Border adjustment tax topic of D.C. visit
By Mark Johnson, Senior VP of Government Affairs
I traveled to Washington, D.C. last week to meet with members and staff from our congressional delegation regarding the proposed Border Adjustment Tax (BAT tax). I had the pleasure of meeting with Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5th District) and Congressman Denny Heck (D-10th District) and the staff of Senator Maria Cantwell (D) and Congressman Dave Reichert (R-8th District).
I delivered the message that the BAT tax would hurt retailers who import goods to sell and increase costs to consumers. If a 20 percent BAT tax is adopted, it would mean an additional $1,700 out of each American family’s pockets. I relayed the message that one WRA furniture store member imports about 60 percent of its products and another small office supply store imports about 40 percent of its products. The amount and variety of products that would be impacted by a BAT tax is astonishing. This type of tax would significantly impact retailers large and small.
Retailers want overall tax reform. We are just hoping Congress leaves the Border Adjustment Tax out of the final solution.
Group opposes phasing in a border adjustment tax
Americans for Affordable Products (AAP) this week announced it not only opposes a 20 percent border adjustment tax. It also opposes the latest idea of phasing in such a tax over a five-year period.
A phase in would only delay the pain for consumers who would see prices rise after retailers had to pay more for imported merchandise.
AAP is a collection of more than 500 businesses and trade associations seeking to stop Congress from approving a border adjustment tax. Read its announcement here.
WRA board member Madelin White wins national honor
Longtime WRA board member Madelin White has been selected by the National Retail Federation as one of America’s Retail Champions. She and other winners will be honored at NRF’s Retail Advocates Summit in Washington, D.C. in July.
The award is to recognize Main Street business owners who have demonstrated community leadership as strong retail industry advocates.
Madelin has owned Merle Norman Cosmetics, Wigs and Day Spa in Lacey for more than 40 years and has served in various leadership roles on WRA’s board of directors for 21 years. She is the winner of several local and national awards for leadership and volunteer work.
In nominating Madelin for her latest honor, WRA highlighted a few of her key contributions including a long-lasting commitment to advocacy for small businesses and toward cancer patients. In Madelin’s 26 years helping cancer patients rebuild their self-esteem with her Look Good, Feel Better course, she has traveled throughout the Puget Sound region and Alaska, Oregon and Montana as a volunteer. Last year, the American Cancer Society honored Madelin with an award for her service to cancer patients.
Among Madelin’s other honors is the Thurston County Economic Development Council’s 2015 Business of the Year.
For these and many other reasons, WRA is proud of Madelin’s exemplary career and her newest national honor.
Talks may end this week on possible paid family leave bill
Tammie Hetrick, WRA’s Senior VP of Retail Services, is in continuing negotiations all day today in hopes of finalizing talks toward proposing a paid family leave bill that is fair to businesses and employees alike.
She expect to be able to update WRA members on Friday about how the talks have gone the past several weeks.
Tammie reports she is hopeful that talks can be completed this week. At the same time, the Legislature is nearing the end of its second 30-day special session to approve a new state budget. Failure to do so would result in a partial state government shutdown on July 1.
Retail tax payments to state up nearly 4 percent in latest state revenue report
Retail tax payments to the state increased 3.9 percent in the one-month period ending June 10, according to the latest report from the Economic Revenue Forecast Council.
Major General Fund-State revenue collections for the past month came in at $22.2 million (up 1 percent) above the March forecast. Cumulatively, collections are now $66.6 million, or 1.4 percent higher than forecasted.
The state will issue another revenue forecast next week that legislators are likely to consider in final deliberations to approve a new state budget by July 1.
Among strong returns from various retail sectors:
- Taxes from online retailers were up 16.8 percent
- Drug and health stores were up 13.4 percent
- Food and beverage stores increased 6.8 percent
- Sporting goods, toys and music stores were up 6.7 percent
The report cited high April rainfall totals in the state for a 3.7 percent decline in revenues from building materials and garden equipment stores.
Click here to see the entire report.
State sets four-decade record low unemployment level
May’s statewide 4.5 percent unemployment rate was the lowest level since record keeping began four decades ago, Employment Security reported today.
The statewide rate dropped from 4.6 percent in April.
Retail was among the leading industries for job creation in the past year, the department reported. Construction led the way with 15,300 new jobs followed by education and health services, 14,700, and retail with 14,600 new jobs.
