WRA meets with key Legislature leaders
By Renée Sunde, President/CEO and Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
Today we had the honor of meeting with Washington State Speaker of the House Frank Chopp (D-43rd District) and Senator Marko Liias (D-21st District) Majority Floor Leader.
Many important issues were discussed from homelessness, paid family leave, portable employee benefits, economic development, crime prevention, the opioid epidemic and others.
Speaker Chopp, first elected to the House of Representatives in 1994, has served as Speaker since 1999, and co-Speaker from 1994-99, when the House had a 49-49 tie. His priorities include a strong education system, health care for every child, good paying jobs and protecting the social safety net.
Majority Floor Leader Liias, who will be in charge of the flow of legislation and parliamentary proceedings on the Senate Floor, was first appointed to the House in 2008 and then appointed to the Senate in 2014. He continues to champion issues including his Student Loan Bill of Rights, pedestrian and bicycle safety, paid family leave, and transportation improvements.
WRA looks forward to working with both Speaker Chopp and Floor Leader Liias to ensure that the retail industry thrives and grows.
Legislative Session starts on Monday
By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
I accompanied new WRA President/CEO Renée Sunde at a joint Kiwanis/Rotary meeting this week to hear three local state representatives talk about the upcoming 60-day legislative session that begins on Monday.
State Senator Sam Hunt, D-22nd and former Secretary of State Sam Reed introduced speakers including state Representatives Andrew Barkis (R) 2nd District, Laurie Dolan (D) 22nd District, and Beth Doglio (D) 22nd District. They covered an array of issues including affordable housing, the Capital Construction Budget, water rights, homelessness, education funding and others.
Of particular note was Rep. Doglio’s prediction that pay equity legislation is likely to pass this session. She is a member of the House Labor and Workforce Standards Committee that will be considering the issue.
All three of the legislators expect that they will conclude business within the scheduled 60 days without the need for a special session as has occurred the past several years. Last year saw the longest session in state history, ending in late July.
WRA applauds the legislators for their efforts and looks forward to working with them to ensure a robust and healthy retail industry.
WRA monitors possible changes in pension fees, pay equity
By Tammie Hetrick, Chief Operating Officer
I’m meeting this week with a workers’ compensation advisory committee to talk about possible changes in what the state charges employers to fund worker pension funds.
Labor and Industries is considering changes to pension rates charged to employers so that funds will be adequate to meet pension expenses. WRA’s concern is to ensure that any rate changes will be manageable and affordable for all employers.
I don’t have details or timelines at this point but want our members to know we will be monitoring the issue and making follow up reports when they are available.
We’ve also communicated concerns regarding an expected gender pay equity bill to be discussed in a House Labor Committee meeting next week. Among our concerns is ensuring that any state bill prohibits municipalities across the state from passing and enforcing pay requirements that cost more than what a state bill might allow.
We are also working to be sure the legislation is a reasonable approach and does not have unintended consequences of damaging existing programs that support incentives and proactive opportunities for employees to grow in their positions.
Please contact me if you have comments or questions about either of these or other workers’ compensation issues. Reach me either at 360-200-7452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
New report urges Seattle to abandon income tax quest
A new Washington Research Council policy brief urges Seattle to abandon its legal efforts to impose an income tax on it wealthy residents.
The report essentially concludes that Seattle’s appeal of a Superior Court rejection of the tax is a fruitless waste of time and money.
The report further notes that the path to considering an income tax would be approval by the state Legislature and the public. State voters have repeatedly rejected attempts to impose an income tax anywhere in Washington State.
Click here to read the brief.
State GOP looking for new leadership
State Republican Party leaders will meet in Moses Lake on January 20 to elect a new party leader following the announcement that Susan Hutchison will step down from the post in February.
Hutchison, a former Seattle television anchor, has chaired the party the past four years.
Hutchison did not detail her reasons for resigning to the Seattle Times other than to comment that the time was right for a leadership transition. The paper reported that Hutchison could be a candidate for an ambassadorship or appointment in the administration of President Trump. She declined to elaborate on the speculation.
Click here to read more of the Seattle Times report.
Safety tip of the week
Know the “deadly dozen” causes of accidents
It’s important to remember that workplace accidents have causes; they’re generally not the result of happenstance. Here is a list of what Labor & Industries calls “the deadly dozen” common reasons for accidents:
- Unauthorized use or operation of equipment.
- Failure to secure or tie down materials to prevent unexpected movement.
- Working or operating equipment too fast.
- Failure to issue warnings or signals as required.
- Using defective tools or equipment.
- Removing guards.
- Improperly using tools or equipment.
- Standing in an unsafe place or assuming an improper posture (as in lifting).
- Servicing moving equipment.
- Riding equipment not designed for passengers.
- Failure to wear the proper personal protective equipment.
- Lack of proper guards.
- Lack of a proper warning system.
- Fire and explosion hazards.
- Poor housekeeping.
- Unexpected movements.
- Protruding objects such as nails, wire, or other metals.
- Improper clearance or congestion at aisles or passageways.
- Poor placement, storage or arrangement of materials.
- Hazardous tools, equipment or materials.
- Poor lighting, high noise levels.
- Hazardous atmospheric conditions.
- Improper personal attire
Please consider picking one or more of these examples to consider at safety meetings.
There also are videos on RASI SafetyTV to help you with 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 360-200-6454 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.