Washington Legislative Update - April 2021

Prepared by Brandon Anderson, SPEEA Legislative Director

OLYMPIA – The Washington Legislature’s 2021 session ended April 25. In the final days, lawmakers sprinted to:

• Pass a two-year operating, capital (construction) and transportation budget

• Resolve issues around a capital gains and carbon tax

• Finalize work on other major policy bills

For a brief time, the wrap-up date seemed unlikely, but lawmakers were able to adjourn and close out the session on schedule.

Here is a quick update on where SPEEA’s legislative priorities landed.

Key state bills

Act passed to help grow manufacturing workforce

A top priority for SPEEA this session was to expand the state’s investments in aerospace manufacturing, research and development. SPEEA worked with legislators and other stakeholders to pass HB 1170, known as the Building Economic Strength Through (BEST) Manufacturing Act.

The Act, which passed with bipartisan support, creates a statewide goal to double Washington’s manufacturing and research/development workforce. It also requires the state to grant funding for initiatives that accelerate the development of regional clusters in manufacturing and research/development. As requested by SPEEA, HB 1170 was amended to include equal representation of labor, business and geographic regions on the advisory council.

New investments in child care

A priority brought forward by union members, SPEEA worked to help address the growing need for access to safe and affordable child care. SB 5237, which passed in the final days of the session, greatly increases the state’s investment in child care and state child care assistance programs.

SB 5237 also includes expanded child care aid for parents enrolled in a state degree, certification or apprenticeship program, with the aim to lower barriers for parents who want to pursue higher education and career advancement. This is a win for SPEEA family members who want to pursue a new degree or certification.

COVID-19 relief and safety

SPEEA called on state and federal lawmakers to expand investments to address the COVID-19 emergency and help get families safely back to work and school. Passed with broad support, HB 1368 appropriated $2.2 billion in federal funding to help the state address the health, financial and educational fallout created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Exemption window for state long-term care benefits

In 2019, the state legislature passed a law creating the Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Program (Trust), a statewide long-term care insurance program that will provide long-term care services and support benefits to Washington state residents who need assistance with daily living.

This session, lawmakers passed HB 1323, which extends the window for individuals to apply for an exemption of the state program. To qualify for an exemption, individuals will have until Nov. 1, 2021 to purchase private long-term care insurance. Exemption applications will be accepted from Oct. 1, 2021 to Dec. 31, 2022.

Trust Program rulemaking is still underway, so details on how to apply for an exemption are pending.

Transportation package stalls in final days of session

A major priority of SPEEA during the 2021 session was the passage of a robust transportation package. Washington state’s aerospace industry needs continual and enhanced investments in state transportation systems to keep our region globally competitive.

As we entered the final days of session, an agreement stalled as leaders in the state House and Senate were unable to agree on several revenue-related details in the proposal. Nevertheless, SPEEA will continue lobbying legislators about the importance of a robust investment in our state’s transportation system.

Legislative Flier - pdf

New advocacy tools

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washington Legislature is holding meetings and events remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite this year’s unique session, it is critical SPEEA members and families continue to participate during the legislative session.

Participating remotely:

  • Engage  Join SPEEA in union member “calls to action,” hosted events, and remote campaigns.
  • Learn  The whole legislative process, from start to finish, is explained here.
  • Watch  Go to for broadcasts of debates, votes, committee meetings, and other events in the House and Senate.
  • Research  Look up legislation by lawmaker or topic, visit the bill information site.
  • Testify  Holding a remote session does not mean SPEEA members do not have a voice. The legislature has a new system to submit remote testimony on any bill.

Contact if you are interested in participating in written or public testimony on a bill before the legislature.