April 8, 2019
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed
Legislation of Note « All Categories

HB 1599: Promoting career and college readiness through modified high school graduation requirements

An AWB-supported education proposal, House Bill 1599, was scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Ways & Means Committee this afternoon. HB 1599 provides a multiple-pathway approach to high school graduation that requires students to complete a High School and Beyond Plan, earn required credits towards graduation (24 unless an Individual Education Plan has been put into place), and successfully complete one or more pathways in order to earn a high school diploma. Contact Amy Anderson, AWB government affairs director for education and workforce, to learn more.

SB 5489: Environmental justice

AWB testified against Senate Bill 5489, during a Saturday hearing of the House Appropriations Committee, after spending the week discussing this bill with committee members. The bill moved on to an executive session this morning. This bill would implement the so-called "precautionary principal" in state agency planning and permitting decisions. This would require the state to ensure that absolutely no harm is caused by any action taken or approved by the state and is an impossible standard to meet. It would also create a task force to make recommendations for state agencies to implement social justice reforms at the planning and permitting level and give them the opportunity to make those same recommendations to SEPA. Contact AWB's Mike Ennis or Peter Godlewski to learn more.

HB 1344: Child care access

House Bill 1344, a child care access bill supported by AWB, continues to move forward. The bill is being worked on to decrease the fiscal note from the current $1.7 million down to the $1.1-$1.2 million range, as desired by the committee chair and bill sponsor. There is also a desire to reduce the size of the Child Care Collaborative Task Force down from the current 40 members. As a co-chair of the task force, AWB is working with its partners to assess the current make-up of the task force and the necessary members to move the work forward. The bill and task force are looking at how to develop a well thought out and strategic plan for addressing child care access and cost in the state of Washington. Contact AWB's Amy Anderson to learn more.

SB 5135: Allowing Department of Ecology to ban chemicals

Senate Bill 5135, aiming to ban chemicals deemed by the Department of Ecology (DOE) to be toxic, passed out of the House Environment Committee last week with a new striker than addresses some of AWB's concerns regarding this bill. There is now some legislative oversight of DOE's decisions. The department will complete the process on how to regulate a priority chemical and present a report to the relevant committee of the Legislature. That committee can then draft a bill to overturn any element of Ecology's recommendations which will then move through the legislative process. Any part of Ecology's report not acted on will go into effect. There is also the creation of a stakeholder group to help Ecology oversee the listing process of the chemicals covered by this bill. "While this change does get to AWB's biggest area of concern regarding this bill, the criteria Ecology can use to determine which chemicals to list remains very broad," said AWB's Peter Godlewski. "We are hoping to further increase the threshold for the type of information which Ecology can use to list a chemical." To learn more, contact Godlewski.

SB 5376: Data breach and European-style privacy protections

AWB's Bob Battles testified Saturday (TVW has video) on Senate Bill 5376 before the House Appropriations Committee. He urged support for the underlying Senate bill, rather than an amended version that has several problematic elements. The amended version would adopt the privacy standards of the European Union's GDPR with a low threshold of 100,000 transactions, which would require most businesses in the state to comply with the GDPR standards. It also includes a problematic private right of action that affects everyone, down to a corner lemonade stand. Contact Bob Battles to learn more.

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Spring Meeting
Practical Education

Expand career-connected learning across Washington state

By Maud Daudon

If you're a Washington business owner or manager wondering where to find skilled workers, you're not alone. And if you're a Washington parent or high school student, wondering how to get from school to a great job, you're not alone either.

You may also be the solution to each other's problem.

Last summer, the Career Connect Washington initiative convened groups of parents to discuss education and career preparation in Washington state. As part of a 10-year effort, we are learning how to better help students connect to both jobs and advanced education so they will be well positioned to step into the state's job market. Business, labor and education organizations are all stepping up; we need the Legislature to act as well...

Read the full guest column in The Seattle Times
Fiscally Unwise

A Capital Gains Tax Would Not Improve Budget Sustainability

By The Washington Research Council

Although the March revenue forecast increased estimated state revenues for the 2017-19 and 2019-21 biennia, the House Appropriations Committee Chair proposed a new capital gains tax along with his 2019-21 operating budget. The Senate is also considering a capital gains tax, although in this case the proceeds would be used to reduce other taxes rather than to increase the operating budget.

A capital gains tax would be highly volatile. Taxpayers can arrange their affairs to avoid them, and the value of capital gains realized by Washington taxpayers varies significantly year to year. Also, swings in capital gains are much bigger in percentage terms than swings in state sales tax revenue. Volatile taxes require stronger reserves to manage downturns, but the House bill would avoid constitutionally-required transfers to the rainy day fund by directing revenues from the tax to the education legacy trust account.

Additionally, a capital gains tax would certainly be challenged as an unconstitutional income tax. Even if it were eventually found to be constitutional, a court case would likely mean that any revenues would be suspended until after 2019-21. Building the budget around such a tax would be risky at best...

Read the full report from the Washington Research Council
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