Hot Off the Grill: 2015 Legislative Session Week Eight

Hot Off the Grill: 2015 Legislative Session Week Eight

Today is the 54th day of the 2015 legislative session. The next cut-off is March 11. Many bills have been culled from the list in the last few weeks. This year 2,269 bills were introduced. At this point, only bills that are awaiting votes on the floor in their house of origin, or considered necessary to implement the budget (NTIB), will be progressing.

There are several cut-off dates throughout the session; you can see a list of them here. For a list of all the bills the WRA is tracking, please click here.

House Passes Music Licensing Protections for Restaurants
Late Thursday night, the House passed E2SHB 1763, which will regulate the way music licensing employees may operate and conduct themselves in the state, and adds protections for businesses that play music (live or recorded) in their establishments.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Kevin Van De Wege (D – Sequim), by requests of businesses in his district that were being mistreated by representatives of music licensing companies. The bill as passed by the House, will:

  • Requires a music licensing company that operates in Washington to register with the Secretary of State
  • The company must make available a list of artists and performed work they hold copyrights to
  • The employees of a music licensing company are also regulated in how they may communicate with establishments,
  • Must provide at least 24 hour notice before entering an establishment to check for copyright infringement
  • Must identify themselves when entering an establishment
  • Employees may not use obscene language, disrupt business, or use deceptive tactics
  • Violations of the above requirements are punishable by $1,000 fine per instance, and constitute a violation of the consumer protection act
  • The Attorney General will work to execute a consumer awareness campaign to notify businesses what their rights and responsibilities are regarding the use of music in their establishments.

Minimum wage
Earlier this week, the WRA sent out a special edition of the Hot Off the Grill regarding minimum wage. Please click here for the latest on what is occurring with this legislation. We received great feedback from this special edition and are working to ensure that all your thoughts are being heard by political leadership.

While the progress of this policy is conjecture at this point, rumors are that the Senate will be working on their own version of a minimum wage proposal. Any bill changing the minimum wage is likely to be held until the end of the session as NTIB, which frequently happens with high profile issues.

Liquor legislation
The two bills promoted by the WRA to remove the 17 percent fee on restaurants who buy liquor from retailers continues to move through the process. Senate Bill 5301 and House Bill 1343, have also been determined NTIB. The WRA has been in extended talks with distributors, large stores, coalitions, business groups and the governor’s office regarding the make-up of these bills. Compromise is being reached and the WRA is cautiously optimistic that the bills will make it through the process this year and finally remove this burdensome, unfair fee.

Cap and trade
In our special edition of the Hot Off the Grill we also covered this important issue. The governor’s carbon market cap and trade program, contained in House Bill 1314 and Senate Bill 5283, is still moving. You can read the full summary here.

Seattle Minimum Wage Rule-Making Public Comment Closes
The public comment period on the draft Seattle minimum wage rules closed today. Now it’s up to Seattle City officials to determine the final rule language and begin educating businesses across the City on their requirements for meeting the minimum wage ordinance.

On Wednesday, more than 65 restaurateurs and hoteliers met with Karina Bull, who is leading the City’s rule writing effort, to provide input. It was a successful meeting where attendees had the chance to learn about many of the details from Karina, and a number of attendees raised excellent questions about details related to their particular business.

The Seattle Restaurant Alliance and the Seattle Hotel Association joined together in submitting comments to the City, and many individual restaurants and hotels also submitted comments.

Additionally, SRA and SHA worked with the rule writing team to educate them on a number of issues that surfaced in the draft rules.  The timing of these rules is very tight – the new ordinance goes into effect April 1st, and businesses need to know the rules for implementing the ordinance.

Spokane Chapter Members Appearing at City Council Meetings
It appears that there is interest among a number of Spokane City Council members to debate, and adopt an ordinance requiring employers to provide paid sick leave for their employees.  After meeting with a member of the Spokane City Council, and Mayor David Condin, Spokane Chapter members are now taking the time to provide comments on the challenges of running their business to the City Council during their “open testimony” period at the outset of each Council meeting.  If you are interested in assisting in this important effort, please contact Samantha Louderback via email here

Tacoma Paid Sick Leave Rules in Development
Tacoma City Finance Director Andy Cherullos has been tasked with developing the rules to implement Tacoma’s paid sick leave ordinance. The WRA has reached out to Director Cherullos to offer our assistance when the project is initiated.  At this time, it is unclear if the City plans to form a stakeholder group to advise the development of the rules, or if the City will follow an alternative course of action.  However, the City’s goal is to complete the rule writing process well in advance of the February 1, 2016 implementation date so there is ample time for education and outreach across all impacted businesses in Tacoma.

GAC calls
If you would like to weigh-in on legislation or participate on the WRA Government Affairs Committee, you are welcome to join our weekly calls every Monday at 10:30 a.m. For call-in information, contact the WRA’s Shannon Garland via email or call 360.956.7279.