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What’s alive, dead, and undead after cutoff

A status report on working-family legislation in Olympia


UPDATED (Feb. 28, 2017) — This report has been updated to clarify that SB 5502/HB 1527, reinstating the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program tax incentive, is still very much alive. Because the bill is necessary to implement the budget, it is exempt from legislative cutoff deadlines.

OLYMPIA (Feb. 27, 2017) — Last Friday, Feb. 24 was the cutoff deadline for bills to pass out of committees in their houses of origin. That means that hundreds of  bills—good and bad—are now considered “dead” and can only become undead via extraordinary procedural means. The bills that have survived now have until Wednesday, March 8 to pass a floor vote in their house of origin.

pdf-versionHere’s a roundup of some key working family bills. This is not a comprehensive list. There are many other bills upon which the Washington State Labor Council has taken a position. These updates are on bills previously described in this newsletter and at The Stand. (Bills in Rules Committee have passed policy and/or fiscal committees and can advance to a floor vote at any time.)




RIGHT-TO-WORKSB 5692 (prime sponsor Sen. Michael Baumgartner; co-sponsor Sen. John Braun) making Washington a so-called “right-to-work” state, dramatically weakening union rights and bargaining power. At its public hearing, more than 1,100 people signed in as opposing the bill, while just one supported it. The bill died in Labor committee (chaired by the sponsor) without a vote.




WAGE THEFT: MISCLASSIFICATIONHB 1300 (Rep. Marcus Riccelli) discouraging deliberate misclassification of workers as independent contractors. Passed Labor committee but died in Appropriations.

WAGE THEFT: RETALIATIONHB 1301 (Rep. Cindy Ryu) discouraging employers from retaliating against workers who report wage theft. Passed Labor committee, but died in Appropriations.




WASHINGTON FILMWORKSSB 5502 (Sen. Randi Becker) 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. Passed Economic Development committee, and is now in Ways & Means. (Companion HB 1527 is in the Finance committee.) These bills are not dead because they are considered necessary to implement the budget, and are therefore exempt from cutoff.




APPRENTICESHIP UTILIZATIONHB 1849 (prime sponsor: Rep. Mike Sells) strengthening compliance with existing apprenticeship utilization standards. Passed Capital Budget committee, now in Rules.

COLLEGE FACULTY PAYHB 1237 (Rep. Mike Sells) allowing full-scope collective bargaining so colleges can use local funds in negotiating faculty/staff wages. Passed Labor and Appropriations committees, now in Rules.

CONTRACEPTIVE HEALTHSHB 1234/SSB 5554 (Rep. June Robinson/Sen. Steve Hobbs) 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. Both passed Health Care committees, now in Rules.

ELECTRICAL LAW ENFORCEMENTSHB 1952 (Rep. Brian Blake) improving enforcement of state electrical laws. Passed Labor committee, now in Rules.

EQUAL PAY OPPORTUNITY ACTHB 1506 (Rep. Tana Senn) addressing income disparities by prohibiting pay secrecy policies, allowing discussion of wages and prohibiting retaliation for asking for equal pay. Passed both the Labor and Appropriations committees, now in Rules.

EQUAL PAY: SALARY HISTORYHB 1533 (Rep. Laurie Dolan) prohibiting employers from seeking job applicants wage and salary history or requiring that the wage or salary meet certain criteria. Passed Labor committee, now in Rules.

FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVEHB 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 Labor and Appropriations committees, now in Rules.

OUTSOURCING ACCOUNTABILITYSHB 1851 (Rep. Laurie Dolan), the Taxpayer Protection Act, protecting taxpayers by providing accountability and transparency in government contracting. Passed State Government and Transportation committees, now in Rules.

PRESCRIPTION DRUG TRANSPARENCY2SHB 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 Health Care and Appropriations committees, now in Rules.

