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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
With spring in full bloom, I've been enjoying the beauty of our district as I reconnect with all of you (in person!) during my visits to various communities to discuss the 2022 session. It's not easy to keep up with all that our local, state, and federal government are doing in the midst of the hustle and bustle of our modern lives. I hope these email updates make that process easier.
In total, the Legislature passed 309 bills, covering a multitude of topics ranging from Pickleball to group insurance standards. Most of these bills were signed into law by the governor; others were not so lucky. In addition to the power to veto entire bills, the state constitution also grants the governor the power to veto parts of bills that are not appropriation bills.
Here are some business-related bills the governor signed or vetoed as of my last update. You can click on the bill numbers for more information.
Signed into law
- Senate Bill 5980: Increases the business and occupation small business tax credits and the business and occupation filing threshold.
- House Bill 1641: Restores the business and occupation and public utility tax exemption for custom farming and hauling farm products.
- Senate Bill 5761: Requires employers with 15 or more employees to disclose salary information and a description of expected benefits in job postings.
- House Bill 1795: Prohibits nondisclosure and non-disparagement provisions from employers regarding illegal acts of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage and hour violations, and sexual assault.
- House Bill 1688: Protects consumers from charges for out-of-network health care services, by aligning state law and the federal No Surprises Act and addressing coverage of treatment for emergency conditions.
- House Bill 1846: Expands and extends existing tax exemptions for data centers in rural counties (partial veto).
- House Bill 1902: Provides for reopening a workers' compensation claim where the provider fails to submit the application.
- House Bill 1914: Updates and expands the motion picture competitiveness program.
- House Bill 1975: Allows a public housing authority to contract with a property management services company for the operation of a housing project.
- House Bill 2001: Allows tiny house communities to be part of an affordable housing incentive program under the Growth Management Act.
- House Bill 2019: Increases educational and training opportunities for careers in retail.
- House Bill 2051: Provides short-term disaster recovery financial assistance to agricultural producers.
- House Bill 2076: Establishes minimum rates for drivers of transportation network companies (TNCs); provides drivers with paid sick time, and workers' compensation coverage; and creates uniform statewide regulations of TNCs (partial veto).
- Senate Bill 5765: Changes requirements regarding licensed midwives, including requirements for licensing and prescribing and administering drugs and devices.
- Senate Bill 5901: Creates a manufacturing and research and development sales and use tax incentive program for targeted counties (partial veto).
- Senate Bill 5961: Incentivizes the use of biochar in government contracts.
- House Bill 1015: Establishes the Equitable Access to Credit Program to authorize grants to qualified lending institutions for lending or investing in historically underserved communities.
- House Bill 1497: Restricts commercial telephone solicitation.
- House Bill 1593: Expands the landlord mitigation program to alleviate the financial burden on victims attempting to flee domestic violence, sexual assault, unlawful harassment, or stalking.
- House Bill 1643: Exempts a sale or transfer of real property for affordable housing to a nonprofit entity, housing authority, public corporation, county, or municipal corporation from the real estate excise tax.
- House Bill 1673: Modifies broadband infrastructure loans and grant requirements made by the public works board.
- House Bill 1691: Modifies financial responsibility requirements related to oil spills.
- House Bill 1706: Requires port terminal operators to provide sufficient restrooms in appropriate locations for truck drivers.
- House Bill 1881: Establishes a voluntary certification process for birth doulas.
- Senate Bill 5042: Modifies the effective date of certain actions taken under the growth management act.
- Senate Bill 5275: Enhances opportunity in limited areas of more intense rural development.
- Senate Bill 5544: Establishes the Washington Blockchain Work Group to submit a report on potential uses and impacts of blockchain technology.
- Senate Bill 5649: Modifies the Washington state paid family and medical leave act.
- Senate Bill 5702: Requires health plans and Medicaid to provide coverage for donor human milk for inpatient use when medically necessary.
- Senate Bill 5715: Updates the definition of broadband or broadband service.
- Senate Bill 5753: Modifies requirements regarding the membership, compensation, and meetings of various boards, commissions, and advisory committees that oversee health professions.
- Senate Bill 5755: Authorizes certain cities to establish a limited sales and use tax incentive program to encourage redevelopment of vacant lands in urban areas.
