The 60-day Legislative Session, now our second year of virtual policymaking, is scheduled to conclude at 5:00 pm today.
Despite the challenges associated with conducting our primary advocacy efforts through daily zoom meetings, WR has had a very productive and successful session. Our Policy and Government Affairs (PGA) team was able to stop a number of costly and burdensome bills that would have hampered retailers’ operations in Washington State. At the same time, the team supported several very helpful measures that will make retailers’ lives easier, increase consumer engagement, and save our members money.
Continued caution remains as we move through the final hours of session as a couple of WR priority bills are still undecided. House Bill 2018 – adopting a sales tax holiday for Labor Day Weekend, appears to not be moving forward. House Bill 1850 – data privacy regulations – that WR opposes – has yet to be voted on and Senate Bill 5062, the Washington Privacy Act – that WR supports – has yet to be voted on.
A couple of bills that WR supported and helped draft include the retail workforce development legislation HB 2019, which has passed both the House and Senate and is being considered by the Governor for signature – we are optimistic that he will give his approval. The unemployment insurance relief act is another important bill that will help keep UI rates down after surging during the pandemic. SB 5873 is also expected to gain the Governor’s endorsement in the coming days.
Governor Inslee is not expected to call a special session following March 10. Our WR PGA team is hopeful that the 2023 session will return to an in-person session. With the pandemic winding down, we are also looking forward to an in-person campaign season – all 98 House seats are up for election, and half the Senate seats will be in play.