OLYMPIA (April 14, 2017) — Wednesday was the cutoff deadline for policy bills to have passed both houses of the Washington State Legislature and sent to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature or veto. As in recent years, having Democrats control the House and Republicans control the Senate meant that a lot of policy bills — both supported and opposed by labor — failed to advance.
Legislators are now focused on negotiating budget bills, including the 2017-19 biennial operating budget, and other fiscal legislation deemed necessary to implement the budget. They have until April 23, the final day of the regular session, but few think they’ll agree to a budget by then. If that happens, the governor will call for a 30-day extended session. Or two.
But for now, here’s a status report on some key working family bills that have been previously described in the Washington State Labor Council’s Legislative Update newsletter and here at The Stand. This is not a comprehensive list. There are other bills upon which the WSLC and its affiliates have taken an interest and position.
AEROSPACE TAX INCENTIVE ACCOUNTABILITY — HB 2145 (Rep. Noel Frame) and HB 2146 (Rep. Richard DeBolt) would amend existing aerospace tax incentives, which have already been amended several times since they were extended in 2013, to add job conditions resembling those required in other states in order for Boeing to receive tax incentives. Both are in House Finance Committee. See details. These bills are EXEMPT from cutoff deadlines because they would be considered necessary to implement the budget.
APPRENTICESHIP UTILIZATION—HB 1849 (Rep. Mike Sells) strengthening compliance with existing apprenticeship utilization standards. Passed House 51-47, but DIED without a vote in the Senate Transportation Committee chaired by Sen. Curtis King (R-Yakima).
COLLEGE FACULTY PAY—HB 1237 (Rep. Mike Sells) allowing full-scope collective bargaining so colleges can use local funds in negotiating faculty/staff wages. Passed House 65-32, but DIED without a vote in the Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee chaired by Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane).
CLEAN ENERGY TRANSITION ACT—HB 1646 (Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon) represents an innovative, comprehensive climate solution that invests in 21st century infrastructure and delivers economic and environmental justice to communities disproportionately impacted by poverty and pollution. Now in House Finance. See details. This bill is EXEMPT from cutoff deadlines because it is considered necessary to implement the budget.
CONTRACEPTIVE HEALTH—SHB 1234 (Rep. June Robinson) require insurance carriers to provide a full year’s supply of birth control at a time; 12 months of contraception will improve women’s health and birth outcomes by preventing unintended pregnancies. PASSED the House 93-5 and the Senate 48-1, and sent to the governor.
ELECTRICAL LAW ENFORCEMENT—SHB 1952 (Rep. Brian Blake) improving enforcement of state electrical laws. Passed House 97-0, but DIED without a vote in the Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee chaired by Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane).
EQUAL PAY OPPORTUNITY ACT—HB 1506 (prime sponsor: Rep. Tana Senn) addressing income disparities by prohibiting pay secrecy policies, allowing discussion of wages and prohibiting retaliation for asking for equal pay. Passed House 61-36, passed the Senate Labor Committee but DIED without a floor vote in the Senate. See details.
FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE—HB 1116 (Rep. June Robinson) implements a Family and Medical Leave Insurance program, employer and employee funded, offering up to $1,000/week for up to 26 weeks for the birth or adoption of a child, for a family member’s serious health condition or for leave needed for a military reason. Passed both House Labor and Appropriations committees, now in Rules. See details here and here. This bill is EXEMPT from cutoff deadlines because it is considered necessary to implement the budget.
NURSE MEAL & REST BREAKS—HB 1715 (Rep. Marcus Riccelli) would require that nurses be provided with uninterrupted meal and rest breaks, and says an employer may not require intermittent meal or rest periods. It would also close the mandatory overtime loophole by clarifying that employers may not use prescheduled on-call time to fill chronic or foreseeable vacancies due to staff shortages. Passed House 55-42, but DIED without a vote in the Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee chaired by Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane). See details.
NURSE STAFFING—HB 1714 (Rep. Eileen Cody) would ensure that staffing committees are a stronger entity within hospitals and require that the adopted staffing plan actually be implemented. If hospital management fails to do so, nurses will have a remedy to hold them accountable. PASSED Senate 61-36, passed House 42-7, and sent to the governor. See details.
OUTSOURCING ACCOUNTABILITY—SHB 1851 (Rep. Laurie Dolan), the Taxpayer Protection Act, protecting taxpayers by providing accountability and transparency in government contracting. Passed House 69-28, but DIED without a vote in the Senate State Government Committee chaired by Sen. Mark Miloscia (R-Federal Way).
PREGNANCY ACCOMMODATIONS—SB 5835 (Sen. Karen Keiser) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant women in the workplace, including more frequent restroom breaks, readily accessible drinking water, food and seating, and scheduling flexibility for prenatal doctors’ visits. PASSED Senate 48-0, passed House 98-0, and sent to the governor. See details.
PRESCRIPTION DRUG TRANSPARENCY—2SHB 1541 (Rep. June Robinson) addresses the ongoing barriers and increasing cost of certain prescription drugs by improving regulation, transparency and accountability on prescription drug pricing. Passed House 52-46, but DIED without a vote in the Senate Health Care Committee chaired by Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center). See details.
