Legislature adjourns approving $200 million to fight coronavirus

Mar 19, 2020
Written by wpengine

State legislators adjourned the 2020 session last week by increasing spending in the state budget by $1 billion while approving $200 million in funds to respond to the coronavirus emergency.

Funds for the virus included $175 million from state savings to state and local agencies fighting the disease and a $25 million fund to help businesses threatened by a resulting loss of income. Democrats have majorities in the state House and Senate and budget approval was largely along party lines.

Washington Retail has scheduled its lobbyists to report on outcomes of key bills of interest to retailers in a free 10 a.m., April 1 webinar. Register for it here.

Here is a summary of outcomes for key bills upon which Washington Retail either testified or monitored with reports to the membership:

  • Senate bill 6281, data privacy. The House and Senate could not agree on language to protect private consumer information while extending rights to remove such data from company databases or prohibit the sale of the information to third parties. It resulted in no final vote.
  • House bill 2948, King County head tax. The Legislature took no final action on a bill to tax King County employees making at least $150,000 to raise funds to address homelessness.
  • Senate bill 6182, closed captioning on televisions. The bill that would have required closed captioning on televisions in public places died in committee. It was more permissive than a Seattle ordinance requiring closed captioning on at least one specific model among many in showrooms throughout the city.
  • Senate bill 5323, plastic bag ban. The Legislature approved a bill banning most plastic shopping bags statewide. It is awaiting a response from Governor Jay Inslee. It prohibits smaller jurisdictions from passing distinct bag bans with different requirements or terms. It permits stores to charge small fees for paper or reusable bags.
  • Senate bill 6440, independent medical exams. Washington Retail opposed the bill as introduced. It would have severely limited the use of independent medical exams to verify workers’ compensation injury claims. A work group will spend the rest of the year studying how to proceed and report findings to the Legislature.

In the coming weeks, Washington Retail will produce a far more detailed members-only report on legislative outcomes and voting record.