Legislative News: Ninth Week of the 2017 Session

Legislative News: Ninth Week of the 2017 Session

Today is the 64th day of the 2017 session that is scheduled to last 105-days. An important cut-off date passed on March 8th, which was the last day to pass bills in their house of origin. Now both chambers have moved from floor action back into committee hearings. The Washington Hospitality Association has seen some early successes on helpful legislation, which you can read about below.

This cut-off significantly reduced the number of bills being considered by the legislature as a whole and many bills are considered dead. Want a quick refresher on how a bill becomes law? Click here.

Some bills considered necessary to implement the budget (NTIB) are immune to cut-off. We are advocating for some important bills that fall into this category, including tourism legislation. You can read more about these bills 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 1123 and Senate Bill 5251 are considered NTIB. 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. Members of the association have been a great help to keep the legislation moving through the process. You can participate in the campaign to promote 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.
  • House Bill 2015 is in Rules Committee and also considered NTIB. The bill would secure necessary funding for the Washington State Convention Center.

Skilled Worker Outreach

Senate Bill 5713 passed the Senate and is now in the House Higher Education Committee. This is an early success for our industry. This bill would fund a skilled worker outreach and training program which would apply to several programs we offer through the Education Foundation. This bill 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

Today, the Washington Hospitality Association and several other business groups are in negotiations with legislative leadership and stakeholders regarding the future of this concept. Most recently, Sen. Fain (R) and Sen. Keiser (D) co-sponsored Senate Bill 5829 which 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. Other legislation that addresses ways to create the program have been discussed and the solutions within them differ greatly. For example, one version offers six months off (HB 1116) while another offers 12-weeks (SB 5149). The title only bill allows for a solution to paid leave that is sustainable for both businesses and employers.

Liquor Legislation

  • HB 1893 and companion bill SB 5665 passed their respective chambers unanimously. HB 1893 is moving quickly. It has passed Senate policy committees and is now in Senate Rules Committee. This legislation would allow operators the use of credit cards when purchasing alcohol which gives our members an additional option for paying for spirits and is a helpful convenience.
  • SB 5145 passed the Senate 37-12 and has moved to the House committee on Commerce and Gaming. This legislation would allow our members to work with craft distillers to create a private label brand.

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.
  • 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, but it is 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.