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WIN Articles for March 22, 2017

Federalism takes shape in the states

By Jan Teague, President/CEO

A story describing “situational ethics” caught my attention recently.  William McGurn wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal about how this unique change in what used to be a Republican platform is now a Democrat one and vice versa.  But his main observation was a shake up going on in politics that he describes as a nationwide effort to localize laws where there can be more control.

McGurn notes that even the idea of Federalism is moving from a Republican supported idea to a Democrat idea.  Progressive programs have more of a chance to get going if no one is controlling what the local governments can do.  That’s Federalism, taking Congress out of the business of controlling everything. In our case, we see this progressive Federalism at the local city level in Seattle, where legislative decisions are taking the state out of being in control.

McGurn tells the story of blue states like ours that can pass programs and policies that take more money because the state is more wealthy and can afford these programs.  Again, Seattle is a great example of taking actions ahead of even the state legislature, because the Seattle area is more wealthy than any other area of the state.

I think that the system of our government is out of control.  But McGurn thinks it’s good to have local control and it gives the Democrats a chance to develop their agendas.  But it is making it harder and more expensive to have a meaningful voice.  It is only going to get harder for diversity of opinion, particularly with the unions having so much money to pour into local campaigns.

Again, government systems fund most of the unions.  It’s a tenuous relationship for business.  We are needed, but only if we can afford to pay up and sit up straight.


WRA speaks at retail crime conference on bills to help

By Mark Johnson, Senior VP of Government AffairsORT Conference

 I was honored this week to speak at the annual statewide retail crime conference with an update on four bills WRA supports to address the problem.

I briefed the 250 attendees on WRA’s support of four bills to help curb organized retail crime, a major contributor to an estimated $45 billion a year in losses at U.S. stores. The bills are SB 5632, 5633, 5634 and 5635, which have passed the Senate and been sent to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

The audience included retail loss prevention officers, law enforcement, and prosecutors gathered at the Carco Theatre in Renton. Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for King County, Andy Hamilton, was among those who addressed the group. Hamilton’s office specializes in prosecuting organized retail crime cases.

I want to extend special thanks to Senators Guy Palumbo (D), Steve O’Ban (R) and Mike Padden (R) for being prime sponsors on the organized retail crime bills. The House Public Safety Committee will conduct a hearing on the bills tomorrow, where I will testify in favor.


Four Washington Congress members win pro-business awards

Four members of Washington State’s Congressional delegation have been awarded Spirit of Enterprise Awards from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Republican Representatives Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Dan Newhouse and Dave Reichert are recipients among 266 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 55 members of the U.S. Senate.

The Chamber honors recipients whose voting records support pro-growth policies meant to foster economic development.

The latest round of the awards looked at votes cast during the second session of the 114th Congress. The votes related to access to capital for small businesses, ensuring skills in the workforce that prepare employees for future needs and helping American manufacturers compete in a global economy. It is the Chamber’s 29th year of making this award.


Comments on restrictive scheduling due in Seattle by next week Tuesday

By Tammie Hetrick, Senior VP of Retail Services

 Seattle will accept public comments on its restrictive scheduling law until Tuesday of next week. The comments are under consideration in the rulemaking process before the law takes effect for larger Seattle retailers on July 1 of this year.

WRA continues trying to negotiate the most favorable terms with city officials.

We recently received clarification that the law will not apply to corporate employees not assigned to the sales floor. This is a concession we appreciate.

The law requires companies to post work schedules two weeks in advance and face fines if they vary from a posted schedule, regardless of necessity. It also requires available additional hours to first be offered to existing employees before hiring from outside the company.

We continue discussions with city officials and will comment upon the provision that discourages hiring.

A new study of a similar law in effect in San Francisco in the past year found outcomes unpopular with employees. It found that available hours have been reduced and employees now must schedule vacation time farther in advance due to the inflexibility of the San Francisco ordinance.

Read more about the Seattle rules here.

There are three ways to react to the draft rules:

  • Send e-mail to karina.bull@seattle.gov.
  • Write to the Office of Labor Standards, 810 Third Ave., Suite 750, Seattle 98104-1627.

Call 206-684-4536.


WRA urges Senate to pass workers’ comp fix

By Tammie Hetrick, Senior VP of Retail Services

I remain hopeful that the state Senate will pass HB 1755 in the coming week for the benefit of employers and employees involved in workers’ compensation cases.

The House of Representatives passed the bill unanimously earlier this month.

