Celebrating 2018 Legislative Victories

by Matt Landers, Public Policy & Communications Manager
| Mar 09, 2018

2018 has been one of our most successful policy years yet! GSBA's advocacy work has grown tremendously over the last few years, most especially with the addition of a contract lobbyist in Olympia. The change in control of the state Senate also contributed to a more favorable legislative environment for many GSBA priorities.

We are celebrating huge victories for the LGBTQ community with the banning of conversion therapy, an effort led by Sen. Marko Liias and Rep. Nicole Macri. This multi-year effort finally succeeded, with GSBA board member Danny Cords' personal testimony presented to legislators. Sen. Jamie Pedersen succeeded in pushing through a reform to the Uniform Parentage Act, which strengthens protections for LGBTQ parents and non-biological parents, as well as allowing for compensated surrogacy while protecting the woman acting as surrogates. In contrast to the last few years, we did not even need to fight off any efforts to roll back our anti-discrimination laws.

After several years of strong lobbying, a statewide tourism marketing campaign finally passed both houses of the legislature. GSBA worked closely with the Washington Tourism Alliance and Visit Seattle to pass this legislation, which will create significant economic opportunities for small businesses in the tourism industry across all of Washington State. For the sake of our small businesses that depend on an open internet to do business, GSBA supported the first state-level net neutrality bill in the country.

Several important bills focused on gender inequities succeeded. The Equal Pay Act protects workers from practices that perpetuate inequality and allows workers to discuss and inquire about pay without retaliation. The Reproductive Parity Act requires insurers to cover abortions if they also cover maternity care.

Continuing our advocacy on gun control efforts as a major concern to both the LGBTQ and business communities, we were pleased to have a ban on bump stocks. Initiative 940, which GSBA endorsed in the fall of 2017, was successfully passed by the legislature to make historic changes in the use of deadly force by police.  We applaud our many civil rights partners for the victory of the Washington Voting Rights Act and many other pieces of successful legislation that make voting more accessible and fair in our state.

While we had a successful year, there are still efforts which we must continue next year. Pro-LGBTQ bills like an anti-bullying law for trans students and an effort to include LGBTQ curriculum in long-term care worker training both failed to make it out of committee. A repeal or reform of Initiative 200 once again did not make progress, although we are optimistic that the community's efforts are picking up momentum. Other efforts to reduce economic inequities remain with work to be done, including prohibiting the use of a prior salary in hiring.