Top Highlights and Accomplishments for WSBA in the 2019-2020 Washington Legislative Session

Washington Capitol

The 105-day 2019 regular session, the biennial “long session” in the Washington state Legislature, has come to an end. From the beginning in Jan. 14 through adjournment on April 28, legislators passed a myriad of policy measures, as well as a new 2019-2021 state operating budget (including plans for increased higher-education spending and a rebuild of the state’s mental-health system) and a corresponding tax package to fund the budget (anticipating more than $830 million in new revenue).

This was a particularly busy and challenging session for the WSBA, but also constructive. Gov. Inslee signed WSBA’s request bill, SB 5003, into law on April 26. Originating from the Corporate Act Revision Committee (CARC) of the Business Law Section, SB 5003 addresses preemptive rights, cumulative voting, and approval of asset sales under the Washington Business Corporation Act to better align with the Model Business Corporation Act and other leading corporate law jurisdictions, such as Delaware. This law goes into effect July 28. Congratulations to CARC and the Business Law Section!

WSBA also opposed ESHB 1788, a bill that would have repealed most of the State Bar Act. Members of the WSBA Board of Governors testified in opposition to the legislation before the Senate Law & Justice Committee and actively lobbied against the bill in both the House and the Senate. Various local bar associations also contacted the legislature asking that the bill be opposed. ESHB 1788 passed both chambers with amendments but did not receive a concurrence vote in the House. Therefore, no bill related to State Bar Act passed the Legislature this session. The WSBA Board will continue to be involved in this issue as the Supreme Court’s Bar Structure Work Group examines possible structural changes to the Bar and the Bar Act.

Throughout the session, the WSBA Legislative Affairs team monitored numerous legislative proposals of interest to various WSBA entities. The following is a list of some of the key bills that were monitored and by members of the team in collaboration with relevant WSBA Sections:

  • SB 5079 (Sen. McCoy): enacting the Native American voting rights act of Washington (Civil Rights Law Section: support). Signed by Gov. Inslee. This law goes into effect July 28.
  • SB 5131 (Sen. Takko): regarding foreclosure and distraint sales of manufactured/mobile or park model homes (Creditor Debtor Rights Section: concerns). Signed by Gov. Inslee. This law goes into effect July 28.
  • SB 5399 (Sen. Pedersen): concerning child relocation by a person with joint decision-making authority and equal residential time (Family Law Section: concerns). Signed by Gov. Inslee. This law goes into effect July 28.
  • HB 1066 (Rep. Kilduff): requiring debt collection complaints to be filed prior to service of summons and complaint (Creditor Debtor Rights Section: concerns). Passed both houses and awaiting Gov. Inslee’s signature.
  • HB 1602 (Rep. Reeves): concerning consumer debt (Creditor Debtor Rights Section: concerns). Passed both houses and awaiting Gov. Inslee’s signature.
  • E2SHB 2158 (Rep. Hansen): Creating a workforce education investment to train Washington students for Washington jobs (Taxation Section: concerns). Passed both houses and awaiting Gov. Inslee’s signature. This legislation will increase the excise tax on gross income from legal work from 1.5% to 1.8%, a 20% increase.
  • SB 5907 (Sen. Kuderer): requiring the office of civil legal aid to conduct a comparative study of the impact of attorney representation for tenants in unlawful detainer proceedings (Low Bono Section: support). Passed committee; did not go to floor vote.
  • SB 5513 (Sen. Keiser): concerning the employer-employee relationship (Solo & Small Practice: opposed). Did not pass committee.
  • SB 5189 (Sen. Hasegawa): prohibiting dual agency in certain real estate transactions (Real Property, Probate & Trust Section: opposed). Did not pass committee.
  • SB 5302 (Sen. Rivers): creating an office of the homeowners’ association ombuds. (Real Property, Probte & Trust Section: opposed). Did not pass committee.

Session Statistics
Below is a numerical breakdown of the WSBA Legislative Affairs team’s work during the 2019-2020 legislative session:

  • 1,098 bills referred to WSBA Sections
  • 460 bills tracked continuously through the end of session
  • 52 committee hearings monitored
  • 30 meetings participated in with legislators and staff
  • 3 hearings in which WSBA provided and/or coordinated testimony

For some bills that did not reach final passage this year, legislators have already expressed an interest in studying these issues over the summer and fall months for reintroduction in 2020. Over the interim, relevant WSBA entities and the WSBA Legislative Affairs team will monitor and participate in these discussions with legislators and legislative staff regarding various legislative proposals.