The 2022 legislature is scheduled to convene for a short 60-day session on Monday, January 10, and is expected to conclude on March 10.
WR has been busy preparing for the arrival of legislators and staff. However, with the explosion of Covid infections, the first part of the session, if not all, could be remote, as was the case last year.
There will be a few new faces in the Senate. Yasmin Trudeau, formerly with the Attorney General’s office, will take Senator Jeannie Darneille’s seat. Representative John Lovick has been appointed to take Senator Steve Hobbs’ seat as he was appointed Secretary of State. Sadly, a yet-to-be-named individual will take the place of recently deceased Senator Doug Ericksen.
WR plans to engage in several top issues, including the long-term care employee tax, adjusting some of the unintended consequences of the police reform bills from the last session, consumer data privacy, organized retail theft, plastic packaging, and product stewardship, to name a few.
With the state coffers overflowing with unanticipated revenues from taxes, we don’t expect any new tax proposals or increases. The one exception may be the efforts to fund a multi-billion-dollar transportation package.
It will be an interesting session since all committee hearings will be held on the Zoom platform. Citizens are invited and encouraged to watch and participate. There are pluses and minuses to this arrangement. A plus is not having to drive to Olympia, sit in a hearing room, and wait to be called up to testify. The negative is that if you do get the opportunity to testify, it is often for a very short time—usually 30 seconds to a minute. I spoke to one committee chairman this week who said he had over 1,000 people sign-up electronically to testify during a hearing last session—normally scheduled to run just under two hours. He had to make the difficult decision on who to call on and who would not be allowed to speak.
Legislators have been encouraged to introduce as few bills as possible, considering the nature of the session this year. With that said, I still expect hundreds if not over a thousand bills to be introduced this year, as well as all of the bills from last year that did not pass – they are automatically reintroduced this year with the same bill numbers from last session.
One thing is sure, WR and its Policy and Government Affairs Team will be reviewing and engaging on every bill that impacts the retail industry. If you are a WR member and would like to participate on our PGAC Committee – please let us know.