2022 Legislative Preview

by Mike Nelson | Jan 10, 2022

The 2022 Legislative Session gets underway today, Monday, January 10. This year is shaping up to be another mostly virtual session given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The House of Representatives has moved to an entirely virtual setup to start, while the Senate is currently planning to vote in person but will hold committee meetings virtually.

Despite this setup, the legislature is looking to address a number of policy issues that have arisen in recent months. The major issues they will be looking at include criminal justice/police reforms, adjustments to the Washington Long Term Care Trust Act (Long Term Care Act), environmental policies, homelessness, and further responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Long Term Care Act is one of the largest issues the legislature will be facing this session. Many concerns have been raised about the payroll tax that funds the Long-Term Care program (known as the WA Cares Fund) as well as the eligibility requirements for the program. Governor Inslee and legislative leaders announced they were delaying the implementation of the language through the legislative session, but the Employment Security Department rules requiring employers to withhold the tax were not changed. This means the tax will still likely need to be withheld from employees’ paychecks. Beyond the confusion around the tax itself, the legislature is looking at making changes to the law so that those who do not qualify for the program are not required to pay in the tax. They are also looking at a requirement for proof going forward that those who opted out of the program by getting their own long term care policy maintain that policy after receiving their exemption.

Another issue that will take center stage is how to use the estimated $8 billion of additional money the state expects to collect by July 2025. Governor Inslee and some legislators have proposed spending this money on various programs targeting environmental protections and homelessness interventions.

There is also discussion that the Department of Revenue will be proposing a bill that is aimed at making technical corrections to the capital gains tax that passed last year and is scheduled to start generating revenue in 2023. Any changes to this tax will be controversial as the legislature also awaits the outcome of several legal challenges.

The WSCPA Advocacy Team will continue working to support legislation that would add a CPA-Inactive license status and remove the certificate that has not been issued since 2001. To learn more about this bill see this blog post with more details.

Continue to watch the blog for updates as we move through the legislative session which is scheduled to end on March 10.

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