Health insurance improvement, homeowner recovery fund, business licensing penalty waivers highlight achievements for small business
The first half of the Washington State Legislature’s 2023-2024 session convened January 9 and adjourned on April 23. A one-day special session was held May 16 to enact a long-term “Blake fix,” addressing the State Supreme Court’s 2021 decision effectively legalizing the possession of drugs. The 2024 half of the session convenes January 9. State Director Patrick Connor’s legislative reports for 2023 can be read here.
Won Health insurance Prior Authorization Modernization
Access to affordable, quality health care and health insurance have remained NFIB members’ top concern for decades. This law requires health insurers to allow electronic transmission of medical-provider requests for approval of patient medical procedures, which will greatly expedite review and approval (or rejection) compared to the current, antiquated fax or phone process.
Secured Homeowner Recovery Fund
NFIB was a stakeholder in a multi-year effort to address remedies for homeowners suffering significant financial losses due to shoddy, incomplete, incorrect workmanship or instances of fly-by-night registered contractors who demanded significant deposits or prepayment but failed to perform the work at all. The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) will administer a new program that provides some additional financial relief to homeowners who have obtained a final judgment against a contractor and its bond. The program will be funded by a one-time transfer from the Contractor Registration Account, a portion of slightly increased contractor registration and renewal fees, and modestly increased fines imposed on unregistered contractors, which haven’t changed in 30 years. Homebuilders also agreed to raising the minimum general contractor bond amount from $12,000 to $30,000 – the first increase in 20 years.
Obtained Business Licensing Penalty Waivers
NFIB supported Department of Revenue request legislation allowing the agency to waive or reduce fines and penalties on “late” payments of business license renewals. As COVID demonstrated, there are circumstances beyond a small-business owner’s control that may result in their decision to delay renewing a business license, such as (temporary) state-ordered business closures, the owner’s death or retirement or that of other business leadership or key personnel.