Governor backing Regulatory Fairness Act improvements
NFIB/Washington State Director Patrick Connor’s report from the State Capitol for the legislative week ending February 24
The potential cost of legislation took center stage during week seven of the 2017 half of the legislative session. Fiscal committees held marathon sessions in advance of the February 24 fiscal cut-off.
Next week, most committee hearings will be suspended as both chambers will debate and vote on bills during floor sessions.
Regulatory Bills Advancing
- House Bill 1120, updating the Regulatory Fairness Act, was approved by the House Appropriations Committee Friday. We appreciate the assistance from Gov. Jay Inslee’s office, which encouraged the committee chairman to schedule the bill for executive action at NFIB’s request.
- House Bill 1352, the House version of NFIB’s Small Business Bill of Rights inventory legislation is poised for action next week. It was added to the House floor calendar Friday afternoon. Meanwhile, SB 5230, a companion measure, was referred to the House State Government Committee following its unanimous senate vote. That committee is not expected to meet for at least another week due to impending floor sessions.
- NFIB successfully completed negotiations with the Association of Washington Business and the Association of Washington Cities on House Bill 2005, the municipal business licensing bill. NFIB previously testified that the original House version was too prescriptive, while the senate vehicle, Senate Bill 5777, was too permissive. This new draft addresses those concerns. The amendment was submitted to House Finance Committee Chairwoman Rep. Kristine Lytton and ranking (and NFIB) member Rep. Terry Nealey for consideration. Unfortunately, the amendment was not finalized in time for House Finance to approve it as a substitute bill. Instead, HB 2005 was sent to House Rules in its original form. We anticipate Representative Lytton will use the compromise language to draft a floor-striking amendment. Meanwhile, SB 5777 was not scheduled for executive session by the Senate Ways & Means Committee this week. It is likely dead for the session.
Health-Care Measures Stall
NFIB-supported House Bill 1211 and Senate Bill 5160, limiting mid-year changes to prescription drug cost-sharing, and Senate Bill 5697, establishing a work group to design a higher-premium, lower cost-sharing health plan for the chronically ill, did not advance.
House Bill 1338, the House version of companion bills to extend the state’s health insurance high risk pool, which NFIB supported once amended, will be sent to that chamber’s Rules Committee; however, SB 5253, hit a snag in the Senate Ways & Means Committee over concerns that a number of those enrolled in plans through the high-risk pool are of undocumented immigration status.
Labor Bills Still in Play
Various labor bills of interest or concern to small business on topics such as paid family leave, pregnancy accommodation, equal pay, and ban the box, are likely to remain in play as negotiators continue working to reach agreement.
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[Tile photo of Rep. Terry Nealey courtesy of Washington State House Republicans.]