2023 Washington State Legislative Session Report – Week 3

Week Three

This week Democrats focused on legislation related to reproductive rights in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. On Tuesday they heard eight bills related to reproductive health across six committees. The various proposals touched all different sectors. This topic was also the focus for democratic leadership during their legislative democratic leaders media availability on Monday.

This week was full of committee hearings and executive sessions and the first handful of bills were brought to the floor for a chamber wide vote. One piece of legislation that is moving through the process is related to childcare, HB 1199, sponsored by Tana Senn (D-41). The legislation seeks to increase the availability of childcare by prohibiting an HOA from prohibiting, unreasonably restricting, or limiting the use of a unit as a licensed family home child care or as a licensed child day care center. The bill passed the House 96-0 this week and will move to the Senate for further consideration.

The Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission was formed pursuant to legislation passed in the 2019 legislative session to identify the preferred site for a next commercial service airport. The final recommendation to the legislature is due by June of 2023 however the preliminary recommendations have identified three locations, two in Pierce County and one in Thursday County. On Wednesday, January 25th there was a rally held at the state capitol to oppose the new locations for an international airport. This will continue to be a contentious issue as the date for the final recommendation approaches.

On Tuesday the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee heard the newest proposal related to ergonomics, SB 5217, sponsored by Senator Dhingra (D-45). In 2000 the department of Labor and Industries adopted specific workplace ergonomics regulations that were highly controversial. The regulations were repealed in 2003 after the voters passed Initiative 841 which also prohibited L&I from adopting similar regulations. SB 5217 seeks to restore L&Is ability to regulate ergonomics. Last year there was a similar, more expansive, proposal on this topic that narrowly passed the House after several hours on the floor, but ultimately died in the Senate.

Also of note this week the Washington Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the capital gains case. As you know, in 2021 the legislature passed capital gains tax applicable to individuals at a rate of 7% on net gains in excess of $250,000 in a calendar year, with the proceeds going to the education legacy trust account and the common school construction account. The tax was later challenged on the basis that it violates the state constitution. If the tax is found to be unconstitutional that budget writers will have a hole to fill and will need to look elsewhere to fund some of their education and childcare priorities.

Finally, a proposal from the tax structure workgroup had a public hearing this week (SB 5842). The newly proposed approach, called the margin tax, takes Washington State’s current Business & Occupation (B&O) tax structure and converts it into a gross receipts tax similar to the Texas franchise tax. The current B&O tax structure is based on gross income, where most businesses do not receive a deduction. Under the new proposed structure, businesses would be taxed on their margin, calculated as gross income minus one of four deductions (chosen annually) – cost of goods sold, compensation paid, a fixed percentage of gross receipts (30%), or a flat amount ($1 million).

Next week will continue with committee hearings and executive sessions.

We hope to have the thermal RECs bill introduced this week.

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