The war on free speech
By Jan Teague, President/CEO
“We need to call out intimidation in any form and manner when we see it – and do it instantly. Bullies don’t like being exposed.”
That’s the advice of Kimberly Strassel who wrote a recent story in the Hillsdale College publication, Imprints. Strassel writes the weekly “Potomac Watch” for the Wall Street Journal.
Her story held my attention as she chronicled the history since 2010 of a series of strategic efforts to harass and intimidate groups and individuals so they wouldn’t speak up. Most of these activities she highlighted targeted conservatives.
“They are sending the message that if you dare to speak, we will turn your lives into a living hell,” Strassel writes. She believes that these efforts are not random and are very coordinated and well-honed.
This story reminded me of a recent example here in Washington State with the Freedom Foundation. It is battling with the unions in court now in a number of lawsuits filed by the unions trying to prevent the Foundation from talking to home care workers who have the right to refuse to join the union. The battle has strategically taken many forms including an initiative, a bill in the legislature, as well as the lawsuits against the Foundation.
Free speech is something we all talk about. But when I see it eroding as Strassel wrote in great detail and when I see the unions trying to get rid of the Freedom Foundation, it bothers me. You can read more about the Freedom Foundation on its website. It is a true foundation, so any contributions you might want to make to support its work are both tax deductible and protected from political disclosure. I am concerned that the Freedom Foundation’s free speech rights are under attack.
Retailers, restaurants and Seattle chamber decline participation in city’s study of scheduling ordinance
WRA has joined the Seattle Restaurant Alliance and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce in declining to participate in a study of the city’s new scheduling ordinance.
In a letter to Seattle Auditor David Jones, representatives of the business organizations observed that the researchers have records as advocates rather than objective analysts of scheduling ordinances such as Seattle’s.
The letter calls on Jones to recommend “neutral, third-party researchers” to analyze impacts of the ordinance that requires many retailers to post work schedules two weeks in advance. Further, it imposes fines for violations and bans hiring until additional available work hours are first offered to existing employees. It also requires records of scheduling changes to be kept for a minimum three-year period.
Seattle’s secure scheduling ordinance is scheduled to go into effect in July.
Parties to the letter support studying the economic impacts of Seattle’s scheduling ordinance. Their letter reminds Jones that his office’s published mission is to provide elected officials and department heads with “unbiased analysis and objective recommendations” on how best to spend public funds.
Click here to read the full letter.
Murray will not seek re-election as Seattle mayor
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, facing accusations of child sexual molestation from the1980s, announced that he will not seek re-election in the fall.
In a prepared statement Tuesday, Murray, who has denied accusations by four men, said a focus on the scandal surrounding him would hurt Seattle, his family and his political supporters.
Murray said he intended to serve out his first term that ends in December and pledged to remain an active mayor in the interim.
“It tears me to pieces to step away,” Murray told a crowd of supporters, but added it was best for Seattle that he not remain a candidate for re-election.
Murray, 62, said any mayoral campaign for Seattle should be focused on the city’s future, not alleged incidents from the past. Just months ago, it seemed as though Murray would campaign largely unchallenged by a serious contender for his job. Regardless, in the days prior to Murray’s decision to withdraw, Mike McGinn, the former mayor that Murray defeated three years ago, announced he would run again for mayor.
Other candidates for mayor include artist and educator Nikkita Oliver and urban planner Cary Moon. .Libertarian Casey Carlisle and Safe Seattle activist Harley Lever also are running. More could soon announce candidacies.
Candidates for Seattle Mayor must declare their intentions by May 19. There will be a nonpartisan primary on Aug. 1 with the top two candidates in the primary squaring off in the general election on Nov. 7. The new mayor takes office on January 1, 2018.
Prior to announcing his decision to end his candidacy, Murray listed his main accomplishments as mayor and as a state legislator. Among the achievements he cited were a statewide gay, lesbian and transgender civil rights law, tougher state vehicle emissions standards, a $15 Seattle minimum wage and a city paid family leave law.
Sources include Seattle Times, KIRO TV
WRA to host May 16 webinar on Seattle’s scheduling ordinance
WRA will host a webinar on May 16 to explain Seattle’s new ordinance that makes specific scheduling requirements of many retailers operating in the city.
Tammie Hetrick, Senior Vice President of Services, will host the one-hour presentation by Karina Bull of Seattle’s Office of Labor Standards. The presentation will begin at 10:30 a.m.
