The Washington Legislature approved a two-year $52.4 bil- lion state operating budget finishing the 105-day 2019 legislative session on time. The budget adds funding to the mental-health system, provides raises for state workers and increases spending on education programs and wildfire suppression efforts.
The Legislature, controlled by a Democratic majority, passed a Job-creating 100% clean energy bill to transition Washington to 100 percent clean electricity by 2045. Senate Bill 5116 will transi- tion all electric utilities away from coal-fired power by 2026 and will make all retail sales of electricity greenhouse gas neutral by Jan. 1, 2030. A committee amendment to this bill reflects that tax incentives are tied to important prevailing wage and apprenticeship utilization labor standards.
We opposed Senate Bill 5323 concerning a plastic bag ban which failed this session. While the bill is part of a well-intentioned effort to reduce plastic waste, we were concerned that the bill un- necessarily targets paper bags with a mandatory eight cent charge. The charge would have increased costs for working families and discourage consumers from choosing paper bags that are easily recycled and manufactured at paper mills. We will continue to encourage the legislature to move forward with a plastic bag ban without giving a windfall to grocers at the expense of consumers and workers. Our legislators and our state should support the sus- tainable, locally manufactured paper bags.
We partnered with Representative Blake to introduce House Bill 2107, prohibiting employer searches of personal property as related to employee owned vehicles. The previous bill (House Bill 2137, introduced in 2012) did not have strong support from the labor community and therefore did not advance. While House Bill 2107 did not make the required cut off deadlines in this session to pass, we are encouraged by the support that is building around the idea and we are hopeful for this important legislation to pass during the 2020 Legislative session.
We continue to support Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) pro-labor legislative priorities. A key WSLC priority for this year was House Bill 1575, updating the 40-plus years of collective bargaining statutes to ensure that they are aligned with last year’s Supreme Court Janus decision which imposed restrictions on all public employee unions nationwide. The Supreme Court’s decision allowed workers to withdraw from the union and not pay anything while still requiring the unions to represent them. House Bill 1575 ties the knot of the loopholes that Janus created.
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Involvement in the legislative process has been an important aspect of the AWPPW since the organization’s inception. The primary legislative objectives continue to be promoting the collective interest of a higher income, better working conditions, workers’ rights and defending labor laws.
There are 49 Legislative Districts (LD) in Washington that make up the Washington State Legislature. Every Legislative District (LD) is comprised of one Senator and two Representatives. Do you know which LD you live in? Do you know the Legislators is your LD? Discover more about the area in which you live and those Legislator’s that represent you at http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/
Legislative & Political Director Washington Area Council, AWPPW