Learn more about our expanding role in Seattle
Come meet us in Seattle on Feb. 22
By Renée Sunde, President/CEO
Washington Retail Association is more engaged in Seattle than ever as we closely follow local politics and connect with local businesses heavily invested in their neighborhoods and communities.
As a statewide organization, much of our political efforts have remained at the Capitol in Olympia, where they have been since WRA was founded more than 30 years ago. But as the state’s population and business center, Seattle has increasingly set the political agenda for the state. We’ve responded to that trend by organizing a grassroots network of Seattle businesses known as The Retail Industry Coalition of Seattle (RICS).
Our Seattle work has been underway for just over a year. The network of Seattle businesses now linked as RICS members grows steadily. RICS is under the leadership of John Engber, who’s working with Sophia Stanley, his field director to build our coalition of businesses throughout the city.
You will find John and Sophia out talking with Seattle retailers large and small about the issues that concern them most. Many Seattle businesses are faced with the challenge of running a business and serving their customers’ needs while facing a myriad of regulations, ordinances and taxation that impact their ability to operate profitably in the local market.
As a voice for Seattle retailers, we advocate for these concerns through transparent dialogue with local council members and by attending key council committee meetings. This effort is particularly important not just to Seattle but statewide as other municipalities and state government follow Seattle’s political lead. Issues ranging from raising the minimum wage above the statewide minimum to portable benefits and a city-wide head tax continue to be driven at the local level, creating an unpredictable playing field between jurisdictions.
Our goal is to understand and anticipate the needs of Seattle businesses and communicate priorities to City Council members before they vote. By creating clear messages that represent the interests of our local retailers we hope that local officials will carefully weigh the unintended consequence of each decision they make.
We’d like you to meet our team at a RICS launch party to be held starting at 6 p.m. on Feb. 22 at The Dane, a café, bar and sandwich shop in North Ballard at 8000 15th Avenue N.W. in Seattle. We look forward to meeting you, hearing about what matters most to you, and learning how we can better represent you in Seattle.
Please accept my invitation to meet us at The Dane to learn more.
Petition gatherer bills clear first hurdles
By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
Two important bills related to registering paid petition signature gatherers with the Public Disclosure Commission have passed reviews by committees of the state Legislature.
House Bill 1537, prime sponsored by Representative Larry Haler (R-Richland) and Senate Bill 5397, prime sponsored by Senator Judy Warnick (R-Moses Lake), have passed out of their committees of origin and now head to the Rules Committee for consideration.
HB 1537 and SB 5397 would require paid petition gathering firms, not individuals, to register with the Public Disclosure Commission before they start collecting signatures on behalf of an initiative or other ballot measure. The problem retailers and other businesses are having is that some petition seekers have been aggressive, rude and ill-behaved with retail customers.
The problem is rarely with a volunteer gatherer but rather with petitioners to come here from out-of-state to be paid based on the number of signatures they can collect. I have learned that pay can be as high as $5 per signature. These individuals purport that it is their first amendment right to be in front of our stores while blocking customers from entering and exiting and harassing them when the customer declines to sign. They fail to respect retailers’ equally important private property rights and their responsibility to provide a safe and inviting shopping experience.
Our members want to be able to report poor behavior to the proper authorities and get action. It is hard to take action when you don’t know who is in front of your store and for whom they are working. The bills also require training on the laws and proper etiquette when collecting signatures.
HB 1537 and SB 5397 are long overdue. The legislature should act swiftly to pass both measures and send them to the Governor for his approval.
Chief Operating Officer Tammie Hetrick will address the Tacoma/Pierce County Chamber of Commerce on Friday regarding the new state sick and safe leave law.
Tammie will be appearing as guest speaker for an awards luncheon honoring companies committed to addressing workforce health issues. Tammie plans to explain how the state’s sick leave law relates to local policies.
She also plans to talk about two other WRA initiatives: the free SAFEME safety training app developed by WRA, and this year’s plan for an expanded Retail Hiring Month promotion at the beginning of the annual retail hiring season.
The luncheon is from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Pacific Grill Events Center, 1530 Pacific Avenue. Register here.
Legislature reaches halftime of 2018 session
Two important action deadlines passed this week as the Legislature reached the halfway point of the 2018 session. The deadlines for committee action on policy and fiscal matters passed as of this week Tuesday.
Bills still alive after cutoff now can advance to a full floor vote in the House and Senate. Those that pass full floor votes can advance to the opposite house for concurrence and possible final approval by the full Legislature. Adjournment is scheduled on March 8.
Here is a summary of key bills that Washington Retail Association is following:
- SB 5251, tourism funding. WRA board members who lobbied last week in Olympia identified the bill as being of prime interest this session. It would restore state tourism promotion funds eliminated by the Legislature during the last recession. A Senate committee was scheduled to take action on the bill this week.
- SB 5633, would add concealment to organized retail crime laws. This would allow store security and law enforcement to question customers known to be hiding merchandise before leaving a store. Unlike several other states, Washington does not have such a law.
