Washington Legislature Into Late Night, Weekend Mode

Date: February 09, 2018

Ban-the-Box bill advances, SEIU seeking control over independent home-care workers

State Director Patrick Connor reports from the State Capitol on the small-business agenda for the legislative week ending February 9

This has been a week of late nights. First, the House Appropriations and Senate Ways & Means committees raced to hear and approve long lists of bills in advance of Tuesday’s deadline for legislation with a budgetary impact. Those panels considered as many as 75 bills in one day, finally ending hearings after 9 or 10 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.

Wednesday’s Senate floor session finally ended about 1:15 a.m. Thursday, largely due to Republican resistance to bills seeking to circumvent existing and anticipated U.S. Supreme Court decisions, and Democrat efforts to strengthen the Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU) tenuous grip on home-care workers.

SEIU Bid to Unionize Independent Home-Care Workers

Senate Bill 6199 would create a new “private” entity, ostensibly to administer contracts with individuals receiving payments from the state primarily to care for their own disabled children or elderly family members.

The bill would all but guarantee the Service Employees International Union, or a subsidiary of the union, a perpetual contract with the state to manage these “independent providers.” Moreover, the bill would require these providers to pay union dues despite the Harris v. Quinn ruling that freed them from mandatory union membership. The measure would also block contract negotiations and union membership information from public disclosure.

These provisions are clearly meant to counter the Freedom Foundation’s successful efforts to inform home-care workers of their rights under Harris. SEIU has lost an estimated 4,000 members due to the foundation’s outreach program. Sen. John Braun and the Freedom Foundation have posted additional information about the bill.

Senate Democrats also attempted to begin debate after midnight on legislation changing union dues collection processes in anticipation of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSME that is expected to go against unions. Both bills were deferred to Friday for further action.

The House considered dozens of bills Thursday, finally adjourning about 10 p.m. The Senate has scheduled possible floor action Friday night. Weekend floor sessions in both chambers are also anticipated.

Deadline Looms

The House and Senate must approve bills originating in their respective chambers by 5 p.m. Wednesday, February 14. As the House of Origin cut-off approaches, NFIB is still watching 43 of the 72 bills it has been tracking this year.

Ban the Box

Of particular note, this week the House narrowly approved House Bill 1298, its “Ban the Box” bill, on a vote of 52-46. All but two House Republicans, Reps. Melanie Stambaugh and Paul Graves, locked up against the bill. It was impressive to watch the debate as Republican after Republican stood and spoke against the bill citing NFIB’s arguments. Last year, the bill passed the House 68-30. NFIB hopes this week’s narrow vote may encourage the Senate to reconsider accepting NFIB’s amendments to make the bill workable for small business.

NFIB Details Priorities

NFIB sent letters to the House and Senate listing its priorities as bills move to the floor.

Previous Reports, News Releases, Editorials

February 7 Special Posting—NFIB Details Legislative Priorities for Remainder of Session

February 2 Report—NFIB Joins Fight to Lower Health-Care Costs

January 26 Report—Take the Proposed B&O Gross Marginal Revenue Tax Test

January 24 News Release—Small Business Owners to Gather in Olympia, February 1

January 19 Report—Phantom Legislation, Hirst Fix Highlight Week in Olympia

January 13 Report—Dead Bills Return From the Grave

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