WSIA's 2024 Legislative Preview

Jan. 3, 2024


The 2024 session of the Washington State Legislature will convene on Monday, January 8th, for 60 days of fast-paced action before lawmakers adjourn to head into the 2024 campaign season.

Big ticket items for the Legislature to consider during the short session include course corrections to the state's operating, capital, and transportation budgets, as well as legislative majorities' continued focus on environmental, housing, mental health, and social service issues.

The likely qualification of six citizen initiatives to the Legislature, ranging in subject from repealing the state's capital gains tax and carbon emissions cap-and-trade policy, to police pursuit standards, parental rights in education, forbidding future income taxes, and allowing opt-out of the state-run long term disability insurance payroll tax, will add an aura of intrigue to the session as they represent moderate-to-conservative priorities that a more progressive legislature must either adopt, propose an alternative, or send to the people for a vote on the November ballot.

Labor and employment regulation will likely be another hot area for legislative proposals, as pre-filed bills already indicate union or plaintiff-lawyer friendly proposals around disclosure of personnel records, a bar on mandatory employee meetings about unionization, unemployment insurance for striking workers, an expansion of paid sick leave entitlements, and more.

In workers' compensation, an effort is expected to address the logjam in independent medical exam availability occasioned by last year's law allowing worker recording of IMEs without, per Labor & Industries' guidance, co-recording by examiners unless a worker consents.

It is also anticipated that legislation will come forward to expand last year's "duty of good faith and fair dealing" and associated sanctions and penalties against municipal self-insured employers to all self-insured employers, pulling in the private sector. Given the uncertainty and risk to private employers that sanctions up to and including mandatory decertification could cause, without the rules defining an actual violation of "good faith and fair dealing" even being proposed yet, this will be a controversial proposal.

Among the bills pre-filed so far for introduction on Monday, Rep. Dan Bronoske, D-Lakewood has proposed new HB 1927, which would shorten the period of time loss a worker must claim in order to pick up the three waiting days of benefits from 14 to seven.

Rep. Peter Abbarno, R-Centralia, has proposed new HB 2031, which would extend occupational disease coverage for PTSD for county coroners, medical examiners, and investigative personnel, although the bill does not make such coverage presumptive.

It is anticipated that more workers' comp proposals will enter into the system as the session gets underway, with many receiving public hearings and committee action in the next few weeks.

The Legislature is continuing its tradition, began out of necessity during the COVID era, of allowing remote participation in legislative hearings and the ability to stream all proceedings through TVW's website. A handy guide to the legislative session, including links to these resources, can be found at the Washington State Standard news page here.

WSIA provides law and legislative committee e-list members with a detailed legislative update each Friday, and more general information on the week's legislative happenings in our frequent WSIA Weekly Newsletter. Members interested in joining the law/legislative list should contact the office.