Washington State

House of Representatives

Office of Program Research



State Government & Tribal Relations Committee

HB 2093

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Brief Description: Creating a small business bill of rights.

Sponsors: Representatives Barkis, Chapman, Chambers, Jinkins, McCaslin, Walsh, Van Werven, Shea, Smith, Caldier, Orcutt, Irwin, Kirby, Schmick, Stokesbary, Blake, Kraft, Hoff, Harris, Dye, Corry, Cody, Tarleton, Maycumber, Reeves, Dent, Gildon, Goehner, Griffey, MacEwen, Mosbrucker, Pellicciotti, Shewmake, Steele, Vick, Eslick, Sutherland, Frame and Leavitt.

Brief Summary of Bill

  • Provides small business owners with certain rights and protections in their interactions with certain government entities during an audit, inspection, or other enforcement action.

  • Requires certain government entities to create and post a Small Business Bill of Rights that may include more or fewer rights and protections for small businesses.

Hearing Date: 3/7/19

Staff: Jason Zolle (786-7124).


A 2011 report by the State Auditor's Office (SAO) identified 1377 business permit, license, and inspection requirements administered by 26 state regulatory agencies. The processes for, and protections associated with, enforcement of these regulatory requirements vary widely.

The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution precludes the government from depriving anyone of property without due process of law. Property generally includes state-conferred licenses, permits, and certifications. The Due Process Clause also applies to the imposition of fines or other monetary penalties. Due process, generally speaking, includes notice and a chance to be heard before a neutral arbiter. The Administrative Procedures Act also codifies certain minimum requirements for due process when someone contests an agency audit or a licensing, permitting, or enforcement decision.

Small businesses in Washington—i.e., businesses with 250 or fewer employees or a gross annual revenue of less than $7 million—are afforded additional protections before they may be fined, penalized, or sanctioned for violating a state law or agency rule. First, agencies must provide the small business with a copy of the law or rule being violated, and the business is given seven days to correct the violation. Second, fines, penalties, or sanctions are waived for first-time violations of requirements to report or collect information (subject to certain exceptions, including enforcement actions taken by the Attorney General).

In 2017 the Legislature directed the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and a number of state agencies to review the Administrative Procedures Act and related rules, statutes, and case law to identify rights and protections that small business owners possess when subject to agency enforcement actions, such as inspections, audits, site visits, and record reviews. The Departments of Agriculture, Ecology, Employment Security, Labor and Industries, and Revenue and the State Fire Marshall were instructed to review their own governing statutes, rules, and policies as well. Those agencies were instructed to provide the OAG with certain information about the rights and protections that small business owners enjoy when being audited, inspected, or subject to another enforcement action.

The OAG submitted a report to the Legislature on November 30, 2017, that:

Washington has several legislative enactments known as a "bill of rights," including the Victim Bill of Rights; Gasoline Dealer Bill of Rights; Hunger-Free Students' Bill of Rights; Washington Student Education Loan Bill of Rights; and Health Care Patient Bill of Rights.

Summary of Bill:

Rights Granted to Small Businesses. Small businesses in Washington—again defined as businesses with 250 or fewer employees or a gross annual revenue of less than $7 million—are granted certain rights and protections in their interactions with certain government entities during an audit, inspection, or other enforcement action. Those rights include:

These rights do not apply:

Creation and Posting of a Bill of Rights. Certain government entities must create and clearly post on their website a Small Business Bill of Rights (SBBR) that generally includes the rights identified above, as well as rights listed in any other entity-specific statutes and rules. Entities may create additional SBBRs specific to certain divisions or programs within the entity. Entities may modify or omit rights that would create a conflict with federal or state law, unreasonably limit or prevent the performance of statutorily authorized duties, or do not apply to the entities' scope of work. Any omitted rights must be identified, along with a reason for the omission (including a citation to the conflicting law, if applicable), in a publicly available document maintained by the entity.

The SBBR must be completed and posted by:

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Available.

Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.