The law that will go into effect on July 1 of this year requires larger retailers to post work schedules two weeks in advance; requires additional hours to be offered to existing part-time employees before hiring can occur; and imposes fines if violations can be documented. It also requires companies to keep scheduling records and documentation for three years.
Click here to learn more and register.
Urge your member of Congress to protect swipe fee reform
The National Retail Federation and WRA urge retailers to immediately contact their member of Congress to preserve credit and debit swipe fee reform that has helped to reduce prices for consumers. A current bill in the House of Representatives seeks to repeal the reforms.
NRF already has prepared a sample letter that will be directed to your Congressional representatives based on your address.
Click here to read and sign the letter.
Six years ago, retailers helped to convince Congress to lower the fees banks charge for the right to buy with debit and credit cards. That action cut the impact on receipts from about 45 cents on a typical transaction to 22 cents.
But in the CHOICE Act of 2017, now in the U.S. House of Representatives, banks want to repeal the reform of six years ago, which could cause prices to soar for consumers. The reforms have been saving U.S. consumers an estimated $6 billion a year in purchases.
The House Financial Service Committee already has approved the repeal of swipe fee reform. The matter now goes to the full House for a vote. The timing of the vote is uncertain but Congressional observers believe a House vote could happen as soon as next week.
Next to payroll expenses, swipe fees are the second highest expense for retailers.
Governor signs two WRA priority bills into law
By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
Governor Inslee has signed two of WRA’s priority bills into law, House Bill2005 and Senate Bill 5635.
Rep. Kris Lytton (D -Anacortes), was the prime sponsor of HB 2005. It streamlines the business licensing process. Many retailers, especially furniture stores that do business in multiple cities, are required to have several business licenses. This can become expensive, time-consuming and burdensome, especially for smaller retailers.
WRA has a member who needed 25 individual city business licenses. This new law will allow the Department of Revenue to use its centralized business licensing system to sign up cities and businesses to retailers save time and money. The service is free to cities and costs businesses a nominal fee. I served on a task force for six months to help write the legislation.
Organized retail crime
SB 5635, prime sponsored by Senator Mike Padden (R- Spokane Valley) – will make it easier for prosecutors, law enforcement and loss prevention officers to crack down on organized crime rings by allowing aggregation of retail theft with special circumstances. This means that if a thief or group of thieves use devices such as wire cutters, foil-lined bags, or heavy, powerful magnets to commit the crimes, they can be aggregated and hit with a more severe penalty.
Retailers in Washington State lose an estimated $2 billion worth of merchandise annually due to organized retail theft.
This law will send a clear message that this behavior will not be tolerated and will be dealt with in a strict manner. Special thanks to former King County Prosecutor Andy Hamilton for his work on the issue.
WRA serves on the board for the Washington State Organized Retail Crime Alliance (WSORCA). The National Retail Federation estimates that retailers lose over $45 billion to theft nationally each year.
Governor signs WRA-backed workers’ compensation bill
By Tammie Hetrick, Senior VP of Retail Services
Gov. Inslee has signed HB 1755 into a law, a bill that WRA worked hard to gain approval of this session.
The bill requires Labor & Industries, for state fund claims, to provide reasonable ongoing notice to employers of compromise or settlement negotiations between an injured worker and L & I.
This law directly addresses a frequent problem where employers of injured workers were not finding out about settlements until after negotiations had concluded. This left companies with less time to prepare for possible financial impacts from settlement of cases.
The law directly impacts settlements with third parties; in other words, injuries caused between an employee covered by a state fund and an employee of a different company. For example, it could apply when a driver gets hurt in an accident with a driver from a different company.
This was a needed pro-business bill. We thank Gov. Inslee for recognizing the need and signing it into law.
Governor signs bill to help small businesses
Governor Inslee has signed House Bill 1352 that aims to clarify audit and inspections requirements of six state departments. Representative Andrew Barkis, R-Yelm, was the prime sponsor of the bill.
The law requires the Attorney General to review and clarify inspection rules of departments including Labor & Industries, Ecology, Revenue, Employment Security, Agriculture and the State Fire Marshal.
It ensures that inspectors and auditors from those departments will present small business owners with a summary of their rights, including to hire an attorney and obtain departmental contact information. Small businesses often cannot afford an attorney to keep abreast of requirements and changes in the law.
Click here to read more about the law.
Source: The Columbian
Safety tip of the week
The right flooring can prevent retail injuries
Retail requires employees to be on their feet many hours a day. Workstations should therefore be evaluated for floor covering to remove some of the fatigue that solid cement floors can cause.
