Washington Legislature Adjourns for the Year 

Date: March 08, 2024

2024 session left small businesses relatively unscathed 

State Director Patrick Connor reports from Olympia on the small business agenda for the legislative week ending March 8   

The 68th Washington State Legislature adjourned sine die just before 6 p.m. Thursday, March 7, 2024. 

Small business survived this year’s short, 60-day legislative session relatively unscathed, with no major new taxes or tax increases, and few new or additional regulatory burdens placed upon them. Nevertheless, some threats loom on the horizon as a likely consequence of hostile bills that did pass, which the governor is expected to sign.  

The bills approved over NFIB’s objections, which passed in prior weeks, include: 

  • HB 1905, Equal pay for protected classes
    As previously discussed, the bill extends the Equal Pay and Opportunities Act to all workers identifying as a member of a protected class. Basically, this will allow aggrieved workers to file complaints with two agencies over the same alleged discriminatory action. An employer would be subject to investigation by both agencies, and could be assessed penalties by either or both, and may have to defend against litigation if the worker is not satisfied with the expected administrative outcome. NFIB opposes the bill.
  • HB 1927, Workers’ comp. temporary total disability
    This bill will increase workers’ compensation payouts for these claims, increasing premiums due to experience rating, and potentially creating overpayment situations where injured workers must repay the State Fund for unearned benefits, without expediting actual payment of benefits when a final determination is made. Collecting reimbursement for overpayments is notoriously difficult for L&I. NFIB opposes the bill.
  • SB 5778, Employer political speech
    This “captive audience” legislation creates an employer gag rule. It would prohibit business owners from requiring employees to attend meetings to discuss employer objections to unionization, concerns about legislative or regulatory changes, or other “political” or “religious” matters. Basically, it seeks to stifle employers from presenting their perspective on unionization efforts and other matters impacting the business. Similar laws in other states, including Oregon, are being challenged in court over concerns they are violating federal law and the US Constitution. NFIB opposes the law.
  • SB 6007, Grocery workers
    It requires certain grocers who purchase one or more additional stores to retain the staff of the acquired store(s) for six months or pay them severance equal to what the discharged workers would have earned during that period. This creates a template for future legislatures to require other business owners to be bound to similar conditions when they purchase or merge with competitors. NFIB opposes the bill. 

Here is an overview of the priority bills we monitored during this final week of session: 

  • HB 1589, Natural gas ban
    Similar to what happened in the Senate days earlier, House Republicans objected to the bill when the House debated whether to concur with Senate amendments. Republicans argued the bill still did not adequately spell out some sections of existing law the bill sought to amend. Both objections were ruled out of order. Republicans then appealed the decision and demanded a voice vote. These are parliamentary tactics rarely used in the statehouse, which delay the proceedings, and emphasized Republican opposition to the bill. As previously reported, HB 1589 would allow Puget Sound Energy to halt extension of gas supply lines to new developments and eventually abandon service to existing natural gas customers. NFIB opposes the bill.
  • HB 2118, Gun shop building requirements
    The House concurred with Senate amendments to the bill, 56-49. It was delivered to the governor on March 5, which gives the governor 20 days to sign it. HB 2118 provides a template to force the closure of other small businesses under the guise of building and “safety” codes. NFIB opposes the bill.
  • HB 2266, Sanitary facilities on construction sites
    The House also concurred with Senate amendments, 78-18, on this bill that NFIB and much of the construction industry opposes. While we appreciate the desire to expand the construction workforce, several provisions would be largely unworkable, particularly on undeveloped construction jobsites. Moreover, we believe the bill exposes employers to opportunities for frivolous worker complaints. It’s unfortunate that lawmakers bought the argument that opposing the bill would be deemed “anti-woman” in the coming election. 

Speaking of elections, as expected, some additional departures were announced this week. 

Retirements and Running for Other Offices 

As is the case most sessions, and certainly in presidential election years when all state executive, judicial, and Congressional offices are on the ballot, several members of the Legislature and some statewide officers announced their retirement or intention to seek higher office. Here are the (actual or potential) departures we’re aware of thus far in 2024. This week’s announcements are italicized.

  • Governor Jay Inslee (retiring) 
  • Attorney General Bob Ferguson (running for governor) 
  • Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler (retiring) 
  • Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz (running for Congress, WA-06) 
  • former Minority Leader Rep. JT Wilcox, LD-02 (retiring) 
  • Majority Leader Sen. Andy Billig, LD-03 (retiring) 
  • Rep. Marcus Riccelli, LD-03 (running for senate) 
  • Sen. Mark Mullet, LD-05 (running for governor)  
  • Rep. Bill Ramos, LD-05 (running for senate)  
  • former Deputy Minority Leader Rep. Joel Kretz, LD-07 (retiring) 
  • Minority Floor Leader Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber, LD-07 (running for Congress, WA-05) 
  • Rep. Bruce Chandler, LD-15 (retirement announcement anticipated) 
  • Sen. Lynda Wilson, LD-17 (retiring) 
  • Rep. Paul Harris, LD-17 (running for senate) 
  • Sen. Sam Hunt, LD-22 (retiring) 
  • Rep. Jessica Bateman, LD-22 (running for senate) 
  • Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, LD-24 (running for Lands Commissioner) 
  • Rep. Mike Chapman, LD-24 (running for senate) 
  • Sen. Emily Randall, LD-26 (running for Congress, WA-06, but has 2 years left on senate term) 
  • Sen. Drew MacEwen, LD-35 (running for Congress, WA-06, but has 2 years left on senate term) 
  • Sen. Rebecca Saldana, LD-37 (running for Lands Commissioner, but has 2 years left on senate term)  
  • Sen. Manka Dingra LD-45 (running for AG, but has 2 years left on senate term) 
  • Sen. Patty Kuderer, LD-48 (running for Insurance Commissioner, but has 2 years left on senate term) 
  • Rep. Kelly Chambers, LD-25 (running for Pierce County executive) 
  • Rep. Spencer Hutchins, LD-26 (retiring) 
  • Sen. Karen Keiser, LD-33 (retiring) 
  • Former Speaker Rep. Frank Chopp, LD-43 (retirement announcement anticipated) 

 With the session adjourned, our weekly reports are complete. Updates will be sent as needed during the remainder of the year. Look for our 2024 Legislative Report after the governor’s 20-day window to sign or veto bills has closed. 

Previous Weekly Reports and Related News 

Subscribe For Free News And Tips

Enter your email to get FREE small business insights. Learn more

Get to know NFIB

NFIB is a member-driven organization advocating on behalf of small and independent businesses nationwide.

Learn More

Or call us today

© 2001 - 2024 National Federation of Independent Business. All Rights Reserved. Terms and Conditions | Privacy