Legislative update from NFIB/Washington
In his report on the legislative week ending January 20, NFIB/Washington State Director Patrick Connor highlights the first wave of bills important for small business.
Week two of the 2017 Legislature saw more work sessions than public hearings in legislative committees as lawmakers received briefings and updates on various topics, and scrambled to introduce dozens of bills.
Small Business Bill of Rights
Among measures introduced this week were NFIB/Washington’s “Small Business Bill of Rights inventory” companion bills, HB 1352 and SB 5230. Our second press release of the week on these bills touted our impressive list of sponsors – 37 in the House and 22 in the Senate.
The senate version is scheduled for public hearing Thursday, January 26, in the Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee where six of nine committee members have joined as co-sponsors. HB 1352 was referred to House State Government. There is no word yet on when the bill may be heard in that committee.
Regulatory reform was in the spotlight this week as multiple committees were briefed on the state auditor’s December 27 report on the Regulatory Fairness Act (RFA).
That act requires state agencies to prepare Small Business Economic Impact Statements (SBEIS) under certain circumstances when developing new rules. Not surprisingly, the report found a number of deficiencies in how agencies approach those requirements. Rep. Norma Smith introduced House Bill 1120 to adopt most of the auditor’s suggestions.
NFIB testified in favor of the bill during a public hearing in the House Technology & Economic Development Committee. Gov. Jay Inslee’s office also convened an interagency workgroup to address the report. NFIB and the Association of Washington Business were included as members of that group, which will continue meeting over the next couple of weeks to develop administrative changes to implement the auditor’s recommendations.
Meanwhile, NFIB will be meeting weekly with Rep. Smith to monitor regulatory reform legislation and agency efforts to address the auditor’s findings.
Licensing, B&O Tax Collections
NFIB had the opportunity to address nearly 100 mayors this week on the subject of municipal business licensing and B&O tax collections. NFIB was a member of an interim task force exploring ways to streamline and simplify those processes. Task force participants are working on legislation to implement the report recommendations. We are also awaiting legislation from House Finance Committee Chairwoman Kristine Lytton on the topic. We expect this to be a priority issue this session.
We are also bracing for an onslaught of labor bills on topics including:
- ban the box
- paid family and medical leave payroll tax
- equal pay penalties
- wage theft
- employee misclassification
- employee antiretaliation
- and wage liens.
All of which would expose small businesses to higher penalties and significant threat of litigation. A number of bills on these topics are scheduled for hearings next week.
The Importance of Small Business
Now in its 74th year, it has been the eternal educational mission of the National Federation of Independent Business to remind elected officials and policymakers that small businesses are not smaller versions of bigger businesses. More than 80 percent of small businesses file their taxes based on the individual tax rates; they do not file on the corporate tax rates and do not benefit from any reductions in the corporate tax rates. Small businesses also pay three times as much as corporations do to comply with taxes and pay 30 percent more per employee for all regulatory compliance.
The importance of small business to Washington state’s economy cannot be overstated. In fact, it’s paramount in importance, employing 1.3 million workers, which is 51.4 percent of the total workforce, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy. The SBA also reports that the median income “for individuals self-employed at their own unincorporated firms … was $23,478.” Taxes and regulatory burdens punish the engine of Washington state’s economy the most, which is why NFIB is always on guard against the harm bad regulations and higher taxes can do to the Main Street, mom-and-pop enterprises of Washington state.
NFIB has 325,000 dues-paying members across the nation, including more than 8,000 in Washington state. Learn more about NFIB at www.nfib.com, keep up with the latest small-business news here at www.nfib.com/WA, and follow us on Twitter for breaking small-business news at NFIB_WA. For further information, send an email to NFIB/Washington State Director Patrick Connor.