35.90.010  <<  35.90.020 >>   35.90.030

RCW 35.90.020

Licensing as partnership with department—Partnership priority—Biennial plan—Exception—Report.

(1) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (7) of this section, a city that requires a general business license of any person that engages in business activities within that city must partner with the department to have such license issued, and renewed if the city requires renewal, through the business licensing service in accordance with chapter 19.02 RCW.
(a) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (3) of this section, the department must phase in the issuance and renewal of general business licenses of cities that required a general business license as of July 1, 2017, and are not already partnering with the department, as follows:
(i) Between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2021, the department must partner with at least six cities per year;
(ii) Between January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2027, the department must partner with the remaining cities; or
(iii) Between July 1, 2017 and December 31, 2022, the department must partner with all cities requiring a general business license if specific funding for the purposes of this subsection [(1)(a)](iii) is appropriated in the omnibus appropriations act.
(b) A city that imposes a general business license requirement and does not partner with the department as of January 1, 2018, may continue to issue and renew its general business licenses until the city partners with the department as provided in subsection (4) of this section.
(2)(a) A city that did not require a general business license as of July 1, 2017, but imposes a new general business license requirement after that date must advise the department in writing of its intent to do so at least ninety days before the requirement takes effect.
(b) If a city subject to (a) of this subsection (2) imposes a new general business license requirement after July 1, 2017, the department, in its sole discretion, may adjust resources to partner with the imposing city as of the date that the new general business licensing requirement takes effect. If the department cannot reallocate resources, the city may issue and renew its general business license until the department is able to partner with the city.
(3) The department may delay assuming the duties of issuing and renewing general business licenses beyond the dates provided in subsection (1)(a) of this section if:
(a) Insufficient funds are appropriated for this specific purpose;
(b) The department cannot ensure the business licensing system is adequately prepared to handle all general business licenses due to unforeseen circumstances;
(c) The department determines that a delay is necessary to ensure that the transition to mandatory department issuance and renewal of general business licenses is as seamless as possible; or
(d) The department receives a written notice from a city within sixty days of the date that the city appears on the department's biennial partnership plan, which includes an explanation of the fiscal or technical challenges causing the city to delay joining the system. A delay under this subsection (3)(d) may be for no more than three years.
(4)(a) In consultation with affected cities and in accordance with the priorities established in subsection (5) of this section, the department must establish a biennial plan for partnering with cities to assume the issuance and renewal of general business licenses as required by this section. The plan must identify the cities that the department will partner with and the dates targeted for the department to assume the duties of issuing and renewing general business licenses.
(b) By January 1, 2018, and January 1st of each even-numbered year thereafter, the department must submit the partnering plan required in (a) of this subsection (4) to the governor; legislative fiscal committees; house local government committee; senate agriculture, water, trade and economic development committee; senate local government committee; affected cities; association of Washington cities; association of Washington business; national federation of independent business; and Washington retail association.
(c) The department may, in its sole discretion, alter the plan required in (a) of this subsection (4) with a minimum notice of thirty days to affected cities.
(5) When determining the plan to partner with cities for the issuance and renewal of general business licenses as required in subsection (4) of this section, cities that notified the department of their wish to partner with the department before January 1, 2017, must be allowed to partner before other cities.
(6) A city that partners with the department for the issuance and renewal of general business licenses through the business licensing service in accordance with chapter 19.02 RCW may not issue and renew those licenses.
(7) A city may decline to partner with the department for the issuance and renewal of a general business license as provided in subsection (1) of this section if the city participates in the online local business license and tax filing portal known as "FileLocal" as of July 1, 2020. For the purposes of this subsection (7), a city is considered to be a FileLocal participant as of the date that a business may access FileLocal for purposes of applying for or renewing that city's general business license and reporting and paying that city's local business and occupation taxes. A city that ceases participation in FileLocal after July 1, 2020, must partner with the department for the issuance and renewal of its general business license as provided in subsection (1) of this section.
(8) By January 1, 2019, and each January 1st thereafter through January 1, 2028, the department must submit a progress report to the legislature. The report required by this subsection must provide information about the progress of the department's efforts to partner with all cities that impose a general business license requirement and include:
(a) A list of cities that have partnered with the department as required in subsection (1) of this section;
(b) A list of cities that have not partnered with the department;
(c) A list of cities that are scheduled to partner with the department during the upcoming calendar year;
(d) A list of cities that have declined to partner with the department as provided in subsection (7) of this section;
(e) An explanation of lessons learned and any process efficiencies incorporated by the department;
(f) Any recommendations to further simplify the issuance and renewal of general business licenses by the department; and
(g) Any other information the department considers relevant.
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