Chamber weighs in on two important legislative priorities in Olympia

By: Kathryn Robertson Posted: 01/12/2018

We spoke up on the business impacts of bills updating the College Bound Scholarship and our state's Equal Pay Act

OlyThe Washington State Legislature returned to work this week to begin a 60-day session. The issues they will tackle during this short include a resolution to the capital budget they failed to pass before the end of the previous session last year.

This week, the Seattle Metro Chamber weighed in on two bills that would impact the business community:

Education and Immigration: Testified in support of House Bill 1488, which would expand the College Bound Scholarship to include DACA recipients and students here on U and T visas

The Chamber has strongly supported the College Bound Scholarship and its goal of encouraging low-income students in Washington to prepare for postsecondary education through the promise of financial aid.

This week, Scott Kennedy, our senior policy manager, testified on behalf of the Chamber in front of lawmakers in Olympia in support of expanding the College Bound Scholarship to include both DACA recipients and students here on U and T visas. This expansion will help our state continue to build a diverse, well-educated talent pool to meet the needs of our economy.

We hear from our Chamber member companies about the lack of talent to fill jobs in our region and how the broken immigration system doesn’t meet their needs.  Immigration is a key component of the package of solutions to bridge our talent gap, and the bottom line is that our state’s economy will suffer if these young people are not given the tools they need to succeed.

Gender Equity: Sent a letter to lawmakers on HB 1506, urging consistency and preemption in updates to Washington State’s Equal Pay Act

This week, Chamber President & CEO Maud Daudon sent a letter to lawmakers who are currently considering updates to Washington State’s Equal Pay Act outlining Chamber support for equal pay principles, and for language that would ensure that pay equity is consistently applied across the state. 

The Chamber strongly supports pay equity and closing the gender pay gap. We recognize the key role that employers play in achieving these goals, which is why nearly three years ago, we partnered with Women’s Funding Alliance to launch 100% Talent, an employer-focused initiative to increase gender equity in the workplace. To date, we have been working with more than 60 employers on equal pay practices 

Through this effort, we know that a predictable regulatory landscape is critical for employers to be able to focus on best practices that have been shown to close the gender pay gap. Many of our members who operate statewide already navigate four different paid sick leave laws in different cities across the state, and comply with 3 different minimum wage laws. We know our members want statewide solutions that provide consistency for them and their employees. 

A policy that remains consistent statewide would ensure that all Washingtonians have the same access to protections and opportunities under an updated Equal Pay Act. The Chamber looks forward to collaborating on a policy that will benefit workers and make it as easy as possible for business to comply.

What’s next?

We're continuing to closely monitor developments in Olympia on items related to our 2018 state legislative agenda.

If you have any questions, please contact Mindi Linquist, the Chamber's vice president of external affairs.