WRA moves forward with brand refresh
By Renée Sunde, President/CEO
The Washington Retail Association is one of the largest retail associations in the country and is recognized by merchants, legislators, state officials and other trade groups as a powerful and effective voice for the retail industry.
As the retail industry is changing rapidly, with the pace of innovation and technology likely to intensify in the coming years, we recognize the need to heighten our response to future industry demands.
It’s an exciting time for the association with the recent completion of our building expansion and the initial development of our 5-year strategic plan. An association “brand” is just one piece of the puzzle and represents much more than a new logo. It will allow us to redefine our priorities and clarify our commitment to you as your Washington State Retail association.
It has been over 10 years since the association has refreshed its brand identity. Our brand is now outdated and is no longer reflective of the industry and the strength of the association.
Our desire as we look forward is to ensure that we are effectively representing the mission of the association and the wide range of high-profile members and stakeholders we serve.
Step one of any good re-brand process always begins with research. We began our research process to better understand the challenges and opportunities facing the organization by conducting primary research with the WRA staff and Board of Directors. The Association has hired Jocelyn McCabe Public Relations to approach a more extensive member survey and stakeholder interview process in the coming months.
We will be reaching out to you, our association partners, stakeholders, elected officials and members to solicit your feedback and gain your perspectives on how the organization is perceived, both internally and externally, and how we can better serve you in the future. We hope you will participate in the coming months as we seek to gather this important information that will inform next steps in our process.
Thanks in advance for your participation.
Legislative leaders address the business community
By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
Renée Sunde, President/CEO, Tammie Hetrick, Chief Operating Officer and I had the pleasure of attending a luncheon last week hosted by the Association of Washington Business (AWB). The guest speakers were Senator Mark Schoesler, Senate Republican Leader; Representative J.T. Wilcox, House Republican Floor Leader; and Senator Sharon Brown, Senate Republican Deputy Leader.
The three leaders discussed a myriad of issues including the budget and taxes. While the state has been experiencing large revenue increases from a robust economy there are some in the legislature who feel more revenue is needed.
Two tax proposals have been introduced. House Bill 2967 would impose a 7 percent capital gains tax while at the same time seeking to lower the state property tax. This bill is being heard in the House Finance Committee this Friday morning. Senate Bill 6609, a compilation of eight tax increases and exemption repeals, includes taxing candy and carbonated beverages, then seeks to lower the state property tax.
There was frustration expressed with the number of anti-business bills coming out of policy committees and the need for the business community to stick together as a unified force and economic driver. One area of focus has been on rural Washington.
Several bills have been introduced and debated to improve the business climate in rural areas of the state. One, Senate Bill 5251, which would help promote tourism, especially in rural areas, passed the Senate unanimously and now heads to the House for consideration.
WRA appreciates and values its strong working relationship with these pro-business legislative leaders.
WRA addresses Tacoma chamber about labor legislation
Tammie Hetrick, Chief Operating Officer, addressed a packed crowd of about 180 people last week at a Tacoma/Pierce County Chamber of Commerce luncheon that honored companies committed to workforce health issues.
During the meeting, she chiefly discussed several new and proposed labor laws including paid sick leave, paid family leave, a proposed pay equity bill with statewide impacts and WRA’s concerns with a bill that would protect employees who are victims of domestic abuse. Hetrick also addressed WRA’s free SAFEME safety training app and mentioned WRA’s second annual Retail Hiring Month promotion planned for later this year when holiday hiring begins.
It was an important address because many business representatives told her they were confused by conflicting requirements of labor laws passed in municipalities as opposed to a uniform statewide law.
WRA supports amendments to pay equity bill
Conflicting legal requirements are among the reasons that WRA supports a pre-emption clause in the gender pay equity bills and other labor bills under consideration. Patchworks of legal requirements are difficult on retailers with several locations who then must treat employees differently depending upon where their store is located. Preemption would ban municipalities from passing different laws with the same goals.
WRA supports pay equity but with important amendments including preemption in HB 1506. It has passed the House of Representatives and gone to the state Senate for further consideration.
The Senate now is scheduled to consider amendments that WRA has proposed to improve the bill. WRA calls upon the Senate to consider HB 1506 and approve the attached amendments.
House, Senate must swap bills after today
Today is what’s known in the state Legislature as the house of origin cutoff. In other words, legislators have reached a deadline in the House and Senate to act on bills they originated before sending them to the opposite house for possible future consideration.
Today’s deadline makes the status of many bills fluid for purposes of this newsletter. It will get a bit clearer next week after outcomes for bills that were live heading into today sort themselves out.
However, many tax and revenue bills related to budget adoption can remain under consideration until the Legislature updates the last adopted state budget from last year.
With those procedures and uncertainties in mind, here is a summary of key bills the Washington Retail Association continues to monitor or comment upon:
- SB 5251, tourism funding. It would restore statewide tourism promotion funding eliminated in the last recession. The bill has picked bipartisan support this session and remains under consideration. WRA supports the bill because it would promote retail sales and new state tax revenues as a result.