- House Bill 1988: Establishes a retail sales and use tax deferral program for certain investment projects in clean technology manufacturing, clean alternative fuels production, and renewable energy storage.
- Senate Bill 5722: Requires the Department of Commerce to adopt energy management and benchmarking requirements by rule for certain commercial buildings.
- Senate Bill 5842: Modifies state laws that address climate change.
- House Bill 1359: Temporarily reduces liquor license fees.
- House Bill 1784: Establishes an exception to the requirement that vehicle license plates be visible at all times for vehicles using certain cargo carrying devices.
- House Bill 1859: Establishes an interagency coordination team for cannabis laboratory quality standards.
- House Bill 1931: Extends the expiration date of a fee charged to water power generation facilities licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from June 30, 2023, to June 30, 2029.
- Senate Bill 5518: Adopts the Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact to allow occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants to practice occupational therapy in other member states.
- Senate Bill 5600: Expands and enhances state registered apprenticeship programs.
- Senate Bill 5624: Extends the expiration date of certain sections of chapter 92, Laws of 2019, regarding livestock identification.
- Senate Bill 5799: Exempts provider clinics and affiliated organizations from the workforce education investment surcharge.
- Senate Bill 5849: Extends a reduced business and occupation tax rate for manufacturers and wholesalers of certain kinds of solar energy systems.
- House Bill 1704: Revises reimbursement insurance policy requirements applicable to service contract providers and protection product guarantee providers.
- Senate Bill 5810: Establishes that legal service contractors are not insurers and legal service plans are not insurance.
- House Bill 1648: Replaces an inactive certificate status with an inactive license designation for certified public accountants.
Preventing armed robberies at marijuana dispensaries
The Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) met April 13th to discuss whether moving to a cashless payment system for state marijuana dispensaries could help prevent armed robbery.
With marijuana still being illegal on the federal level, it's challenging for cannabis licensees to utilize traditional banking institutions. As a result, marijuana dispensaries hold a lot of cash and have become a favorite target of violent criminals. These robberies not only affect the cannabis industry but have made the surrounding businesses and communities less safe.
You can watch the April 13th LCB meeting here:
2022 supplemental operating budget
The most significant bill to pass, certainly in dollar terms, was the 2022 supplemental operating budget: Senate Bill 5693.
The Legislature passes a biennial budget during odd-numbered years. During even-numbered years, however, we pass a supplemental budget to pay for unforeseen events such as natural disasters, pandemics, or simply to cover gaps in state agency funding.
This year was highly unusual because the Legislature convened with a historically large budget surplus of $15 billion over four years.
I believe that we should have seized the opportunity to provide meaningful tax relief to Washington families – most of whom have struggled economically during the pandemic and are now feeling the impacts of high inflation.
The path chosen by the majority party was to spend the money on new and existing programs and not provide any tax relief. It was a missed opportunity, and the reason why I could not support the budget.
With the supplemental budget, total state spending has risen 24% this biennium (2021-23)
Here are some of the highlights:
- $350 million to support the Paid Family Medical Leave Insurance Account;
- $346 million for public school enrollment stabilization;
- $318 million for housing and homelessness programs and services;
- $261 million for state employee compensation;
- $236 million for K-12 salaries and operating costs;
- $150 million to design and implement a state student loan program;
- $103 million to support the transition to electric vehicles;
- $63 million for wage increases and benefits for home care workers;
- $58 million for in-home care personal needs allowance;
- $45 million for wage increases for family childcare providers (SEIU Local 925);
- $21 million for a one-time cost of living adjustment (COLA) for Plan 1 members of the Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) and the Teachers Retirement System (TRS); and
- $20 million for wage increases for adult family home providers.
You can view more details here.
This budget does have some good in it, but it neglects ordinary private-sector taxpayers. We should always keep the taxpayer in mind, and never take more money from the public than is absolutely necessary.
House Republicans offered several proposals to reduce the sales tax, property taxes, and business taxes which would get money back into the pockets of everyday Washingtonians and help jumpstart our state's economy as it emerges from this pandemic. Unfortunately, those proposals were not allowed to advance.
Thank you for reading this update and being engaged in the legislative process! Please stay in touch. You can always contact me directly.
It's an honor to serve you!
436 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7816 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000