Hot off the Grill: Week 7

Hot off the Grill: Week 7
We are now on day 50 of the 60-day legislative session. Today marks the last of the major bill cut-offs, the Fiscal Committee Cutoff – Opposite House. This means that for a bill to stay “alive” and continue on in the process it will have had to pass the opposite chamber, pass the policy committees, and by this evening will have to move out of the fiscal committee to the Rules Committee. If you would like a quick overview of how a bill becomes a law you can click here.
Below is an update on our top priorities this week. If anything from past editions is not listed below and you would like to know more, you can check on our bill tracker (to the right) or email
If you would like to stay up-to date on the details or ask questions, it’s easy to participate in the weekly Government Affairs Committee conference calls. To participate email; any WRA/WLA member can join.
Budget Outlook
Both the House and Senate passed their supplemental operating budgets last week. With ten days remaining in the 2016 session, negotiations will now begin. Legislators hope to hash out a budget acceptable to both chambers in order to send the final proposal to Governor Jay Inslee.
At this point there are stark differences between the two budgets that will require a lot of work in order to reach a compromise before March 10 but with an election year looming, legislators are hoping to avoid a special session.
The Senate’s bi-partisan budget was was passed last Friday as the Senate Chamber voted 25-22 in favor of a budget that would add about $34 million to the two-year, $38 billion budget that includes no new taxes.
The House’s proposed budget was voted out of the House Chamber with a 50-47 vote that includes an addition of $476 million to the two-year budget, including $318 million from the “rainy day fund” and relies on over $100 million in new taxes.
Minimum Wage Issue Continues 
With ten days remaining, there still remains heavy pressure on the legislature to pass a statewide solution to the minimum wage.
The WRA/WLA Government Affairs team continues to meet with the Governor’s administration and the legislative leadership to see if a compromise can be made as the best place for this discussion is at the statewide level.
We will continue to update you as the next ten days progress.
Tip Pooling

In an unexpected decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, on February 23, ruled that the Department of Labor (DOL) has the authority to regulate the tip-pooling practices of employers who do not take a tip credit, including prohibiting these employers from instituting tip pooling programs that include back-of-the-house staff, management, and other workers who are not customarily tipped. This decision reverses two federal district court rulings, and essentially ignores the Ninth Circuit’s 2010 ruling on this issue, Cumbie V. Woody Woo.

“We did not expect this ruling, and we’re still consulting with our litigation partners on how we will respond,” said Anthony Anton, president and CEO of the Washington Restaurant Association. “We will inform our members when we have chosen a course of action.”

To read more about this issue and what your business should do in the meantime, click here.

The House and Senate have released and passed their respective supplemental operating budgets. With many groups vying for limited funds, our request of $400,000, while small, still remains a challenge. We are continuing to work with our coalition partners and lawmakers to find a compromise between the House and Senate budgets.
The House budget included $189,000 for tourism while the Senate budget did not include any.
Music Licensing
House Bill 1763, which would add regulations to music licensing companies, continues to move along in the legislative process. On February 26th HB 1763 passed out of the Senate Committee on Commerce & Labor and now is in the Senate Rules Committee.
Restaurants and bars may be familiar with these national licensing groups if they play recorded music or have live bands perform in their establishments. This bill lets restaurants and hoteliers know what their rights and responsibilities are and requires licensing companies to give notice and lists of music so bars and restaurants can choose what to play.
2016 AHLA Legislative Action Summit

With many important issues at stake for the lodging industry we encourage your participation at this year’s 2016 American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Legislative Action Summit (LAS).

The 2016 AHLA Legislative Action Summit is on May 17 & 18 in Washington DC and in partnership with the Asian American Hotel Owners Associations (AAHOA). To register for the LAS, click here.