U.S. Interior Secretary Jewell touts trade agreement in Seattle
By Jan Teague, President/CEO
Sally Jewell is an impressive outdoor woman who has climbed Mount Rainier twice among other grand peaks. As the current Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior, she travels the country and speaks to Congress about the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Jewell told a Seattle crowd of over 200 this week that our air comes from China and fishing is impacted by global warming. She was setting the stage for her plea to have the world do a 25-year globalization plan. She said that globalization is a reality.
The TPP agreement requires that countries enforce their laws on having a clean environment and labor standards. It is different than any other trade agreement in history. While China is not a part of the agreement, Jewell said having 12 other countries in the agreement will help influence China’s standards and create a positive spiral for the world. Jewell has met with some of China’s leaders and believes they don’t want to be seen as producing low-quality products or abusing the environment or their labor.
Jewell urged the audience to contact their Congressional delegation members and encourage them to support the TPP agreement. A delegation from the Washington Retail Association attended the event sponsored by the Washington Council on International Trade (WCIT).
The TPP could create up to 26,000 jobs in Washington State with exports to Japan generating $3.6 billion. Agriculture, software and aerospace are the industries that would benefit most from TPP. The 12 countries involved are expected to enact simple and clear rules instead of opaque differing rules in each country. Efficient customs procedures, market completion policies, IP protection, and the elimination of tariffs on made-in-America manufactured products will be a part of the agreement.
If you want to know more about the TPP, go to the WCIT website at www.WCIT.org.
Listen to an interview about TPP
The Washington Research Council recently interviewed Eric Schinfeld, President of the Washington Council on International Trade, about the importance of trade to the Washington State economy.
The podcast also addresses the need for the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement.
In the interview, Schinfeld notes:
- Forty percent of jobs across the state have a connection to international trade.
- Forty six of the 50 U.S. states ship goods through Washington State ports.
- The proposed agreement, which needs Congressional approval, would set new minimum legal requirements for overseas pay and working conditions.
Source: Washington Research Council
WRA Board votes to oppose two initiatives likely to appear on fall ballot
By Joanie Deutsch, Director of Government Affairs
WRA directors last week voted to oppose possible ballot initiatives that would boost the state minimum wage while removing an incentive for out-of-state residents to shop in Washington State.
The board voted to oppose Initiative 1433 that would increase the state’s already high minimum wage to $11 an hour in 2017 and eventually to $13.50 in 2020. The measure also includes paid sick leave starting in 2018.
The board also voted to oppose Initiative 1464, which would create a state-funded campaign finance program by repealing the non-resident sales tax exemption that encourages qualified shoppers to forgo paying state sales taxes, especially on expensive items. WRA will work with stakeholders to educate voters and oppose these two harmful initiatives.
Supporters of Initiative 1433 turned in about 360,000 petition signatures, far more than the required 246,372. Supporters of 1464 turned in about 326,000 signatures, also well above the required minimum number.
The Secretary of State will begin checking signatures on the initiatives this week. The process takes three to four days per initiative. Ballots for the November election will be mailed out the week of October 21.
WRA and our members highly value their employees and their success and advancement within our companies. We believe the minimum wage was created as an entry- level starting wage. We treat our employees, essential to our business, with respect, and provide wage structures that include incentives as they work and grow within our companies. Additionally, WRA believes individual businesses should have the flexibility to determine their sick leave policies.
WRA opposes eliminating the non-resident sales tax exemption, a critical incentive for customers from neighboring states and provinces to shop in Washington. Those who take advantage also spend money at local restaurants, hotels and other destinations. Large and small businesses in our state benefit from this extra spending.
Eliminating the exemption would remove the incentive for customers to shop at Washington businesses, particularly in markets that border neighboring states with lower or no sales tax.
WRA serving on small business task force
By Mark Johnson, VP Government Affairs
I have been appointed to serve on the Department of Revenue small business task force on business licensing and taxation simplification.
One of the chief complaints I hear from small retailers is the complexity of getting one or more business licenses and knowing whether they owe taxes and to which jurisdiction.
Serving on the tax force are four business representatives and four city representatives. The Department is the moderator. We are meeting twice a month. The task force is scheduled to report back to the legislature by December 1, 2016 with the possibility of legislation in the 2017 Session.
My hope is that both businesses and cities can agree on the best way to issue licenses and collect taxes that is the least burdensome to both retailers and other businesses. If you would like to know more about the task force, please contact me at Mark.email@example.com.
It’s important to vote in the primary election
Less than two weeks to mail ballots
By Mark Johnson, VP Government Affairs
All ballots for this year’s primary must be mailed or returned by August 2 to be counted. The primary is an important way to voice your opinion. Many folks sit it out waiting for the General Election on Nov. 8.
