WSLC Legislative Update: A Tale of Two Chambers
Following is today’s edition of the WSLC Legislative Update newsletter (PDF version):
OLYMPIA (Mar. 5, 2013) — The Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate are making both political parties’ priorities and values very clear. With few exceptions, the labor-related bills that remain alive in the House set out to promote strong families, to secure our middle class, and to reward hard work. But in the Senate — where a narrow majority was handed to Republicans not by voters but by political brinksmanship — the bills that survive tend to put profits before people and rig the system for powerful corporate interests.
After last Friday’s deadline for bills to pass committees, now is the time that individual legislators will begin going on record and making their priorities and values clear. This edition of the WSLC Legislative Update is a summary of some working families bills still alive that have until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13 to pass floor votes in their houses of origin.
Floor votes needed in the House
The following labor-supported bills (listed in numeric order) are among those for which the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO urges floor votes as soon as possible:
HB 1023 (Rep. Jim Moeller) — Creates family-wage training opportunities by extending apprenticeship utilization standards to publicly subsidized projects that cost $5 million or more. Passed House Labor, now in Rules. Companion bill SB 5393 (Keiser) died without a hearing or vote in Senate Labor.
HB 1095 (Rep. Tami Green) — Protects patient safety by establishing safe nurse staffing levels at hospitals. Passed both Health Care and Appropriations, now in Rules.
HB 1152 (Rep. Dawn Morrell) — Addressing meal and rest breaks for hospital employees. Passed both Labor and Appropriations, now in Rules.
HB 1153 (Rep. Chris Reykdal) — Regulating mandatory overtime for hospital employees. Passed House Labor, now in Rules.
HB 1267 (Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon) — Extending the time period for voter registration. Passed Government Operations, now in Rules. Companion SB 5268 (Billig) died without a hearing or vote in Senate Government Operations.
HB 1313 (Rep. Laurie Jinkins) — Establishing minimum standards for sick and safe leave. Passed both Labor and Appropriations, now in Rules. Companion SB 5594 (Harper) died without a vote in Senate Labor.
HB 1348 (Rep. Chris Reykdal) — The “Step Up for Faculty” bill creating a framework to fund step increases for community and technical college faculty. Passed both Labor and Appropriations, now in Rules. Companion bill SB 5350 (Kohl-Welles) died without a hearing or vote in Senate Labor.
HB 1413 (Rep. Luis Moscoso) — The Washington Voting Rights Act empowering local governments to voluntarily change their voting systems to district-based elections. Passed Government Operations, now in Rules.
HB 1440 (Rep. John McCoy) — Underground economy legislation addressing wage theft and employee misclassification by cracking down on businesses that cheat workers — and state and local governments — out of the money they are owed. Passed Labor and Finance, now in Rules. Companion SB 5526 (Conway) died without a hearing or vote in Senate Labor.
HB 1536 (Rep. Larry Seaquist) — Guaranteeing one labor member on community college boards. Passed Higher Education, now in Rules. Companion SB 5567 (Chase) died without a hearing or vote in Senate Higher Education.
HB 1608 (Rep. Sherry Appleton) — Maintains Marine Employees Commission within the Public Employment Relations Committee. Passed Labor, now in Rules. Companion SB 5536 (Conway) died without a hearing or vote in Senate Transportation.
HB 1719 (Rep. Roger Freeman) — Clarifying the employment status of drayage truck operators at the Port of Seattle to protect those employees’ rights. Passed Labor, now in Rules.
HB 1922 (Rep. Luis Moscoso) — Expanding apprenticeship opportunities for highway construction workers, particularly for women and people of color. Passed Transportation, now in Rules.
HB 1953/SB 5773 (Rep. Marko Liias & Sen. Nick Harper) — Allows local voters to choose whether to raise vehicle excise revenue to fund local road and transportation projects. Passed Transportation, now in Rules in both houses.
