An attempt by legislators to update the state’s equal pay laws is still being negotiated. HB 1506 would expand the scope of current law, as well as enforcement provisions. That bill passed the House during the Regular Session and the 1st Special Session, but it did not pass the Senate. On May 25, the House again passed the bill during the 2nd Special Session. A Senate title-only bill, SB 5836, is in Senate Rules. If House and Senate negotiators can reach agreement on bill language, the bill may pass this year.
Negotiations between business community representatives and worker representatives are ongoing. Labor-backed HB 1116 went as far as the House Rules Committee, and SB 5149, a proposal friendlier to business, was introduced in the Senate. The issue polls well statewide, and failure to find a legislative solution will likely result in a statewide initiative.
There is also no agreement yet on how to fix the crisis created by the state Supreme Court’s Hirst decision. The court ruled that Whatcom County failed to comply with the Growth Management Act requirements to protect water resources. The ruling requires the county to make an independent decision about legal water availability before approving or denying building permits that use wells for a water source. Finding a legislative solution to the Hirst ruling may be included in negotiations on the Capital Budget.