The bill that WRA backs requires parties to settlements of injury claims to notify state fund employers of the progress of talks in cases involving third parties. Such a case might involve a company driver hurt in an accident with a motorist not employed by the same company.

Under current practice, companies in such situations do not hear about their settlement obligations until after negotiations have been completed. Often, this results in bills for which companies have been unable to prepare..

Advance notice in such cases would better allow companies to anticipate future costs including changes to insurance premiums paid both by employers and employees.

The Senate’s cut-off date for action on policy related bills is scheduled on March 29.


Final quarter remains for the scheduled 2017 legislative session

Legislators today have one week left before a scheduled cut-off deadline for taking final action on policy-related bills.

Today is Day 73 of a 105-day session scheduled for adjournment on April 23. Nothing is official yet though many speculate lawmakers may need a special overtime session to settle on meeting a state Supreme Court mandate to fully fund state schools.

Regardless, WRA continues to monitor scores of bills of importance to retailers. Here is a summary of the status of high-priority bills:

SB 5149,  SB 5032 and HB 1116 remain on hold as lawmakers negotiate to settle on acceptable terms to require paid family leave. The bills are related to adoption of a state budget and can be under consideration until adjournment.

SB 5855 and SB 5856 are not moving forward. They address requiring remote sellers with business in Washington State to collect sales taxes. Legislators are examining bills passed in Wyoming and Rhode Island as possible models for a Washington law.

HB 1506 has passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate, where it has not been scheduled for a hearing. It would require equal pay by gender for similar work. WRA opposes the bill and may offer amendments if necessary.

HB 1796, which requires reasonable workplace accommodation for pregnant employees, has passed the House and resides in the Senate Ways & Means committee. WRA is neutral on the bill.

WRA opposed two bills to raise the legal smoking age statewide from 18 to 21. SB 5025 and HB 1054 remain in respective committees in the Senate and House.  WRA opposes the bills that would drive shoppers from convenience stores to tribal retailers, out-of-state or underground.

WRA supports two bills to restore tourism promotion funding in the state, which eliminated promotions during the last recession. HB 1123 and SB 5251 are part of state budget negotiations and can remain under consideration until adjournment.


WRA salutes Rep. Pike for progress on a jobs bill

Rep. Liz Pike celebrates passage of her bill with committee chairman, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon.

Rep. Liz Pike celebrates passage of her bill with committee chairman, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon.

WRA supports Representative Liz Pike’s successful efforts to date to seek approval of a bill that would encourage economic development in her Clark County District.

Rep. Pike’s efforts have resulted in House passage of HB 1504, which would amend the Growth Management Act (GMA) to encourage light industrial and manufacturing jobs along short-line railroads. The legislation would allow underutilized land zoned for agricultural uses along connector rail lines to be converted to allow light industrial and manufacturing uses.

Rep. Pike, R-Fern Prairie, reports that the Clark County Economic Development Council has turned away four companies seeking to locate there due to GMA development restrictions. The companies needed access to short-line rail in order to transport their goods to market. Legislature passage of the bill would allow the county to recruit new well-paying jobs.

Rep. Pike also reports that recruiting better jobs could coax county residents who drive to their jobs in nearby Portland to work and shop closer to home. Compared to the statewide 4.9 percent unemployment rate, it is 6.4 percent in Clark County and 7.8 percent in neighboring Cowlitz County.

The House passed HB 1504 on March 7. It is scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Committee on Local Government this week.

WRA also commends Rep. Pike for her bipartisan approach in working closely with House Environment Committee chair, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, to win eventual House approval for her bill.


Senate releases state budget proposal

The chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee Tuesday released that body’s 2017-19 state budget proposal.

The plan calls for a $4.8 billion increase in spending compared to the current 2015-17 biennium, and totals $43.3 billion. A total of $3.7 billion of the increased state spending would go to public schools.

The Washington Research Council has done a quick breakdown of highlights in the spending plan, including proposed spending increases and savings. It reports the proposal would balance over four years, as required by state law.

The House is expected to introduce its spending plan next week. After that, negotiators from both houses will huddle to arrive at a budget compromise with enough votes to approve and send to the Governor for further consideration.

Click here for the Research Council’s reaction to highlights in the Senate spending plan.


Mobile app replaces humans at McDonald’s in Spokane

 An experiment with automation begins at McDonald’s Spokane-area stores this week, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

The fast-food company is rolling out a mobile app ordering system at dozens of restaurants around Spokane. If customers like it, reports the WSJ, they could wind up using the new mobile app at nearly all of the company’s 14,000 U.S. locations later this year.

