Legislature nears halfway point of the 2021 session

Feb 25, 2021
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Written by Washington Retail
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It’s Day 46 of the 105-day Legislative session and 12 days before the House and Senate either must approve many bills for consideration by the opposite house or put off discussions for another year. However, budget related bills remain live for consideration until the scheduled April 25 adjournment.

Please note that developments in the Legislature are sometimes spontaneous and unpredictable so this update was accurate when it was compiled.

Here are key bills Washington Retail is monitoring:

  • SB 5371 would place a .0175-cent tax per fluid ounce on non-alcoholic soft drinks starting on October 1 of this year. The stated goal is to raise funds for public health initiatives. The bill would raise the price of a typical can of soft drink by 21 cents. Washington Retail opposes the idea of any new taxes this year now that state revenues exceed expectations and have removed earlier concerns about the state budget. A new sweetened beverage tax would raise expenses for consumers struggling to overcome financial strains caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • WR supports SB 5137, which will suspend cost-of-living increases on time-loss and pension benefits for fiscal year 2022. This suspension will slow the drain on the Supplemental Pension Fund paid equally by the worker and the employer and was suspended for one year during the last Great Recession for the same reason. The bill was in the Rules Committee.
  • HB 1477 would impose a tax on cellular phone lines starting at 30 cents per line in October this year and rising to 75 cents per line in 2024 to finance crisis hotline centers. Washington Retail believes the state should pay for this from existing revenues. The bill was in the Rules Committee.
  • SB 5062 would establish responsibilities for stores and electronic sales processors for the protection of personal shopper information. Washington Retail supports the Washington Privacy Act that would place enforcement with the state Attorney General. Senate approval is likely before the matter moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
  • HB 1073 would temporarily expand eligibility for paid family leave to include any individual who regularly resides in an employee’s home in a relationship that creates the expectation that the employee care for that person. Washington Retail opposes changing eligibility for the program without further study and discussion. The bill was in the Rules Committee.
  • HB 1543 would require high-volume third-party online sellers to provide various forms of personal and contact information for the benefit of the consumer. Washington Retail is neutral on the bill. The bill was referred to the Consumer Protection & Business committee.

Washington Retail will provide similar weekly updates during session and follow with a much fuller summary of the outcome of hundreds of bills after adjournment.