By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs
State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and his top policy staff hosted a business community roundtable this week to share his legislative agenda and hear from business lobbyists what their priorities are for the upcoming 2019 Session. It starts on January 14.
Topping the Democrat Ferguson’s list of plans are bills that address data breach notification, loss of wages and raising the age for use of tobacco and vapor products to 21.
In all, Ferguson is planning 11 bills in the session and it is highly likely that sponsors will come forth for all of them because Democrats control a majority of seats in the Senate and House.
The data breach bill seeks to build off of 2015 request legislation that established our data breach notification law. The new bill seeks to increase the type and amount of information covered and to shorten the time that a victimized business has to report the breach to customers and to the AG. Several other states have passed or are looking to approve similar legislation. Also, the U.S. Congress has and will continue to debate the issue.
The loss of wages bill would allow the Department of Labor and Industries to issue civil penalties for willful and repeat violations, regardless if the business pays the lost wages.
Finally, the 21+ tobacco and vape bill has been introduced four years in a row. Having passed the House and died in the Senate, it will likely have a good chance of making it all the way this year because of the Democrat majority in the Legislature. The bill would likely have an effective date of January 1, 2020. Retailers are usually pretty busy at the start of the year and WRA will advocate for a later implementation date.
Ferguson also could introduce legislation to combat the crisis of fatal overdoses from opioid medications. Democrat Governor Inslee has announced that he will be pursuing legislation to address the problem as well.
WRA thanks Attorney General Ferguson for hosting these roundtables each of the six years he’s been in office. It’s important to have an open, transparent and cooperative communication to achieve the best policies for residents of Washington.