Pro-retail bills pass legislature and head to Governor
By Mark Johnson, Senior VP Government Affairs
I am happy to report that three WRA priority bills have passed both houses of the Legislature and now go to the Governor for his consideration and hopeful signature.
Senate Bills 5632, (flash mob robberies) and 5635 (retail theft with special circumstances) received near unanimous votes out of the House and strong concurrence out of the Senate. House Bill 2005, streamlining the business licensing process, passed both chambers with unanimous votes. WRA wishes to thank the prime sponsors, Senators Mike Padden (R) and Steve O’Ban (R), and Representative Kristine Lytton (D) for championing the bills.
We will now send letters of support to the Governor asking for his approval of these three important bills. They will help in the fight against organized retail theft and in simplifying the business licensing process, saving retailers time and money. Session is scheduled to end Sunday, April 23.
Look here for Senator Padden’s announcement of approval for the bill he sponsored.
Seattle posts final rules for scheduling ordinance
Law takes effect on July 1 this year
By Tammie Hetrick, Senior VP of Retail Services
Seattle officials have posted final operating rules for the city’s work scheduling ordinance that takes effect on July 1 of this year.
WRA worked closely with city officials to obtain several changes to the draft to clarify any confusion in the language including how the ordinance will work and be enforced.
Put simply, the ordinance requires franchises and retailers with companies of at least 500 employees to post work schedules two weeks in advance. Documented violations come with minimum $500 fines. The ordinance also prohibits employers from offering additional hours to outside hires until first offering them to existing employees.
City officials announced they will make a “soft launch” of the ordinance through the end of this year. That means they will focus on education and support for employers and refrain from imposing fines except involving very serious violations through the balance of the year.
WRA is working with city officials to schedule a webinar to answer any questions about the ordinance. Look for further announcements about a webinar including in this newsletter.
Meanwhile, members with questions are urged to contact John Engber, Director of the Retail Industry Coalition of Seattle, at 206-919-0316 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Members also may contact me at 360-200-6452 or email@example.com.
Legislature in last week of scheduled 2017 session
The Legislature may run out of time in its last scheduled week of the 2017 session to approve a new state budget by Sunday’s deadline. Observers predict that a special overtime session will more than likely be needed for the House and Senate to agree on a spending plan.
Both houses are spending time strictly on bills related to adopting a new state budget. WRA will continue its work in support and opposed to certain retail-related bills until the eventual adjournment.
WRA stands in opposition to several facets of the House budget that includes a tax on bottled water, a capital gains tax and converting the state’s immediate sales tax forgiveness for qualified out-of-state shoppers to a program requiring shoppers to apply for an eventual sales tax refund. The status of bills can change day to day in the last week of session.
Here is a summary of the status of key bills as of early this week:
*The Legislature has unanimously passed HB 1352, which WRA supports, to create a Small Business Bill of Rights. It requires the Attorney General to review legal requirements so that small businesses can better prepare for actions such as inspections, audits, site visits and review of records. The bill now goes to the Governor for further consideration.
*WRA supports SB 5251 and HB 1123 to restore state tourism promotion funding eliminated in the last recession. The bills have not been moving during the session but remain part of state budget deliberations.
*WRA was neutral on SB 5312 that would have prohibited employers from inquiring about criminal offenses of job applicants until after they were deemed otherwise qualified for a job. The bill narrowly passed the Senate but showed no momentum in the House.
A successful bill moving along under the radar this legislative session is HB 1352 that would establish a Small Business Bill of Rights. The Legislature has passed the bill and sent it to the Governor for further consideration.
Lens, the online news source of the Business Institute of Washington, has taken a look at the bill including how it intends to better prepare businesses for inspections, audits and other regulations administered by state government.
Read the report here.
Research Council podcast drills down on state budget details
Much of the remaining time the Legislature will meet in Olympia this year will focus on compromising on separate state budget proposals by the Senate and House.
The Senate budget included no new taxes while the House plan includes a tax on bottled water, an increase in business and occupation taxes and converting the state’s program of immediate sales tax breaks for qualified out-of-state shoppers to a remittance program that would require those same shoppers to apply and wait for sales tax refunds.
WRA maintains the provisions cited in the House budget would harm retailers and hurt the state economy.
Budget analysts for the Washington Research Council recently recorded a podcast that drills deeper into the details of the budget proposals legislators are considering. Click here to listen in.
