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WIN Articles for August 30, 2017

Renée Sunde named new Washington Retail Association President/CEO

Renée Sunde, The City of Olympia’s first Economic Development Director, has been named President/CEO of the Washington Retail Association (WRA). She will succeed Jan Teague, who has led WRA as President/CEO since 1998.

Sunde is an experienced economic development professional with a strong background in marketing, business development, community and economic development. Her diverse professional background includes leadership roles in a start-up company, banking and three Bellevue Square retailers.

“I am thrilled for the opportunity to step in as President/CEO to lead such a highly -respected association,” Sunde said. “Retiring CEO Jan Teague has done an incredible job leading the Association and WRA is well-respected nationally.”

Prior to beginning work for the City of Olympia in July 2015, Sunde served as Deputy Director for the Thurston County Economic Development Council (EDC). Highlights among her professional achievements include:

  • Successfully launching Olympia’s first Economic Development division and leading efforts for the adoption of a Community Renewal Plan for the removal of blight in downtown.
  • Assisting in the development of the Center for Business & Innovation, a partnership between the Thurston EDC and South Puget Sound Community College.
  • Co-leading two successful business delegation trips to China, representing regional business interests and foreign direct investment opportunities.

At WRA, Sunde will oversee the only Washington State association formed exclusively to advocate the unique interests of the retail industry regarding federal, state and local legislative and regulatory issues. WRA represents more than 3,500 retail storefronts including national, regional and neighborhood retailers.

“The strength and dedication of WRA’s executive leadership team and board of directors is a foundation for the association’s success,” Sunde said. “I look forward to building on this success.”

Sunde studied Business Administration at Kirkland’s Northwest University before completing professional development courses through the International Development Council and the National Development Council. Her memberships include the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), International Economic Development Council (IEDC), the Washington Economic Development Association (WEDA) and the Olympia Rotary.


WRA seeks board of directors nominations

The Washington Retail Association’s Nominating Committee is looking for interested members to serve on the association’s Board of Directors.

Board members meet three times a year to discuss the key issues facing retailers and to express their concerns to elected officials and key agency staff.  The Board oversees the financial health of the organization and develops goals and objectives for the association.  At one of the meetings, the Board holds a two-day retreat to explore the future direction of the association and take a closer look at key issues.

In 2018 the retreat will be at the Edgewater Inn in Seattle on July 10 and July 11.  If you want more information or would like to be considered for a board position, please contact Jan Teague at jteague@retailassociation.org or give her a call at 360-943-9198 ext. 19.


Marketplace fairness legislation taking shape

By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs

The Department of Revenue held a stakeholder meeting this week to discuss the recently adopted Marketplace Fairness law that passed during the 2017 Legislative Session.  The law goes into effect January 1, 2018.

House Bill 2163 requires remote sellers to collect and remit sales tax to the State of Washington.  The law also requires marketplace facilitators and marketplace sellers to collect and remit sales tax or give notice to the department who they sold to or conducted the transaction for.

The meeting was attended by a number of associations and companies that may be impacted by the new law.  The meeting was to answer questions and discuss how the rules of Washington Administrative Codes (WACs) should be written to ensure that the law is evenly and fairly applied. Another goal is to make it easy to understand so that retailers can meet the requirements.

It was apparent that there are many nuances and unanswered questions that will need to be addressed while writing the rules.

The department plans to take the comments it receives and answer the questions that were posed, then begin drafting rules for public review and comment.

WRA and its members will be closely involved with the discussions and drafting.  When the draft rules are available we will be sure to send them to our members and announce them on our website and e-newsletter.

If you would like to comment on the law at this time, the agency is welcoming suggestions and questions..  Send directly to  dormarketplacefairness@dor.wa.gov  or send them to me, mark.johnson@retailassociation.org. and I will forward under WRA’s name.


Research Council breaks down proposed new school taxes2-policy-today-final-640x480

 In a new Policy Today podcast, the Washington Research Council dissects the collection of new state taxes the Legislature approved this year with the goal of fully funding state schools. The state is responding to a state Supreme Court mandate to spend more on schools.

The Supreme Court’s decision on whether to approve the funding package is pending.

The council’s Senior Economist, Kriss Sjoblom, outlines the additional school revenues derived from several new taxes. They include a tax on bottled water, a use tax imposed on refineries and sales tax collection requirements placed on out-of-state online retailers with customers in Washington State.

The Legislature’s package includes significant statewide property tax increases to complete funding for the $4.6 billion schools’ package.

Click here to listen to the podcast.


Home Depot to remodel Seattle service veteran’s home

As part of its national outreach effort, Home Depot volunteers will remodel the kitchen and perform landscaping at the Seattle home of U.S. Army veteran Beverlee Reddick.

The Sept. 13 remodeling is part of the Home Depot Foundation’s outreach to at-risk veterans across the nation.

