Hot off the Grill: Week 1 – Session Begins

Hot off the Grill: Week 1 – Session Begins

Today is the first day of the 2016 Legislative Session which is informally known as a “short session” since it’s scheduled to last only 60 days instead of 105. You can see a listing of important dates here.

Every year hundreds of bills are introduced that can impact your business. The WRA/WLA Government Affairs team works hard to protect the hospitality industry and further legislation that will help you be a success. Below is a overview of some of the issues topping our list of priorities as the session begins.

This year the Hot of The Grill newsletter will be delivered to your inbox every Monday for the most up-to-date news throughout the session.

Minimum wage
Today, an SEIU/UFCW backed coalition called Raise Up Washington filed a statewide initiative to raise the minimum wage, and provide employees with paid sick leave benefits. The coalition now must gather around 300,000 signature of registered voters to qualify the initiative for the November ballot. According to the press statement the ballot measure will increase the minimum wage to $13.50 over four years.
The initiative also has a paid-sick leave element that would allow employees to accrue one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked, up to a maximum of 7 paid sick days per year. The full text of the initiative is not yet available, so its unclear the details on how both policies would be implemented. The WRA and WLA supports a statewide solution worked out in the state legislature – this initiative does not address how to get first time workers into the work force, how to address all forms of compensation received by employees, or the patchwork of laws being created at the city level.

While we support a phased-in approach, we believe wage and benefit policies should result from legislative dialogue between elected leaders. It’s time for the legislature to step in. Interestingly, there is division among the proponents. The $15 Now advocates are sending action alerts to their members asking for followers to email the Washington State Labor Council to push for $15 overnight instead of the ballot proposal at hand.

Read more about the minimum wage…

Minimum wage


With the passage of Initiative 1183, the sale and distribution of spirits in Washington were privatized. However, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) has crafted rules with some major steps to cut off our industry’s relationship with spirit retailers: specifically they restricted the amount restaurants can purchase per day and imposed a 17 percent fee on retail sales of alcohol to restaurants.

The WRA and WLA helped craft legislation to remove this fee. The bills made it to fiscal committees last session but failed to pass. Opponents of our legislation are led by the two large spirits wholesalers that collectively control 94 percent of spirit sales in Washington. We will be working to get this legislation passed again this session.
Currently, Senate Bill 5301, sponsored by Sen. John Braun and Sen. Mark Mullet, sits in the Senate Rules Committee, and…
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Last session, House Bill 1938 and Senate Bill 5916 were introduced with the goal of establishing a privately-funded state tourism and marketing program based on industry assessments on five industry sectors: lodging, food service, retail, attractions and entertainment, and transportation. But, despite our efforts, these bills failed to pass in 2015.

The WRA and WLA, along with their partners, worked hard to get these bills through the legislative process in 2015. However, the legislation did not pass. We will be working to promote these bills again this session as tourism is a $16.4 billion dollar industry…

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