UTILITY WORKER ASSAULTS—HB 1859 (Rep. Mike Pellicciotti) would protect utility workers, who provide repair services all all hours in remote and sometimes dangerous places, by considering assault against a utility workers engaged in official duties to be an aggravating circumstance during sentencing. Strongly supported by IBEW 77, it passed the House 94-4, the Senate Law & Justice Committee and advanced from Rules, but DIED without a Senate floor vote. See details.
RAIL SAFETY — ESHB 1105 (Rep. Derek Stanford) would strengthen railroad safety standards for workers, equipment and surrounding communities, and ensure proper insurance coverage among railroad companies and contractors. PASSED House 97-0, passed Senate 46-2, and House concurred 98-0, and sent to governor.
WASHINGTON FILMWORKS—SB 5502 (Sen. Randi Becker) and HB 1527 (Rep. Marcus Riccelli) reinstating the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program tax incentive to encourage filmmaking in our state and attract a wide range of associated jobs and economic investment. SB 5502 is in Senate Ways & Means and HB 1527 is in House Finance. See details. These bills are EXEMPT from cutoff deadlines because they are considered necessary to implement the budget.
WASHINGTON VOTING RIGHTS ACT—HB 1800 (Rep. Mia Gregerson) empowers local governments to avoid costly litigation by creating a collaborative process to ensure fair elections, that every vote is protected, and that every community is fairly represented. Passed House 51-46, but DIED without in the Senate State Government Committee chaired by Sen. Mark Miloscia (R-Federal Way). The bill was brought up for a vote on a motion by Sen. Sam Hunt in committee although it wasn’t on the agenda, but it was voted down on a party-line vote. See details here and here.
WORK SAFETY FINE CLARIFICATION—HB 1953 (Rep. Laurie Dolan) making sure state WISHA fines for work safety violations are in conformance with federal OSHA penalties. Passed House 52-45, passed the Senate Labor Committee but DIED without a floor vote in the Senate.
WORKERS’ COMP: HANFORD—SHB 1723 (Rep. Larry Haler) would remove barriers that prevent seriously ill Hanford workers from getting workers’ compensation benefits. Passed House 69-29, but DIED without a vote in the Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee chaired by Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane). See details.
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING RESTRICTIONS—SB 5726 and SB 5727 (Sen. Steve Hobbs) would remove health benefits from the scope of collective bargaining for local K-12 school employees. Instead, school employees would be given token representatives on a statewide board that would purchase and provide benefits, and dictate point-of-service cost-sharing levels and premium costs for districts and employees. Both are in Rules and Ways & Means, respectively. These bills are EXEMPT from cutoff deadlines because they are considered necessary to implement the budget. See details.
FARMWORKER WAGE THEFT—SB 5720 (Sen. Brad Hawkins) creates a new “production-based safe harbor” for growers by which they can avoid liability for unpaid wages for rest breaks as ordered by a state Supreme Court decision. The original bill would have allowed employers to avoid responsibility for payment of wages for work performed outside production. Passed Senate 28-18, but DIED without a vote in the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee chaired by Rep. Mike Sells (D-Everett). See details.
RELIGIOUS OBJECTORS—SB 5339 (Sen. Dino Rossi) allows public employees who are “religious objectors” to unionization to control which charity receives their dues equivalent, rather than the current practice of agreeing on a charity with their union. It also broadly expands the list of “charities” to include quasi-political groups like the Freedom Foundation. Passed Senate 25-24 on strict party-line vote, but DIED without a vote in the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee chaired by Rep. Mike Sells (D-Everett). See details.
SILENCING STATE EMPLOYEES—SB 5533 (Sen. Dino Rossi) prohibiting state employee unions from making contributions to incumbent candidates for governor, with whom they collectively bargain. Passed Senate 25-24 on strict party-line vote, but DIED without a vote in the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee chaired by Rep. Mike Sells (D-Everett). See details.
TNC REGULATORY PREEMPTION—SB 5620 (Sen. Curtis King) creating a statewide regulatory program for “transportation network companies” (Uber, Lyft, etc.) strongly opposed by Teamsters 117 and other advocates for drivers because, among other reasons, it would repeal cities and local jurisdictions from creating their own stronger standards for TNCs and preempt them from adopting standards in the future. Passed Senate 34-15 and now in House Labor Committee, but is EXEMPT from cutoff deadlines because it is considered necessary to implement the budget because it includes fees for TNCs. See details.
TNC UNEMPLOYMENT EXEMPTION—SB 5362 (Sen. John Braun) would create a special exemption for TNCs so they do not have to provide unemployment insurance coverage for their drivers. Passed Senate 31-18, but DIED without a vote in the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee chaired by Rep. Mike Sells (D-Everett). See details.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION—SB 5822 (Sen. Michael Baumgartner) is a Christmas list of benefit cuts, eligibility restrictions, and erosions of our state’s workers’ compensation safety net for injured workers and their families. Passed the Labor committee, but DIED without a floor vote in the Senate. HOWEVER, in the past Republicans have attempted to include elements of similar workers’ comp bills as bargaining chips during end-of-session budget negotiations, once even threatening to shut down the state government over it. See details.
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