Hot Off the Grill: 2015 Legislative Session week fourteen

Hot Off the Grill: 2015 Legislative Session week fourteen

Today is Day 96 of 2015’s 105 day regular session. We are very near the end. However, most observers believe that there will be a special session to cover budget matters.  At this time, there is little action on much of the legislation since all bills are being tied to the budget. A large amount of legislation is likely dead, but no “for sure” claims can be made until April 26, the final day of the session.

action alertTake action!

The WRA has issued a call to action on House Bill 1343, sponsored by Rep. Larry Springer, D-Kirkland, which is currently being considered by the House. HB 1343, the WRA’s priority legislation this year, will provide relief for restaurants across the state, by removing a 17 percent fee on spirits when restaurants purchase from a grocery stores. Restaurants across the state have been held hostage by two national distribution companies that have a stranglehold on 94 percent of all spirits entering the state that do not have to pay the 17 percent fee. If passed, HB 1343 will provide relief on the fee and another option to restaurants and bars who are not served well by the private monopoly. In the past two weeks, more than 300 restaurants have contacted their lawmakers.


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Restaurant bills head to governor’s desk Two bills positively impacting the restaurant industry are on their way to the governor’s desk.

  • House Bill 1124, sponsored by Rep, Dean Takko, D-Longview, which clarifies that restaurants are allowed to provide a small sample of beer or wine to a customer, was voted on by the Senate. It is common practice among the industry to allow a customer to taste a bottle of wine that was purchased, or to have a taste of a new craft beer on draught. However, until recently, that practice was not technically allowed.
  • House Bill 1550, Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, finalized an earlier bill regarding cover charges not being subject to sales tax. Commonly known as the “opportunity to dance,” the WRA worked with a group of WRA members, and other industries as the Department of Labor began assessing fines and late penalties when restaurants and bars were audited. If it was found that the cover charge was paid when providing customers an “opportunity” to dance, those cover charges were assessed retail sales tax.A few years ago, we were able to clarify that cover charges were exempt from retail sales tax, with an expiration on the exemption in five years. HB 1550 clarifies, indefinitely, that cover charges are not subject to retail sales tax.

Minimum wage The main bill to increase the minimum wage at the state level, House Bill 1355, sponsored by Rep. Jessyn Farrell, D-Seattle, in addition to other bills to increase the minimum wage statewide are likely dead. Despite intense negotiations on both sides of the aisle, a compromise has not been found. It is too soon to guarantee that this legislation will not move, but it is highly unlikely. However, discussions may continue during the next legislative session. Currently, the most aggressive actions being taken on minimum age will continue to be at the local/city level.

No GAC call Monday, April 20, 2015 The regularly scheduled conference call on Monday has been cancelled. The Legislature has moved to floor action and budget negotiations. With only 10 days left of regular session, the full Government Affairs team will be on campus, ensuring our members’ interests are protected.

Senate and House budgets Both branches of the Legislature have introduced their versions of the budget. Negotiations are continuing, but thus far, little progress has been made. In previous versions of the Hot of the Grill, we outlined both budgets, which you can read here. Or you can check out this simple infographic.

Local government


Final rules for Tacoma’s Paid Leave Ordinance are now available. The ordinance was approved by the City Council on Jan. 27. The ordinance’s final rules and model notice were published this week. Three public meetings to gather input from employers, employees and citizens will be held on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, April 22, 5:30–6:30 p.m.

Tacoma Public Library Main Branch (Olympic Room)

1102 Tacoma Ave. South

  • Thursday, May 14, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Wilson High School Library

1202 North Orchard Street

  • Wednesday, June 10, 5:30–6:30 p.m.

Star Center (Discovery Room)

3873 South 66th Street

The WRA will submit comments on members’ behalf. We welcome your feedback. For more information, contact the WRA’s Samantha Louderback at