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The Growing Influence of Business-Friendly Legislators

The special session of the 62nd Washington State Legislature adjourned about an hour and 40 minutes before the clock ran out on its 30 day run and the flurry of activity running up to that deadline saw several significant measures approved.

“In a nutshell the 2011 Legislative Session wasn’t as bad as many feared it might be” said AGC Government Affairs Director Rick Slunaker. “In many respects we are quite pleased with the results. From the unemployment insurance tax reductions that occurred early in the session to the last-minute deal on workers’ comp improvements there was a lot to like about the session in addition to a few disappointments.

“An interesting dynamic that emerged and grew stronger as the session progressed was the development of a group of pragmatic generally business-friendly legislators who exercised considerable influence” Slunaker said. “Most of the media attention was given to the ‘Roadkill Caucus’ of middle-of-the-road Democrats in the House and Senate who were willing to vote pro-business on important issues. But there were also Republicans who worked across the aisle to try to solve problems. While more apparent and effective in the Senate pragmatic elements exist in the House and contributed to passage of the workers’ comp improvements. It will be interesting to see how this phenomena plays out next session and how the various interest groups react to it when campaign season swings around but it does seem that AGC is a little closer to its goal of a business-friendly majority in the Legislature.”

AGC’s Legislative Office is preparing a detailed report on the significant gains and losses with regard to construction legislative issues for future publication. Also a “New Laws Webinar” will present the bills that passed what they mean for construction businesses and what issues will be back next year. Participate in the New Laws webinar from the convenience of your home or office June 15 11 a.m. to noon. Click New Laws webinar for details and registration.

Some of the issues that the Legislative Office will be sure to highlight are:

  • Unemployment insurance tax rate reductions;
  • The $8.9 billion transportation budget along with limited expansion of public/private partnerships for some transit facilities;
  • Defeat of unworkable “independent contractor” and false claims legislation;
  • Successful enactment of underground utility responsibility legislation and authorization of private wastewater development projects.
  • Workers’ comp system improvements;
  • Avoidance of a constitutional amendment which would have lowered the State’s debt limit (limiting borrowing and taking about $9 billion off of the table over the next 20 years).
  • Passage of a $2.8 billion capital budget

“Some AGC proposals did not make it all the way to adoption but we’ll be back next year asking for clarifications and improvements to construction lien provisions and prevailing wage law problems” added Slunaker.

Click New Laws Webinar to register for the June 15 event. A Brown Bag lunch meeting to go over the construction bidding opportunities authorized in the Transportation and Capital Budgets is also in the planning stages; watch for details soon.

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