Senate Republicans’ demands overlap with business interests
Monday, May 13, 2019
The House passage of the Student Success Act, House Bill 3427, has stirred up a storm of political drama.
Republican Senators worked collectively to disrupt the political process by refusing to show up for floor votes, denying the chamber a quorum to vote.
Senate Republicans released a list of demands Wednesday,and negotiations are ongoing to bring them back to the Capitol. As of Friday, there hadn’t been much movement from either caucus, and it is unclear just how long the Republicans plan to be gone.
In addition to requesting HB 3427 be sent back to committee and the contentious cap-and-trade bill be killed, Republicans want to stop HB 2016, the controversial “Janus decision fix” collective bargaining bill. Public employers have expressed significant concerns that HB 2016 would open the door to increased leave for workers and make it harder for employees to opt out of union membership. Opponents also raised issues in the bill related to union access of employee emails, stating concerns with public record requests and personal privacy.
Cap and trade has started to regain momentum following the movement of the education tax package. On Monday, May 6, the Joint Carbon Reduction Committee held a work session on the major amendments. The gut-and-stuff amendments incorporate feedback from stakeholders following the release of amendments in March. Unfortunately, many business groups did not find the latest amendments greatly improved. Stakeholders are continuing to work with legislators to develop more palatable language for businesses.
Paid family leave negotiations are on hold following the agreement reached on the education package deal while legislative counsel drafts the agreement into legislative language. A draft of the HB 2005 amendment is expected sometime next week. We fully expect negotiations to resume, once the amendments are available, to work through some of the details not yet settled. Business representatives worked tirelessly with legislative leadership to develop a fair paid leave concept, similar to that in Washington state, in exchange for a neutral stance on the education tax.
Senate Bill 726, the workplace discrimination act, had a public hearing Thursday, May 9, in the House Judiciary Committee. The amended bill, while more agreeable than the original language, continues to raise concerns for business stakeholders, particularly around the statute of limitations. SB 726 would create the following changes for businesses:
Employers would be prohibited from entering into a non-disclosure agreement or re-hire agreement unless the employee specifically requested it.
Businesses would be mandated to create policies and procedures related to workplace harassment and discrimination.
The statute of limitations for reporting a harassment or discrimination claim would be increased from 1 to 5 years.
Business stakeholders will continue to watch this legislation as it moves through the House.
As the dust settles on the education tax package, attention has shifted toward the Public Employees Retirement System reform discussion.
As the PERS unfunded liability continues to grow, legislators are looking for a way to put a stop the bleeding of funds. The Joint Ways and Means Capital Construction Subcommittee has scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, May 14, on SB 1049, a placeholder bill for PERS reform.
Negotiations are ongoing, and business stakeholders will continue to track this work closely.