PORT ORCHARD — As state Sen. Emily Randall, D-Bremerton, makes her doorbelling rounds while campaigning for reelection to her 26th Legislative District seat, she’s hearing a familiar refrain from her constituents: worries about affordability, inflation, prescription drug prices — “and just making ends meet” for families.
Randall is facing a competitive race this fall in her quest to return to Olympia. One of the district’s representatives, conservative Republican Jesse Young, said he will forego running for another term in the House to challenge the progressive Democrat for her Senate seat.
In the most recent legislative session, the state senator racked up two significant wins by getting her sponsored bills passed, one of them unanimously. It’s ironic, however, that her bipartisan victory with the passage of Senate Bill 5901, a bill that would have capped the sales tax exemptions for constructing and expanding warehouses or grain elevators, was short-circuited by Gov. Jay Inslee. The governor partially vetoed the legislation, which also would have expanded the sales tax deferral on large projects across the state.
Inslee’s action blindsided Randall and others who supported the bill.
“It definitely was a surprise,” the state senator said. “No one on his staff called me, which is frustrating. His partial veto is just another sign that this governor has been focused on Seattle and King County, and doesn’t always prioritize the needs of counties like ours outside the I-5 corridor.
“[Inslee] said we don’t need any more warehouses, even though with his partial veto it happens that King County and big business continue to get the preferential tax policies when those of us in counties outside that area don’t get the benefit.”
Randall said that although Washington state’s economic metrics have been strong, those rewards haven’t been evenly shared across the state.
“Families and businesses aren’t feeling those economic gains and that stability. We need tools like this one to ensure we’re targeting incentives and growth opportunities, and ensuring that our strong economy reaches all corners of the state,” she said.
Another of Randall’s sponsored bills — SB 5761, requiring employers in the state to include salary and benefits information on job postings — passed on a party-line vote and was signed by the governor.
The state senator said that in her pre-legislative job in the nonprofit field, she became aware of discussions in Facebook groups in which people raised concerns about the inequity of the job interview process. She heard from job seekers who went through the extensive job interview process only to find out the salary offer at the end was $10,000 to $20,000 lower than the range they were seeking.
Randall said the intent of the legislation is all about equity — and a common-sense exercise in transparency that helps both hiring managers and employees.
“Every hiring manager and small business I’ve talked to have a salary range in mind,” the legislator said. “When they post a job, they don’t just make up a salary on the spot — that doesn’t work with budgets. It is beneficial for more equity in the workforce and ensuring everyone is entering into the interview process with the same information.”
The practice of obscuring salary ranges during the interview process also penalizes women, she said.
“We know that most of the jobs lost from the labor market during the recession, in general, were [held by] women who chose to be caregivers or who were forced to give up their jobs in order to take care of family,” Randall said.
Data show that women are often penalized for negotiating at a higher rate than men when they push back on a salary offer, she added.
“Sometimes women lose out on those roles because of employer bias. I think the salary transparency, in particular, is beneficial for more equity in the workplace and ensuring everyone is entering into the interview process with the same information.”