The paper reports that the automation warned of years ago is in reaction to the increasing trend of government regulations including spikes in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The paper itself has warned that labor’s campaign for mandated higher wages could result in “more jobs for machines and fewer for the least skilled workers.”

The outcome has come to pass in Washington State. The WSJ also reports that at a prototype McDonald’s in Chicago, the company has been refining self-serve kiosks for customers without smartphones who also can order menu items without talking to anybody.

The paper has further reported that competition is brewing to develop self-driving delivery trucks due in part because “regulations governing working hours are squeezing profits.”

It’s no longer science fiction.

In the WSJ’s words: “Politicians have made it too hard to hire those members of the U.S. workforce who are human.”

Is Seattle watching?


Walmart awards cash bonuses for store performance

About 12,400 Washington State Walmart associates have been awarded cash bonuses based on the fourth quarter sales performance of their stores.

The statewide associates were part of a group of 850,000 employees who collected bonuses in the company’s $157 million national award. The bonuses were included with an annual pay raise in paychecks earlier this month.

Walmart’s President and CEO, Doug McMillon shared a Facebook “Thank You” message with associates here.

Walmart operates 69 stores in Washington State.

In fiscal year 2017, Walmart:

  • Promoted 4,070 Washington State associates
  • Converted 2,491 part-time Washington State workers to full-time
  • Launched two training academies in Poulsbo and Spokane.

The company reports that 75 percent of current store management teams started as hourly associates.


Research Council analyzes tax-related bills

 The Washington Research Council has issued a policy brief examining bills related to collecting sales taxes from out-of-state sellers with business in the state.

SB 5855 and 5856 are not expected to move this session as lawmakers examine similar bills that passed in Wyoming and Rhode Island.  Regardless, depending upon how the issue is resolved, it could mean new revenues for the state.

Currently, not all out-of-state online sellers collect sales taxes due to states. In its policy brief, the Research Council discourages lawmakers from planning for new revenues until states or Congress resolve details and requirements.


Safety tip of the week

Exercises for those in desk jobs

With the constant use of technology, our sedentary desk jobs are pulling us forward – but not in a good way.  We have a tendency to assume a forward head position and to round our shoulders.  You also develop a decreased range of motion in the neck and shoulders.

You can help offset these conditions by trying to move as much as possible during the day.  Some ideas include:
Standing during phone calls.

  • When you have a question for a colleague, get up and go to his or her desk instead of calling or emailing.
  • Set a reminder on your phone or calendar to get up at regular intervals during the day (some companies have installed software on employee computers that monitor your work and tell you when it it’s a time for a break).
  • Use the printer and restroom farthest from your work area when possible.

If leaving your desk at regular intervals isn’t an option, you can work on range of motion in both the neck and shoulders with a few simple movements. All these can be done while seated.

These exercises include:

  • Jaw lifts: With eyes facing forward, tilt your head right leading with your jaw. Keep your eyes forward and don’t twist your neck at the same time. Alternate sides, taking care not to force the movement to pain or move too quickly.
  • Shoulder rolls: Sit tall in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Shrug your shoulders and roll them back, feeling your shoulder blades drawn down as you do. You should feel your chest stretch as your shoulders pull back.
  • Side reaches: From your seated position, raise your right hand straight in the air. Turn your palm in toward the midline of your body and reach left, over your head. Hold for three to five seconds before returning to the starting position. Repeat with the left hand.

For videos about this, go to RASI SAFETYTV and members have access to more in the Safety Library.

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, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

(Portions of this article came from U.S. News & World Report)


Follow our tweets this sessiontweets

Twitter can be a useful tool in helping WRA’s followers and others to keep up with developments regarding bills under consideration in the 2017 session.

Many followers of the Legislature don’t have the time to attend hearings or have to wait until the next day for the newspaper to arrive. But by following WRA @waretail on Twitter, we alert you ahead of time to key testimony offered by our lobbyists and then follow with live tweets during key hearings and selected voting. We also link you to the full text of bills.

Please follow us on Twitter for retail-related developments throughout the year.


Save money with WRA’s discount shipping partner

FedEx and UPS have higher shipping rates this year.

WRA extends an offer to save money on shipping small packages by singing up with Partnership, WRA’s discount shipping partner.

To enroll and receive exclusive discounts on select FedEx® services, visit PartnerShip.com/99WRA. For more information, email sales@PartnerShip.com or call 800-599-2902.

Learn more about how the 2017 rate increases will affect your shipping costs by downloading a free research paper at PartnerShip.com/RateIncrease.

Source: Partnership


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.

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