Washington state has several new laws going into effect in 2023

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Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

In Washington state, multiple new laws have been enacted as of Jan. 1 These laws will affect a multitude of areas, ranging from jobs and sustainability to homelessness and court fines. 

Minimum Wage

Washington state’s minimum wage has increased from $14.49 to $15.74 per hour. Workers ages 14 or 15 years old can now be paid $12.32 per hour. 

For Seattle specifically, the minimum wage has increased to $18.69 per hour for businesses employing 501 or more people. For companies employing fewer people, the minimum wage is $18.69 per hour, or $16.50 per hour if their employer pays $2.19 per hour towards medical benefits. In SeaTac, the minimum wage has increased to $19.06. In Tukwila, starting in July 2023, the minimum wage will be $18.99. 

Salary Information Requirement 

Bill SB 5761 has gone into effect, requiring employers to provide wage and salary information to potential employees. Hourly wages or annual salaries and benefits information must be posted for businesses with more than 15 employees. 

Uber Driver Enhanced Benefits

Finally, Uber drivers will get enhanced benefits and a minimum earnings guarantee for the state based on the city population. This requires drivers to be paid a minimum of $1.17 to $1.38 per mile and $3 to $5.17 per trip. 

Cap-and-Invest Program

Washington’s cap-and-invest program is working to make the state carbon neutral by lowering the greenhouse gas limits. About 75% of statewide emissions are covered under this program, including fuel suppliers, natural gas and electric utilities, and more. Businesses that don’t comply will be faced with increasing compliance costs of up to $50,000 per violation. To obtain greenhouse gas emission allowances, businesses can participate in quarterly auctions hosted by the Department of Ecology. 

Clean Fuel Standard

The clean fuel program is designed to lower the pollution from transportation in Washington by increasing the range of low-carbon and renewable alternatives. The goal is to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 4.3 million metric tons per year by 2038. Fuels will be assessed for their carbon intensity and will be given credits or require suppliers to buy credits. 

Legal Financial Obligations

According to Bill HB 1412, a court can decide not to impose, or to relieve an offender of, the amount of restitution and accrued interest that they have to pay. This does not include fines and restitution owed to the Department of Labor and Industry under the crime victim compensation program. This allows the court to recognize that the offender does not and will not have the ability to pay restitution. 

ID Card for People who are Homeless

Bill SB 5815 implements an identification card for people experiencing homelessness in Washington. Individuals are eligible to get a taxpayer-funded original ID card, or a renewal card, on a one-time basis. The goal is to help people experiencing homelessness to have access to employment, education, housing and medical treatment, among other services.