WAGE THEFT: DAMAGESHB 1302 (Rep. Noel Frame) discouraging wage theft by increasing civil liabilities for employers guilty of illegally withholding pay. Passed Labor committee, now in Rules.

WAGE THEFT: RECOVERYSHB 1486 (Rep. Mia Gregerson) creating a statutory wage lien for claims on unpaid wages. Passed both Labor and Appropriations committees, now in Rules.

WASHINGTON VOTING RIGHTS ACTHB 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 State Government committee, now in Rules.

WORK SAFETY FINE CLARIFICATIONHB 1953 (Rep. Laurie Dolan) making sure state WISHA fines for work safety violations are in conformance with federal OSHA penalties. Passed Labor committee, now in Rules.

WORKERS’ COMP: HANFORDSHB 1723 (Rep. Larry Haler) would remove barriers that prevent seriously ill Hanford workers from getting workers’ compensation benefits. Passed Labor committee, now in Rules.




FARMWORKER WAGE THEFTSB 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. It would also allow employers to avoid responsibility for payment of wages for work performed outside production. Passed Agriculture committee, now in Rules.

HIGHER EDUCATION CONTRACTING OUTSB 5550 (Sen. Dino Rossi) opening a number of state services at institutions of higher education to contracting out/privatization. Passed both the Labor and Ways & Means committees, now in Rules.

RELIGIOUS OBJECTORSSB 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 Health Care and Appropriations committees, now in Rules.

SILENCING STATE EMPLOYEESSB 5533 (Sen. Dino Rossi) prohibiting state employee unions from making contributions to incumbent candidates for governor, with whom they collectively bargain. Passed both the Labor and Ways & Means committees, now in Rules.

UNDERMINING I-1433SB 5530 (Sen. Michael Baumgartner) would cut the state’s $11 minimum hourly wage back to $9.53 and deny workers the opportunity to earn paid sick leave in every county except King County. It would be as if I-1433 was never approved in the rest of Washington. Passed Labor committee, now in Rules.

UNDERMINING I-1433: NONPROFITSSB 5532 (Sen. Michael Baumgartner) excluding all nonprofits from I-1433’s minimum wage and sick leave provisions, exempting over 50,000 corporations and hundreds of thousands of workers at some of Washington’s biggest employers like Providence and MultiCare health facilities. Passed Labor committee, now in Rules.

UNDERMINING I-1433: TEEN WAGESSB 5541 (Sen. Michael Baumgartner) allowing employers to pay 85 percent of the minimum wage to 16- and 17-year-olds. Passed Labor committee, now in Rules.

UNDERMINING STATE EMPLOYEE UNIONSSB 5551 (Sen. Dino Rossi) requiring members of state employee unions to vote on reauthorizing the union every four years. Passed Labor and Ways & Means committees, now in Rules.

WORKERS’ COMPENSATIONSB 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, now in Rules.

Stay tuned to for details on these and other bills.


WSLC’s Shared Prosperity Agenda


This newsletter is intended to highlight the case for and the status of legislation of concern to the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. See the WSLC’s 2017 Shared Prosperity Agenda for an outline of many of those issues.

Also, there’s much more news from the State Legislature posted each week at The Stand. This past week, it included:

Invest in corrections workers to make prisons, communities safer (by John Scearcy) — We need to invest in our children. But legislators must also invest in the public servants who provide essential services to the residents of our state. These include the corrections employees who staff our state’s prison system. Corrections employees put their lives on the line to serve and protect our communities. They perform uniquely stressful and challenging work in a dangerous environment.

Labor and community unity makes all of us stronger (by Karen Strickland) — Monday, Feb. 20 was a wet and dreary day. Or so it seemed it would be. Instead, roughly 1,200 people gathered to celebrate our collective power — ordinary people fighting for racial equity, economic justice, immigrant rights, LGBTQ rights, quality education from early learning through higher education, reproductive rights, labor rights, environmental protection, indigenous people’s rights, and more!

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!