Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Washington House Republicans adopted a mantra last year: “Let's get Washington working.” It's more of a goal than a slogan, and something we continue to focus on in the Legislature.
“Let's get Washington working” has duel meaning. First, it means making state government more efficient, effective and accountable. Second, it means creating jobs, improving the state's business climate and helping personal incomes rise.
Our state's June Economic and Revenue Update showed: May consumer confidence returned to pre-recession levels; inflation in the Seattle metropolitan area remained moderate in early 2013; housing and construction are improving, but aerospace employment is declining; and that our state unemployment rate is improving.
While our economy is slowly recovering, it is still fragile. Outside of King County, many communities are still struggling. There are things we can do as a state to accelerate our recovery. The Legislature cannot sit back and blame what is happening at the national level for our state's problems. We need to look in the mirror and find solutions that will help employers and encourage them to grow and hire. Other states have a better business climate and are actively recruiting our employers. We need to do the same.
What can we do? A lot. Washington House Republicans proposed a package of bills that would have lowered costs in our state-run workers' compensation system, streamlined permitting processes, ended duplicative state services, placed a moratorium on non-essential state agency rulemaking, and suspended Growth Management Act requirements in counties with persistently high unemployment. Only one measure was successful and signed into law – House Bill 1403. This legislation provides a more user-friendly structure for employers and startup businesses needing licensing information.
While more work remains to be done in the Legislature when it comes to our economy, there were some small successes this year. Here are some bills that passed you might be interested in:
- Senate Bill 5056 makes the process for employers to hire minors easier, which should help young men and women find jobs.
- Senate Bill 5211 prohibits an employer from requiring a prospective employee or employee to submit social media passwords or other account information as a condition of employment or continued employment.
- Senate Bill 5679 directs three state agencies – Ecology, Labor and Industries, and Health – to develop a formal review process of existing rules every five years. The objective of the review is to improve the processes for licensing, permitting and inspection.
- Senate Bill 5718 requires the Office of the Chief Information Officer to provide the Legislature with a plan for establishing performance benchmarks, and for measuring the results of implementing a one-stop business portal. This will provide a framework for reducing and streamlining regulations.
- House Bill 1247 allows small businesses to provide financial support that is equal to the trainees' salaries and benefits during training, rather than equal to the Job Skills Program grant amount.
In your service,