WRA meets with International Council of Shopping Centers
Upcoming bills, issues discussed
By Renée Sunde, President/CEO
I and Mark Johnson, WRA’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, attended a meeting this week in Bellevue with the International Council of Shopping Centers’ (ICSC) government affairs committee. Peter Jacobsen, Manager State and Local Government Affairs, Western Region, hosted the meeting for ICSC, in which WRA is an active member.
The committee consists of developers, land use attorneys, shopping center representatives, Realtors and other interested parties.
Some of the important issues discussed included both state and federal legislation to end “drive-by” Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuits. In 2016, 6,601 ADA Title III lawsuits were filed in Federal Courts. House Resolution 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act, is currently before Congress. Our national partners are working hard for its passage. ICSC and WRA are pursuing similar legislation on a state level for state courts. Several other states have adopted laws, most recently Arizona.
Another important issue is continuing to crack down on organized crimes against retailers. The National Retail Federation estimates that over $45 billion is lost each year in the U.S. to theft. Senate Bill 5633, adding concealment to the definition of theft, is currently before the state legislature. The bill is prime-sponsored by Senator Guy Palumbo (D-Snohomish). Washington is one of only a handful of states that do not have concealment on the books.
Finally, we discussed Senate Bill 5397, requiring paid signature and petition gatherers to be registered with the state. The bill is prime-sponsored by Senator Judy Warnick (R-Moses Lake). Often malls and stores receive complaints from customers who are harassed by overzealous paid signature and petition gatherers paid a bounty for each signature they collect. We need to know who is in our parking lots and outside our stores’ front doors in case we need to take action.
WRA looks forward to working with ICSC on these and other issues to ensure a healthy and successful shopping environment.
WRA meets with Lt. Governor Habib
By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
Last week WRA President/CEO Renée Sunde and I had the honor of meeting with Washington State Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib.
We discussed myriad issues facing retailers and our state. In particular, we discussed how education, especially higher education at trade schools, colleges, and universities helps young people become successful leaders in our state and the world. WRA offered to partner with Lt. Governor Habib on efforts to promote higher education and how retail employment plays a significant role in careers for the future.
Please watch for future updates as we work with the Lt. Governor to move the issue forward and accomplish the laudable goals of more educated Washington citizens.
Get ready for paid sick leave in January
By Tammie Hetrick, Chief Operating Officer
The fast-approaching New Year makes it a good time to remind all businesses that the state’s new paid sick leave law takes effect next month.
It is important for businesses to respond by making sure their policy manuals are updated to reflect the new employee benefit.
The law allows workers to acquire one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours they work.
Please contact me about the new law if you have questions by calling 360-200-6452 or at email@example.com.
A question in an article made me think
By Terry Hopsecger, Director Business Development
Where do retailers find the time, energy, and budget for a strong in-store experience when an equally strong bottom line is needed?
Tagging onto that question is: “How do we, as your Association, add to your financial stability?”
The answer is to provide a value-based partnership with the #1 goal being to focus on lowering the cost of doing business in Washington State.
Washington Retail Association suggests that you evaluate and enroll in Labor & Industries Group Retrospective Rating (RETRO) program that we administer as a service for our members.
Labor & Industries’ RETRO program gives your company the opportunity to earn back a portion of the workers’ compensation premiums that you pay yearly in the form of a refund. This is a safety incentive program that rewards companies for reducing workplace injuries and lowering associated claim costs.
Any time one of your employees is injured, it costs your company. The loss can be in production, hiring and training a replacement, rescheduling work or the loss of a project or job. Plus, the injury can cause your workers’ compensation premium rates to go up. In Retro, you have an opportunity to turn your good safety performance into a refund from Labor & Industries by preventing injuries and controlling losses.
Washington Retail Association/Retail Association Services, Inc. administers one of the most successful Group Retrospective Rating programs in the state. Please contact me for more details. Let’s evaluate your account together and make a plan. Terry@wrasi.com.
Seattle has asked the state Supreme Court to decide whether it can impose an income tax on wealthy residents.
Until the city passed the tax this year, municipalities were relying on prior court rulings that it was unconstitutional to pass income taxes in Washington State. A King County Superior Court judge already has struck down the income tax.
The Lens, the online news source of the Business Institute of Washington, carries a recent posting reviewing the city’s options in what some including Mayor Jenny Dunkan have called a “long shot” attempt to uphold the tax. Click here to read the full report.
The Seattle Times had urged the city to drop any plans to appeal the Superior Court ruling. The paper argued that not only does Seattle lack jurisdiction in the matter, it also has failed to prove any need for additional income. Click here to read the editorial.
The lone authority to consider income taxes in Washington State rests with state government, The Times commented. It then went further in suggesting smarter priorities for the City Council.
“The city cannot afford such political vanity as long as it has broken sidewalks, underfunded social and police services, a backlog of park maintenance, and libraries that aren’t open regular hours,” the editorial read.
At the urging of organized labor, the council in July unanimously approved a 2.5 percent income tax on individuals earning more than $250,000 a year and couples making more than $500,000.
