Capital Mall GM joins WRA board of directors
By Renée Sunde, President/CEO
I’m pleased to announce the election of Kevin Johnston, General Manager of Olympia’s Capital Mall, to the Washington Retail Association Board of Directors.
Kevin’s extensive background in retail and his current role in shopping center management will be a strong addition to our board mix replacing a similar position vacated last year.
Our board’s election of Kevin Johnston continues WRA’s commitment to bring together a strategic mix of small business, regional and corporate retailers with diverse backgrounds and talents to advocate for the health of the retail industry across the state.
Kevin became Capital Mall’s General Manager in August 2013. His retail career began 33 years ago as a part-time stocker at the Walmart store in his home of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. He helped in management of seven other top performing Midwest stores before opening the state’s second Walmart in Port Angeles as Store Director in 1994. He moved on to running a successful Sears store at Tacoma Mall from 2011 to 2013 before accepting his current position at Capital Mall.
Kevin and his wife, Bonnie, live in West Olympia.
House tax structure workgroup meets
By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
The Washington State House of Representatives’ Tax Structure Work Group met Monday in Vancouver to examine the state tax structure, how well it’s working and what improvements could be considered.
Several state lawmakers convened the meeting or were in attendance. Finance Committee members, Representatives Noel Frame (D), Ed Orcutt (R), and Sharon Wylie (D) called the meeting. Also in attendance were Representatives Paul Harris (R), Vicki Kraft (R) and Monica Stonier (D) who were joined by former Representative and Speaker Pro Tem Jim Moeller (D).
During discussions, special consideration was given to the sales tax and business and occupation (B & O) tax.
Overall the group found that the current tax system could use some improvements, but compared to other states, was doing a pretty good job. In particular, it was noted that our revenue has increased steadily during this robust economy, that a lack of an income tax makes Washington more competitive and desirable to live and work, and that the non-resident sales tax exemption that encourages out-of-state shoppers from states like Oregon to buy in Washington – were performing exactly as intended.
Some of the suggestions that emerged were better administration, fair application and appeal and enforcement of current tax law and requirements. Something that would help small businesses starting out would be to increase the amount they must gross in annual sales before being required to pay a business and occupation tax.
Ideas to improve and look forward to included:
- Adopting a sales tax holiday for back-to-school clothing and supplies
- Added revenues that are expected to come from e-retailers having to collect and remit the sales tax as a result of the South Dakota v. Wayfair U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Prior to the ruling this year, many online retailers were not collecting and sharing sales taxes required of their customer in various states.
The workgroup is scheduled to report to the Legislature in the fall. There is a strong likelihood that one or more bills will be introduced in the 2019 Session to address the suggestions made. WRA will be part of the discussions.
WRA appointed to tax advisory council
Mark Johnson, WRA’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, has been appointed to the new Department of Revenue Business Advisory Council.
The appointment was made by Vikki Smith, Interim Director, Washington Technology Solutions and Randy Simmons, Acting Director, Department of Revenue.
The council’s goal is to improve communications, increase engagement and incorporate stakeholder feedback in a productive and transparent way.
The first meeting of the council will be in September. The council is expected to meet four times a year.
Retailers are the chief tax collectors for the State of Washington. Retail sales taxes amount to nearly half of the $45 billion state biennial budget.
Johnson will serve a two-year term ending June 30, 2020.
WRA’s Hetrick visits with auto groups
WRA’s Chief Operating Officer Tammie Hetrick recently addressed the Washington State Independent Auto Dealers Association at a regional meeting in Spokane. WSIADA is a new addition to WRA’s growing network of affiliate members.
During her address, Hetrick updated the audience on new labor laws and what WRA is doing to ensure compliance among the members. Many of the dealers were interested in the Retrospective Rating Program that can earn companies partial refunds in workers’ compensation insurance premiums if they maintain a safe workplace.
Other dealers showed interest in WRA’s safety awareness efforts and downloaded the free SAFEME app that educates employees on how to work safely. The dealers showed special interest in a new SAFEME app geared specifically for automatic clients that’s currently in development.
Hetrick also plans to speak to the western region of the WSIADA in August.
Tammie Hetrick, WRA’s Chief Operating Officers, is scheduled to address the Olympia Downtown Alliance at 8:30 a.m. on Friday.
Tammie will be addressing merchants on a host of new labor laws and how they can be in compliance with the requirements. The one-hour event will be at 116 5th Avenue S.E. (with the Encore Teas and Chocolates Building).
Click here for a full calendar of events.
The Puget Sound region’s skyrocketing home prices are the focus of a recent piece in The Lens, the online news source of the Business Institute of Washington. It reports that in King County, for example, the median home price has reached $648,000.
High regional home prices are contributing to homelessness, particularly in Seattle, where the City Council passed, then repealed, a payroll tax on businesses earlier this year. With defeat of the “head tax,” once envisioned as a funding source for affordable housing, elected officials are turning to other ideas that might prove less controversial. The focus for addressing homelessness also has shifted from the Seattle City Council to a more regional approach by local and state officials.
The Lens piece reports on new ideas including reducing impact fees on developers and diverting sales tax revenues to construct more affordable housing. Click here to read the piece.
Safety tip of the week
How to prevent workplace eye injuries
Eye injuries are one of the most common injuries that occur in the workplace and one of the easiest hazards to prevent. First off, here’s how eye injuries typically happen:
- Not wearing eye protection – The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nearly three out of every five workers injured were not wearing eye protection at the time of their accident.
- Wearing the wrong kind of protection for the job – About 40 percent of the injured workers were wearing eyeglasses without side shields, although some injuries still can occur when full-cup and flat-fold side shields are worn. Tight-fitting goggles offer the most complete protection and should be worn for liquid chemical hazards.
- Flying particles -The BLS found that almost 70 percent of the accidents studied resulted from flying or falling objects striking the eye. Injured workers estimated that nearly 60 percent of the objects were smaller than a pinhead. Contact with chemicals caused about 20 percent of the injuries. Other accidents were caused by objects swinging from a fixed or attached position.
For more information:
- A good video can be found at RASI SAFETY TV
- Safety Meeting Kit for Personal Protective Gear on Eye Protection
Eye gear is fairly inexpensive protection and current designs are a lot more comfortable with better protection than years past. Please take a moment to think about all possible eye hazards at your workplace, inspect your current equipment to make sure it is in good condition, and then make sure your employees use them on the job.
Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist, 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.
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.