Labor bills dominate start of the Legislative Session

Feb 4, 2021
Written by wpengine

Today the Washington State Legislature has nearly reached completing the first quarter of its 105-day session. So far, labor-related bills have been dominating Washington Retail’s attention.

The Governor’s recent decision to relax COVID-related indoor dining protocols promises to help some retailers, especially those in shopping malls. The former ban on indoor dining has been relaxed in seven western Washington counties to allow restaurants to serve customers as long as diners do not exceed 25% of the space. However, indoor dining remains banned in most of the state’s counties. Retailers throughout the state can allow shoppers as long as they wear a mask and do not exceed 25% of floor space.

Here’s a sampling of some key bills on Washington Retail’s radar:

  • SB 5061 would provide relief from spiking unemployment insurance tax rates based upon record filings caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Senate and House already have approved the bill and as of this writing, sent it on for the Governor’s expected signature. WR supports this bill.
  • HB 1095 would forgive certain taxes on financial aid that businesses took to meet pandemic-related expenses. The House has passed the bill that is working its way through the Senate. WR supports this bill.
  • WR opposes HB 1076 that would allow third parties to sue companies for alleged wage violations. The bill has been introduced in the House so far.
  • WR supports SB 5193 that would add more trained employees to review and reduce a backlog of unemployment claims filed at Employment Security.
  • WR is concerned about SB 5115 that would declare work-related COVID infections an occupational disease and add emergency hazard pay as a requirement of certain businesses. So far, the bill has been introduced in the Senate but not in the House.
  • WR is concerned about SB 5102 that promises to limit the use of independent medical examinations related to workers’ compensation claims. So far, the bill has been introduced in the Senate for further consideration. IMEs are an important way that Washington Retail’s subsidiary, Retail Services, verifies the credibility of claims and manages costs for clients.
  • WR is opposed to HB 1202 that would allow anyone to sue a retailer and police officer for alleged misconduct in enforcing the law. So far, the bill has been introduced into the House for consideration.