March 18, 2019
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Legislative update: Session passes halfway point and house of origin cutoff



The Legislature is more than halfway through its 105-day session and the important “house of origin” cutoff that claimed a majority of non-budgetary bills. If the bills are not brought forward as part of the state budget negotiations, they will be dead for this year.

Here are some key bills still alive, along with information about them from The Associated Press:

  • Public option health insurance: Two proposals requested by Gov. Jay Inslee that would create a public health insurance option have cleared each chamber of the Legislature. "Dubbed 'Cascade Care,' the proposals would require the state to contract with a private insurer to offer plans with capped administrative costs and doctors’ fees. Backers hope that would translate into competitive premiums," the AP writes. The Senate also passed a bill to study how to create a universal health-care system for the state. The Spokesman-Review has more on that bill. Contact AWB's Amy Anderson to learn more.
  • Clean energy: The Senate, acting on the same day Gov. Inslee announced his presidential campaign, passed a bill that would advance a centerpiece of Inslee's climate agenda. "The measure would require utilities to eliminate coal as an energy source by the end of 2025 as the first step toward the goal of utilities providing carbon-free electricity by 2045," the AP writes. The House has not acted on the bill. Contact AWB's Peter Godlewski to learn more.
  • Low-carbon fuel standard: The House has passed another bill supported by the governor, which would impose a low-carbon fuel standard on fuel producers and importers. It would require fuel producers and importers to reduce the carbon emissions associated with transportation fuels. Contact AWB's Mike Ennis to learn more.
  • Long-term care: The House approved a bill that would create an employee-funded program for a benefit to help pay for long-term-care costs. Premiums of 0.58 percent of wages would start being collected from employees in 2022 if the bill becomes law. Starting in 2025, the fund would help pay for costs of people who need assistance with at least three “activities of daily living,” such as bathing, dressing or administration of medication. Contact AWB's Amy Anderson to learn more.
  • Data privacy: The Senate passed a bill that would require businesses to inform consumers about data it has stored and force them to delete it upon customer request. "Affecting businesses that hold data on more than 100,000 people, the proposal would allow consumers to find out what information about them has been stored and request corrections or erasure. The bill also sets rules for facial-recognition technology," the AP reports. Contact AWB's Bob Battles to learn more.
  • Condominium liability reform: The Senate passed a bill that would reform liability laws on condominium construction defects. "That bill is aimed at easing the affordable-housing crisis by making it easier to build condos," the AP writes. Contact AWB's Mike Ennis to learn more.
  • Non-compete agreements: The Senate passed a bill that would ban non-compete contracts for workers who are paid less than $100,000 per year. The threshold has been lowered from $180,000 in the original version of the bill. Contact AWB's Bob Battles to learn more.
  • Plastic bag ban: The Senate passed a bill that would ban the use of plastic bags. The measure awaits action in the House. "The proposal would ban single-use plastic carryout bags and require retailers to charge for recycled or reusable bags, in an effort to fight plastic pollution. Bags given out inside stores for things like loose parts, bulk foods, and fruits and vegetables would be exempt," the AP writes. Contact AWB Peter Godlewski to learn more.
  • Smoking and vaping age: The House passed a bill that would raise the state’s smoking and vaping age to 21. The bill awaits action in the Senate. "The bill would target traditional tobacco and 'vape' products, including e-cigarettes and other vapor devices, as well as vape products that don’t contain nicotine," the AP writes.

AWB is tracking these and dozens of other bills. To become involved in bills affecting the business community, contact AWB's Government Affairs team at 800.521.9325.



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Competitiveness Matters


State won 'economic lottery;' it doesn't need new taxes

By Kris Johnson and Steve Mullin

Imagine winning the lottery tomorrow. You'd have $10 million to spend on whatever you wanted in an instant.

Of course, the prudent thing would be to get a financial adviser and plan for the future. Ensure you have a strong foundation and adequate savings, then decide what you can splurge on. This scenario is not unlike the position our state finds itself in after years of economic recovery and expansion.

Economic and tax revenue growth in Washington state has been extraordinary over the last decade.

So much so that state and local tax growth in Washington was the highest in the nation from 2015 to 2016. The state expects tax collections will top $50 billion for the first time during the next two-year budget cycle. That's $4 billion more than the last cycle and nearly $11 billion more than it had in 2015-17.

Washington has leveraged this growth to invest in important programs, dramatically increasing state funding for public education, for example.

But we need to recognize that this lottery-like period of growth is far from normal. And it has come at a time when Washington also steadily increased the cost of doing business here...

Read the guest commentary in The (Everett) Herald
Competitiveness Matters


Former Rep. Chandler: Inslee threat to prosperity

By Charles H. Featherstone in The Columbia Basin Herald

MOSES LAKE -- Gary Chandler has a message for Gov. Jay Inslee.

"Don't take away our opportunity to be competitive."

The drive for 100 percent clean energy would deprive the Pacific Northwest of its competitive edge on power prices, and the governor's proposed $4 billion in new taxes would hit the state's small business people particularly hard, Chandler said.

"The economy is good, but the economy is starting to slow," Chandler said. "Don't spend everything, don't tax everything."

Read the full story about Chandler's recent talk in The Columbia Basin Herald
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