Governor’s pen also expected on small business bill of rights inventory and municipal business licensing reform
NFIB/Washington State Director Patrick Connor reports from Olympia on the small-business agenda for the legislative week ending April 21.
Sunday, April 23, the 105th day of the 2017 regular session, is the constitutional deadline for the Washington State Legislature to adjourn sine die.
Fireworks may be in the air as the Senate on Thursday moved to repeal its own rule requiring a two-thirds vote to bring tax bills to the floor. Interestingly, Sen. Dino Rossi, vice-chairman of the Ways & Means Committee, surprised most observers by introducing Senate Bill 5929, the title of which is identical to the House tax plan, House Bill 2186.
Senate Republicans have been chiding House Democrats for weeks, saying the House budget proposal is funded with “ghost dollars” since the House majority has thus far refused to hold a vote on their own tax bill. It appears Senate Republicans could bring that tax package to the floor April 21 or April 22, hoping to entice moderate Senate Democrats to join them in defeating the bill, demonstrating a lack of support for any tax increase this session. However, that plan could backfire if Senate Democrats lock up in support of Rossi’s tax proposal.
Following whatever theatrics may occur in the upper chamber during the waning days of the regular session, lawmakers will likely head home this weekend. Gov. Jay Inslee has announced that once the Legislature adjourns sine die, he will call it into special session beginning at 10 a.m. April 24. NFIB expects budget negotiators will return to Olympia next week, while other legislators may be “on call” Tuesdays through Thursdays until a budget agreement is reached.
By forcing the Legislature right back into session, a number of lawmakers facing special election this year will be prevented from fundraising. Special elections will be held for House and Senate seats in the 7th and 31st Legislative Districts, as well as for Senate seats in the 45th and 48th districts. The 45th District Senate race will be the most hotly contested, with Democrats favored to pick up the seat – and the senate majority – in the process. Both leading candidates for that post are newcomers, and not impacted by the session freeze on fundraising.
Meanwhile, Week 15 saw little more than ministerial action on NFIB’s priority bills, with the exception of House Bill 1120.
- Regulatory Fairness Act update (House Bill 1120) – At the invitation of bill sponsor Rep. Norma Smith, NFIB attended an April 19 ceremony where Governor Inslee signed the bill into law. HB 1120 requires improvements in how agencies analyze proposed administrative rules to determine whether and how many small businesses may be impacted. In some circumstances, agencies may be required to provide alternatives to reduce a rule’s cost and burden on small businesses. The bill also requires the State Auditor’s Office to conduct a follow-up performance audit to ensure the new tools and processes are implemented and used properly.
- Small business bill of rights inventory (House Bill 1352) – The bill has been delivered to the governor; NFIB is awaiting notice about the bill signing ceremony.
- Public works bonding and retainage (House Bill 1538) – The bill has been delivered to the governor. At the request of the Associated General Contractors, NFIB sent a letter requesting Governor Inslee’s veto this bill. HB 1538 would create a one-way mandate allowing subcontractors to require general contractors to bond the subs’ retainage on public works projects. This sets an unacceptable precedent and fails to resolve the true problems with delays in processing contract documents and releasing retainage within statutory deadlines. NFIB continues to support an operating budget proviso that would establish a task force to review and recommend real changes to the retainage system.
- Municipal business licensing (House Bill 2005) – The bill has been delivered to the governor; NFIB is awaiting notice about the bill signing ceremony.
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