March 11, 2019
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Broad toxics bill would cede legislative control to unelected agency

By a one-vote margin, the state Senate last week moved forward with a bill that would give the Department of Ecology broad new authority to regulate or ban entire classes of any chemical it chooses.

Senate Bill 5135 has a wide scope, directing Department of Ecology to choose five chemicals in consumer products. Within five years they must go through an analysis and decide whether to allow the chemical, label it, or ban it. The Legislature would not vote on the decision, and stakeholders would not have input during the process.

"The Department of Ecology already has an existing chemical action plan that looks at them on a chemical by chemical basis," said Peter Godlewski, AWB government affairs director for environmental issues. "This looks at entire chemical classes. It doesn't allow room for stakeholder input at all anywhere in the process. It takes final authority away from the Legislature and gives it to Ecology."

Some of the chemicals discussed during public testimony on the bill are used to prevent mold and bacteria in popular skin products and lotions -- chemicals that might not be familiar to consumers on an ingredient label, but that help keep these products shelf-stable and safe for consumers.

"This bill is far too broad," Godlewski said.

It's also potentially costly. The fiscal note says that the Department of Ecology will have to spend an extra $2 million a year implementing this bill, but given the scope, it seems likely that the costs could easily exceed that.

Senate Bill 5135 could affect virtually every business in Washington. Contact Godlewski to learn more and find out how to become involved with the legislative process as this narrowly approved bill moves to the House.

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Hair stylists embody democracy in action

By AWB President Kris Johnson

It was an impressive display of grassroots organizing. Arranged solely through a quick online effort, the state Senate Labor and Commerce Committee hearing was jam-packed with hair stylists, salon owners and cosmetologists on Jan. 28.

Thousands of people signed in to testify and a line of professionals stretched from the Senate hearing room outside to the domed building on the Capitol campus nearly a football field away.

Those small-business owners and independent contractors converged on Olympia on short notice from every part of the state to testify against bills that would severely restrict who can and cannot be classified as an "independent contractor" in Washington state.

It was a powerful sight and an inspiring illustration of democracy in action.

That bill, and others like it introduced this session, would severely hamper those entrepreneurs' ability to continue to operate as their own boss...

Read the full column in South Sound Business
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Didn't voters just reject a plan, Initiative 1631, that would place a fee on carbon polluters (that's you, large, multi-national oil companies) while virtually assuring that residents would see a significant price rise at the pump and higher electricity bills?

... Washington's regressive tax system already disproportionately affects those with the least wiggle room in their household budgets. Lower-income residents seemingly are just as concerned with combating climate change as those of more means, but they will be unfairly called upon to bear the bulk of the burden.

Read the full editorial in The Yakima Herald-Republic
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