Now that the 2021 Legislature is a little more than a third of way through its 105-day session, some of the bills Washington Retail is tracking have moved out of committees for further review by lawmakers.
Committee deadlines for action on policy bills have passed. The next deadlines pertain to fiscal bills on February 22. The House of origin cutoff for action is March 9. (Please note: developments in the Legislature are sometimes spontaneous and unpredictable so this update was accurate when it was compiled).
Here’s a summary of key bills on the WR watchlist:
- SB 5191, on price gouging, is in the Senate Rules committee awaiting further action. WR has been in consultation with the Attorney General’s office regarding specific language in the bill meant to prohibit excessively large price hikes in the middle of an emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
- HB 1095, forgiveness of business and occupation taxes on government financial benefits. The entire Legislature has unanimously passed the bill and sent it on to Governor Inslee who is expected to sign it into law.
- HB 1465 would revise the state estate tax. WR opposes adjusting this tax particularly while the legislature also is considering a first-ever capital gains tax on the sale of personal assets. The bill has not moved since a hearing in the House Finance Committee.
- HB 1076 would allow third parties to sue companies for alleged violations of workplace protections for employees. The bill had advanced to a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. WR opposes this bill backed by trial attorneys for its potential to result in undue and unsupported accusations against companies unable to afford a defense.
- SB 5102 would limit the use independent medical exams to verify workers’ compensation claims and shorten deadlines for employers to provide information to Labor & Industries. WR opposes the bill, which was in the Ways & Means Committee, because such exams are important in ferreting out legitimate claims so that benefits are paid only to deserving employees.
WR will continue to report updates on select bills during the session and follow with a full report of outcomes after adjournment in April.