Hot off the Grill: Week 6

Hot off the Grill: Week 6 https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Blue-Skies-for-Politics.jpg
We are now on day 43 of the 60-day session and major cut-offs have passed. The day for bills to be considered in their house of origin was last Friday. This means they must have been voted off the floor in the chamber where they started (House or Senate). If you would like a quick overview of how a bill becomes a law you can click here. The next cut-off date February 26.
Below is a recap of the issues topping the list of 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 StephanieD@warestaurant.org.
If you would like to stay up-to date on the details it’s easy to participate in the weekly GA teleconference. To participate email KaareN@warestaurant.org; any WRA/WLA member can join.
Political climate and fiscal outlook
Last week the state Economic Revenue Forecast Council(ERFC) released their General Fund-State revenue forecast. The legislature uses this forecast when finalizing the state budget.
Today, the House will release its supplemental operating budget and hold a hearing on the proposal this afternoon and evening. The Senate will do the same later in the week and has a hearing scheduled for Wed. Both Chambers have tentatively scheduled floor votes on their budgets for late in the week.
The ERFC forecast stated that the “pace of economic growth has slowed” and which includes slower growth in personal income and employment which could have a negative impact on retail and business sales.
In total, the ERFC predicted a $67 million reduction in the current biennium. However, in a $38 billion budget it’s not yet a reason to be concerned. There is several hundred million dollars projected for the ending fund balance in the current budget, and healthy long-term reserves.
On Friday, some House Democrats released a package of five bills targeted at the aerospace tax incentives, tax treatment of international banking facilities, tax treatment of private corporate aircraft, fuel and real estate taxes.
However, it is unlikely that any new taxes will be levied on the hospitality industry within this budget. Additionally, with the election year, legislators are hoping to hit the campaign trail and will want to get out on time instead adding a special session to negotiate new taxes.
Minimum wage Bill continues
As we have highlighted in past weeks,the bill proposed by Senator Mike Baumgartner, continues to be the most likely “vehicle” for a minimum wage increase. The bill would pre-empt local governments, except counties, from increasing the minimum wage. However, it preserves ordinances already in place in Tacoma, SeaTac, and Seattle.
However, the political climate surrounding the bill has proved challenging. With a labor-backed ballot initiative

already in the works, proponents are inclined to wait for November. Others who are wholly opposed to an increase are also protesting the bill. And still others who are in favor of an increase but in a different way are also opposing the bill. Finding compromise in a short session is proving difficult.

The WRA/WLA GA team continues to participate in discussions and work to find solutions for a statewide increase of minimum wage done the right way.
Help promote tourism! 
With the release of budge proposals this week, it is a critical time for tourism in our state. The Washington Tourism Alliance, Washington Restaurant Association and Washington Lodging Association are requesting your help! Sign here
We are advocating for funding to continue a barebones marketing presence; while the industry and the legislature continue negotiations on a legislative proposal.

Our request is for $400,000 in the supplemental budget for 2015-17 for Website and digital marketing, postage for mailing and/or shipping the Washington State Visitors Guide and representation in Brand USA.

However, there are lots of other groups vying for the limited funds available in the bduget. You can help. Click here to sign the petition. You can also this information to your colleagues and spread the message by sharing this link on social media http://goo.gl/forms/WA89Zr6eTP