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2024 Legislation of Note

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 LEGISLATION OF NOTE

 

Environmental and energy legislation

Peter Godlewski, AWB’s lead on energy and environmental issues, is tracking a number of issues, including:

  • Linking carbon markets: Senate Bill 6058, which would facilitate linkage of Washington's carbon market with California and Quebec, was scheduled for a vote in the House Appropriations Committee this morning. AWB supports the goal of linking markets to improve price stability but has concerns with the bill. To make linkage possible, legislators need to take additional steps to increase price stability. The goal with linkage is to create a larger market of carbon credits to drive down compliance costs, reducing prices for businesses and consumers.

 

Workplace law and human resources issues

Government Affairs Director Bob Battles continues to monitor employment law bills, including:

  • Captive audience meetings: Senate Bill 5778 was voted out of the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee last week and is now in the Rules Committee. It may move to the House floor for a vote this week. AWB continues to oppose the bill, which aims to restrict mandatory "captive audience" meetings during labor organization campaigns. The bill purports to protect workers from having to listen to their employers' political and religious opinions. In reality, it would unconstitutionally limit employers' communications with employees. This action is also unnecessary: The National Labor Relations Act already includes strong protections for workers engaging in pro-union activities. The proposed laws are also unenforceable, as it is a federally preempted issue.

 

Land use and housing

AWB Government Affairs Director Morgan Irwin continues to closely watch housing bills, including:

  • Rent control: House Bill 2114, which would impose statewide rent control, has stalled in the Legislature. The Senate Ways & Means Committee refused to vote on the proposal today, with Ways & Means chair Sen. June Robertson, D-Everett, telling reporters the bill did not have enough support among committee members. AWB was part of the coalition that pushed back against the bill, which would have driven up housing costs. Landlords testified that the policy does not account for the higher costs required to maintain housing and would only decrease the number of available rentals, worsening the affordability crisis.
  • Transit-oriented development: AWB supports the idea of higher densities around transit hubs, but unfortunately House Bill 2160, a bill that aims to encourage transit-oriented development, falls short. HB 2160 is structured in such a way that it will likely deter builders from investing in these projects. The bill passed out of the Senate Local Government, Land Use & Tribal Affairs Committee last week and had a hearing Saturday in the Senate Ways & Means Committee.

 

Transportation

AWB Government Affairs Director Morgan Irwin is watching these and other bills:

  • A duo of transpo budgets: The transportation committees in the House and Senate have released their supplemental transportation budgets. The two chambers’ budgets have some fundamental differences. They also have some similarities: fewer projects completed, higher costs, more tolling and a delay of major projects on Highway 167, I-405 and Highway 520. King 5 News covered the story.

 

Health care

Health care bills that AWB’s Emily Wittman is tracking include:

  • Restrictions on hospital mergers: Senate Bill 5241 was scheduled for a vote today in the House Appropriations Committee after a public hearing on Friday. 5241. The bill, which aims to regulate changes in the health care marketplace, would have the effect of basically prohibiting any hospital merger in the state. AWB opposes this bill. It would create a situation where it will no longer be feasible for struggling hospitals to get help from an outside organization to come in and rescue them or improve operations. Entire communities could lose their hospitals or medical care providers. SB 5241 is a bill that looks backward and won’t solve the problem it’s intended to solve.
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