Legislative News: Fourteenth Week of the 2017 Session

Legislative News: Fourteenth Week of the 2017 Session https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Blue-Skies-for-Politics.jpg

Today is the 99th day of 105-day session that is scheduled to end on April 23. There is discussion of session ending on Sunday, after legislators work through the weekend. However, it is commonly accepted that there will at least be one special session as budget writers have not proposed a workable budget yet. Special sessions can last up to 30 days.

Negotiations on the budget will continue in earnest until the April 23 deadline; and are likely to be the main focus of a special session. But, in special session, the whole process starts over, and technically, all bills (even those previously considered dead) are once again alive until the 30 days ends. It unlikely the legislature will want to take up bills that previously were dead unless it is part of a final agreement on the budget. In addition, legislators can introduce new bills for the upcoming session.

Proclamation of May as Hospitality Month from Gov. Inslee
The Washington Hospitality Association received exciting news today that Gov. Inslee has decreed May 2017 to be Washington State Hospitality Month. This is an honor for our industry in recognition of the nearly quarter of a million people employed by the hospitality industry in our state. The proclamation will be read at our May 5th hiring event, jointly hosted by the Hospitality Association and the Wa. Employment Security Department. You can learn more about the event and register for it here. You can read the proclamation here.

Would you like to participate more with your association Government Affairs Committee (GAC)? During the legislative session GAC calls are held once a week. During the special session the calls will happen as needed.

  • Be a part of the GAC calls – email KatieD@wahospitality.org
  • Text the word SERVE to 52886 – sign up for urgent text alerts

Paid Family Leave
We continue leading positive negotiations with other business associations, labor groups and legislators on the future of paid family leave. These talks will continue until a solution is found – either during the regular session or during the special session. Sen. Fain (R) and Sen. Keiser (D) have co-sponsored Senate Bill 5829 which is a “title only” bill, meaning the body of the bill is blank. The title only bill has left a lot of room for stakeholders to negotiate. Topics of discussion include portability, options for small businesses, wage replacement, employee training credit and more.

Skilled Worker Outreach
Senate Bill 5713 has passed both the Senate and the House. Now the bill goes to the Governor’s desk to be signed. We have been in full support of this legislation and this is a great success for our industry and our workforce. This bill creates a grant for skilled worker outreach and training. This grant would apply to several programs we offer through the Education Foundation that help our employees move upward.

Liquor Legislation
Legislation that would allow operators the use of credit cards when purchasing alcohol, SB 5665, has passed both houses and now goes to the Governor’s desk to be signed. This bill gives our members an additional option for paying for spirits and is a helpful convenience.

Budget negotiations will impact the tourism bills we support. As it stands all three bills are considered necessary to implement the budget (NTIB):

  • House Bill 1123and Senate Bill 5251 are considered NTIB. This legislation would create a statewide tourism marketing program. Without this new law, we are the only state in the nation without a tourism program and missing vital economic opportunities. There are funding mechanisms for both bills in the proposed budgets that vary greatly.

Pop Syrup Tax
House Bill 1975 is tax it is considered NTIB but hasn’t moved this session. This legislation is not currently in either budget. However, this is not the first time the legislature has sought to tax soda or other non-alcoholic drinks to fill budget gaps. We are actively watching this legislation and we are prepared to advocate against it should it start to progress. You can read a detailed overview of what taxes ARE in the budget by reading our past edition of the legislative news here.