Lawsuit challenges state’s controversial long-term care law

The state’s controversial new long-term care law is being challenged in a lawsuit filed yesterday. The Associated Press reports

Opponents of a mandatory payroll tax to fund Washington state’s new long-term care program filed a class-action lawsuit Tuesday in federal court seeking to stop the January start of the payroll premium for most employees in the state.

The suit, filed with the federal court for the Western District of Washington, was filed on behalf of three businesses in the state and six individuals.

We’ve written before of problems with the law, citing a Washington Research Council analysis and issues identified by a coalition of business, labor and local government groups. The AP identifies the main thrust of legal challenge,

“The state simply does not have the power to mandate an employee benefit,” Richard Birmingham, a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, said in a written statement announcing the lawsuit.

And,

Among the arguments made by the suit is that the WA Cares Fund violates a federal law that forbids the state from passing any law that requires employees to participate in a plan that provides sickness or medical benefits. It also says that the disparate treatment of people paying the tax but not receiving benefits if they are not a Washington resident violates the Equal Protection and the Privileges and Immunities clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

Additionally, the fact that people who are within 10 years of retirement will pay into the fund but not receive benefits is a violation of the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, the suit contends.

Here’s the 21-page brief filed yesterday, which appears to present a significant challenge to the controversial legislation.