- SB 5249, wage theft. The bill would increase the fine to a business proven to have illegally withheld wages to an employee from double to triple the amount of back pay owed. WRA opposes the bill.
- SB 5397, HB 1537, registering paid signature gatherers. The bills would require employers to register paid petition signature gatherers with the Public Disclosure Commission. WRA supports the bills.
- SB 5633, adding concealment to organized retail crime law. The Senate already overwhelmingly approved the bill that would allow store security and law enforcement to question shoppers known to be concealing merchandise before leaving a store. WRA support Washington approving the bill.
- HB 1054, raising the legal smoking age to 21. The bill was in a House Rules committee awaiting further action this week. WRA opposes the law that would decrease sales for member retailers and chase business to tribal competitors or across state lines.
HB 1300 and SB 5527, would force retailers to hire independent contractors and truckers who provide them with services. WRA opposes these bills as unnecessary additional expenses for retailers. Neither bill had advanced out of its respective committee as of this week.
House approval of energy bill disappoints tech retailers
WRA is disappointed that a divided House of Representatives this week passed HB 2327 that aims to establish new minimum energy efficiency standards for a long list of appliances. It passed by a 53 to 45 vote.
WRA agrees with makers and sellers of consumer electronics who note that the bill is too broad and lumps entirely different products together that have little in common. For example, smartphones and computers would come under similar requirements as water coolers, toilets and steam cookers. The bill would take voluntary federal ENERGY STAR efficiency standards and make them state law for products ranging from cutting-edge, hand-held devices to more common, low tech home appliances.
Innovation and progress on energy conservation will be stifled if state government creates an overly-broad legal mandate on energy efficiency. Since it began in 1992, ENERGY STAR has helped Americans save $430 billion on energy spending and lowered greenhouse gas emissions by 2.8 billion tons. Between 2010 and 2017, the number of tech devices in U.S. households grew by 21 percent – but these devices now use 25 percent less energy than they did in 2010. LCD TVs made in 2015 use 76 percent less energy than LCD TVs made in 2003.
WRA will continue to point out the shortcomings of this bill as it moves through Senate consideration. If you have questions about the issue, contact Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, at 360-704-0048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seattle mayor names Small Business Advisory Council members
Mayor Jenny Durkan has announced 27 members of a Small Business Advisory Council that she created by executive order last November. Members will serve two-year terms.
The group’s first meeting is on February 21.
In addition to business owners, two ex officio members who will serve on the committee are Seattle City Council members Lisa Herbold an Teresa Mosqueda.
Durkan said she created the council to advise her on crafting solutions to Seattle’s challenges with affordability and growth. The council’s membership includes members from the retail, manufacturing, technology and professional services industries. Durkan said she hopes the council will help her to identify small business issues, the impact of city policies on small businesses, to make recommendations to improve business prospects and support services such as consulting and financing.
Click here to review the membership and read more of the announcement.
A bill that so far has passed the House of Representatives would allow sellers of beer, wine, cider or mead to pour it into growlers for sale at farmers’ markets. HB 2419 has moved on for further consideration in the state Senate.
The Lens, the online news source of the Business Institute of Washington, reviews arguments in favor of the bill to ease limitations on farmers’ markets when it comes to sampling and selling alcoholic drinks.
Smaller brewers and wine producers can offer small samples at the markets, but cannot sell what they sample in growlers, which are larger sanitized glass containers brought either by the customer or business.
Washington State has experienced steady growth of microbreweries and wineries. There are approximately 900 wineries statewide and about 375 microbreweries. The Washington Beer Commission estimates that a new microbrewery opens at the rate of one every 10 days.
Click here to read the report.
Safety tip of the week
Is your phone ICED up?
Your cell or smartphone can help you in an emergency when responders need to make contact with a family member or someone you know.
Adding ICE to your phone’s contact list is a clever means by which emergency personnel can locate your next of kin if something has gone wrong. The word ICE in your contact list stands for In Case of Emergency. Many first responder know what the acronym stands for and would know to make the call to the contacts listed on your phone.
This simple idea was developed by a British paramedic, Bob Brotchie, who recognized the need for speed when emergency personnel are trying to locate next of kin during disaster situations. It is a simple way to keep your loved ones informed. Here’s how you do it:
- Open your cell phone’s address book.
- Program ICE – “In Case of Emergency” – with the name of your emergency contact into your speed dial. Putting a dash in front will stack those numbers at the top of your contact list.
- Alert family members that you have done this and encourage them to do so as well. This will help speed up responses from emergency personnel when they have to decide who to call in case you are injured.
If your phone is set in ‘locked’ mode, an ICED app will allow it to still work. The RASI Safety website has ICED apps or you can check with your operating system’s app store where you can usually find one for free. Some phones also have ICE built in on purchase. You won’t have to look for an app but you will need to remember to turn on the ICE feature.
Rick Means is a Safety Specialist who is available to help WRA members with safety plans and suggestions for safety meeting topics. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or 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.