Legislature hearings are back in full swing

Mar 18, 2021
Written by wpengine

A steady stream of committee hearings has resumed in the Legislature to consider taking action on many of the bills approved by the House and Senate. After approval in one house or the other, bills go to the opposite house for further consideration.

With the exception of budget-related bills, the committees have eight more days to take final action on bills related to government policy. The Legislature drops consideration of bills that were not approved in committees in either house.

Budget-related bills can be considered at any time until the scheduled April 25 adjournment of the 2021 session. The field of bills Washington Retail is following has narrowed somewhat but many related to retailers remain on our radar. Because Legislature action can be spontaneous, please note that this update was accurate at the time of writing.

Here’s a summary of the main considerations:

  • SB 5096, capital gains tax. WR opposes the bill that passed the Senate in a 25-24 vote. Observers expect a legal challenge if the House approves the proposal. It would unnecessarily harm small business owners who sell their businesses. Opponents maintain it is an income tax not permitted under the state constitution.
  • HB 1539, regarding a bad debt sales tax credit. WR opposes this bill requested by the Department of Revenue. It would limit a tax credit and tax deduction for retailers carrying bad debt from nonpayment of taxes by customers. The bill is alive for consideration until the adjournment of the session.
  • SB 5355, establishing wage liens. WR opposes this bill that has passed the Senate 25-24. If approved and signed into law, it could be financially devastating for small businesses defending themselves against alleged legal violations. Such disputes currently are decided by the Department of Labor & Industries.
  • WR supports HB 1033 that has unanimously passed the House and gone to the Senate for consideration. It would extend a tax credit that businesses may obtain for employee training to July of 2026. It is currently scheduled to expire in July of this year.
  • WR is continuing its work to improve SB 5191 that would make it illegal to charge more than 15% extra for certain merchandise sold during emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic. WR is working to increase the proposed threshold to a higher allowable percentage. The Senate passed the bill 29-20.

WR will continue to update the status of select bills weekly then follow with a full status report on all bills followed this session after adjournment.