2019 Legislative Update: Advancing Your Agenda

by Matt Landers, Public Policy Manager
| Mar 08, 2019

It has been a busy winter for GSBA's advocacy team. The board, Policy Council, GSBA members, and staff have been working hard to advance our agenda at the local, state, and federal levels. We want to share with you the progress we are making, the victories we have already achieved, and the issues where your support can get us across the line.

PROGRESS IN THE LEGISLATURE

  • Establishing the LGBTQ Commission - PASSED THE SENATE! GSBA has led the effort to create a recognized and official voice for our community in Olympia, and we were excited that the bill received a strong bipartisan vote in the Senate last week! As one of the few protected classes without a commission, LGBTQ people are left out of government programs, data gathering, and policymaking arenas. Please contact your Representatives and urge them to support HB 2065 / E2SSB 5356 as it moves to the House for consideration!
  • Supporting anti-bullying efforts for trans students - PASSED THE SENATE! Requires public schools to develop a policy and procedure that prohibits harassment, intimidation, and bullying, and a model policy for transgender students. This bill did not make it out of the Legislature last year, and we still need support to be heard by our Representatives. (SB 5689)
  • Strengthening hate crimes laws - PASSED THE HOUSE! Waiting for a floor vote in the Senate, this bill explicitly adds gender identity and expression, expands language on religious bias crimes, and officially re-names "malicious harassment" as "hate crimes". (HB 1732 / SB 5850)
  • Preventing salary history from being used to determine future salary - Waiting for a floor vote in the House, this would prevent past salary from being a determinant of salary in a future job, preventing a major cause of wage disparities for women and minority communities. (HB 1696)
  • Passing a small business bill of rights - GSBA testified in favor of this effort to protect small businesses out of committee. (HB 2093)
  • Banning gay- and trans-panic defenses - Prevent affirmative defenses based on the discovery, knowledge, or potential disclosure of a victim's gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Waiting for a floor vote in the House (HB 1687)
  • Supporting reproductive healthcare access for trans and nonbinary people and immigrants - PASSED THE SENATE! (SB 5602)
  • Modernizing laws around HIV/AIDS - (HB 1551)
  • Updating the Vital Statistics act to include our community - PASSED THE SENATE! (SB 5332)
  • Defending independent contractors - Several bills this session have threatened the existence of various forms of independent contractors. GSBA has defended the legitimacy of business owners who operate as independent contractors, while also supporting clarifications to regulation that help businesses properly classify their employees and contractors. (HB 1515, SB 5513, SB 5326)
  • Initiative 1000 - we are waiting for this initiative to the Legislature to be scheduled for a hearing. I-1000 would re-establish affirmative action in Washington State and work for greater diversity in public education, hiring, and contracting.
  • De-Escalate Washington / Initiative 940 - PASSED INTO LAW! The amendments to voter-approved I-940 were quickly approved by both chambers of the Legislature and have already been signed by the Governor!
To learn more about each of these bill, click here and enter the bill number.
To find your legislators and contact them about any of these issues, click here. GSBA urges you to be clear, respectful, and to thank legislators who support our issues.

A BUSINESS VOICE FOR EQUALITY IN THE COURTS

GSBA regularly signs on to amicus briefs in court cases involving our community. In the last two weeks GSBA has been proud to add our name to a pair of friend-of-the-court briefs:

  • Arlene's Flowers: GSBA joins several small businesses, corporations, and business associations in urging the Washington State Supreme Court not to carve out an exception to the Washington Law Against Discrimination that would allow an employee of a business to refuse service to someone based on their personal beliefs. Read the press release
    Thank you to GSBA members Amazon, Brooks Sports Inc, Elliott Bay Book Co, Expedia, Kaiser Permanente, Microsoft, Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, EDA of Skagit County, and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce for joining us.
  • GSBA joined the ADL and numerous nonprofit organizations in a brief supporting the Dallas, OR school district’s policy permitting transgender students to access the restroom and locker rooms consistent with their gender identities. This policy was challenged by a group similar to those who led the I-1515 and I-1552 campaigns that we opposed a few years ago. GSBA strongly supports the right of all people to access the facilities that fit their identity.