The May unemployment rate last year was 5.6 percent. Regardless of lowering unemployment, the state recovery from recession is uneven.
The jobless rate is 3.3 percent in the Seattle area but up to 8 percent and 9 percent in the farther rural reaches of the state. For more, click here.
Governor tries to “kick start” slow Legislature budget talks
Gov. Inslee this week ordered legislators who had been passing budget proposal notes to each other from separate party caucuses to begin negotiating terms of a 2017-19 budget in face-to-face meetings. State government would have to enact a partial shutdown if legislators cannot pass a new budget when the state’s new fiscal year begins on July 1.
Inslee said both parties must make “major moves” on spending and revenue decisions before being able to agree on a budget proposal.
Besides approving a budget, the Legislature must allocate more funds for the state education system. The state Supreme Court has ruled that prior state budgets had unconstitutionally shortchanged school districts.
The Legislature is wrapping up its second 30-day overtime session ordered by the Governor. Budget talks have been conducted privately with only a small number of legislators from the Democrat and Republican parties. No budget agreements have yet been announced.
Times says Seattle soda tax falls flat
A Seattle Times editorial raises concerns about a tax on sweetened drinks approved last week by the City Council.
The commentary notes that the tax, opposed by WRA, is poorly timed in a city struggling with cost-of-living challenges, homelessness, drug addiction and the likelihood that property taxes will be going up to meet a state Supreme Court mandate to fully fund state schools.
The Times also notes that the intent of the legislation was unfocused and poorly thought out. It warns of the increasing tax burden being placed on Seattle residents and businesses.
“Seattle officials are flirting with pushing taxpayers to a breaking point, at which they will reject taxes regardless of the merit,” the paper writes. It also warned that current Seattle tax burdens could threaten the likelihood of approving more worth levies.
Efforts are underway during state budget negotiations to lift a one percent property tax lid voters approved in 2007 for most counties in the state.
Two bills HB 5772 and HB 1764, would replace the one percent cap with a formula that adjusts for population growth and inflation, up to 5 percent. The Lens, the online news source of the Business Institute of Washington, included the topic in a story this week.
County officials across the state are saying it is necessary to raise more property taxes to pay for services such as public safety. The House state budget proposal includes language from the two bills but the Senate’s does not.
Democrat activist Javier Valdez has been sworn in to replace state Rep. Jessyn Farrell who resigned to run for Mayor of Seattle this year.
Valdez will complete the remainder of Farrell’s term that runs through 2018.
Valdez was the founding chair of the King County Young Democrats and worked for the city of Seattle for more than 20 years. He last worked as an aide to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.
Safety tip of the week
Heat can be a hazard to workers
When a person works in a hot environment, the body must get rid of excess heat to maintain a stable internal temperature. It does this mainly through circulating blood to the skin and through sweating.
When the air temperature is close to or warmer than normal body temperature, cooling of the body becomes more difficult. Blood circulated to the skin cannot lose its heat. Sweating then becomes the main way the body cools off. But sweating is effective only if the humidity level is low enough to allow evaporation and if the fluids and salts that are lost are adequately replaced.
If the body cannot get rid of excess heat, it will store it. When this happens, the body’s core temperature rises and the heart rate increases. As the body continues to store heat, the person begins to lose concentration and has difficulty focusing on a task, may become irritable or sick, and often loses the desire to drink. The next stage is most often fainting and even death if the person is not cooled down.
Excessive exposure to heat can cause a range of heat-related illnesses, from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke can result in death and requires immediate medical attention.
Exposure to heat can also increase the risk of injuries because of sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, dizziness, and burns from hot surfaces or steam.
Workers exposed to hot indoor environments or hot and humid conditions outdoors are at risk of heat-related illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky or non-breathable protective clothing and equipment. Some workers might be at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions, or if they have certain health conditions.
WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WRA diversity statement
It’s essential to have a holistic strategic plan for diversity and inclusion. We encourage everyone to consider having a plan that connects with diverse people, creates a diverse workforce, fosters an inclusive work environment where different perspectives are valued, partners to share time, talent, and resources with our staff and with communities, and communicates these values with others.
In principle and in practice, we value access to leadership opportunity regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, appearance, geographic location, or professional level. The association strives to accomplish this by serving as a model where we are working to help our staff, our volunteer leaders, our members, and our community embrace these principles.