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Articles written by Mark Harmsworth


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  • OPINION

    Mark Harmsworth|Dec 14, 2023

    While January 8, 2024 is the first official day of the Washington State legislative session next year, things are already happening in Olympia. Legislators have the ability to ‘pre-file’ bills to get new legislation into the hopper ready for consideration in January and things are already happening. One such bill, Senate Bill 5793 (SB 5793), filed by Senator Saldaña (37th Legislative District), would expand Washington State paid sick leave law adding new qualifying events including work site...

  • OPINION

    Mark Harmsworth|Dec 7, 2023

    OLYMPIA–If you are not an employer, you may not care about exempt and non-exempt employee salary ranges, but changes to an obscure state law is causing many employers to lay off staff and reduce available working hours, so you might want to pay attention. Washington State requires employers to pay non-exempt employees (those employees that don't meet several thresholds the state defines) overtime for every hour worked. Over the last few years, the minimum salary threshold to qualify as an exempt...

  • GUEST COMMENTARY

    Mark Harmsworth|Oct 13, 2022

    Washington State Labor and Industries (L&I) has announced that 2023 minimum wage rate will be set at $15.74 which is a $1.25 increase over 2022. In a press release on the L&I website, the agency attributes the 8.66% increase to change in “the cost of common goods such as housing, food, and medical care as reflected in the Consumer Price Index.” According to minimum-wage.org, Washington will have the highest statewide minimum wage in the country. The highest minimum wage in the nation, inc...

  • OPINION

    Mark Harmsworth|Oct 7, 2021

    Update October 4, 2021: The Cares Website continues to experience problems and periods of long downtime. After last year’s abject failure to deliver an unemployment benefit system capable of handling the unemployment claims of Washington residents and losing $650 million taxpayer dollars to a Nigerian scam, you may be shocked to learn the Employment Security Department (ESD) was trusted with administering the state mandated Long-Term Care Insurance program that begins in January 2022. The f...

  • OPINION

    Mark Harmsworth|Jul 8, 2021

    Last year, the requirement for workers laid off during the pandemic to be looking for a job to continue to receive unemployment benefits was waived as part of the COVID-19 emergency orders. Now that the worst of the pandemic has past, the Employment Security Department (ESD) has re-instated the requirement for claimants to actively look for a job to receive benefits. The job search requirement re-started on July 4 and the first report of job search activity to ESD is due on July 11. ESD states...

  • OPINION

    Mark Harmsworth|May 27, 2021

    New COVID workplace restrictions, issued by Washington State Labor and Industries (L&I) late last Friday, May 21st, require employers to check employee vaccine documents before allowing relaxation of social distancing and mask requirements in the workplace. The new state rules require an employer to confirm, and have employees prove their vaccine medical status. The process used to verify vaccination, and the medical status of the employee’s vaccination record, including the employee medical i...

  • OPINION

    Mark Harmsworth|Jan 28, 2021

    Senate Bill 5114 (SB 5114), authored by Senator John Braun (R) and Senator Mark Mullet (D), was heard in committee Wednesday morning in the Senate Government and Elections committee. The bill intends to start the process of re-opening the economy faster than the current “Healthy Washington-Roadmap”. Restaurants have been especially hard hit by the restrictions and many are on the verge of bankruptcy if they have managed to stay open at all. The limited testimony, given over zoom, from hospitalit...

  • OPINION

    Mark Harmsworth|Dec 10, 2020

    In what seems now to be a weekly occurrence, Washingtons Employment Security Department’s (ESD) inadequate systems have created a problem for unemployment claimants during the COVID-19 pandemic. A bureaucratic failure to communicate clearly, has left thousands of residents receiving incorrect unemployment benefit amounts and, in some cases, overpayment of benefits. Now ESD wants the money back. ESD has stated that due to the federal government Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefit e...

  • OPINION

    Mark Harmsworth|Aug 6, 2020

    knew on May 1st that the Employment Trust Fund balance would be eventually depleted but did not admit this publicly until June 30th. Prompted by an article published by Washington Policy Center (WPC) on May 1st, Senator Christine Rolfes, who serves as Chair on the Senate Ways and Means committee responsible for overseeing the state budget, forwarded the WPC article to the Governor’s office for clarification on the fund balance situation. Understandably, the Senator was concerned about the r...

  • OPINION

    Mark Harmsworth, Director of Small Business Center, Washington Policy Center|Jun 25, 2020

    SEATTLE–On Sunday night in Seattle, a group of protestors broke into a local car repair shop, Car Tender, with the intent of stealing as much cash as possible and ultimately burn the business down. The owner of the business was able to subdue the individuals and extinguish the fire before it engulfed the building, though looters did get away with cash and other valuables. This small business is located just outside the declared Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) which city officials have d...

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