State Senator proposes a head tax credit for distressed counties
By Mark Johnson, Senior VP of Government Affairs
In answer to Seattle’s business head tax, state Senator Steve O’Ban (R-Tacoma) has proposed a bill to extend a business head tax credit to companies that hire in distressed counties across the state.
O’Ban says Seattle’s $275-per-employee per-year head tax on large companies will discourage hiring and make Seattle less competitive in attracting new companies.
O’Ban’s proposal would extend a $275 business and occupation tax credit to employers who hire with pay higher than a county’s average wage. The credit would apply in counties with a jobless rate in the preceding year that exceeds the statewide rate by 25 percent.
“Washington shouldn’t lose jobs because our largest city’s tax policy punishes job growth,” O’Ban said. “If employers want to relocate, they should know that other counties are business-friendly and welcoming.”
The Seattle tax has sparked a groundswell of business reaction. It includes a referendum signature campaign of which WRA is a part to repeal the tax in the November election and a Tacoma/Pierce County proposal to extend a $275 per employee tax incentive to companies willing to pay employees more than $65,000 a year. Retailers appreciate the carrot approach over the stick and support Senator O’Ban’s proposal.
For more on Sen. O’Ban’s idea, read more.
Source: Senate Republican caucus
The online news source of the Business Institute of Washington has a new story posted regarding the building resistance to Seattle’s newly-approved head tax on large businesses.
The article talks with leaders who consider the head tax to be punitive and anti-business. Others in the story are expressing worry that the City Council either is out of touch with taxpayers or electing to overlook their concerns about the tax. Many head tax opponents instead have called for a detailed accounting of how city funds are spent because they believe better budgeting could adequately address the city’s stated goal of solving its growing homelessness problem.
It concludes with two alternative ideas that would not require more revenue: amended zoning laws that would allow for more housing to be built in the city, and better coordinating existing but fragmented homelessness services.
For the rest of the report, read more.
WRA plans Retail Hiring Month 2.0
CEO/President Renée Sunde has convened a team of staff members to grow Retail Hiring Month into an enhanced promotion this year.
In cooperation with Employment Security last year, Director of Communications Jim Szymanski researched retail data on several fronts to help create a website promoting the retail industry that launched in September, when most retailers begin extra hiring for the holiday shopping rush. Some of that data was used to earn a Careers in Retail Month proclamation from Gov. Jay Inslee. Washington Retail Association promoted and attended a retail hiring fair in Everett. Jim capped off the promotion with a video interview with the ESD Director to further promote the assets of the retail website.
This year’s expanded promotion team is at work to increase community involvement in the promotion, which aims to show the diversity of jobs and career opportunities in retail and the industry’s impact on local, state and national economies. Nationally, retail supports one in four jobs. Statewide, retail sales taxes generate nearly half of the general fund operating budget and the industry projects that an estimated 37,500 retail jobs will open statewide in the next three years.
- Using Facebook, Twitter and its weekly newsletter, WRA has begun publicizing retail hiring events across the state. WRA added background of the campaign to its website.
- We’re beginning work on new messaging in preparation for obtaining a second proclamation from the Governor’s office.
- We’ve begun meeting again with Employment Security to update the retail microsite that is part of the WorkSource Washington website for employers and job seekers. You can find the retail microsite under the Spotlights tab.
- We’re also in the planning stages to host a live August webinar that will feature legislators interested in enhancing training opportunities that already exist for retail employees seeking to turn their jobs into careers. A promotional video on retail training options also is in the works.
This year’s expanded promotion is allowing Washington Retail Association to involve new contributors to our campaign to increase public understanding of retail’s importance to the health and growth of the economy. Stay tuned for further updates on this year’s Retail Hiring Month promotion.
New state revenue forecast bodes well for retail
The latest state revenue forecast issued Tuesday includes key details that bode well for retailers and the industry in general.
Overall, it reports that revenue collections to date beginning in February were $85.4 million, which is 2 percent above earlier expectations.
