unnecessary, the senate office building was on “lock down” due to disruptions from organized labor during the hearing.
On February 9, NFIB testimony opposing Senate Bill 5555, limiting employer requests for job applicant salary history, led to agreement on an amendment permitting employers to request the information, but not requiring applicants to provide it. If adopted, the amendment would allow NFIB to be neutral on the bill.
Paid Family Leave Payroll Tax
Also on February 9, NFIB held its annual Small Business Day at the Capitol, which allowed participants to sign in opposing other bills on the committee’s agenda, including House Bill 1116, a paid family medical leave payroll tax, heard in the House Appropriations Committee later that afternoon.
On the health-care front, NFIB’s opposition to expanding the state’s high-risk pool resulted in two amendments to House Bill 1338. One limited the pool’s extension to five years, the other added intent language to evaluate alternative funding sources. Currently, small-business owners, their employees, and the self-employed purchasing health insurance in the individual, small group, and association health plan markets pay nearly 75 percent of cost to operate the high-risk pool. That amounted to some $34 million in 2015.
Small Business Bill of Rights Inventory
Finally, NFIB’s Small Business Bill of Rights Inventory bills, Senate Bill 5230 and House Bill 1352, both gained ground during the week. The Senate Ways & Means Committee unanimously advanced SB 5230 to the Senate Rules Committee without recommendation. HB 1352 was heard in the House State Government, Elections & IT Committee February 10. NFIB/Washington Leadership Council member Kerry Cox joined state director Patrick Connor testifying in support of the bill, which the lead sponsors, NFIB member Rep. Andrew Barkis and Rep. Mike Chapman, introduced at the start of the hearing. Kerry’s testimony was excellent. Click the photo below for a video of Cox’s and Connor’s testimony. The bill is scheduled to be approved by the committee in executive session in the coming week.