Proposal calling for stricter work hours for electrical apprentices also draws small business group’s opposition
State Director Patrick Connor reports from Olympia on the small-business agenda for the legislative and political week ending February 3
Small Business Day, March 16
- Due to numerous legislative conflicts, NFIB is rescheduling Small Business Day at the Capitol to Thursday, March 16. Click here for additional information or to register.
This was a surprisingly quiet week for small business issues before the state Legislature. It may well be the calm before the storm.
- HB 1136, Employee expense reimbursement.
The House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee on Friday, February 3, 2023, approved this bill requiring timely reimbursement for necessary purchases by an employee made on behalf of the employer. The approved version included an amendment NFIB negotiated with the Washington Employment Lawyers Association. The amendment removed a proposed new cause of action that would have allowed workers to sue to resolve disputes over these expenses, instead treating them as wage claims adjudicated by the Department of Labor and Industries. L&I was granted rulemaking authority to further define the terms and conditions of these reimbursements. And, aggrieved workers would still be able to terminate the Department’s complaint process and file suit in court if they so choose. NFIB supports this compromise legislation.
- HB 1217, Wage claims.
The House Labor Committee deferred executive action on this bill that would add a 12% annual interest rate penalty on employers for alleged wage claim violations. The bill would also empanel a workgroup facilitated by L&I to review wage claim processes in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., and recommend changes to Washington’s wage complaint system. NFIB and the Association of Washington Business (AWB) testified against the bill citing the unfairness of the 12% penalty, imbalance in the workgroup’s membership, and lack of time given the group to complete its tasks. NFIB and AWB met with the bill sponsor, as well as with the committee chair and ranking Republican, to discuss our concerns and suggest amendments. The deferral of consideration should allow time to agree upon and draft amendments to the bill, provided the sponsor and advocates are willing to actually make the changes the sponsor agreed to in principle with NFIB and AWB.
- HB 1393, Delaying electrician apprentice mandate.
NFIB showed its support for this proposed two-year delay in mandating that all new electrician training be done through state-approved (read “union operated”) apprenticeship programs.
- HB 1462, Work hour requirements for taking electrical exams.
At the same hearing this week, NFIB went on record opposing this bill that would reduce flexibility and impose strict hours-worked requirements on electrical apprentices (including open shop / non-union trainees) before they would be allowed to take the licensing exam. NFIB also opposed the companion, SB 5320, when it was heard in the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee.
- HB 1392 and SB 5464, Right to Repair certain consumer electronic devices.
NFIB testified in support at public hearings this week before Senate and House committees considering these companion bills that would require electronics manufacturers (like Apple) to sell parts, tools, instructions, and related documentation at fair market value to individuals and small computer repair shops. While Apple lined up its industry trade associations to testify against the bills, it was clear there is no measurable public backing for the tech giant’s opposition. In the House committee, in addition to several panels of witnesses speaking about the bill, there were 300 individuals who signed in to show support for this legislation, ZERO opposed, one was “other.
In addition to these bills, NFIB continues to work towards agreement on SB 5061, personnel records, despite the sponsor’s apparent unwillingness to make any substantive changes. We are also reviewing and engaged in discussions with the bill sponsor and fellow stakeholders on HB 1534, increasing construction contractor bonds and establishing a homeowner recover fund. NFIB was part of the workgroup that researched and recommended improvements to address problems caused by fly-by-night contractors defrauding unwary homeowners. And we look forward to the introduction of legislation to amend the state constitution and relevant statutes to provide business owners a $40,000 exemption on business personal property values, which are taxed by the counties. NFIB has been engaged in these negotiations since last session.
We are also reviewing and engaged in discussions with the bill sponsor and fellow stakeholders on HB 1534, increasing construction contractor bonds and establishing a homeowner recover fund. NFIB was part of the workgroup that researched and recommended improvements to address problems caused by fly-by-night contractors defrauding unwary homeowners.
Finally, we look forward to the introduction of legislation to amend the state constitution and relevant statutes to provide business owners a $40,000 exemption on business personal property values, which are taxed by the counties. NFIB has been engaged in these negotiations since last session.
Prior Weekly Reports and Related Information
- January 7—Small Business Day in Olympia, March 16