Retreat reveals political worries of CEOs
By Jan Teague, President/CEO
Last week I attended a training conference where CEOs from across the country talked about their associations’ biggest problems.
The most interesting stories that caught my attention were about President Trump getting elected and how he is impacting the association community. Many of these associations get federal funding for their missions. This is likely to change.
Others hold international events with participation coming from all over the world. Now these visitors worry about getting into the country and hesitate to register. And the last story was about coming to work the day after the election to find staff members unable to work because of their disappointment.
While I knew that campaigners were disappointed, the story was impactful for me. So many people worry about their livelihoods changing. It’s real for them as if they were being tortured and thrown out. As you can imagine, these CEOs are trying to figure out if their associations will survive at all.
While I could talk about the retail environment and the threats we face, I did see the association community itself as an endangered group. I do think that we all certainly will be facing great turmoil for our survival for various reasons. For retail it will be in labor and regulatory burdens that make it impossible to grow or make a profit. It will be in online competition that can offer dramatically cheaper products without the burdens of high labor costs. The retail industry is changing rapidly. We talked about that at the retreat with a focus on the notion of providing high level service to our members.
Over the rest of the year you will be hearing more about our services. We do work on retooling and focusing on your future needs. We want feedback as we do this. For instance, the SafeMe app that is mentioned in a story below is getting a lot of positive feedback. We plan on expanding offerings like that for our members. Stay tuned.
Bill to streamline liquor licensing becomes law
By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President Government Affairs
Governor Jay Inslee has signed into law House Bill 1351, which streamlines the state’s liquor licensing process.
The measure was a priority for WRA to help speed and simplify licensing for our members. After WRA collaborated with other stakeholders to work with the Liquor Control Board on the bill, the House passed it unanimously and it cleared the Senate with only two dissenting votes.
Rep. David Sawyer, D-Tacoma, chairman of the Commerce and Gaming Committee, was prime sponsor of the bill. It creates a combination license to allow a retailer to sell beer, wine and spirits for off-premise consumption.
The law goes into effect July 23, 2017.
Senate debates, defeats two massive tax bills
WRA testifies against another tax bill today
By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
The state Senate has unanimously voted down two massive tax increase bills.
Senate Bill 5113 sought to increase the Business and Occupation gross receipts tax from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent on services and other activities. The bill would have increased taxes by $2.2 billion for the first biennium.
Senate Bill 5111 would have imposed a capital gains tax totaling $821 million for the first biennium.
The Senate today will debate SB 5929 in the Ways and Means Committee. This measure:
- adopts a B and O tax increase
- taxes bottled water
- changes the non-resident sales tax exemption to force consumers to apply for a sales tax refund and
- imposes a capital gains tax.
The 10-year total for the bill is more than $22 billion – the largest tax increase in our state’s history. WRA testified in opposition.
All of the bills would have hurt retailers and their operations. The state needs to prioritize and spend the taxes it has received, which are 8 percent higher than the last budget.
Comments due Friday on paid sick and safe leave
By Tammie Hetrick, Senior VP for Retail Services
The state’s deadline for submitting comments and concerns about paid sick and safe leave requirements and rules is Friday of this week.
I strongly encourage businesses with concerns to communicate with Labor & Industries quickly. Our best hope for the fairest rules possible is to submit concerns about the financial burdens of such a requirement. Click here to learn more about current rulemaking on sick and safe leave and here to share comments with L&I.
Sick and safe leave is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2018.
I met this week with other business representatives and L&I on the current sick and safe leave rulemaking process. We learned that salaried, exempt employees will be excluded from sick and safe leave benefits.
I was disappointed that L&I won’t project financial impacts on small businesses from the program. If it did, more considerations would be made to help small buisnesses. The program will be very expensive for them. Some labor representative also were disappointed to learn that the program that resulted from last fall’s passage of Initiative 1433 did not include a collective bargaining exemption from the requirement.
There is a legal challenge to I-1433, which also raised the statewide minimum wage to $11 an hour in January. It would step up annually to $13.50 by 2020.
A Kittitas County judge last Friday heard arguments that the initiative was unconstitutional because it asked voters to decide two questions at once. The constitution limits initiatives to one question at a time on the ballot.
Legal arguments are expected to go on for some time through appeals, regardless of what the judge decides. However, we do expect to hear a decision in the lower court within a few weeks.
Do not hesitate to contact me with questions or for updates by calling 360-200-6452 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Governor signs bill to improve regulatory climate
Gov. Inslee has signed HB 1120 into law that aims to correct compliance issues by state agencies related to the Regulatory Fairness Act (RFA). Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, was the prime sponsor of the bill.
She sponsored the bill in response to a state audit. The audit found that despite claiming RFA exemptions regarding proposed rules in 2014 and 2015, state agencies cited specifics only in slightly more than half of 331 cases. Sixteen state agencies failed to provide documentation of exemptions in the balance of cases.
In a news release following the Governor’s signature, Rep. Smith said she was confident the new law would result in fairer treatment of small business across the state.
Among the procedural changes called for in the law:
- Agencies will be required to consider ways to reduce impact costs of regulations that affect only small businesses.
- It assigns the Office of Regulatory Innovation and Assistance to help agencies meet RFA’s requirements.
- The state Auditor’s Office, beginning in June 2020, will be required to conduct performance reviews of agencies to assess their compliance with RFA.
Click here to read Rep. Smith’s news announcement about the new law.
Meetings continue on a paid family leave bill
By Tammie Hetrick, Senior VP of Retail Services
I expect to continue meeting through the Legislature’s special one-month session on negotiations to work out a statewide paid family leave bill.
