Legislative News: Seventh Week of the 2017 Session

Legislative News: Seventh Week of the 2017 Session

Today is the 50th day of the 2017 session, so we are nearly half-way through the 105 scheduled days of session. A significant cut-off passed on Friday, Feb. 24. Friday was the last day to pass bills out of committee from House fiscal committees, Senate Ways & Means and Transportation committees in their house of origin.

Now the legislature will move into floor action. With floor action bills are subject to a debate before the entire body in each chamber. The chambers can vote to pass, amend and pass, or reject legislation. Bills that pass then proceed to policy committees in the opposite chamber. Want a quick refresher on how a bill becomes law? Click here.

From now on the legislature will focus on bills that have already been introduced and not the creation of new bills. Legislation considered necessary to implement the budget (NTIB) however, are immune to cut-off. We are advocating for some important legislation that falls into this category including legislation on Tourism and Paid Family Leave.  You can read more about those bills below.

During floor debate the Government Affairs team will be working hard, sometimes late into the evening, as members of the legislature will stay on the floor to debate bills in order to pass them before the next cut-off which is March 8 at 5 p.m.

Participate

Would you like to participate more with your association Government Affairs Committee (GAC)?

  • Participate in weekly GAC calls – email KatieD@wahospitality.org
  • Text the word SERVE to 52886 to sign up for urgent text alerts
  • Read about legislation we are watching in the bill tracker

Tourism Bills

  • House Bill 1123 and Senate Bill 5251 have not moved from fiscal committees, however they are considered “necessary to implement the budget”, and will remain alive until the state budget has passed. Members of the association have been a great help to keep the legislation moving through the process in response to an action alert we sent last week. Your help is still needed!

Click here to take action

  • House Bill 2015 was dropped into the system last week, made it through cut-off and is now in Rules Committee.  The bill would secure necessary funding for the Washington State Convention Center.
  • Senate Bill 5827 also passed cut off and is now on second reading in Rules Committee.  This legislation defines the term “tourist” for purposes of local lodging tax reporting. This definition is important so that tax dollars for local tourism efforts are being spent appropriately.

Skilled Worker Outreach

Senate Bill 5713 made it through cut-off and is now in Rules committee for second reading.. The Washington Hospitality Association testified in support of this bill early on in the process which you can watch here. The bill would fund a skilled worker outreach and training program which would apply to several programs we offer through the Education Foundation. This is positive legislation that could help people within the hospitality industry move up the career ladder into family wage jobs. We will keep you up-to-date as this legislation progresses.

Paid Family Leave

Several bills have been introduced that would create a statewide paid family leave policy. The bills all address ways to create the program and agree on the types of circumstances that leave can be used for. However, the bills were very different in their approach to implementation.

Most recently, Sen. Fain (R) and Sen. Keiser (D) co-sponsored Senate Bill 5829, which is currently in Ways and Means. This bill is likely a compromise on different elements of implementation that didn’t find bi-partisan support in previous bills. SB 5829 is a “title only” bill, meaning the body of the bill is blank, and capable of being amended once an approach has been agreed upon. This move leaves a lot of room for negotiation.

Although SB 5829 didn’t move out of committee it is considered NTIB and is likely to continue through the process. Details of the bill are still being worked out and we will keep you up to date as specifics emerge. However, this new legislation is not the only bill that is still alive.

House Bill 1116 (companion to SB 5032) did make cut-off and is now in Rules Committee. This legislation would give employees six months of paid leave and uses an employer-employee payroll tax for funding.

Senate Bill 5149, has not moved out of committee. However, it is also considered NTIB which would provide 12 weeks paid time off. Compensation within this bill is phased in up to 67 percent of the employee’s salary. Leave is financed through an employee payroll tax.

*NOTE: There is a special GAC meeting via webinar to discuss and review Paid Family Leave information this Wednesday, at 10 a.m. PST. This webinar is for members only. If you are a GAC member and would like to participate contact KatieD@wahospitality.org

Liquor Legislation

  • House Bill 1893 has made it to the floor calendar and is likely to be voted out of the House this week. Senate Bill 5665, made it through cut-off and is in Rules Committee. These bills would allow operators the use of credit cards when purchasing alcohol. This gives our members an additional option for paying for spirits and is a helpful convenience.
  • House Bill 2000 has moved to Rules Committee and is likely to be scheduled for a floor vote soon. This bill would eliminate confusion about what restrictions currently apply to private label spirits and sales. The Washington Hospitality Association testified in support of this legislation.
  • House Bill 1874 is considered likely dead. This legislation would have lowered the blood and breath alcohol concentration (BAC) from 0.08 to 0.05 for a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrest.  The Hospitality Association was concerned with the bill, as all other states in the country maintain the .08 BAC level, and current MAST certified employees are trained to recognize signs of intoxication based on .08 BAC level precautions.

Minimum Wage and Teen Wage

  • Senate Bill 5541, which would institute a teen wage, at 85% of the state minimum wage, made it through cut-off and is on second reading in Rules Committee. This legislation would change I-1433, triggering a 2/3 vote of the legislature. However, we will continue to work hard to promote this legislation. Teen employment is important to our industry and the state economy. Read this column to see why.
  • We continue to participate in rule-making with the Department of Labor and Industries on Initiative 1433. Now you can get involved! L&I has created a website where you can post question and comments. You can also read the initial stakeholder feedback. Click here to visit the website. Deadline for submission of feedback is March 03, 2017.

Pop Syrup Tax

House Bill 1975 has not made it out of committee. Although it has not moved it is a tax and is therefore considered NTIB. This legislation would add a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (including imitation sugar and diet drinks). This is not the first time the legislature has sought to tax soda or other non-alcoholic drinks to fill budget gaps. We are actively watching this legislation and we are prepared to advocate against this legislation should it be brought for a hearing.