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Each week, Trent House AFA's Government Relation's Director, gives you insight into Olympia, providing an update on the week's proceedings.

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April 19-25 – Sine Die

At 6:10pm on Sunday, April 25, the first year of the 67th Washington State Legislature came to an unceremonious close, much as it began. The capitol buildings and their few occupants remained closed to the public and lobbyists, protected by chain link fences installed after the January violence at the U.S. Capitol. Those few members and staff permitted to enter the buildings remained masked while the vast majority of their colleagues joined virtual proceedings on zoom from their homes across the state.

Prior to the start of session, Majority democrats instructed their members to introduce no more than 6 bills and advised that bills would be more likely to be advanced if they had a clear path in the other chamber and fit into the following categories: address COVID-19 challenges, improve racial equity, advance economic recovery, address climate change, and increase revenue. The guidelines, designed to focus the workload in a virtual universe. In the 2019/20 biennium, legislators introduced 2408 bills (or roughly 1204 per year) and ultimately passed 868 bills (or roughly 434 per year). This year, the first half of the 2021/22 biennium, legislators introduced 811 bills and passed 337.

Majority democrats passed priority measures on police reform, cap and trade, capital gains, a low carbon fuel standard, and funding the long unfunded working families tax credit. What follows are some of the more notable bills that will become law in 2021.

Agriculture & Natural Resources

  • 5220 (Van De Wege, D-24) A retail sales tax exemption is provided for a qualifying grant made by federal, state, tribal, and local governments for salmon habitat restoration. The existing B&O tax exemption is expanded to include grants received by a nonprofit organization from tribal governments.

  • 1382 (Tharinger, D-24) Creates the Habitat Recovery Pilot Program (pilot program) for habitat restoration projects that meet certain criteria. Exempts qualifying projects from certain permitting processes. Establishes a consultation and review process for pilot program projects.

  • 5273 (Salomon, D-32) Requires a person replacing a residential marine bulkhead to use the least impacting technically feasible bank protection alternative for the protection of fish life.

  • 1168 (Springer, D-45) Creates the Wildfire Response, Forest Restoration, and Community Resilience Account to fund certain wildfire preparedness, prevention, and protection activities and requires the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to report every two years on how account funds are used. Requires the DNR to implement a variety of wildfire preparedness, prevention, and forest health initiatives including increasing coordination with various entities, developing a forest health work force, providing an aviation support program, creating a small forest landowner forest health program, and exploring and developing markets for woody biomass residuals from forest health treatments.

Business & Labor

  • 5026 (Salomon, D-32) Port districts and port development authorities are prohibited from using port funds to purchase fully automated marine container cargo handling equipment until December 31, 2031. Port districts may use funds to purchase human-operated zero, or near zero, emission equipment and the infrastructure to support the equipment.

  • 5046 (Conway, D-29) The workers comp claim term "structured settlement agreement” is modified to "claim resolution settlement agreement." At the option of the parties, a claim resolution settlement may either be paid out in a single lump sum or be paid on a structured basis.

  • 5106 (Liias, D-21) The condition that limits credit unions from accepting public deposits greater than the maximum insured amount from a county with a population greater than 300,000, or from public funds depositors located in a county with a population greater than 300,000 persons is eliminated.

  • 5284 (Randall, D-26) After July 31, 2023, the director of L&I may not issue any new special certificates to employers to pay people with disabilities a subminimum wage.

  • 5355 (Conway, D-29) A lien for wage claims is created. A wage claim is a claim for any unpaid wages owed to the claimant as an employee of an employer, as well as any other compensation, interest, statutory damages, liquidated damages, attorneys' fees and costs, or statutory penalties that may be owed for violation of a local, state, or federal wage law, but does not include vacation or severance pay, contributions to an employee benefit plan, or paid leave except paid leave that is statutorily mandated. Any wage lien or right to a wage lien and the right of action to recover the lien is assignable.

  • 5385 (Keiser, D-33) For the purposes of whether an airport meets the size requirement for a municipality that operates or controls the airport to enact a minimum labor standard for employees working at the airport, the number of annual commercial air service boardings at an airport is averaged over the most recent seven years.

  • 1170 (Boehnke, R-8) Provides a state goal to double the state's manufacturing employment base, the number of small manufacturing businesses, and the number of women and minority-owned manufacturing businesses in ten years. Requires the Department of Commerce to prepare a biennial report to the Legislature on the state of the manufacturing and research and development industry and workforce in Washington. Requires Commerce to convene a manufacturing council to advise and consult on the development of the report and recommendations. Requires Commerce to grant funding for initiatives that accelerate the development of regional clusters in manufacturing and research and development. Requires Commerce to appoint a workforce innovation lead to coordinate needs identified by the manufacturing, clean technology, and aerospace sector leads.