Retail-related items in the report include:
- Washington’s top national ranking for percentage of personal income growth in 2017. It was up 4.8 percent compared to the nation’s 3.1 percent. The state’s Gross Domestic Product, a measurement for economic output, grew 4.4 percent last year compared to 2.1 percent nationwide.
- Statewide employment is expected to grow 2.5 percent this year compared to 2.2 percent in a February forecast. The Economic Revenue Forecast Council expects hiring to level off next year as the recovery matures to 1.2 percent through 2023.
- Washington housing construction exceeded the forecast in the first quarter of this year. Nearly 50,000 housing building permits were issued statewide in the first quarter, 6,000 more than expected in the February forecast.
- Those who have owned homes, particularly in Seattle, during the recovery have significantly more wealth. ERFC reports that Seattle home prices are up 84 percent since the December 2011 economic trough.
For more details on the latest state report, read more.
Source: Economic Revenue Forecast Council
Employment Security files final Family and Medical leave rules
Employment Security has filed final rules on the state paid Family and Medical Leave program, for which premium pay deductions will begin in January 2019.
There are a couple ways that WRA members can obtain answers if they have questions about the way the program will work.
You can learn more from WRA’s webinar that gives an overview or contact Chief Operating Officer Tammie Hetrick if you have further questions. Reach Tammie either at 360-200-6452 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
State seeks public comment on report suggesting guidelines for opioid use
The state Health Department is seeking public comment on a report suggesting guidelines for the distribution of opioids in postoperative situations.
Online survey comments must be returned by 5 p.m. on Friday, June 22.
The department is in possession of studies showing that patients receive more opioids than are needed to manage postoperative pain and is concerned that users other than patients could come into illegal possession of the drugs. The study findings are meant to serve as a general framework for managing postoperative pain while minimizing the amount of leftover pills.
U.S. Chamber surveying businesses on tax cuts
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is conducting an online survey to judge responses to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Those choosing to reply can take the survey to gauge how companies have reacted to the tax cut provided in the act.
The survey includes earlier research outlining how companies have used the tax cuts including holding down prices or raising wages. That information is on the Tax Relief Across America Map.
A reminder about new rules regarding lead
Labor & Industries is studying whether to adopt new rules by the end of the year for working with lead.
Among the considerations are batteries, ammunition, brass that contains lead, fishing gear, industrial paints, self-lubricating bearings, hardware stores, radiator repair and other related work situations.
Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist, reports employers working with bulk lead products containing 20 percent or more of lead by volume would need to provide protective equipment such as nitrile gloves, hand-washing stations and respirators as needed. Fishing gear departments that handle unwrapped sinkers, for example, could experience lead absorption into the skin.
This document reviews significant proposed changes to existing rules for working around lead. Rick asks that you inform him if you work with lead so that he might keep you posted on the status of rule changes.
Reach Rick at 360-200-6454 or email@example.com.
Safety tip of the week
To be safer, address distracted driving
Roadways are unpredictable and an ever-changing environment that require your full attention. There are estimates that one in ten drivers on the road is somehow distracted by eating, reading, a navigation system, a passenger or cell phone use. For this reason, hand-held cell phone use or texting while driving is illegal in the State of Washington.
Accidents from these incidents could cause time loss of employees, increased insurance rates or a company vehicle being out of commission for a while. If you have company delivery drivers, you need to explain the dangers of cell phone use while driving and that you are taking action by implementing policies that would prohibit both hands-free and handheld devices to prevent distracted driving. If you do not already have a cell phone use policy in place, you should put one together soon.
The National Safety Council recommends those policies apply to all company employees. Ask employees to make calls before they leave the parking lot or at rest stops, but not while they’re on the road.
The National Safety Council has created a series of short videos that answer common questions about cell phone use and driving. On RASI SAFETY TV, there is a playlist of these videos. They include useful material for safety meetings.
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.