Negotiations over business-altering bills coming to conclusions
Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Last week marked the beginning of the end of the 2019 legislative session with the announcement of a one-hour posting notice for committee hearings, which speeds up the process. This rule change comes with the declaration that “sine die is imminent,” meaning the session could end any time between now and June 30, the constitutional deadline.
While the Legislature prepares for the end, business stakeholders continue to negotiate complex bills before they see a final vote. Cap and trade, the Public Employees Retirement System, collective bargaining and paid family leave dominated conversations.
House Bill 2020, the contentious cap and trade legislation, passed out of the Joint Carbon Reduction Committee on a party-line vote after adopting the 94th set of amendments. Committee Co-Chair Rep. Karin Power allowed Co-Vice Chairs Sen. Cliff Bentz and Rep. David Brock Smith to move a multitude of amendments for consideration, but none of the Republican changes was adopted.
The bill now awaits assignment to a Ways and Means subcommittee where we expect further negotiations.
SB 1049, the PERS reform legislation, worked its way through the Senate last week. The bill would adjust public employee retirement benefits in an effort to pay down the PERS unfunded liability. It has been met with significant opposition from public employee unions, but leadership is committed to moving the bill.
Although many senators voiced concerns with the legislation, it passed on a bipartisan vote. Next stop is the House floor, likely this week.
House Bill 2016, the hotly contested “Janus fix” bill, passed out of the Senate Workforce Committee on a party-line vote. HB 2016 would grant paid time for union representatives to do union work, require public employers to deduct union dues and fees from employee pay, and make it easier for employees to opt into union membership.
Public employers have expressed significant concerns that this bill opens the door to increased worker leave and makes it harder for employees to opt out of union membership. The bill will likely move to the floor sometime this week.
Negotiations on HB 2005, the Paid Family Leave bill, are closing, and the newly drafted bill is expected to be released to the public next week. Employer stakeholders and union groups have debated complex bill language over the past few weeks to ensure the language reflects the deal reached between business leaders and legislative leadership during the complicated tax package negotiations leading up to the passage of HB 3427, the $2 billion-a-biennium business tax to fund schools.
The compromise provides 12 weeks of 40% employer-funded paid leave with more flexibility for small businesses. This final deal is significantly better for employers than the originally proposed 32 weeks of 50% employer-funded leave.
Although committee hearings will decrease significantly next week, floor sessions will get longer so legislators can work through the monumental pile of legislation awaiting a vote. Contentious floor debates late into the evenings are expected throughout the week.