Members go on TV to lobby for small business agenda
NFIB/Washington State Director Patrick Connor reports on the small-business agenda for the legislative week ending March 24.
The Senate budget proposal took center stage during Week 11 of the 2017 regular legislative session. Senators burned the midnight oil Wednesday and Thursday to debate and amend the Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) spending plan, and related bills needed to implement it, first in committee and then on the floor, adjourning around 12:30 a.m. both Thursday and Friday.
The Republican budget package is notable for its property tax equalization component that will slightly increase rates on high-value properties, particularly around Puget Sound, while reducing the property tax burden for most of the rest of the state.
Democrats objected to higher property taxes in primarily metropolitan and suburban areas and instead called for establishing a new capital gains tax and increasing internet sales tax collections as potential alternatives. Enacting a carbon tax and increasing the B&O tax on the service sector are other options Gov. Jay Inslee and legislative Democrats have introduced.
What’s The Worry?
Amusingly, in the wee hours of Friday morning, Senate Democrats again foiled MCC attempts to bring up the governor’s capital gains tax legislation for debate. Despite repeatedly calling for a capital gains tax, this was the second time Senate Democrats refused to go on record voting or even debating the bill.
Small Business Bill of Rights
Meanwhile, NFIB received some welcome attention for two of our members serving in the state senate as Sens. Lynda Wilson and Guy Palumbo appeared on TVW’s The Impact. They are the chairwoman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Higher Education Committee, and lead sponsors of our small business bill of rights inventory, Senate Bill 5230. Sen. Palumbo made a point of mentioning their NFIB membership on air.
Also of note, Kerry Cox, an NFIB/Washington leadership council member and owner and general manager of ITC Systems in Clarkston, testified before the Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee Thursday opposing House Bill 1855. The bill would create another mandate on certain small businesses, including his, requiring signage on all vehicles used by electrical and electrical specialty contractors. Committee Chairman Sen. Michael Baumgartner pronounced the bill dead as a result of the panel’s testimony.
‘Get NFIB on Board!’
Just the day before, Chairman Baumgartner instructed union proponents of House Bill 1673 to “… get ABC and NFIB on board with the bill,” before he will advance it. HB 1673 would require construction contractors to complete a yet-to-be-created, four-hour training program approved by the Department of Labor & Industries before being eligible to bid on public works projects (unless exempted). ABC is the non-union Associated Builders & Contractors of Washington. While this is not a priority bill, NFIB signed in opposed to this unnecessary mandate on our small contractor members. We greatly appreciate the chairman’s support of NFIB positions on legislation before his committee.
- “Ban the Box” (House Bill 1298 / Senate Bill 5312) – HB 1298 is still awaiting formal referral to the Senate Rules Committee. However, NFIB testimony this week appears to have delayed passage of SB 5312 in the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee. The bill was slated to be heard and approved by that committee Tuesday. Instead, executive action has been delayed until March 28. NFIB submitted proposed amendments for the committee’s consideration. There is no word yet whether any of our suggested changes will be incorporated into the bill. NFIB remains opposed to the bill in its current form.
- Small business bill of rights inventory (House Bill 1352 / Senate Bill 5230) – The House State Government, Elections & IT Committee unanimously approved SB 5230 this week, advancing it to the House Rules Committee. HB 1352 is in Senate Rules, awaiting referral for a floor vote. Sen. John Braun, an NFIB member and NFIB’s 2015-16 Outstanding Legislator, put $40,000 in the Senate budget for the attorney general’s office to complete the report required by SB 5230.
- Municipal business licensing (House Bill 2005 / Senate Bill 5777) – The Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee this week amended and approved HB 2005, sending it to the Senate Rules Committee. The Saldaña amendment did not include the five-year timeline for cities to join the Department of Revenue’s Business Licensing Service, conditioned on legislative funding, which the committee previously added to SB 5777. Consequently, HB 2005 only contains an unnecessarily lengthy 10-year process. The five-year timeline was a key win for NFIB in task force negotiations. Senate Ways & Means Committee Chairman John Braun included $2 million in the Senate budget for that purpose. NFIB submitted language for a floor amendment seeking to add the five-year requirement to HB 2005, and is working with SB 5777 sponsor Sen. Sharon Brown, as well as Lynda Wilson and Guy Palumbo, to ensure our amendment is added once the bill reaches the Senate floor. SB 5777 is scheduled for executive action in the House Finance Committee next week.
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[Tile photo of Sens. Lynda Wilson and Guy Palumbo with The Impact host, Mike McClanahan, courtesy of TVW.]