Legislative News: Eighth Week of the 2017 Session

Legislative News: Eighth Week of the 2017 Session

Today is the 57th day of the 2017 session that is scheduled to last 105 days. The legislature is currently focused on floor action. During this time bills are subject to a debate before the entire body in each chamber. The House or the Senate can then vote to pass, amend and pass, or reject legislation. The next cut-off date is Wednesday, March 8th at 5 p.m. Want a quick refresher on how a bill becomes law? Click here. Legislation considered necessary to implement the budget (NTIB) is immune to cut-off. We are advocating for some important legislation that falls into this category, along with several that are still impacted by deadlines, which you can read about below.

Participate
Would you like to participate more with your association Government Affairs Committee (GAC)?

  • Participate in weekly GAC calls – email KatieD@wahospitality.org
  • Text the word SERVE to 52886to sign up for urgent text alerts
  • Read about legislation we are watching in the bill tracker

Tourism

  • House Bill 1123and Senate Bill 5251 are considered NTIB and will remain alive until the state budget has passed. Members of the association have been a great help to keep the legislation moving through the process in response to an action alert we sent last week. You can still participate in the campaign to move this legislation by texting the word ‘SERVE’ to 52886. When your help is needed to contact legislators on important issues you will receive a text alert. This legislation would create a statewide tourism marketing program. Without this new law we are the only state in the nation without a tourism program and missing vital economic opportunities.
  • House Bill 2015 is in Rules Committee and also considered NTIB.  The bill would secure necessary funding for the Washington State Convention Center.
  • Senate Bill 5827 is on the floor calendar awaiting a full vote of the senate This legislation defines the term “tourist” for purposes of local lodging tax reporting. This definition is important so that tax dollars for local tourism efforts are being spent appropriately.

Skilled Worker Outreach

Senate Bill 5713 made it through cut-off and is now in Rules committee for second reading. The Washington Hospitality Association testified in support of this bill early on in the process. The bill would fund a skilled worker outreach and training program which would apply to several programs we offer through the Education Foundation. This is positive legislation that could help people within the hospitality industry move up the career ladder into family wage jobs. We will keep you up-to-date as this legislation progresses.

Paid Family Leave

Several bills have been introduced that would create a statewide paid family leave policy. The bills address ways to create the program and agree on the circumstances for using leave which are: a family member’s serious health condition, an individual’s own serious health condition, a child’s birth or placement of a child, or a military exigency. However the bills vary in ways, for example one version offers six months off while another offers 12 weeks. Most recently, Sen. Fain (R) and Sen. Keiser (D) co-sponsored Senate Bill 5829.

This bill is likely a compromise on the differing elements. SB 5829 is a “title only” bill, meaning the body of the bill is blank, and capable of being amended once an approach has been agreed upon. This move leaves a lot of room for negotiation. SB 5829 is considered NTIB and is immune to cut-off. Details of the bill are still being worked out and we will keep you up to date as specifics emerge. However, this new legislation is not the only bill that is still alive.

  • House Bill 1116, is also NTIB and is now in Rules Committee. This legislation would give employees six months of paid leave and uses an employer-employee payroll tax for funding.
  • Senate Bill 5149, is also considered NTIB. This bill would provide 12 weeks paid time off. Compensation within this bill is phased in up to 67 percent of the employee’s salary. Leave is financed through an employee payroll tax.

Liquor Legislation

HB 1893 and companion bill SB 5665 passed their respective chambers unanimously and have now moved into policy committees. These bills would allow operators the use of credit cards when purchasing alcohol. This gives our members an additional option for paying for spirits and is a helpful convenience

Minimum Wage and Teen Wage

  • Senate Bill 5541, which would institute a teen wage, at 85% of the state minimum wage, remains on second reading in Rules Committee. This legislation would change I-1433, triggering a 2/3 vote of the legislature. However, we will continue to work hard to promote this legislation. Teen employment is important to our industry and the state economy.
  • We continue to participate in rule-making with the Department of Labor and Industries on Initiative 1433. L&I created a website where the public could respond to initial feedback from stakeholders. The deadline for feedback was March 03, 2017. Now L&I plans to circulate initial draft rule language in April.

Pop Syrup Tax

House Bill 1975 has not made it out of committee. Although it has not moved it is a tax and is therefore considered NTIB. This legislation would add a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (including imitation sugar and diet drinks). This is not the first time the legislature has sought to tax soda or other non-alcoholic drinks to fill budget gaps. We are actively watching this legislation and we are prepared to advocate against it should it start to progress.