Poll shows voters oppose Trump’s border adjustment tax
A majority of likely voters opposes President Trump’s idea of a border adjust tax that would increase household expenses an estimated $1,700 a year.
Americans for Affordable Products, a coalition of businesses and trade associations, released poll results this week. Sixty-three percent of 800 likely voters polled earlier this month said they opposed the tax.
Companies that import goods from outside the U.S. would be forced to raise prices on goods ranging from food to gasoline, medicine, apparel and vehicles.
Trump has proposed the idea to encourage companies to keep more jobs in the U.S. rather than conducting manufacturing outside the country. But a majority of voters in the poll were opposed to paying more for a host of products to achieve Trump’s stated goal.
The National Retail Federation has aired a series of ads explaining the negative impact of the tax on business. Watch them here.
Businesses and consumers who wish to contact their Congressional representatives to oppose such a tax can do so here.
Safety tip of the week
How to avoid retail-related work injuries
Overdoing it on the job is a typical reason for injuries in the retail industry. Muscle strains and sprains result from a variety of movements including lifting, bending and twisting at the waist, pushing and pulling boxes, carrying items and using poor posture.
Labor & Industries has specific data on retail injuries, which looks like this:
- One out of every four injuries in retail is from overexertion.
- The average cost per overexertion claim is a little over $11,500.
- Overexertion claims represent about 37 percent of workers’ comp costs in retail.
- Lifting causes about half the overexertion injuries. Carrying ranks second, followed closely by pushing and pulling.
- Boxes were the most frequent source of injury. Automotive parts also were high on the list of sources of injury.
- The back was clearly the most frequently injured part of the body. Shoulder injuries were a distant second.
To prevent overexertion:
- Stretch and/or warm up before heavy lifting or strenuous activity
- Use hand trucks and carts as much as possible
- Lift with your legs bent and objects held close to your body
- Avoid bending, overreaching and twisting when lifting
- For unusual sized items, get help when lifting
Proper posture, body mechanics and ergonomics can lessen overexertion injuries. Because it is important that the demands of the job match the capabilities of the worker, extra training may be required to perform a job safely.
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 forms a team to help Seattle businesses
WRA has hired John Engber as Director and Nina Jurczynski as the Field Director to lead Seattle retailers in anticipating and adjusting to new regulations approved and under consideration by the Seattle City Council.
Often, Seattle small businesses are unaware of the council’s plans and how new ordinances will force adjustments to business plans and add to expenses in the budget. In recent months, the council approved ordinances that force requirements related to scheduling, hiring, wages and benefits.
It is crucial that businesses anticipate these requirements and gain a voice in shaping council debates and outcomes.
John and Nina are reaching out into Seattle’s business community with information and an invitation to join WRA’s new Retail Industry Coalition of Seattle. To learn more about John and Nina, visit their website where we’ve prepared a video interview of them explaining their work in more detail.
You can also follow them at Twitter @RICSeattle.
Research Council’s annual dinner on May 23
The Washington Research Council will hold its annual dinner on May 23 at Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Center.
Ian Toner, chief investment officer for Seattle-based Verus Investments, will be guest speaker. He will speak on “Political Turbulence: The Impact of Shifting Paradigms at Home and Abroad.”
To register and RSVP, contact DeDe McConnell at email@example.com or at 206-467-7088.
Twitter can be a useful tool in helping WRA’s followers and others to keep up with developments regarding bills under consideration in the 2017 session
Many followers of the Legislature don’t have the time to attend hearings or have to wait until the next day for the newspaper to arrive. But by following WRA @waretail on Twitter, we alert you ahead of time to key testimony offered by our lobbyists and then follow with live tweets during key hearings and selected voting. We also link you to the full text of bills.
Please follow us on Twitter for retail-related developments throughout the year.
Save money with WRA’s discount shipping partner
FedEx and UPS have higher shipping rates this year.
WRA extends an offer to save money on shipping small packages by singing up with Partnership, WRA’s discount shipping partner.
To enroll and receive exclusive discounts on select FedEx® services, visit PartnerShip.com/99WRA. For more information, email sales@PartnerShip.com or call 800-599-2902.
Learn more about how the 2017 rate increases will affect your shipping costs by downloading a free research paper at PartnerShip.com/RateIncrease.
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.