WSIA's Week 3 Legislative Update (Week of Jan. 25-29th)

The following noteworthy action took place this week in workers' compensation and workplace safety. Updated bill tracking sheets are included at the bottom.

Workers' Comp:

On Monday, the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee held a public hearing on these bills of note:

  • A draft of SB 6602, sponsored by Senator John Braun, R-Chehalis, which addresses the recommendation of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee to have self-insured employers issue allowance orders on claims they determine to allow. The proposal also includes interlocutory orders and denial orders. The bill was supported by WSIA, the Boeing Company, the Association of Washington Business and others, and opposed by the Labor Council. L&I offered technical comments. Click here for a copy of the language as introduced. Click here for a copy of WSIA's arguments in favor of it.
  • SB 6081, sponsored by Senator Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, which would add an office of Labor & Industries Ombuds to the state's Department of Commerce, to hear and act upon complaints about L&I made by employers.
  • SB 6321, also sponsored by Sen. Baumgartner, which makes modifications to the 7-part test for determining independent contractor or covered employee status in the construction industry. 

On Tuesday, the House Labor & Workforce Standards Committee took executive action on HB 2441, sponsored by Rep. Steve Kirby, D-Tacoma, which, as marked up in committee, would eliminate the social security offset on a prospective basis for injured workers receiving or having applied for social security benefits prior to their date of injury. The measure is expected to have a roughly $2 million per year impact on the system if enacted.

On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee held a hearing on SB 6579, sponsored by Sen. Baumgartner, to create a joint legislative task force to study and issue a report for creating a private, 3-way workers' comp insurance market in Washington.

The Senate committee also took action on a number of bills. On a party-line vote, the committee voted out for further consideration the aforementioned 3-way bill, the aforementioned L&I ombuds bill, the aforementioned independent contractor bill, and SB 5509, a holdover from last year tightening up the definition of occupational disease in our system, a perennial employer community objective. Each of these bills moved to the Senate Rules committee, where they can then be voted on for further consideration on the Senate floor.

On Thursday, Senator Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, introduced SB 6597, which would establish a joint legislative task force to study and report back on various issues concerning the use of Independent Medical Examinations in workers' comp. We don't expect the measure to get a hearing or move out of committee.

Workplace Safety:

In workplace safety, we are tracking four proposals:

  • SB 6386, sponsored by Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, would require the adoption of safety standards for public school districts whose facilities include retractable basketball hoops and the equipment to operate them. The measure was voted out of the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee on Wednesday.
  • HB 2484, sponsored by Rep. Brady Walkinshaw, D-Seattle, places a fairly stringent safety training, inspection, and regulation regime on the state's dairy farms. It is scheduled for a vote out of the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee next Tuesday.
  • HB 2805, sponsored by Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Olympia, would require Labor & Industries to adopt rules for mandatory hazardous exposure reporting for employers of firefighters. It is scheduled for hearing next Monday, with a committee vote to follow on Tuesday.
  • HB 2917, sponsored by Rep. Mia Gregerson, D-SeaTac, was newly introduced this week and requires Labor & Industries to conduct a study of safety and health issues in the commercial janitorial industry. It is scheduled for a public hearing next Tuesday.
As always, please contact Kris Tefft if you have any questions, concerns, comments, or positions, on any pending legislation.