The state Legislature today is about 40 percent through this year’s 105-day session and faces its second significant checkpoint on Friday. That’s the deadline for fiscal committees to send bills on for further action or leave them behind for the year.
Meanwhile, Washington Retail continues working on several bills of importance to retailers. Here’s a summary of some of the key bills in view:
- HB 1491 and SB 5717, regarding scheduling employees. WR objects to the bills that would require employers to post work schedules two weeks in advance and offer additional hours to existing employees before offering hours to new hires. Fines associated with the bills would compromise employers and employees by locking in schedules regardless of customer service demands and discourage employees from trading hours to meet obligations outside of work.
- SB 5513 and HB 1515, reclassifying independent contractors. WR has objected to the cost of reclassifying independent contractors as employees of the companies that hire them on a temporary basis. WR expects the matter to be a subject of a special interim study committee before taking final action.
- WR is watching a series of data privacy bills, SB 5376, HB 1854 and HB 2046. The bills need clarity on liability for data breaches and would be particularly costly to small businesses. WR also is working to protect retailers who have demonstrated good faith efforts to protect the identity of customers. Opponents also have urged that Congress, not individual states, should adopt a unified national standard for protecting consumer identities.
- HB 1159, changing the retail theft definition. The bill would allow law enforcement to question shoppers suspected of concealing merchandise with the intent to steal. The bill was under review in a House Rules Committee. WR supports the bill to provide law enforcement with a tool used in other states to help stem the rising tide of organized retail theft that puts upward pressure on the price of merchandise.
- SB 5397 and HB 1204, plastic packaging. WR has concerns that the bills are overly broad in calling for the Department of Ecology to study reducing the use of plastic packaging. For example, plastic packaging is used to prevent tampering for over-the-counter drugs.
The current legislative session is scheduled for adjournment on April 28. WR will follow the session with a complete report for members on the outcomes of bills related to retail operations.