Reddick served as an Army nurse during the Vietnam War. She continued her work as a nurse when she returned to Seattle. But chronic health conditions eventually forced her to retire. Reddick’s unexpected career disruption cut short her efforts to upgrade her home in the Columbia City neighborhood.

Home Depot is coordinating the project with the Department of Veterans Affairs of Washington State. Click here for more information on Home Depot’s outreach programs to U.S. vets.


State tax based on driving distance faces uphill battlelens

 The state plans to conduct a pilot program next year regarding a possible tax that would be imposed on how many miles motorists drive their vehicles every year.

As vehicles become more fuel efficient and electric cars become more common, gasoline consumption will likely drop and with it, fuel taxes to run the state. State officials are looking for ways to make up any potential loss in fuel tax revenues.

But the Lens, the online news source of the Business Institute of Washington, found that taxing motorists based on miles driven not only is unpopular, so far, but faces some technical challenges to implement.

Next year’s pilot program will explore how a mileage tax might be collected as well as finding ways to make it less objectionable to many motorists. Click here to read the story.


Employment Security adopts new tax and wage rules

The Employment Security Department has adopted new rules regarding employer tax and wage reports.

The new rules are effective September 22 of this year.

Under current rules, employers are required to file tax and wage reports under an employee’s Social Security number. The new rule will allow employers to use the employee’s Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) in situations where the employee has not yet obtained a Social Security number.

Employers with questions should contact Christina Streuli of ESD’s Employment Systems and Policy Division at 360-902-9647 or cstreuli@esd.wa.gov.


WRA co-sponsors Oct. 17 employer seminar

WRA members to get special discount

Employers will be able to learn the latest insights into employment law by attending Lane Powell’s annual “Best Practices for Employers” seminar on October 17 of this year. WRA members are eligible for a discounted registration fee.

The event will be held at Sheraton Seattle Hotel, 1400 6th Avenue in downtown.

The event geared toward managers, human resources professionals and corporate counsel includes the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Washington Bankers Association and the Greater Seattle Business Association as co-sponsors.

Click here to get on a waiting list in the event of cancellations from the sold out event.


WRA webinar will cover free L&I consultation service

 WRA has scheduled a free webinar at 10 a.m, September 13 that will cover a Labor & Industries program to teach employers how to improve safety programs and reduce on-the-job injuries.

Teri Neely, L&I’s Consultation Operations Manager, will conduct the 45-minute webinar.

The webinar will show employers how to strengthen their safety programs and remain in compliance with state safety requirements. Doing so can reduce workplace injuries and better control workers’ compensation insurance premiums for the employer and employees.

Register here.


Safety tip of the week:

Engage your employees in the safety mission

Engaged and involved employees suffer 62 percent fewer safety accidents than employees with low or no engagement, according to Gallup poll results. It, therefore, stands to reason that it pays to encourage employees to take safety more seriously.

An “engaged employee” is one who is fully involved and enthusiastic about their work. They tend to act in a way that furthers the organization’s interests.  They have satisfaction in their work, pride in their employer, believe in what they do and that their employer values their skills.

How can you engage your employees?

Having open communication, employee involvement and participation are your best tools.  Employers also need to have respect for employees.  Get employees to have a sense of pride and ownership by asking them how they improve their work processes and activities.  Other ways to encourage involvement:

–         Encourage participation at safety meetings

–         Let employees sample personal protective equipment, tools, etc. before making a change.

–         Discuss proposed workplace changes with affected employees before implementation or change.

–         Have a ‘Hazard Hunt’ day and offer a prize for the one who comes up with the most observations.

Employee engagement is a powerful tool to improve safety performance and other business measures as well.  It will also help to improve the bottom line in reduced workers’ compensation insurance costs.

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 rick.means@retailassociationservices.com


Seattle scheduling still confounds affected retailers, says attorney

Seattle attorney Katheryn Bradley of the Lane Powell law firm says retailers affected by the city’s new scheduling law still are unaware of its detailed and cumbersome requirements.

She outlined her observations for readers of the Puget Sound Business Journal in this article. The paper requires a subscription to read the entire article. Attorney Bradley offers a question and answer format in the article.

The law requires that larger retailers post work schedules two weeks in advance, keep detailed schedule-related records for three years and bans hiring from outside to cover additional hours until those hours are first offered to current employees.

Seattle retailers with questions about the law can call Tammie Hetrick, WRA’s Senior Vice President of Retail Services, at 360-200-6452 or tammie@retailassociation.org, or Seattle Director John Engber at 206-850-5517 or john.engber@retailassociation.org.


Save the date for a free business fair

 Anyone interested in learning how to start and run a business should consider attended a free business fair set for September 30 at Renton Technical College.

WRA has been a regular attendee at the fair, now in its 20th year.

The fair is a collection of helpful seminars and information booths to help entrepreneurs learn how to start and grow a business while remaining mindful of the potential pitfalls and regulatory requirements to operate legally and successfully.

 Visit www.bizfair.org for more information or visit Facebook at www.facebook.com/bizfair.


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.

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