Congressman Newhouse presented Hero of Main Street award
Members of the Gilmore family who operate Dunbar Jewelers in Yakima presented Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-District 4) with a Hero of Main Street Award this week.
The National Retail Federation awards the honor to member of Congress whose voting records demonstrate consistent support for the needs of the retail industry. Tammie Hetrick, Washington Retail’s Chief Operating Officer, was on hand for the presentation.
Dunbar Jewelers has been part of Washington Retail’s membership for more than the past 20 years. The store is celebrating 110 years in business.
Washington Retail and its membership congratulates Congressman Newhouse for recognizing and supporting the needs of maintaining a healthy retail industry in Washington State and the nation.
Read more about the award.
By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Public Policy
Ballots are scheduled to begin going out to voters beginning this Friday for the Nov. 6 general election.
Washington Retail Association supports Initiative 1634 to block new local taxes on groceries and opposes Initiative 1631 (carbon tax) that would significantly raise fuel, merchandise and utility prices for consumers and retailers alike.
To review WRA’s list of endorsed candidates for state Legislature, click here. Washington Retail arrived at its Legislature endorsements through candidate surveys and interviews and by examining the voting records of current and former members of the state Legislature. Our emphasis is on supporting elected officials and candidates who recognize the needs of retailers and are willing to support them with their votes.
For full texts and the complete lineup of candidates across the state, learn more at https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/research/2018-voters-pamphlet.aspx.
Carbon tax could double in seven years,
Washington Policy Center reports
The possible rising costs to consumers and businesses from Initiative 1631 (carbon tax) are spelled out in a blog by Todd Myers, Director for the Center for the Environment at the Washington Policy Center.
Myers’ guide outlines how carbon tax increases could rise through 2040 if voters approve the initiative.
I-1631, opposed by Washington Retail Association, would increase the tax by $2 per metric ton plus inflation every year, according to Myers. He assumes the 15-member board that would oversee administration of the tax would decide that the state was not meeting its CO2 reduction goals. His math also assumes a three percent inflation rate.
According to Myers, the tax would nearly double from $15 per metric ton of CO2 to $28.33 in 2025. The No On 1631 campaign reports that gasoline prices would rise from an additional 14 cents a gallon to 57 cents in 15 years. It also projects that families and small businesses would face higher costs for heating fuel, natural gas and electricity, from an additional $305 the first year of the tax to $877 additional a decade later.
Washington Retail knows those taxes will hurt retailers who rely heavily on transportation costs to receive and deliver merchandise. These additional costs would be reflected in higher merchandise prices that families already paying higher energy costs might no longer afford.
Washington leads nation in workers’ compensation benefits
For the ninth consecutive year, Washington State led the nation in workers’ compensation benefit costs, according to the National Academy of Social Insurance.
The academy’s latest report showed costs per worker were $773.99 in Washington State, in 2016. California was second at $737.00. The report notes that wages covered under the workers’ compensation program in Washington increased 26.8 percent from 2012 to 2016-the largest increase in the country.
The Washington Research Council reports that it considers the academy’s annual report as the most reliable measure of true workers’ compensation costs in Washington compared to other states.
Employers and employees each contribute toward workers’ compensation insurance in Washington State. Washington Retail Association has long favored reform of the state’s workers’ compensation system to ease the burden of costs on employers and their employees and administers programs that promote medically-safe early return-to-work.
September statewide unemployment rate was an historic low
Washington State’s 4.4 percent unemployment rate in September was an historic low for monthly reporting that dates back to 1976. The monthly rate was down from 4.7 percent a year ago.
The unemployment rate was the highlight of an Economic Revenue Forecast Council update that showed health in the retail industry, as well. It bodes well for sales in the upcoming holiday shopping season.
Total tax payments to the state for the review period from September 11 to October 10 increased 5.3 percent compared to the same time a year ago.
Sectors showing the largest gains were:
- Electronics and appliances, up 9.6 percent
- Drug and health stores, up 8.6 percent
- Apparel and accessories, up 8.4 percent
Monthly revenues to the state general fund were flat. They finished 0.2 percent higher than forecasted in September, or $3 million more than expectations.
National retail sales increase 3 percent over last year
National retail sales increased 3 percent in September compared to the same time last year, the National Retail Federation reported this week.
The results were somewhat softer than expected due to Hurricane Florence and running concerns about tariffs and a trade war with China, said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz.
Still, he said: “Today’s (sales) numbers confirm an underlying strength in the industry and a solid trajectory as we go into the fourth quarter.”
The U.S. Census Bureau data that NRF reported includes sales of automobiles, gasoline and restaurants.
Total national retail sales have grown year-over-year every month since November of 2009.
Safety tip of the week
Rules for electrical safety
Improperly using electrical equipment can create serious hazards for workers. Special safety features built into equipment often are rendered ineffective when equipment is manipulated or misused. This can harm workers and damage the equipment.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers the following tips about common types of misuse:
- Do not fabricate extension cords with Romex wire.
- Replace all cords or tools with worn insulation or exposed wires.
- Never modify cords or tools by removing ground prongs, faceplates or insulation.
- Ensure equipment labeled for dry, indoor use is never used outside or in damp conditions.
- Do not attach an ungrounded, two-prong adaptor plug to three-prong cords and tools.
- Refrain from using circuit breakers or fuses with the wrong rating for over-current protection (i.e., using a 30-amp breaker with a 15- or 20-amp receptacle). Protection will be lost because it will not trip when the system’s load has been exceeded.
- To ensure worker safety, only use equipment that is approved to meet all OSHA standards, and use it in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Limit the use of extension cords where possible. You can find short electrical safety videos on RASI SAFETYTV. You can also learn more here and here.
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 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.