Washington State is a “top two” primary state. That means regardless of party, the top two vote getters in a contested primary advance to the General Election. So you could have two Democrats or two Republicans or two Libertarians or a combination.
Why is it important to vote?
Let’s look at the statewide ballot: For U.S. Senate you have an astounding 17 candidates running. For Governor you have 11 and for Lieutenant Governor you also have 11.
There are lots of choices. One of the key pieces of information in making a decision is the Voters’ Guide. Every candidate, free of charge, gets to put in a succinct statement of why he or she is the best selection for the office. Candidates who can raise money can get their message out through other additional channels. Social media is playing a bigger and bigger role in elections.
The message here is to participate. Study the information and make a choice of whom you believe will best serve your interests. That is how our democracy works.
Monthly retail tax payments to the state up 3.7 percent, latest report finds
Retail tax payments to the state rose 3.7 percent in the month ending July 10 compared to the same time last year, according to the latest update from the Economic Revenue Forecast Council.
The state’s steady retail sales market accompanied a healthy national economy and a steady but slowing state economy, according to the report.
- The U.S. economy added 287,000 jobs in June, the largest monthly increase since October, 2015.
- The state collected $67.4 million more in taxes than it expected in the one-month review period.
- The latest state monthly retail tax revenues, up 3.7 percent, compared with an 8.9 percent increase a year ago.
- Online retailers showed the largest percentage gain in tax payments statewide of 18 percent. Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 11 percent; electronics and appliances gained 8.7 percent.
- Payments from gas stations and convenience stores dipped 3.4 percent; apparel and accessories were down 3.1 percent compared to the same time last year.
- Washington’s unemployment rate held steady at 5.8 percent in May.
Click here to read the rest of the latest state revenue report.
WRA partners with State Recycling Association on August shipping conference
WRA is co-presenting the Washington Recycling Association’s August 11 conference on achieving sustainability in packaging materials used in shipping.
The all-day event begins at 9 a.m. at Steilacoom Town Hall, 1717 Lafayette Street and will conclude with a behind-the-scenes tour of the Amazon fulfillment center in nearby Dupont. The program will examine changes to the recycling stream, trends in packaging and the life cycle analysis of various shipping methods.
The recycling association has extended WRA members a $20 registration discount. To register, visit the WSRA website. Select the rate labeled “WRED Registration – WA Retail Assoc. Member” to receive this special pricing.
Safety tip of the week
Gloves should be part of your safety toolkit
No head-to-toe safety check should overlook hands.
Your hands can be your greatest asset on the job. You might take them for granted until you suffer a serious hand injury or develop a chronic skin problem.
Good work gloves are a great way to protect your hands from injuries ranging from minor cuts or irritation to amputation. Gloves can be of leather, rubber or cloth material and include insulation to protect against heat or cold. On-the-job hazards threatening to you and your hands can be retail, chemical, electrical, food service and health care related.
A good video about hand care can be found on RASI SAFETY TV. Be sure to inspect gloves to make sure there are no holes or tears that could render them useless.
Here is a link to a good PowerPoint that can be used for your next safety meeting.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year’s election for state Treasurer includes the full spectrum of ideas for making sure the state can pay its bills, from cutting debt to instituting an income tax.
Though they’re not running in the highest profile election this fall, the five candidates for Treasurer can at least guarantee one outcome: whoever wins will be a new person at the top of the department. State Treasurer James McIntire has announced his retirement this year.
The Lens this week offers readers at least a basic review of how Republicans Duane Davidson, Michael Waite and Democrats John Comerford, Alex Fisken and Marko Liias compare as candidates. The Lens is produced by The Business Institute of Washington.
Krauthammer to keynote annual Spokane dinner
Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Charles Krauthammer will headline the Washington Policy Center’s annual Eastern Washington dinner at 7 p.m., on September 20. The Davenport Grand Hotel will host the event.
Washington Post since 1985. His work appears in more than 400 newspapers. He’s also a contributor on FOX news and The Weekly Standard.
Krauthammer’s appearance will come days before the nation’s first Presidential debate.
Four-star Marine Gen. James Mattis, a Pullman native and Central Washington University graduate, will be honored at the event. The policy center named Mattis its Champion of Freedom for 2016.
Tickets to the dinner are now available at www.washingtonpolicy.org or by calling a hotline, 509-954-2449.
Collect savings by shipping with WRA
WRA members who enter into a partnership with its discount shipping service enjoy savings of up to 27 percent on select FedEx services by enrolling with Partnership.
Click on the link for contact information, an explanation of the service and to enroll.
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.