2015 Legislative Session Week Five

2015 Legislative Session Week Five

Dear WRA members,

Today is the 33rd day of the legislative session. Currently, the WRA GA team is monitoring 205 bills. Next week, we will be participating in 41 hearings on legislation that could impact restaurants. The GA team will continue working long hours as the first cut-off date approaches. You can see a list of all the bills the WRA is tracking, and our GAC positions on them by clicking here.

Bill Process Overview
February 20 will be the first date that bills will be culled from the list of potential new laws. There are several cut-off dates throughout the session; you can see a list of them here.

February 20 marks the last day for legislation to be heard in policy committees. Each bill must be heard and passed out of its policy committee, in its house of origin (ie: House bills must be heard in a House policy committee), before February 20 in order to continue through the process. For a reminder of the complete process a bill must go through to become law, click here.

Minimum wage
Legislation has been introduced in both chambers, House Bill 1355 and Senate Bill 5285, that would increase minimum wage to $12 over four years. It is likely that HB 1355, Rep. Jessyn Farrell’s, D-Seattle, second proposal on minimum wage, will be the legislation that progresses. The Senate bill has not been heard.

HB 1355 is in negotiations. It is likely to pass out of the House unchanged. The WRA and other groups are working on amendments to include W2 taxable income in the minimum wage calculation. While there has been bipartisan support for this idea, it’s expected that this legislation will not be amended until the final hours of the legislative session when incentives are higher. This is often the case with high-profile bills where stakeholders are not willing to compromise. We will keep you updated on the bill’s progress and any amendments that come forward.

Liquor legislation
On Monday, February 16, the Senate Ways and Means Committee will hear SB 5301, which will remove the 17percent fee on liquor when restaurants purchase from retailers. The WRA will be testifying and will present the ways and means committee with comments from restaurantsaround the state about the need to remove this unfair fee.

Your help needed!
The WRA has reached out to members this week for stories and/or willingness to lend your name to support the removal of the 17 percent fee.The bill has started moving quickly through the legislative process, and we need your help to keep it moving. The distributors’ lobby is working hard to make sure this bill doesn’t pass. Please help us remind lawmakers why this law is important by sending a short personal story to MarianE@warestaurant.org talking about your experiences with distributors and this fee.

If would like to send a general email without a story, that is fine, as well. You can email the WRA’s Marian Ericks at MarianE@warestaurant.org and say you would like general email. We will polish your message and send it through the legislative mail. Your legislator’s reply will be sent directly to you. Please help today!

Teen wage bills heard
Two teen wage bills the WRA testified in support of have passed to the Senate Rules Committee. Senate Bill 5421 and 5422, both sponsored by Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, would allow relief for businesses that hire teens. The bills now have until March 11 to be brought the floor for a vote.

Tourism bill to be heard Wednesday
On Wednesday, February 18, the Senate Trade & Economic Development Committee will hear the WTA and WRA’s proposal to establish tourism promotion in Washington state. Washington is the only state in the country does not provide any funding for tourism marketing and promotion. HB 1938/SB 5916 will create a privately funded and governed program to bring back tourism promotion for the state.

Local Government

Seattle -minimum wage
The draft rules and the frequently asked questions (FAQ) table of contents for Seattle’s minimum wage were scheduled to be released earlier this week. However, there seems to be a hang-up in the mayor’s office. The intention of the rules help clarify any component of the law that is vague or in need of further definition. Significant progress was made during the rulemaking process on issues important to the hospitality industry and the draft rules reflect that progress.

The minimum wage ordinance implementation timeline is as follows:

  • Feb.           Draft rules released
  • Feb.           Draft rules public comment period
  • Feb.           Final rules and FAQ complete
  • March 1     Website launch. Start of outreach and education
  • April 1        Minimum wage ordinance goes into effect

Morgan Hickel, local government affairs coordinator for Seattle and King County, will be notified as soon as the draft rules are released and plans to send an update to our Seattle members. After the draft rules are released, a two week public comment period will take place before final rules are adopted. We don’t expect any substantive changes to be made to the rules during the comment period.

Spokane – paid sick and safe leave
There have been recent stories in the media regarding paid sick leave in the Spokane area. The WRA is working closely with the Spokane Chapter and allies to get more information about this emerging issue.

A local radio station reported that the Spokane Human Rights Commission has made paid sick leave its priority for 2015, and claimed that the City Council will take up the issue in the weeks ahead. It is unclear if this is actually the case at this time, but past paid sick leave ordinances in other cities have moved fast.

Seattle and Tacoma have now both passed city ordinances that mandate paid sick leave for employees. Seattle’s ordinance mandates 8.67 paid sick days per year with a maximum of 13.5 days allowed to be carried over to the next year. Tacoma’s ordinance mandates three paid sick days per year with a maximum of 40 hours allowed to be carried over to the next year.

GAC Calls
If you would like to weigh-in on bills the WRA is tracking, or participate on the Government Affairs Committee, you are welcome to join our weekly calls every Monday at 10:30 a.m. For call-in information contact Shannon Garland via email or call 360.956.7279.