Monthly retail taxes to state up 9.1 percent
Retail tax payments to the state were up 9. 1 percent, according to the latest state revenue report.
The report covers taxes generated from November 11 through December 10 of this year.
No retail sector showed a year-over-year decline in tax payments.
Among sectors showing the strongest gains were:
- Building materials and garden supplies, up 17.1 percent.
- Online retailers, up 16.6 percent
- Gas stations and convenience stores, up 13.8 percent
- Furniture and home furnishings, up 12.2 percent
- Electronics and appliances, up 11.1 percent
The state took in $33.7 million in taxes for use in the general fund, which was 1.6 percent higher than expected.
Click here to review the entire economic update report.
Source: Economic Revenue Forecast Council
More than a half million learn about SAFEME
Since its launch by WRA 10 months ago, more than a half million visitors have watched the video promoting SAFEME, the free safety-related app produced in cooperation with the Department of Labor & Industries.
The app is geared toward training young and entry-level employees who tend to proportionately get hurt more on the job due to a lack of work experience and lack of knowledge about potential dangers in the workplace.
Watch the video here and download it as a resource with new employees and for safety meetings.
Legislators propose new procedures to end special overtime sessions
Two state legislators have proposed a bipartisan approach to end the four-year string of special overtime sessions by the Legislature.
Since 2013, the Legislature has gone into special overtime sessions 10 times, which costs taxpayers extra in per-diem payments to lawmakers and other expenses related to meetings and votes.
Representative Drew McEwen, (R-Union), would change dates for the state fiscal year while Rep. Christine Kilduff would restrict the Legislature from considering any bills unrelated to the budget if it has not been adopted by the 90th day of a 105-day session.
MacEwen’s bill would change the state’s fiscal year to coincide with the end of regular session. Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, the fiscal year would begin May 1 in long, 105-day sessions and April 30 in short, 60-day sessions. MacEwen says this simple change would prevent the Legislature from relying on additional sessions to finish its work.
Kilduff’s legislation would create a constitutional amendment to restrict the Legislature from considering any bills not related to the operating budget if it has not been adopted by the 90th day of a 105-day session. The remaining 15 session days would be required to be spent considering budget and NTIB (necessary to implement the budget) bills, prioritizing the work required to keep the state running.
MacEwen said special sessions are a waste of taxpayers’ funds while Kilduff, (D-University Place) said budget approval should take priority over all other Legislature issues.
State representative blames 300 lost paper mill jobs on excessive government regulation
Rep. Liz Pike, whose district is losing 300 paper mill jobs, has written a newspaper commentary blaming excessive state government regulation for Georgia Pacific’s decision to move the jobs to a company plant in Louisiana.
Pike wrote that the company explained that switching the jobs out of the Camas mill was due to decreasing demand in the use of paper.
But, in her commentary in the Vancouver Columbian, Pike continued: “Unofficially, it’s not difficult to read between the lines. Employers tell me it is increasingly impossible to do business in Washington. Many feel they are under attack. Why shouldn’t they?”
Pike, R-Fern Prairie, listed a host of mounting environmental and business regulations and taxes that could discourage companies from doing business in the state.
These include mandatory paid sick leave, limitations on carbon emissions, clean water standards, slow permitting, growth management land limitations and proposed increases in business taxes and a possible capital gains tax.
“Employers may be able to handle some of these individual challenges,” Rep. Pike wrote. “Collectively, it’s no wonder why G-P, Alcoa and other companies have charted exit strategies from Washington into business-friendly regions where they can fairly compete.”
Click here to read the entire commentary.
Source: Vancouver Columbian
Safety tip of the week
Keeping order can prevent injuries
Keeping order in your store is more than trivial. It can prevent someone from getting hurt.
This is the time of year when large quantities of merchandise is getting delivered. Stocking it all could get haphazard. Keeping it all in order is more than just good housekeeping.
Consider these benefits of keeping things in order rather than just maintaining
- Eliminate causes of accidents
- Prevent wasted energy by having items properly stored for later use
- Maintain good use of valuable space
- Reduce damage to goods
- Encourage better work habits
- Reflect a well-run shop
What is your strategy for good housekeeping? During the day, does your staff periodically stop and survey the floors and shelves to see if there are any hazards for employees or customers? Make a habit of regularly looking over the store and housekeeping will be easier and prevent potential injuries.
Here is a fun video about keeping things in order. Use it to start off one of your 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.
Small technical fix bill expected regarding paid family and medical leave
WRA expects to see a bill introduced next session to make a small technical fix to the paid family and medical leave program starting in January 2019. That’s when employers and employees will begin making payments to fund the program that will begin in January 2020.
The expected bill will correct mistakes found in a draft of the law that references state codes. The bill will not make any substantive changes to the law.
A related advisory committee including Tammie Hetrick, WRA’s Chief Operating Officer, approved the technical fix this week. The bill also has received preliminary approval from Gov. Jay Inslee’s office.
Anyone with questions should call Tammie at 360-200-6452 or at email@example.com.
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.