2020 Legislative Review

Introduction | Overview | Summary


Introduction

The Merit Shop Philosophy encourages open competition and a free-enterprise approach that awards contracts to the most qualified and lowest bidder, based solely on merit, regardless of labor affiliation.  Merit Shop is neither pro-union nor anti-union. We believe union and open shop workers should be able to work side-by-side to provide the best project for the owner.  Workers should have the right to choose whether to belong to a union, and should be rewarded based on their individual skill and initiative.   It’s simply a way of doing business, built on free enterprise and a level playing field.

There’s no question that merit shop contractors are confronted with significant challenges in Washington State when it comes to bidding, workforce education and development, prevailing wage, and labor relations, not to mention the abundance of labor-friendly laws and regulations that impact Western Washington’s construction economy.  There’s an old saying in government affairs that says “if you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re on the menu.”  Fortunately, ABC of Western Washington members do have a seat at the table, through the efforts of our Government Affairs Council.  These dedicated members help elevate your collective voice in conversations with lawmakers, regulators, and political candidates. 

In the review below, we share the measures of success achieved, even in light of a changing political climate that returned control of the state Senate to labor-friendly interests.  You’ll also learn more about our expanding efforts through grassroots initiatives to strengthen our understanding of what our members’ concerns are, and to line up support for our issues at the local, state, and federal level, now, and in the long-term.


Overview


With Democrats holding strengthened majorities since 2018 in the Legislature and the Senate, the Washington State Legislature continued efforts to enact a boldened progressive agenda during the 2020 Legislative Session.  The construction industry was confronted with a veritable wave of bills friendly to unions and trial lawyers and challenging for the construction economy during the shorter “interim” session. While some bills passed that were difficult on open shop contractors, many did not advance during this year. Below is the final status of key bills of interest in the 2020 Session:
 

Bill Description ABC/WCIC Position Bill Status
                  HB 1110 Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation fuels (LCFS) Oppose/Oppose   Dead       
HB 1395 Concerning direct contractor liability for payment of wages and benefits Oppose/Oppose Dead
HB 1521 Providing for accountability and transparency in government contracting Oppose/Oppose

Passed
House:  67-29
Senate: 31-18            

HB 1965 Allowing whistleblowers to bring actions on behalf of the state for violations of workplace protections Oppose/Oppose Dead
HB 2229 Clarifying the scope of taxation on land development or management services Support/Support Dead
HB 2409 Concerning industrial insurance employer penalties, duties, and the licensing of third-party administrators Oppose/Oppose Dead
HB 2468 Improving the effectiveness and adequacy of the workforce education investment surcharge by decreasing compliance and administrative burdens for taxpayers and the department of revenue Support/Oppose Dead
HB 2564 Requiring health and safety training for construction workers Oppose/Oppose Dead
HB 2894 Concerning the taxation of concrete pumping services Support/Support Dead
HB 2948 Granting additional and progressive tax authority for counties with populations exceeding two million Oppose/Oppose Dead
SB 6054 Changing the effective date of workforce requirements related to high hazard facilities Support/Support Dead
SB 6440 Concerning industrial insurance medical examinations Oppose/Oppose Passed
House: 97-0
Senate: 48-0
SB 6492 Addressing workforce education investment funding through B&O tax reform Oppose/Oppose Passed
Senate: 28-21
House: 52-45

 

This session, we built on relationships established with our successes from the 2019 legislative session, where ABC realized three key accomplishments with the enactment of the Workforce Education Investment Act (WEIA), Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s Prevailing Wage Theft bill, and the carving out of the Affordable Housing sector from the effects of Prevailing Wage legislation passed in 2018. You can read more about why these bills and the impact we had on the final outcome in last year’s Year in Review

While Rep. Drew Hansen’s bill that excluded the construction economy from the 0.25% B&O tax increase to fund the WEIA didn’t prevail, ABC’s role in helping the WEIA led to broad recognition of ABC as an influential organization for workforce education and development. Additionally, our testimony in opposition to HB 2564 (Requiring Health and Safety Training for construction workers) has earned ABC an invitation by bill sponsor Rep. Tina Orwall to join continued discussions about this bill which is expected to resurface for the 2021 Legislative Session.  This added visibility will provide ABC an opportunity to showcase our chapter’s strong safety performance record to legislators and industry stakeholders.

Rep Dew Hansen (23rd LD) Tina Orwall (33rd LD)


These bills are just two examples of how our issue-driven approach to legislation and regulation is paying dividends for ABC members.  Now more than ever, we’re working closely with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle as a byproduct of our leadership on bills related to workforce development, education, and safety.  As a result, we’re able to prevent bills that are detrimental to our members from advancing, lessen negative impacts on others that passed, and advocate for legislation that benefits our members and the construction economy as a whole.


Summary

We live in a “blue state” and one of the bluest states in the country. In order to support our members’ ability to participate in various sectors of the construction economy, it’s important to expand our engagement with decision-makers who haven’t traditionally shared our perspective.  In the process, we can educate them about who we are, control the narrative about ABC, and in the process, understand their concerns and help them understand ours.  Consensus demands compromise, and in a state where politics lean so hard to the left, advocating for open shops is challenging, but we’re seeing success from our efforts, and we hope you understand and support our issue-driven approach.  With our contract lobbyist Cliff Webster continuing to lead our efforts with minority Republican leadership and my efforts to cultivate relationships with Democrats, we provide a more balanced approach to addressing the problems our members confront from legislation and regulation in Washington State.


Thank you to our current GA Council members, whose passion for issues that impact all of Washington State’s ABC members is the catalyst for our current results and the promise of better outcomes tomorrow:

Josh Griesse, Chair | Washington Commercial Painters
Mark VanWell, ABC (National) PAC Trustee | Environmental Stoneworks
Joan Baldwin, Free Enterprise Alliance Chapter Champion | ABC of Western Washington Lifetime Member
Bryan Cordes | Crystal Soda Blast
Clarke Jewell | Olympian Precast
David Rynearson | Environmental Stoneworks
Jim Wiederaenders | Matvey Foundation Repair
Karen Galipeau-Forner | Employer Solutions Law
Mark Bennett | Bennett Electric
Matt Stewart | Synergy Construction
Michael Hurst | Moss Adams
Ryan Haggard | Haggard Electric
Ryan Sternoff | Ahlers Cressman & Sleight
Terry Marston | Marston Legal
Torin Sundberg | SSI Construction
Jason Wandler, Board Chair | Oles Morrison Rinker and Baker
 Glen Kuntz, Tekton Group LLC | Board Chair-Elect
Travis Hull, Immediate Past Board Chair | Mechanical & Control Services

Contract Lobbyist: 
Cliff Webster | Carney Badley and Spellman

ABC Staff: 
Wendy Novak, President and CEO, ABC of Western Washington
Gay Huckins, ABC of Western Washington


Leadership PAC donations:

Washington Senate Democratic Campaign
House Democratic Campaign Committee
The Reagan Fund (House Republicans)
The Leadership Council (Senate Republicans)
Washington State Republican Party