Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Business activity is good for cities, rural communities and the state. We need to promote and establish legislation that doesn't impede economic growth and freedom. Businesses do not need more government direction; Instead, they should be revitalized by less intervention.
Several bills that made their way through the legislative process during the 2019 session have been signed by the governor and recently became effective. To keep you updated and informed, I've compiled a list of business-related bills that you may find helpful.
Please keep in mind that this summary includes bills I voted for and some I voted against. If you have questions, please contact me. I'm always happy to discuss legislation and ways we can improve our state's economy and business environment.
House Bill 1909—Confidentiality of Workers Mental Health Records—Establishes a civil penalty for employers if the employer or an authorized representative of the employer reveals information in a claim file regarding a mental health condition or treatment to any person other than an authorized representative. Passed House 97-0-1; Passed Senate 48-0-1; Signed by governor; Effective date July 28, 2019.
House Bill 1533—Domestic Violence Resources Poster in the Workplace—Requires the Employment Security Department to create a poster regarding domestic violence. The poster must be placed by employers with other required employment posters. Passed House 94-1-3; Passed Senate 48-0-1; Signed by governor; Effective date July 28, 2019.
House Bill 1324—Washington Rural Development and Opportunity Zone Act—Creates a private investment fund for small and medium-sized companies who are looking to expand and create jobs in rural, underserved areas. Passed House 94-0-4; Passed Senate 40-9; Signed by governor; Effective date July 28, 2019.
House Bill 1450—Non-Compete Agreements—Makes non-compete agreements unenforceable unless the employee earns more than $100,000 per year. Passed 55-41-2; Passed Senate 29-19-1; Signed by governor; Effective date Jan. 1, 2020.
House Bill 1059—Business and Occupation (B&O) Annual Return Filing Date—Aligns B&O tax annual filing date with the federal tax filing date. Passed House 98-0; Passed Senate 47-0-2; Signed by governor; Effective date July 28, 2019
House Bill 1602—Consumer Debt—Limits post-judgment interest on consumer debt to 9% per annum. Allows a debtor to exempt from garnishment for consumer debt the greater of 80% of a debtor's disposable earnings or 35 times the state minimum hourly wage, and up to $2,000 in bank accounts, savings, and loan accounts, stocks, bonds, or other securities. Passed House 67-27-4; Passed Senate 44-4-1; Signed by governor; Effective date July 28, 2019.
House Bill 1696—Providing Wage and Salary Information—Prohibits an employer from seeking an applicant's wage or salary history or requiring the wage or salary history meet certain criteria, with limited exceptions. Requires employers to provide certain wage scales and salary ranges to employees and applicants. Passed House 56-40-2; Passed Senate 37-10-2. Signed by governor; Effective date July 28, 2019.
House Bill 1930—Reasonable Accommodation for Breaks and Space for Pumping—Requires employers with more than 15 employees to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for two years after a child's birth and provide a private location other than a bathroom to express breast milk. However, if the business location does not have space for the employee to express breast milk, the employer must work with the employee to identify a convenient location and work schedule to accommodate their needs. Passed House 96-1-1; Passed Senate 46-0-3; Signed by governor; Effective date July 28, 2019.
Senate Bill 5258—Preventing Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault of Certain Isolated Workers—Requires hotels, motels, retail establishments, security guard entities, and property service contractors (i.e. commercial janitorial services) that employ a janitor, security guard, hotel or motel housekeeper, or room service attendant to adopt a sexual harassment policy, provide mandatory training regarding sexual assault, harassment, discrimination, and provide a panic button to certain isolated workers. Passed House 73-25; Passed Senate 46-0-3; Signed by governor; Effective date July 28, 2019.
Senate Bill 5997—Nonresident Sales Tax Exemption—Shifts the nonresident sales tax exemption program into a once-per-year remittance program. Creates a deferred funding program for the nonpayment of license fees and taxes. Passed House 55-43; Passed Senate 25-22-2; Signed by governor; Effective date July 28, 2019.
Senate Bill 6004—Travel Agency Tax Increase—Increases the business and occupation tax rate for travel agents with an annual taxable amount greater than $250,000. Passed House 52-46; Passed Senate 27-21-1; Signed by governor; Effective date July 1, 2019.
Senate Bill 5581—Wayfair Tax Updates—Changes requirements for online vendors to collect sales tax and aligns the state sales tax policy with the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement. It also adjusts the tax status of imported goods. Passed House 58-36-4; Passed Senate 37-11-1; Signed by governor; Effective date March 14, 2019.