NFIB legislators secure bipartisan support for priority bill
State Director Patrick Connor reports from Olympia on the small-business agenda for the legislative week ending January 17.
A frenetic first week of the 2020 session of the 66th Washington State Legislature came to a close. Nearly 770 bills were introduced during the first three days of the session, including those pre-filed during December.
NFIB is continuing to review them, plus those on Thursday’s and Friday’s introduction lists, to identify the bills most important to small-business owners in our state. Here are the highlights, so far.
Small Business Bill of Rights
NFIB secured robust, bipartisan sponsorship of House and Senate companion bills replacing last year’s Small Business Bill of Rights. House Bill 2577 had 17 sponsors when it was dropped into the hopper Tuesday. It now has 28 co-sponsors: 15 Republicans and 13 Democrats. Senate Bill 6408 has 16 co-sponsors: 10 Republicans and 6 Democrats. That’s about 30 percent of each chamber (and the full legislature) co-sponsoring NFIB’s bill.
Reps. Andrew Barkis and Mike Chapman are again the lead sponsors in the House; Sens. Lynda Wilson and Mark Mullet lead the efforts in the Senate. Rep. Barkis and Sen. Wilson are both former NFIB Leadership Council members. Sen. Mullet is also an NFIB member.
The House bill has again been referred to the House State Government & Tribal Relations Committee. On Friday afternoon, the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee re-referred the Senate bill to the Senate Financial Institutions, Economic Development & Trade Committee, which Sen. Mullet is chairman of and Sen. Wilson is the lead Republican.
NFIB greatly appreciates Sen. Mullet’s efforts to get the bill moved to his committee, which approved the bill last year.
NFIB continues to address and resolve minor concerns agencies are raising about the bill. We believe Gov. Jay Inslee’s office is likely to testify in support of the bills when they receive a public hearing.
This week, NFIB also:
- negotiated amendments on House Bill 2239, limiting employer searches of worker vehicles, following NFIB’s testimony opposing the bill.
- testified against HB 2308, requiring employers to report workers’ job classifications on unemployment tax returns. NFIB is awaiting a response to our concerns from the state workforce training board, which NFIB has been told is forthcoming, and hope to avoid another regulatory burden being placed on our state’s small employers. NFIB is grateful that House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Sells delayed Thursday’s scheduled committee action on both HB 2239 and HB 2308, allowing NFIB time to negotiate changes to both bills.
- opposed Senate Bill 6126, eliminating the public’s right to vote on local sales tax increases to support affordable housing programs.
- supported SB 6194, prohibiting municipalities from enacting local taxes, like Seattle’s “head tax,” under the guise of their business licensing authority.
- opposed SB 6053, authorizing wage liens on a business owner’s or officer’s real or personal property.
- opposed SB 5565, making a general contractor subject to third-party lawsuits for wage and benefit claims made against one of its subcontractors.
- opposed SB 5412, mandating a low carbon fuel standard for gasoline and diesel.
- testified in favor of Rep. Vicki Kraft’s HB 1738, increasing the earnings threshold before a small business must register with the state, file tax returns, and pay the state business and occupation tax.
- continued working with the Department of Revenue on the agency’s Business Licensing Service (BLS) legislation to address a looming shortfall in the account funding BLS operations.
- submitted comments on a package of consumer data-privacy bills scheduled for hearing in the House.
Small Business Day 2020
NFIB’s Small Business Day 2020 will be held on February 4 at Olympia’s new Hilton Garden Inn.
Register now. Register here. Ask for the NFIB room block when booking your stay.
In addition to Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler and House Republican Leader JT Wilcox, Rep. Noel Frame has been added to our lineup. Rep. Frame is now chairwoman of the Tax Structure Work Group, which she discussed with the Leadership Council during its summer retreat.
NFIB also anticipates Rep. Vandana Slatter or an official from the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board will join us to discuss HB 2308, requiring employers to report workers’ job classifications on unemployment tax returns. That proposal was the subject of vigorous conversation during the LC’s December meeting.
NFIB also has learned that Sen. Karen Keiser will hold a public hearing on her SB 6276, regulating freelance workers, at 8 a.m. that day in the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee. Some NFIB members may need to testify while SBD is going on.