The 2023 Legislative Session began on Monday, January 9, the first in-person session since the pandemic hit. More accurately, the 2023 session will be hybrid, accommodating both in-person and remote participation.
As scheduled, the session will last 105 calendar days – no holidays or weekends – and many evenings. The one thing the Legislature must do is pass a two-year budget – which is likely to hover around $70 billion. With that said, roughly 3,000 bills will be introduced. At an average “survival rate” of 10-15%, we anticipate approximately 300 new laws from this session.
The budget process is a time-consuming and technical process. The Governor has introduced his budget proposal to the Legislature, which was heard on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. WR is a strong advocate for the Governor’s inclusion of funding to bolster the Attorney General’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force.
As part of the next step, the House and Senate will each introduce their budgets, and then the three sides will debate and horse trade until an agreed-upon budget emerges. The budget has historically been one of the last measures approved by the Legislature and will likely be the largest.
WR will be working on several top issues. First and foremost are the timely and important issues surrounding public safety, retail theft, and organized retail crime. With Congress passing the federal online marketplace accountability act – or INFORM – there is no need to address these issues on a state level. Both state bills will be pulled from consideration. On public safety, we are pleased two bills have been introduced so far – SB 5034 and HB 1053 allowing police to pursue criminals again. Regarding retail theft, several measures have been proposed. SB 5056 would allow increased sentences for repeat offenders, and SB 5160 would allow felony charges for gangs (multiple accomplices) committing retail theft.
Other top issues include legislation on beverage container reimbursement and product packaging, state business taxes – a margins tax versus a business and occupation tax, ergonomics regulations, use of personnel records, and battery stewardship, to name a few.
WR has drafted and strongly supports HB 1137 and the pending Senate companion bill on return-to-work light-duty for injured workers at approved non-profits.
WR is excited to be back representing our members at Olympia’s State Capitol in person.