For the legislative week ending January 23

Date: January 23, 2015

In this second week of the 2015 Washington State Legislature, more bills have been introduced, and committees have begun moving from work sessions with pre-selected panelists speaking on topics of the chairman’s choice, to public hearings on bills. Here are some highlights of NFIB/Washington’s activities this week.
Online Contracts
NFIB is working with Rep. Brad Kippert on an amendment to address our concerns about penalty provisions in House Bill 1099, “providing consumers the option to cancel contracts over the internet when entered into by the same means.” Small businesses are both consumers and sellers in e-commerce.  Thus, NFIB supports the concept of allowing contracts entered into online to be terminated online.  However, we are concerned that unsophisticated small-business owners using third party boilerplate contracts for online sales could face crippling losses if subjected to litigation under the state’s Consumer Protection Act.  NFIB testified about those concerns in the House Judiciary Committee.
Mandatory Arbitration
In our second appearance before the House Judiciary Committee this week, NFIB testified in favor of Rep. Matt Shea’s House Bill 1248, which would expand mandatory arbitration to claims of up to $100,000, as well as granting full, expedited discovery in these cases.  It was unusual to see NFIB and the trial lawyers’ association both supporting the same bill in this committee.
Taxes
NFIB testified against the Gov. Jay Inslee’s tax package in the Senate Ways & Means Committee, pointing out that small businesses are all too often targeted for B&O tax hikes when the Legislature decides “more revenue” is needed. We encouraged the committee to balance the budget without new or increased taxes, and to look at broader-based, more transparent sources than the B&O tax if a tax increase really is necessary.
Economy
At the invitation of Sen. Sharon Brown, chairwoman of the Senate Trade & Economic Development Committee, NFIB testified during that committee’s work session on the state’s Economic Climate Study, and followed up with suggestions about how the Legislature could really improve our business climate.
Balanced Federal Budget
NFIB met with Rep. Drew MacEwen, an NFIB member, to discuss the possibility of him introducing a resolution calling for an Article V Constitutional Convention to enact a federal Balanced Budget Amendment. This has become a priority issue for NFIB at the national level.
Independent Contracting
Rep. Jeff Holy, the new ranking member of the House State Government Committee, consulted NFIB before agreeing to sponsor a bill requested by the Dept. of Enterprise Services that would give the agency more flexibility when dealing with contractors who do not fully comply with contracts.  We are awaiting bill language, but have been told it would allow corrective actions to be taken instead of debarring a contractor from bidding on state work in some circumstances.

Health Care
The health-care cost and quality transparency bill NFIB helped negotiate with the state’s health insurers to fix the all-payer claims database (APCD) has been introduced in the House with solid bipartisan support. In fact, NFIB was responsible for securing the five Republican co-sponsors. Rep. Eileen Cody, House Health Care & Wellness Committee chairwoman and prime sponsor, had five of her fellow Democrat members of the committee co-sponsor the bill as well. The House version, House Bill 1437, is scheduled for public hearing next Friday. NFIB will be coordinating testimony from Premera, the state medical and hospital associations, the Washington Health Alliance, and the governor’s office. NFIB met with both Senate Health Care Committee Chairwoman Sen. Randi Becker, and Rep. Cody, this week to discuss the bill. Click here to learn more.
Workers’ Compensation
NFIB was interviewed on workers’ compensation legislation, an issue that seems to be having a tough time getting traction this session due to the focus on funding the McCleary decision, as well as other higher priority initiatives from the Governor and legislative leaders.
Outstanding Legislator 

In another interesting development, Rep. Reuven Carlyle, chairman of the tax-writing House Finance Committee, informed us of legislation he is developing, and said he is “committed to becoming NFIB’s Outstanding Legislator.” That pronouncement came minutes before NFIB met with the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Terry Nealey, an NFIB member, to discuss the House Republican response to the Governor’s proposed tax package.

Looking Ahead

  • NFIB will be speaking at this weekend’s Roanoke Conference panel on the minimum wage.
  • We have secured seven guest speakers for this year’s Small Business Day at the Capitol on February 11, and are awaiting responses from two others. A draft agenda can be read here. If you haven’t already done so, please RSVP right away!
  • Also, you might be interested to know there are 16 current NFIB members serving in the state Legislature, and a half dozen former members. Here’s the list.

Past Reports


Related Content: Small Business News | Washington

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