Washington Denturist Association 2022 Legislative Report – 2/17/2022
The Washington State Legislature hit the technical midway point on February 15 with the cut off for bills to be out of the House of Origin. This means that most bills are dead if they were not advanced to the other body. Of course, as the budgets are negotiated, we will see bills come back to life as necessary to implement the budget. So, nothing is truly “dead” until they adjourn the session.
The next cut off day for bills to be out of their opposite house committees is February 24th so there is a mad scramble to keep bills moving in order to keep them alive and to have a chance before the March 10th adjournment.
Bad Ergonomics Bill Passes: The House passed HB 1837, a bill that would repeal the prohibition against L&I doing an ergonomics rule. This prohibition was put in place with the passage of Initiative 841 in 2003 which was the result of several years of battles regarding onerous and confusing repetitive motion standards for industry that arbitrarily limited the number of hours or times employees could sit, stand, lift, turn their heads, be on their knees, move their arms past a certain angle, hold their arms over their heads, and numerous other activities that are necessary to accomplish many tasks and jobs. These rules were estimated to cost the business community $725 million. For the past 20 years, L&I instead has had to work more proactively with businesses to help them reduce ergonomics injuries utilizing technical assistance and more realistic individualized instruction. Ergonomics injuries related to work are already covered under workers compensation insurance and L&I can cite employers under existing safety standards. Business is unilaterally OPPOSED to this bill because it would allow these egregious standards to be put back into place and believes they are unnecessary. Ergonomics injuries, according to the department, have been declining over the past 15 years. HB 1837 was brought up on Valentine’s Day around 8:30 or 9 p.m. and the debated ended with a 50-48 vote around 6:30 a.m. on February 15th. Republicans in the House put up a valiant all night fight to defeat this bill and in the end it barely passed.
Thank you for your calls to legislators. We will need to do this again in the Senate next week.
Transportation Update: SB 5974 –Move Ahead Washington, the new transportation package – leapfrogged the Ways and Means Committee and the Rules Committee yesterday to move directly to the Senate Floor. The bill was then brought up as the “5 p.m. bill” on cut off day -- a time usually reserved for a bill that would be subject to the cut off date. Transportation packages are not subject to cut off so that was strange to us old timers. It eventually passed 29-20 – a totally partisan vote. None of the Republican amendments were accepted. Senator Das did get an amendment passed that eliminates telephone businesses from the 2 percent optional local utility tax – but other than that, no other changes were made to the funding mechanisms in the bill. The House version – HB 2119 has a hearing today in House Transportation.
Governor’s Executive Powers: The Senate also advanced SB 5909, the bill that would allow the majority and minority leaders of the Senate and the speaker and minority leader of the House of Representatives – outside of the legislative session -- to end a state of emergency in writing—by all four members—if it has been more than 90 days since the Governor declared the state of emergency. It would also allow legislative leaders from both parties to terminate specific gubernatorial orders that would prohibit activities. This bill also passed 29-20 but one R voted for and 1 D voted against.
State Has A LOT OF Money
The recent Washington State Revenue forecast indicates that the state coffers are pulling almost $2 billion more than expected, ensuring an almost $11 billion surplus over the next four years. Much of this additional money is being driven by inflation because of our dependence on sales tax.
The Supplemental Operating Budget will be out early the week of February 21st. It will be interesting to see how much money is left in reserve. Some legislators are starting to talk about sales or property tax reductions.
Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs (Senate) - Virtual - 1/24 @ 9:30am
1. SB 5600 - Exec Session - Concerning the sustainability and expansion of state registered apprenticeship programs. (Oppose/Medium)
2. SB 5649 - Exec Session - Modifying the Washington state paid family and medical leave act. (Concerns/Medium)
Health & Long Term Care (Senate) - Virtual - 1/24 @ 1:30pm
3. SB 5753 - Exec Session - Increasing board and commission capacities. (High)
Ways & Means (Senate) - Virtual - 1/24 @ 4:00pm
4. SHB 1732 - Public Hearing - Delaying the implementation of the long-term services and supports trust program by 18 months. (Remote testimony.) (Support/High)
5. SHB 1733 - Public Hearing - Establishing voluntary exemptions to the long-term services and supports trust program for certain populations. (Remote testimony.) (Concerns/Medium)
6. SB 5873 - Public Hearing - Concerning unemployment insurance, family leave, and medical leave premiums. (Remote testimony.) (Concerns/Medium)
Labor & Workplace Standards (House) - Virtual - 1/25 @ 10:00am
7. HB 1837 - Exec Session - Restoring the state's ability to address work-related musculoskeletal injuries. (Oppose/High)
Ways & Means (Senate) - Virtual - 1/25 @ 4:00pm
8. SHB 1732 - Exec Session - Delaying the implementation of the long-term services and supports trust program by 18 months. (Support/High)
9. SHB 1733 - Exec Session - Establishing voluntary exemptions to the long-term services and supports trust program for certain populations. (Concerns/Medium)
Labor & Workplace Standards (House) - Virtual - 1/26 @ 10:00am
10. HB 1795 - Exec Session - Prohibiting nondisclosure and nondisparagement provisions from employers regarding illegal acts of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage and hour violations, and sexual assault. (Concerns/Medium)
Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs (Senate) - Virtual - 1/27 @ 8:00am
11. SB 5761 - Exec Session - Concerning employer requirements for providing wage and salary information to applicants for employment. (Concerns/Medium)