April 15, 2019
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Marijuana use among workers climbs to 14-year high, new report shows

About 2.3 percent of workers and job applicants tested positive for marijuana last year, The Wall Street Journal reports. Quest Diagnostics, Inc., one of the country’s largest drug-testing labs, analyzed 10 million urine, saliva and hair samples.

The report also shows that 4.4 percent of the samples had traces of both illegal and legal controlled substances, like marijuana and prescription painkillers. That’s the highest rate since 2004, the newspaper reports.

“Marijuana use is on the rise in society, so it’s not surprising that we’re starting to see that filter into the workplace,” Barry Sample, Quest’s senior director for science and technology, told the paper.

Over the last 20 years, the rate of people testing positive for drugs has fallen significantly from 13.6 percent in 1988 to a low of 3.5 percent in 2012. The recent bump upwards has drawn concern.

The report also shows an increase in positive tests for safety sensitive workers, from 3.1 percent in 2017 to 4.7 percent in 2018. Those tests were conducted after accidents.

“The increases we’re seeing in post-accident positive drug tests is very concerning,” said Sample.

Despite more states legalizing recreational marijuana use, employers still have rights to enforce rules in the workplace. To learn more or get involved, be sure to register here for AWB’s upcoming webinar on May 22, “Marijuana and Opioids in the Workplace: Employment Law Guidance on Addressing Substance Abuse.”

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Spring Meeting
State Funding

Lifting levy lid violates spirit of McCleary deal

By The Columbian Editorial Board

Efforts in the Legislature to remove a lid on local school levies represent a step backward for school funding in Washington. Rather than invite a return to inequitable funding and open the door for lawsuits, lawmakers should provide state funding where necessary and adhere to a hard-fought agreement.

Following the 2012 state Supreme Court ruling in McCleary v. Washington, lawmakers took five years to hammer out a compromise in which the state would fully fund public K-12 education. That compromise limited local levies to $1.50 per $1,000 in assessed property value or $1,500 per student, whichever is less.

That was the promise lawmakers gave to taxpayers in 2017 -- state property taxes would increase in order for the Legislature to live up to its "paramount duty" of funding basic education. In exchange, local levies would decrease. The adjustments would prevent inequalities between districts that were at the heart of the McCleary decision; local levies had been used to fund basic expenses such as teacher salaries, creating disparities between wealthy districts and poor districts.

Now, school districts want the Legislature to keep both state and local property taxes high. Senate Bill 5313 would allow districts to tax up to $2.50 per $1,000 in assessed value -- a 67 percent increase from the current law -- or $2,500 per student, depending on a district's enrollment.

Passage of such a plan would put the state on the road to McCleary 2.0. It would invite the return of an unfair funding system that triggered the lawsuit in the first place and that had the amenities of a public education determined by a student's ZIP code.

Read the full editorial in The Columbian
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