HB 1959 (Rep. Jessyn Farrell) — Allows local transportation governing bodies to raise vehicle fees no higher than $40 annually and allows county voters to choose whether to raise vehicle excise revenue. Passed Transportation, now in Rules. SB 5861 (Murray) died without a vote in Senate Transportation.
Floor mopping needed in the Senate
Following are some of the bills opposed by the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO (listed in numeric order) :
SB 5107 (Sen. Mike Padden) — Applying lower prevailing wage rates to certain projects by expanding what is considered “residential construction.” Passed Labor, now in Rules.
SB 5158 (Sen. John Braun) — Creating a “good-faith” defense for employers that fail to pay minimum or overtime wages. Passed Labor, now in Rules. Companion HB 1462 (Manweller) died after being heard in House Labor.
SB 5159 (Sen. John Braun) — Repealing the Family and Medical Leave Act.Passed Labor, now in Rules. Companion HB 1462 (Manweller) died after being heard in House Labor.
SB 5275 (Sen. Janéa Holmquist Newbry) — Creating a sub-minimum wage for new employees. Although dubbed a “training wage,” the sub-minimum wage could apply to any new employee, experienced or not. Passed Labor, now in Rules. Companion HB 1150 (Condotta) died in House Labor.
SB 5508 (Sen. Brian Hatfield) — Exempting rural school district projects from prevailing wage standards. Passed Labor, now in Rules.
SB 5619 (Sen. Janéa Holmquist Newbry) — Exempting fire-repair projects from prevailing wage standards. Passed Labor, now in Rules. Companion HB 1249 (Warnick) died.
SB 5685 & 5686 (Sen. Curtis King) — Adding to L&I’s administrative burden for posting prevailing wage rates and conducting surveys. Both passed Labor, are now in Rules.
SB 5717 (Sen. Michael Baumgartner) — Blocking state employees from competing to keep their jobs by exempting the state Dept. of Enterprise Services from the state’s competitive contracting rules. Passed Government Operations & Ways and Means, now in Rules.
SB 5726 & 5728 (Sen. John Braun) — Killing Seattle’s paid sick days ordinance and blocking any other city from adopting one. Passed Labor, now in Rules.
SB 5727 (Sen. John Braun) — Exempting projects in “distressed” counties from prevailing wage standards (because that’s just what distressed areas need: lower wages). Passed Labor, now in Rules.
SB 5811 (Sen. Rodney Tom) — Restricting state employee collective bargaining over health care issues so the state can impose employee “wellness” programs. Passed Ways & Means, now in Rules.
SB 5851 (Sen. Barbara Bailey) — Sen. Rodney Tom’s surprise pension-killing bill (SB 5856) failed to pass Ways & Means Committee before the deadline, but SB 5851 would create a 401(k)-type savings plan to replace the defined-benefit pensions for new state employees. This change would not only harm the interests of new employees, it would also undermine the stability of the existing pension system for current employees and retirees. Passed Ways & Means, now in Rules.
SJR 8205 (Sen. Pam Roach) — Amending the state constitution to require two-thirds majority vote of legislators to raise revenue or to repeal special-interest tax breaks. Passed Ways & Means, now in Rules.
Legislative Reception/Conference THIS WEEK
Leaders, staffers and rank-and-file members of WSLC-affiliated unions are invited to attend this week’s Washington State Labor Council Legislative Reception and Conference at the Olympia Red Lion Hotel. The reception on Wednesday night, March 6 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. is a great opportunity to talk informally with legislators, state officials and other trade unionists. The conference begins at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 7, where participants will hear from union lobbyists about the status of labor’s agenda and from legislative leaders about the prospects for passing bills and budgets that invest in Washington state, create good jobs and protect our families.
If you haven’t pre-registered, you can register at the door. The fee for both events is $75 per person, which includes two drinks and hors d’oeuvres at the reception and lunch and materials at the conference. To avoid the lines for the reception and conference, early registration is available in the hotel lobby beginning at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. Registration tables for the conference will open at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.
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