2009 Legislature – Bill Alert Update
In my April report to the chambers of commerce, I provided a bill alert listing several pieces of legislation that may affect businesses. Now that the 2009 Legislature adjourned its session on April 26, it's time to go back and look at the status of those and other bills.
Good business bills
Regulatory assistance: House Bill 1730 jump-starts the Office of Regulatory Assistance to help small businesses understand and comply with state agency rules and regulations. House Bill 1475 requires state agencies to provide a link on their home page to their rule-making activity. House Bill 1552 requires state agencies to allow public testimony during their meetings on rules and regulations. Senate Bill 5042 requires state agencies to waive fines, civil penalties or administrative sanctions for first-time paperwork violations by small businesses. These bills have been signed into law.
Agriculture: House Bill 1733 adds horse boarding to open space property tax exemptions. Senate Bill 5120 reduces permitting fees on farm structures. Senate Bill 5562 provides protections under the state's “Right to Farm” laws for the passive growing of timber.
Bad business bills
Taxes, fees and budget: Senate Bill 5104 and Senate Joint Resolution 8205 would have implemented an income tax in Washington. Fortunately, these bills never gained enough support to get a hearing. On the same day 5,000 people rallied against taxes at the Capitol, House Bill 2377 was introduced to increase the sales tax to pay for cuts in health care. That bill also died. The good news is the state budget did not contain these kinds of taxes. The bad news is the majority party increased fees by $371 million. This includes a $20 surcharge on document recording fees, an increase on hunting and fishing licenses, substantial college tuition increases, and a $5 opt-out tax on your vehicle license tabs to pay for state parks.
Climate change: The big “cap and trade” legislation, Senate Bill 5735, that would make businesses pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, had initially passed both chambers, but fortunately, died in the final hours of the session when agreements could not be reached on amendments. Nevertheless, another measure establishing new “green building codes,” Senate Bill 5854, was signed into law by the governor.
Home warranties: House Bill 1393 would have added new taxes, regulations and extensive warranty requirements upon residential home builders. This measure, which I opposed, passed the House, but died in the Senate.
Employer gag rule: Senate Bill 5446 and House Bill 1528 would have prohibited employers from communicating with employees about politics, charitable giving or unionizing. Both of these bills died.
Paid family leave: Senate Bill 6158 would borrow money from the Workers' Compensation Fund to pay for the set up of family leave insurance, despite the lack of a permanent funding source for the program. This bill was sent to the governor.
For a more detailed list of legislation, go to my Web site at: houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen and click on “Best and Worst Bills.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: State Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, represents the 39th Legislative District, and also serves as chairman of the Washington House Republican Caucus. He can be contacted at (360) 786-7967 or from his Web site at: houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen.
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