Government Affairs: We need you to stand with us!

Government Affairs: We need you to stand with us!

By Paul Schlienz


Standing together as one voice helps ensure that elected officials and government representatives understand our industry and recognize the strength of our association. Washington’s restaurants and hotels employ 10.1 percent of the total private workforce, making it the largest private employment sector in the state. Hospitality industry businesses generate $1.3 billion in sales and Business & Occupation tax revenue for the state. Hospitality is part of the fabric of America – 24.3 percent of our workers were born outside the United States and we help empower people to rise through the career ladder. Our industry serves people, careers and communities and is vital to the economic health of communities across the state.

Something this precious needs to be protected, which is why the Washington Hospitality Associations Government Affairs team works so hard to represent the interests of our industry in Olympia and in cities and counties throughout our state.

But you, as a member, have a role to play, too, in representing our industry before the people who make the laws and regulations that affect your business every day.

“As a life-long Washington resident and business owner, I strongly believe that each of us has a responsibility to have some skin in the game if we want to create a better community,” said Chad Mackay, CEO of Fire and Vine Hospitality and chairman of the Washington Hospitality Association’s board. “That means giving time and energy to build relationships and develop deep knowledge about the issues and people that impact Washington state. We can’t sit back and wait for someone else to engage and create change. It’s up to each of us to get involved in the important challenges and huge opportunities that we have in this wonderful place.”

Indeed, our voices as an industry and as constituents are something our lawmakers need to hear.

“If lawmakers don’t hear your voice and it’s not in front of them, it doesn’t matter what the lobbyists are doing,” said Warren Beach, general manager at Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Everett and Member Services Corporation board chair. “The voice of the people that put those people into office is what gets things done.”

Legislators and city council members listen to people and their challenges. It takes people like you to give them perspective.

Here are some of the ways you can get involved and make your voice heard:

  • Participate in a Government Affairs Regional Meeting

Each fall, our Government Affairs team holds meetings around the state to discuss key issues impacting hospitality businesses. This year, hospitality association members will have an opportunity to speak directly with their local legislators and discuss topics important to the hospitality industry like restrictive scheduling and the cost of doing business. Click here for the complete list of dates and locations.

  • Become an ambassador

Member ambassadors receive training on how to build an ongoing relationship with their elected officials. These relationships strengthen the association’s ability to effectively advocate for policy decisions that will work for hospitality businesses, our employees and the communities we serve. Contact Katie Doyle at for details.

  • Join the Government Affairs Committee

During session, the Government Affairs Committee holds weekly calls to discuss legislative developments and strategies. Participating is a great way to follow legislative issues and give guidance to our Government Affairs team.

  • Get text alerts

Sign up for our text messaging system to get our action alerts. Simply text “SERVE” to 52886 and when you get a text during session, it will be quick and easy to contact your legislators.

  • Opt in for Legislative News

During the legislative session, we provide members with weekly updates on what’s happening in Olympia. To subscribe for 2020, email Nicole Vukonich at

  • Attend Hill Climb at the Capitol in January 2020

Every January, we host members from across the state at the Capitol and connect them with their legislators. These one-on-one meetings between lawmakers and hospitality business owners and operators strengthen our ability to protect your interests. Don’t miss Hill Climb and our Taste Our Best reception – a fun and effective way to build relationships with policymakers that same evening.

“If you wait for someone else to volunteer, no one volunteers,” said Ron Oh, general manager of the Holiday Inn Express & Suites North Seattle-Shoreline and vice-chair of the Washington Hospitality Association board and chair of the Government Affairs Committee. “The only way we can be strong and have a true defense against overregulation is by people volunteering and making sure they’re involved. If you’re not willing to volunteer, yourself, how can you expect someone to do it for you?”

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