I am one of five business representatives negotiating terms and conditions for a possible state law the Legislature could pass before it adjourns this year.
Business representatives expect to make a formal proposal for review at a meeting today.
Negotiators hope to craft a bill before the 2017 session ends. Talks are very fluid at this point and outcomes could change quickly.
We will report any progress to members and other followers of this newsletter if agreements with all parties result.
Get ready to debate a tax on certain drinks in Seattle
Some retailers in Seattle should prepare for debate on a possible tax to be imposed on various non-diet soda and energy drinks.
Retailers estimate the new tax would add $1.36 to the price of a two-liter bottle of soft drink.
A few other cities have tried this idea, according to recent reports in The Seattle Times. The cities include Philadelphia and Berkeley. In Philadelphia, beverage industry employees experienced layoffs after the tax took effect. In both cities, sales of soft drinks have declined.
The proposal would levy a 2 cents-per-ounce tax on beverage distributors, a cost the distributors could be expected to pass on to consumers. The revenue could be used for early education and health programs.
Such government intervention in the marketplace often has expensive and counterproductive results.
During a protest of the idea in Seattle some weeks ago, merchants suggested that Seattle is becoming an increasingly expensive place to live and do business. Some merchants complained the city’s march toward a $15 an hour minimum wage already had led to layoffs and threats to the bottom line from ballooning payroll costs.
This idea adds more worry by increasing the likelihood of lost sales. The Times reports sales of sodas and energy drinks declined in Philadelphia and Berkeley and rose in neighboring suburbs, where prices did not include the additional tax.
Retailers with concerns should contact the Washington Retail Association’s Retail Industry Coalition of Seattle. Director John Engber can be reached either at email@example.com or 206-919-0136. Reach Nina Jurczynski, Field Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow John and Nina’s updates on Twitter @RICSeattle.
WRA to host webinar on Seattle scheduling law on May 16
WRA has scheduled a City of Seattle webinar to explain and answer questions about the city’s new scheduling ordinance. The law takes effect July 1, 2017.
Tammie Hetrick, WRA’s Senior VP of Retail Services, will host the event starting at 10:30 a.m., May 16.
The law requires franchisees and retailers from companies employing 500 or more to post work schedules two weeks in advance. It includes fines for violations and requires extra available hours to first be offered to existing employees before additional hiring can occur.
For registration information, contact WRA’s administrative assistant Jessica Tingle at 360-846-2447 or Jessica@retailassociation.org.
Legislature in special session to adopt state budget
As it has most of the past eight yearly sessions, the state Legislature failed to pass a new state budget this year and was called back into a one-month overtime session on Monday by Gov. Inslee.
Negotiations will continue to compromise between Senate and House spending plans for the 2017-19 biennium. The state constitution requires the Legislature to adopt a new spending plan by June 30 to avoid a state government shutdown.
WRA continues tracking various retail-related bills that could again come up for discussions or votes in the overtime session or that are awaiting a possible signature into law by Inslee.
Here is a summary of pending action:
*WRA awaits the Governor’s signature of HB 1755 that requires workers’ comp settlement negotiators to update state fund employers on the status of talks involving employees injured in accidents with third parties not employed by the same company. The Governor has 20 days to sign a bill or it can become law if he does not take action. WRA supports the bill.
*WRA awaits the Governor’s action on SB 5835 that requires employers to make special workplace accommodations for pregnant employees. WRA supports the bill.
*SB 5025 and HB 1054 did not pass either house but are deemed to be related to budget discussions. The bill would raise the legal smoking age from 18 to 21. WRA opposes the bills that would result in lost sales to convenience stores.
*Neither house passed bills to restore state tourism funding that was eliminated in the last recession. HB 1123 and SB 5251 could come up for discussion in the overtime session. WRA supports the bills.
*The Legislature passed HB 1352 and sent it to the Governor for review. It would require the Attorney General to research a small business bill of rights to better prepare owners for state audits, inspections and other regulatory actions. WRA supports the bill.
Businesses invited to Governor’s career summit
Businesses statewide are invited to participate in the Governor’s all-day Summit on Career Connected Learning on May 31.
The summit will connect participants from 28 locations around the state from the central hosting site at Microsoft’s Redmond campus.
The summit’s goal is to identify resources and policies to better qualify the next generation of employees for the science and technology jobs of the future. Planners expect to establish a network of advocates for learning and career opportunities for Washington’s youth.
Safety tip of the week
Have you seen SAFEME?
The Washington Retail Association is offering a free web-based and smartphone app to help employers get first-time and young employees off to a safer start in the working world. Many first-time employees get their careers going in retail.
SAFEME users can earn basic safety training certificates to augment required safety training from employers. The certificates demonstrate that an entry-level or young worker has a sound understanding of the potential hazards in many different workplaces and how to avoid them. While geared towards retail, the topics can apply to many industries. The lessons include videos and quizzes that demonstrate use of ladders, proper lifting, slips-trips-falls, box knife use and more.
The app is courtesy of a grant from Labor & Industries’ Safety and Health Investment Projects. It is aimed particularly at workers aged 16 to 20 who often sustain workplace injuries due to lack of work experience and preparation. Additional information and resources about this project can be found here.
SAFEME has been viewed/downloaded by hundreds of users in 41states and embraced by educators and businesses alike.
Safer employees reduce injuries and workers’ compensation claims. In Washington State, employers and employees contribute toward paying premiums for injury insurance. As injuries drop, so do insurance costs.
WRA’s Rick Means is available to members to assist with L&I safety compliance, to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or email@example.com.
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.