OLYMPIA — This Friday, Feb. 7 is the cutoff deadline for bills to advance from policy committees in the short 2020 session of the Washington State Legislature. Bills related to the budget have until Feb. 11 to pass fiscal committees.
Here is a status report on the legislation that was listed in the 2020 Shared Prosperity Agenda of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. Click on the bill numbers to check their latest status. Also, please be aware that there are plenty of other bills not listed here that are supported (and opposed) by the WSLC and its affiliated unions. The Stand will share more information on those in the coming weeks.
Call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 to urge your legislators to support these pro-worker bills!
PUBLIC EMPLOYEE PRIVACY & SAFETY (PDF) — Our state has robust public disclosure laws, and that’s a good thing. But it exposes the personal and financial information of public workers to scam artists. HB 1888 takes common sense steps to safeguard personal data—like birth days and data that reveal addresses—to protect public workers’ privacy and safety.
Scheduled for executive session on Wednesday in House State Government & Tribal Relations.
HEALTH SYSTEM AND FACILITY TRANSPARENCY (PDF) — As our state continues to promote access to affordable quality health care, we lack the information we need to do so. Actions of health systems are complex and too often hidden. HB 2036 creates more transparency to provide oversight and accountability for investments in health care.
Passed House Health Care & Wellness, now in Appropriations.
BID LISTING (PDF) — Some public works contractors alter their lists of subcontractors after winning bids so they can pay lower wages and boost profits at the expense of taxpayers — and project quality. ESSB 5457 would reduce “bid shopping” by listing more subcontractors in bids for major public works projects.
Passed Senate 31-16, now in House Capital Budget.
CANNABIS WORKPLACE STANDARDS (PDF) — As the cannabis industry grows in our state, lawmakers should take steps to ensure that this industry promotes and supports workers and our communities. HB 2361 / SB 6393 would establish licensing guidelines that support cannabis businesses that uphold strong standards — like a living wage, health care, workplace safety, community engagement, social equity and a right to organize. Its passage would be good for workers, families, communities and our state’s economy.
Both had public hearings in their respective policy committees, but have yet to advance from those committees.
WORKER PROTECTION ACT (PDF) — We have many great workplace protections—wage and hour, equal pay, health and safety, and anti-discrimination laws. But enforcement agencies often have years-long backlogs. HB 1965, the Worker Protection Act, creates a pathway for workers to blow the whistle when current laws are violated, while generating resources for stronger state enforcement.
In House Rules Committee.
HEALTHY FAMILIES, HEALTHY COMMUNITIES
AFFORDABLE HOUSING — Housing affordability is a statewide crisis for workers in urban and rural communities, and for first time buyers and renters alike. The WSLC will support strategies to increase housing stock, to adopt smart land-use standards to promote housing options, and to support tenants burdened by extreme rental costs.
BUY CLEAN, BUY FAIR (HB 2744) — Through construction contracts, Washington state funds billions of dollars of infrastructure per year to improve our roads and bridges, and to build public facilities. However, much of the materials used in these projects are produced in places without quality environmental standards, adding toward our climate crisis. The WSLC will support efforts to promote the purchase of building materials manufactured here in Washington under some of the best environmental standards in the world.
Scheduled for executive session on Thursday in House State Government & Tribal Relations.
CHILD CARE — Lack of access to quality, affordable childcare limits working families’ job opportunities and work hours. As the state works to improve access, it must also strengthen the existing workforce by ensuring providers are fairly compensated, have benefits, and the right to join and participate in a union.
FIRE LIFE SAFETY (HB 2701) — Modern fire codes for HVAC systems are designed to save lives, but required inspections are often unenforced. The state should adopt strategies to ensure compliance with important building standards.
Scheduled for executive session on Friday in House Local Government.
SECURE SCHEDULING — Many retail and food service workers struggle with unpredictable schedules that make it difficult to manage family needs, attend school, or balance a second job. And not knowing how many hours to expect leaves many scrambling to pay bills and rent. SB 5717 / HB 1491 ensures that people who work for large food and retail businesses have protections: two-week notice of schedules, adequate rests between shifts, and flexibility to swap shifts.
SB 5717 is in Senate Labor & Commerce. HB 1491 is in House Appropriations.
TRAIN CREWS (HB 1841) — Railroad companies have been implementing policies to limit train staffing to single person crews, and have even been exploring automated train operation without immediate human oversight. HB 1841 establishes minimum train crew sizes to protect communities put at risk by these staffing cuts.
Passed House 65-30, now in Senate Labor & Commerce.
PROTECTING WORKERS’ RIGHTS
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGES AND BAILIFFS COLLECTIVE BARGAINING (HB 2017, HB 1333, SB 6367) — ALJs at the Office of Administrative Hearings and bailiffs for King County courts are denied the right to join together and collectively bargain, despite their counterparts at DOL, DOC, and the BIIA having those rights. The state should resolve this inequity by allowing these workers to come together to form a union.
HB 2017 passed House Appropriations. HB 1333 passed House Appropriations, now in Rules. SB 6367 is in Senate Labor & Commerce.
OVERTIME PROTECTIONS — This year, the Department of Labor and Industries updated our overtime rules for the first time in 40 years and restored protections for thousands of salaried workers. Restoring overtime helps working families by honoring and respecting people’s time — that’s good for workers and our economy. The WSLC will oppose any attempt to erode, roll back, or limit L&I’s ability to maintain overtime protections.
PLUMBING CODE MODERNIZATION (SB 6170) — The state should modernize the plumbing code to improve public health and safety, and ensure that workers are well-trained for the jobs they are doing.
Passed Senate 95-0, now in House Labor & Workplace Standards.
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE FOR CAREGIVERS (HB 1445 / SB 5473) — Job search requirements for unemployed workers who care for loved ones often require those workers to take jobs that do not allow them to provide care. These standards should be updated so workers are not forced to choose between an uncommon shift and caring for their family.
HB 1445 is in Rules. SB 5473 is in Senate Labor & Commerce.
WAGE LIENS (HB 1514 / SB 6053) — When workers’ wages have been stolen, some employers dissolve their businesses and form new LLCs to avoid paying up. HB 1514 will implement wage liens, providing all workers with an avenue to secure their owed wages, just like construction workers and farm workers can through mechanics and crop liens.
HB 1514 is in Rules. SB 6053 passed Senate Labor & Commerce and is in Ways & Means (hearing Wednesday).
JUSTICE FOR INJURED WORKERS
INDEPENDENT MEDICAL EXAM REFORM (SB 6440) — Too often employers and the Department of Labor and Industries require unnecessary and invasive Independent Medical Exams for injured workers trying to heal and return to work. New workers’ compensation policies should limit how often IMEs can be requested when other sufficient medical information is available.
In Senate Labor & Commerce.
THIRD PARTY ADMINISTRATOR REFORM (HB 2409) — TPAs are supposed to provide case management expertise for self-insured employers and Retrospective Rating program participants. Unfortunately, they are often used to suppress workers’ compensation claims and undermine injured workers’ ability to get the wage replacement and medical benefits they are due.
Scheduled for executive session on Thursday in House Labor & Workforce Standards.
MORE EFFECTIVE, ACCOUNTABLE GOVERNMENT
BALANCE OUR TAX CODE — The legislature must identify new, progressive sources of revenue to pay for the services our citizens need.
TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING (HB 1521 / SB 5655) — This requires state agencies and local governments to evaluate the cost of outsourcing work to private contractors and to conduct follow-ups to ensure contractors meet their obligations. It also calls for accountability if companies fail to perform their duties.
HB 1521 is in Rules. SB 5655 is in Senate State Government.