- HB 2822, would create a civil infraction for a customer who misrepresented a common pet as a service animal after bringing the pet into a store. The bill has passed out of a committee and is available for further discussion and votes.
- HB 2389, would impose a 40 cent tax at the sale of devices that can connect to the internet. WRA opposes bills that add to the cost of items at the sale register. The bill has not been scheduled for further discussion.
- HB 1975, would impose a tax on sugary drinks much like a controversial tax in Seattle. The state bill has not picked up support and is not currently scheduled for further consideration.
HB 2661, has moved out of a committee for further discussion. It would limit an employer’s response to a reported domestic abuse by an employee or job applicant. WRA has expressed its concerns with the unintended consequences of such a regulation.
Former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland has been named the new President & CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. She succeeds Maud Daudon who held the post for nearly the past six years.
In addition to serving eight years as mayor, Strickland has served as Vice-Chair of the Sound Transit board and has held management positions with the American Cancer Society, Starbucks Coffee Company and JayRay Communications in Tacoma. Her Master’s Degree in Business Administration is from Clark-Atlanta University. She begins her new job the week of February 19.
Strickland said she believes in nurturing a strong business community and noted that Seattle businesses generate more than 50 percent of tax revenue for the general fund.
Click here to read a full announcement by the Seattle Chamber.
Retrospective Rating membership includes complimentary added value
By Terry Hopsecger, Director Business Development
When enrolled in Labor & Industries’ Group Retrospective Rating Program, which our team administers, members receive specialized services at no additional cost for the good of the group.
For example, if you or your claims manager suspect that your employee has committed workers’ compensation fraud, and you are a member of the program, we will contract with a full-service investigative company to help minimize the potential and ongoing risks.
An investigation is conducted to determine the facts surrounding an alleged injury to a worker on the job and determines if the alleged injury was work-related and happened during the course of employment or whether the injury was non-industrial.
We contract with investigators that ensure the best results and highest return on investment. They help to derail fraudulent claims. They utilize the latest software and investigative techniques that include online and social media research, medical sweeps, recorded statements and targeted claims. They obtain social media evidence in a way that preserves its evidentiary value.
Techniques used to uncover workers compensation fraud include surveillance, interviews, research, background checks, and records research.
Workers’ compensation investigators can gather evidence if they uncover fraud. This can help employers and businesses prosecute fraud and cut off workers’ compensation claims that are not legitimate.
Our goal at Washington Retail Association/Retail Services, Inc. is to reduce members’ risk by pro-active, aggressive claims management that includes predictive modeling to determine when it is appropriate to put our private investigators to work. For more information, contact me at email@example.com.
Revenue to debut new tax and licensing website on March 19
The Department of Revenue will launch My DOR as a new website on March 19 to handle state tax and business licensing services for all businesses and tax professionals who file taxes electronically or access Revenue’s secure services.
It will replace the online service portal known as My Account/e-File.
To help prepare businesses, Revenue will host a series of free webinars starting on March 7. A complete schedule also is available. For additional information and frequently asked questions, visit dor.wa.gov/mydor.
Those with additional questions may email Revenue at MyDORfeedback@dor.wa.gov.
Free tax workshop next week
The Department of Revenue has scheduled a free tax workshop for businesses on Feb. 14, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Revenue offices, 3315 South 23rd Street in Tacoma.
Attendees will learn about requirements regarding Washington excise taxes, reporting classifications, deductions, tax incentives, sale tax collection and record-keeping requirements. Those who attend will receive a workbook and reference guide to Revenue’s rules and regulations. They also may earn continuing professional education (CPE) credits.
Those with question about the workshop can contact Rick Stedman at 360-705-6624 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Call 253-382-2000 or go online to register on Revenue’s education page. Business owners can also watch a short streaming video version of the workshop online.
Safety tip of the week
Defibrillators (AED’s) are now part of CPR training
Instructors have added automated external defibrillators to their CPR training for employees.
These portable electronic devices come complete for use in an emergency and “talk” users through the steps to follow with a heart attack victim. Whether you have one in the store, you could find yourself in a location with a defibrillator and need to know how to use it. Gyms typically are equipped with defibrillators, for example.
A second CPR method is limited just to doing chest compressions. This method requires more compressions per minute. Performing only compressions is a way to keep blood circulating and getting some oxygen to the brain. Although the lungs don’t get as much air as the mouth-to-mouth method, compressions do cause the lungs to ‘breathe’ a little, allowing some oxygen to enter the blood. It remains acceptable for responders to use the combination of breathing and compressions.
This is a great time for companies to update their first aid cardholder lists to make sure employees remain certified with the proper training. Labor & Industries requires that companies have safety certified people on staff when employees are present. Labor & Industries will accept online training certificates and there are many online offerings. Some EMT/EMS departments will offer this service for free, so check with your area Fire Department.
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 x18, 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.