by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
| Mar 21, 2022
The Washington State Legislature has finished on time, passing 303 bills and three budgets (supplemental operating, capital, and transportation). While only 60 days long, by many accounts this was one of the toughest sessions in memory. 303 out of 1049 bills were enacted this year, meaning just 29% of bills introduced were passed. GSBA's legislative agenda was a bit of a mixed bag this year - we had a number of endorsed bills that did not make it through the process, but several more that did.
With economic recovery still at the top of our mind, GSBA is pleased to see the success of bills to delay the Washington Cares Act (HB 1732), create the Equitable Access to Credit Act (HB 1015) to fund community development financial institutions, and add clarification to the Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave Act (SB 5649).
One bill that showed up very late in the session was SB 5980, which exempts small businesses with revenues under $125,000 from the state business and occupation (B&O) tax starting January 1, 2023. This bill also raises the monthly B&O credit amount from $35 to $55 for non-service businesses, and from $70 to $160 for service businesses.
Unlike in many other states this year, the few anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in Washington made no progress and did not receive any hearings. Instead, we saw the passage of legislation that exempts the sensitive details of transgender people (and others) in the prison system from public disclosure (HB1956) as well as a bill that automatically waives fees for low-income people seeking a name change (HB 1961). We are disappointed that a bill mandating coverage for infertility treatments, including those often used by LGBTQ+ families, did not pass this year.
In the budget, funding was authorized for the LGBTQ senior housing project going up on Capitol Hill (managed by GenPride), and a study on including fertility treatments in insurance coverage (separate from the bill that would have authorized it outright). While the bill to mandate Medicaid coverage of and exempt from pre-authorization all FDA-approved medications for HIV/AIDS did not pass, the funding was successfully added to the budget and so the desired outcome was still met.
For more information about LGBTQ+ legislation this year, join our Civic Engagement Series
on Monday, April 18 at 5:30pm.
Safety & Policing
There were several major achievements in gun control legislation this year, include a ban on high capacity magazines (SB 5078) and closing the so-called ghost gun loophole (HB 1075). Additionally, HB 1630 prohibits armed intimidation by banning open carry at public local government meetings, school board meetings, and elections-related offices.
Additionally, HB 1735 clarifies the use of force standards regulations passed last year for police officers across Washington. It clarifies when police can use force, and reiterates that they are required to help transport people to mental health treatment. This bill was supported by police and community advocates alike.
You can find more details about any of these bills at leg.wa.gov