Last Monday, Jan. 9, legislators arrived in Olympia to begin a long, 105-day legislative session. The week began with the usual opening ceremonies, swearing in of legislators, and settling in to new legislative offices.
On Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee delivered his State of the State Address, in which he focused on his proposal to raise taxes by $4.4 billion. The tax increases championed by Inslee include a new carbon tax (even though voters defeated one at the ballot box last November), a capital gains tax (which could be a step toward a state income tax), and an increase in B&O taxes on business services.
Control of the House and Senate remains unchanged from last year. Democrats hold a two-seat majority in the House, and the Majority Coalition Caucus of 24 Republicans and one Democrat hold a one-vote majority in the Senate. This division of power helps ensure that any bills to pass the Legislature will be bipartisan in nature, and highly controversial legislation will be filtered out through the regular legislative processes throughout session.
The cutoff date for policy committees to act on proposed legislation falls on February 17. The end of the regular session will be April 23, but given high-profile budget issues such as K-12 educational funding, it is likely that there will be special sessions beyond that date.
Committee activity last week and the first part of this week has focused primarily on work sessions in which legislative and agency staff present requested information updates to legislators. The pace of public hearings on bills will increase soon.
Initiative 1433, an initiative to the people on the November General Election ballot, is currently passing by a vote of 57.4% to 42.6%. The initiative increases the state minimum wage and mandates that employers provide paid sick leave to employees.
Employers should be aware of two items of particular importance: (1) the state minimum wage will increase to $11.00 per hour on Jan. 1, 2017; and (2) paid sick leave requirements will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
Today the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries released the following information about I-1433. Please review this information as it will affect your business.
David Douphrate Ph.D., MPT, MBA, a nationally-recognized authority on worker health and safety on dairy farms, encouraged more than 200 attendees, at the Washington Dairy Federation’s Safety Conference and Annual meeting, to demonstrate a commitment to farm worker safety by moving beyond the ‘checkbox’.
Dr. Douphrate said safety management components are driven by the owner/manager’s commitment to workplace safety. “Hazard identification and control, education and training, and worker participation are key elements in a farm’s written safety policies and programs,” he said. “With a focus on prevention and employee participation, safety training is effective when it is administered in both a language and vocabulary that workers can understand, which is vital given that the current dairy labor force is mostly comprised of non-English speaking workers.”
An Assistant Professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center Houston School of Public Health, Dr. Douphrate has focused on dairy farm worker safety for more than 13 years.
“Proactive injury prevention using a safety management blue print enables workers to perform their jobs in safe and effective ways in safe working environments,” he says. “Continuous leadership with a well-structured plan and evaluation system will help prevent injuries but should be evaluated on a regular basis for effectiveness.”
During two presentations and one break-out session, Dr. Douphrate offered four levels of effective training: reaction, or feedback from workers; retention, or how much did they learn; behavior change, or how workers help identify hazards so they can be fixed; and results or a reduction in injuries.
Several experts from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries and Washington Farm Bureau led breakout sessions including lagoon safety, online safety resources, cost saving safety inspections, main hazards & compliance, workplace safety policies, delivery of safety training, nutrient balance and nutrient record keeping.
Department of Labor & Industries staff were on hand at the trade show to answer questions and information for required ‘Accident Prevention Program’. They also distributed information about manure storage dangers, large animal handling, machinery and equipment, and a safety checklist that dairy farms can use to identify hazards and steps to correct them.
The 2016 Washington Dairy Safety Conference, Annual Meeting & Trade Show was made possible by the following sponsors: Dairy Farmers of Washington, Washington Department of Labor & Industries, Washington State Department of Agriculture, Bayer, NW Dairy Association, Washington Farm Bureau, Ag-Health Laboratories, Animal Health International, CIH Margin Management, Larson Gross CPS/Consultants, PayneWest Insurance, Regenis, NW Farm Credit Services, Toppenish Livestock Commission, Vaughn, and Zoetis. Bronze sponsors included Agri King, Albers, AllWest Select Sires, Allflex USA, Alltech, Boehringer Ingelheim, CHR-Hansen, CCTV CameraScan, Clifton Larson Allen, Ds Beef Packers, Dairy Records Management Systems, Daritech, Datamars, DeLaval Dairy Services, KHI Provo EZ Fed, Diamond V, High Desert Dairy Lab, INNNVAC, NC Machinery, NW Linings & Geotextile Products, G@ Waste Management, FWO, Land View, Multimin USA/Lactipro, Pacific NW Agricultural Safety & Health, Port of Grandview, Rabo AgriFinance, Schabe, Williamson & Wyatt, Seley & Co, Semex, Simplot Western Stockmen’s, USDA Nat’l Statistics Service, USDA Farm Service Agency, Viterra Pacific Coast Canola, WSDA Animal Services, Washington Beef Commission, Washington State Hay Growers Assn. and Washington State University Extension.
This article was originally published in Dairyland News. Yakima Valley Edition, Issue 15, Nov/Dec 2016 (here and here) Whatcom County Edition, Vol. 14, Nov/Dec 2016 (here and here)