Floor mats with extra padding often help. Checkstand areas could use an extra thick mat but make sure the edges taper flush to the floor. There even are pads with contrasting color edges so that you can easily distinguish the floor mat.
The restaurant industry uses a honeycomb mat for wet areas that could work well in other applications. In some locations, people have found that a wooden floor can create a softer landing for feet and reduce the body’s fatigue after standing all day.
There is no single flooring idea that works best in all situations. Regardless, avoid creating a potential tripping hazard along the way.
Assessing capabilities of your workforce and designing within these parameters will positively affect productivity, efficiency and safety among all age groups of your staff.
WRA’s Safety Specialists Rick Means 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.
Tax incentives good for Boeing, Snohomish County, state
Current Boeing Co. tax incentives are boosting the state economy and can act as a hedge against economic slowdowns, according to an opinion piece in The Everett Herald newspaper.
Authors Dave Somers, Snohomish County Executive and Leonardo Baldacinni, Chief Executive of the company Umbra Cuschinetti, wrote that the incentives the Legislature approved in 2003 should continue without changes. The Legislature is currently considering two bills that would tie continuation of the incentives to minimum employment levels at Boeing. This idea is not meaningful because it doesn’t consider all that Boeing contributes to the economy.
WRA’s Senior VP of Government Affairs Mark Johnson has testified in favor of preserving existing Boeing tax incentives and against bills to tie them to employment levels. Retailers rely on Boeing workers purchasing their goods and services. Employment is far reaching as a result of Boeing doing its manufacturing in Washington State.
Snohomish County is home to Boeing’s 777X airline production line and many of the 136,000 aerospace employees statewide. Boeing needs financial incentives to remain competitive with growing competition from other airline manufacturers, Somers wrote.
Baldaccini said Boeing’s presence in Washington State was the major reason his company of 120 employees chose to locate in Everett. The company manufactures various mechanical parts for Boeing.
Click here to read the opinion piece.
No new taxes needed to meet McCleary school funding mandate: Policy Center
The chief debate in the Legislature during special session is whether new taxes are needed to meet the state Supreme Court mandate to fully fund schools.
An opinion piece by Liv Finne, Director of the Washington Policy Center’s Center for Education, settles the debate. She writes that no new taxes are needed to meet the Supreme Court McCleary decision mandate.
Put simply, she writes, the no-new-taxes Senate budget proposal would raise state school funding by $3.7 billion at a time when state school spending is at an all-time high. This follows a period of a 34 percent increase in state school funding the past four years. Also, state revenues are pegged to increase $2.6 billion under current tax law.
You can read Finne’s entire piece here.
Lens examines a bill aimed at rural economic development
The online news source of the Business Institute of Washington has a report on a bill to help rural economic development in Washington State.
While urban Washington has recovered from the recession, rural parts of the state have not. The King County unemployment rate is at 4 percent, but it’s 9.4 percent in Grays Harbor County, 9 percent in Yakima County and more than 10 percent in the northeastern corner of the state.
The Lens online report reviews Legislature debate on SB 5208, which would establish a tax credit to promote investment in rural businesses across the state. The aim would be to create a rural growth fund.
Click here to read the report.
WRA co presents Policy Center summits
WRA is co-presenting two policy summits next week by the Washington Policy Center.
One summit on Monday is at The Bellevue Hyatt. A second summit on Tuesday is at Spokane’s Davenport Hotel.
Speakers will address policy approaches on issues including health care, transportation, education, the environment, agriculture and improving the business environment for small companies.
Additional details and registration can be found at washingtonpolicy.org/events.
Cavuto, Farage announced as speakers for Policy Center’s annual dinners
Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and former Independence Party Leader in the United Kingdom, Nigel Farage, have been announced as keynote speakers at the Washington Policy Center’s annual dinners.
Cavuto, who oversees Fox News’ business news content, will address the Bellevue dinner. Farage, a key strategist in the Brexit movement and a Fox News political analyst, will address the Spokane dinner.
Businesses invited to Governor’s career summit
Businesses statewide are invited to participate in the Governor’s all-day Summit on Career Connected Learning on May 31.
The summit will connect participants from 28 locations around the state from the central hosting site at Microsoft’s Redmond campus.
The summit’s goal is to identify resources and policies to better qualify the next generation of employees for the science and technology jobs of the future. Planners expect to establish a network of advocates for learning and career opportunities for Washington’s youth.
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 atPartnerShip.com/RateIncrease.
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.