By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
Governor Inslee has signed two of WRA’s priority bills into law, House Bill2005 and Senate Bill 5635.
Rep. Kris Lytton (D -Anacortes), was the prime sponsor of HB 2005. It streamlines the business licensing process. Many retailers, especially furniture stores that do business in multiple cities, are required to have several business licenses. This can become expensive, time-consuming and burdensome, especially for smaller retailers.
WRA has a member who needed 25 individual city business licenses. This new law will allow the Department of Revenue to use its centralized business licensing system to sign up cities and businesses to retailers save time and money. The service is free to cities and costs businesses a nominal fee. I served on a task force for six months to help write the legislation.
Organized retail crime
SB 5635, prime sponsored by Senator Mike Padden (R- Spokane Valley) – will make it easier for prosecutors, law enforcement and loss prevention officers to crack down on organized crime rings by allowing aggregation of retail theft with special circumstances. This means that if a thief or group of thieves use devices such as wire cutters, foil-lined bags, or heavy, powerful magnets to commit the crimes, they can be aggregated and hit with a more severe penalty.
Retailers in Washington State lose an estimated $2 billion worth of merchandise annually due to organized retail theft.
This law will send a clear message that this behavior will not be tolerated and will be dealt with in a strict manner. Special thanks to former King County Prosecutor Andy Hamilton for his work on the issue.
WRA serves on the board for the Washington State Organized Retail Crime Alliance (WSORCA). The National Retail Federation estimates that retailers lose over $45 billion to theft nationally each year.