Last week, hundreds of people, including three former Washington state governors, came to Olympia to testify on I-1000, the Washington State Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Act, which would restore affirmative action in Washington state. Seattle Metro Chamber President and CEO, Marilyn Strickland, testified in support of this policy, which the Chamber endorsed this February. She was joined by Eileen Sullivan from Amazon and Barb Wilson from Vulcan Inc. Several other Chamber members and partners spoke in support of I-1000 as well. [Watch the hearing here; Marilyn’s testimony begins 1 hour, 1 minute into the hearing.]
With the end of session—scheduled for Sunday, April 28—rapidly approaching, policy bills are moving quickly. Bills that were passed with different amendments in the House and Senate need “concurrence” meaning that the changes are agreed upon or they head to a conference committee to negotiate changes that are disputed.
Senator Jamie Pedersen’s condo liability bill, ESB 5334, was among the first bills scheduled for concurrence in the Senate. On Friday, April 19 the Senate voted unanimously (47-0) to concur with the changes made in the House. The bill will now head to the governor’s desk for his signature. This legislation was a major priority of the Chamber this year.
Another bill the Seattle Metro Chamber supported, Rep. Tana Senn’s 2SHB 1603, passed the Senate (35-13) on Monday, April 15. The bill would reduce harmful barriers that prevent families from participating in WorkFirst/Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The bill will now head to Governor Inslee for his consideration.
Two revenue bills introduced last month proposed increasing business & operations (B&O) taxes for travel agents by over 500%, SB 5997 and HB 2157. This large increase sparked concerns from the travel industry that were shared and voiced by the Seattle Metro Chamber. In response to these concerns, on Thursday, April 18, the Senate Ways and Means Committee adopted an amendment offered by Senator Rolfes that significantly lowered the tax increase on travel agents. You can read the full amendment here. The House Finance Committee passed a substitute bill that included the same provision as the Senate—lowering the amount of the B&O tax increase for travel agents. You can view the substitute bill here.
Although legislative session is scheduled to end this weekend, “special” sessions may extend the April 28 end date if the legislature has not yet come to agreement on the final budget.