Washington Policy Blog

State lawmakers work into the night to pass more than 200 bills before first major deadline

February 19, 2014 in Blog

When the state House of Representatives adjourned Monday night—actually at 12:32 a.m. Tuesday, February 18th, lawmakers had passed over a hundred bills that day. The Senate, which adjourned at 11:38 p.m. Monday evening, passed thirty-nine measures. The fast pace continued until Tuesday’s 5:00 p.m. deadline for acting on non-budget related bills in the house of origin.

The Trade-Off for a Higher Minimum Wage

February 19, 2014 in Blog

Advocates of increasing the minimum wage routinely claim that doing so will stimulate the economy, encourage growth and create jobs.   Ignoring the basic economic law of demand, which dictates that when the cost of something goes up, demand correspondingly goes down, these supporters instead argue that when workers earn more money they spend more money, which in turn benefits employers.  Everyone wins.

Of course, the only ones who really win are the workers who have a job; those who don’t will have a harder time finding one.

Predicting Environmental Catastrophe Embiggens the Smallest Activist

February 16, 2014 in Blog

Imagine a friend telling you his goal in life was to end all jaywalking. You might wonder if there wasn’t something more important he could do with his life.

Now imagine someone telling you he is working to save the planet from imminent destruction – for people, for wildlife, for future generations. Suddenly, they seem more righteous, more important. Environmentalists seem to believe, like Jebediah Springfield, that tackling a potential catastrophe "embiggens the smallest man."

Death penalty moratorium, Senate Majority Caucus, Columbia River Crossing in the news while lawmakers are busy passing bills.

February 14, 2014 in Blog

State lawmakers are passing dozens of bills in their respective chambers before the deadline for acting on policy bills in the house of origin arrives on Tuesday,  February 18h.  Most of these are non-contentious issues and are passing by large majorities. 

10:45 p.m. "public" hearing with no public testimony, surprised?

February 14, 2014 in Blog

Lawmakers work long hours on your behalf, sometimes late into the night. One of these instances occurred on Monday when lawmakers held a public hearing at 10:45 p.m. on HB 2244.

Pension reforms on Senate floor

February 13, 2014 in Blog

As we approach the February 18 House of Origin cutoff, bills are starting to fly off the floor of the House and the Senate. Two pension reform bills in the Senate could soon be among those moving. SB 5851 and SB 6305 are both currently on the floor.

Bill Would Require Health Coverage for Virtually All Part-Time Workers at Large Companies

February 13, 2014 in Blog

During this Legislative Session there has been no shortage of bills that would increase the cost of doing business in Washington and stymie job creation.

Halftime in Olympia: a look at the numbers and what’s next

February 11, 2014 in Blog

Today, February 11th is the 30th day or halfway point in this year’s 60-day legislative session. The deadline for committee action on policy bills in the house of origin hit Friday, February 7th, and the next deadline is Tuesday, February 18th, the last day each house can act on its own policy bills.

Leave Mandates Would Cost Businesses Over $1 Billion Annually

February 10, 2014 in Blog

During this Legislative Session, lawmakers in the House of Representatives considered two bills that would require employers to offer paid leave to workers. 

HB 1313 would require employers with 5 or more employees to pay employees for 5, 7 or 9 days of sick leave per year, depending on the size of the company.  This bill passed the House and will now be considered by the Senate.

Time for Legislature to live by open government rules

February 10, 2014 in Blog

With policy cutoff behind us the list of living and walking dead bills (nothing is really dead till sine die) is being compiled. Among the proposals that didn't even receive a hearing, however, is a bill based on WPC's recommendation for the Legislature to truly provide Washingtonians the opportunity to participate in the legislative debate while also ensuring lawmakers live by the same open government rules the rest of the state's public officials operate under.

Mandatory abortion coverage, supermajority to raise taxes, minimum wage bills headline this week’s action in the Legislature.

February 7, 2014 in Blog

In floor action on Wednesday, the House passed HB 2148, to require insurers who offer maternity coverage to also cover elective abortions, by a mostly party-line vote of 54-44, with one Republican voting for it, and two Democrats voting against. To see who voted “Yes” and who voted “No,”  go to www.washingtonvotes.org and type in the bill number. The bill next goes to the Senate, but observers say chances for further action on the bill are slim.

House bill seeks to modernize taxicab and rideshare regulations, benefit consumers

February 7, 2014 in Blog

House Bill 2782, introduced by Representatives Tarleton (D-36th) and Habib (D-48th) yesterday, would direct the Joint Transportation Committee to study the taxi, limousine, and rideshare industry and make recommendations regarding a state regulatory framework. The study would do the following:

Senate rejects supermajority for taxes constitutional amendment

February 5, 2014 in Blog

The Senate voted today to reject SJR 8213: Amending the Constitution to require a two-thirds majority vote of the legislature to raise taxes. The proposal failed to receive the votes necessary for passage with a 25-21 vote (33 votes were needed).

Governor, State Superintendent of Public Instruction call for tax increases.

February 3, 2014 in Blog

Governor Jay Inslee last week proposed to spend an additional $600 million on K-12 education over the next three years by ending a number of tax breaks that are currently in effect. The targeted tax exemptions include a use-tax break on waste fuels from refineries; sales taxes on bottled water; a sales-tax break for out of state shoppers; a tax break on used-car trade-ins worth over $10,000; a sales-tax break for janitorial services; and a preferential business tax rate for resellers of prescription drugs.

Giving the Rich a Tax Break on Electric Cars Creates $1 of Environmental Benefit for Every $304 Spent

February 3, 2014 in Blog

Amid the talk about closing tax loopholes, there is one loophole some in Olympia want to protect in the name of the environment. Currently, Washington state waives the sales tax on electric vehicles, like the $90,000 Tesla Model S.

The goal of this loophole is to reduce carbon emissions. The impact of the loophole, however, is probably very small and wastes huge amounts of money for tiny environmental benefit.