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Bill #:  5656

Not tracked  Oppose

Mandating city use of the state business licensing service

Companion bill #: No Companion Bill.

Senate - House - CMTE - DEAD

Summary/AWC comments

Update: 4/18/13:
Yesterday the Senate passed HB 1568, but the licensing provisions in SB 5656 were not included.  

Update 4/12/13:
While this bill appears to be dead for the session, the provisions of the bill were added to another bill, HB 1568, as it was voted out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Update 4/1/13:

An amended version of the bill passed the House Local Government Committee and was referred to the House Appropriations Committee, which will hear the bill tomorrow. 

The amended bill:

·         Delays the date that all cities with business licenses must join one of the systems to July 1, 2019.
·         Authorizes the Department of Revenue or cities to delay or phase-in the issuance and renewal of business licenses if funding or resources are insufficient to meet the deadlines or other provisions. Previously, the bill only gave this authority to the Department of Revenue.
·         Requires the Department of Revenue to issue a report to the Legislature by July 1, 2017, indicating what actions it has taken to comply with the bill and what the costs of those actions were; what actions the Department intends to take, and how much they will cost, by the July 1, 2019, implementation date; what actions the Department has taken to comply with the diverse and differing needs of different sizes of cities; and whether the Department believes it can meet the deadlines established.
·         In addition, the bill now includes a sunset date of July 1, 2018. This sunset requires the Legislature to take a proactive measure to reaffirm the requirements of this bill before cities would be required to join a licensing system in 2019.

AWC continues to believe this bill is an unnecessary mandate, but these provisions are an improvement over previous versions. In order to be enacted, the bill still must pass the full House, and the Senate must concur with the amended version of the bill.


Update 3/12/13:
Yesterday the bill passed the full Senate with an amendment allowing cities to join BLS or a city-developed licensing portal. AWC continues to oppose the bill. 

This bill requires all cities with business licenses to participate in the state’s business licensing service (BLS). Cities with a local B&O tax must participate by July 1, 2016, and cities without a local B&O tax must participate by January 1, 2019. The bill allows the Department of Revenue to delay or phase-in cities if funding or other resources are insufficient to meet the deadlines.

Nearly 220 cities currently issue business licenses. Approximately 25% of those cities use the state’s BLS system. Five cities are spearheading a city portal for business licenses and taxes. The remaining cities have made other choices about the best way to handle business licenses, including:

• Looking into the state's BLS system and deciding against it for valid reasons. For example, some cities have systems that are more advanced than the current state system.
• Recently investing in a modernized computer system. This bill would cause them to lose their investment if they were required to switch.
• Deciding to wait until next year for the joint city portal to go live so they can determine if it will work for them.
• Having interest in the BLS system but waiting for planned upgrades to determine if it will be a good choice for them.
• Determining that their current business licensing system works for their jurisdiction and staying with it for now.


Latest version of bill:

Link to WA Legislative bill page

Official title:

AN ACT Relating to revising business licensing systems;


Braun, Carrell, Rivers, Sheldon, Hobbs, Fain

Go To Bill #


AWC Contacts

Analyst:  Serena Dolly
Lobbyist:  Victoria Lincoln

Issue Area

Municipal Finance

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