January 23-27, 2023

This week marked the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision and legislative Democrats, on the heels of both a successful election and the Dobbs decision, did not let it pass unnoticed, hearing eight bills related to reproductive health across six committees on Tuesday. Unlike previous years where interest in reproductive rights bills might be the work of pro-choice and anti-abortion groups, these bills touched all manner of sectors.

  • SJR 8202 (Keiser, D-33) would codify in the Washington State Constitution the right to choose abortion and to choose to use contraception.
  • SB 5242 (Cleveland, D-49) / HB 1115 (Bateman, D-22) would prohibit cost-sharing such as copayment or deductible for abortion services.
  • SB 5489 (Trudeau, D-27) / HB 1469 (Hansen, D-23) would shield patients and providers of reproductive and gender-affirming care from retribution by other states.
  • SB 5241 (Randall, D-26) / HB 1263 (Simmons, D-23) would regulate hospital and health system mergers.
  • SB 5351 (Dhingra, D-45) / HB 1155 (Slatter, D-48) would regulate the collection, sharing, and sale of health data.
  • SB 5260 (Keiser, D-33) / HB 1286 (Berry, D-36) would protect and assist Washington employers that provide access to or benefits for reproductive health care services.
  • SB 5400 (Salomon, D-32) / HB 1340 (Riccelli, D-3) would ensure that Washington healthcare providers cannot be disciplined in Washington because they provide reproductive or gender affirming care in accordance with Washington state law, regardless of where the patient resides.


On Tuesday the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee heard the latest version of an ergonomics proposal, SB 5217 (Dhingra, D-45). In 2000, the Department of Labor and Industries adopted specific workplace ergonomics regulations. Initiative 841, passed by the voters in 2003, repealed the regulations and prohibited L&I from adopting similar regulations or otherwise regulating working practices to prevent musculoskeletal disorders until and to the extent required by federal law. SB 5217 seeks to reinstate L&I’s ability to regulate ergonomics. Last year, a more expansive bill, HB 1837 (Bronoske, D-28), narrowly passed the House with seven democrats joining republicans in opposition during an all-night session, but later died in the Senate.

Capital Gains Tax

If Tuesday was all about reproductive rights, Thursday was all about taxes. It began at 9am when the Washington State Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the capital gains case. In 2021, the legislature enacted a capital gains tax applicable to individuals at a rate of 7% on net gains in excess of $250,000 in a calendar year, with the proceeds going to the education legacy trust account and the common school construction account. The tax was challenged on the basis that it violates the state constitution’s uniformity provision. In Washington, income is considered property, and the constitution mandates all state taxes on property be uniform or taxed at the same rate. In addition, any tax on property cannot exceed 1%. Opponents of the tax argued, and in 2022, a lower court agreed, that the capital gains tax was not uniformly applied because the tax was only imposed on a certain threshold of income and the rate exceeded the constitutional maximum. Supporters contend the tax will improve equity, while critics argue it damages the state’s competitiveness. In the event that the capital gains tax is found to be unconstitutional, legislative budget writers will have to look elsewhere in the state coffers to fund their education and childcare priorities.

B&O Tax

Later in the morning, the Senate Business, Financial Services, Gaming, and Trade Committee heard a proposal to replace the state B&O Tax with a modified gross receipts tax, or what is known as a Margin Tax. Since 2017, the Washington Tax Structure Work Group, a group of bipartisan Washington legislators, representatives from the Governor’s office, the Department of Revenue, the Washington State Assn of Counties, and the Assn of Washington Cities has been tasked with reviewing Washington’s tax structure. The primary goal of the group’s review was to identify ways to make “Washington’s tax code more fair, adequate and transparent.” 5482 (Frame, D-36), a product of that workgroup, has bipartisan support from legislators as indicated by cosponsorship. But the bill was not well received by members of the public, with no one testifying in support. Conservatives decried the unknowns and possible increase in taxes paid over current B&O rates and progressives criticized the overall possible reduction in revenue to the state.

Upcoming Dates

  • February 17 – Policy committee cutoff – house of origin
  • February 24 – Fiscal committee cutoff – house of origin
  • March 8 – Floor cutoff – house of origin
  • March 29 – Policy committee cutoff – opposite house
  • April 4 – Fiscal committee cutoff – opposite house
  • April 12 – Floor cutoff – opposite house
  • April 23 – Sine Die

Source: Brynn Brady, Ceiba Consulting, Inc. | ceibaconsulting.com