Lodging wins during the public health crisis

Lodging wins during the public health crisis https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/WA-Capital-Building.jpg

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By Anthony Anton
President & CEO, Washington Hospitality Association

In normal years, our advocacy wins mostly accumulate during the legislative session where the bulk of the policymaking and budget decisions are made. During a once-in-a-century pandemic however, a significant number of our wins were achieved as executive orders and state agency emergency rules were being implemented throughout the public health crisis.

The Washington Hospitality Association government affairs team has been working continuously for the last 18 months to ensure the voices of lodging operators are heard by state public policymakers. Below is a summary of our advocacy wins with links to PDF documents that contain more details about our efforts.

Legislative policy wins include bills the association supported and helped pass, opposed and helped defeat, and worked to amend through the legislative process. In every instance, we fought to protect or minimize harm to our industry.

The biggest win came in the form of more than $2 billion in unemployment insurance tax relief. The association also helped secure property tax deferral options for businesses hit hard by the public health crisis. And we worked to ensure state and federal relief dollars would not be subject to B&O taxes.

The association’s government affairs team was successful in defeating legislation that would have subjected more businesses to costly lawsuits and ensuring small family-owned businesses would be exempt from the new capital gains tax.

We also worked on legislation to allow for the removal of nonpaying guests once the governor’s eviction moratorium ended for lodging operators. That issue, however, has run into some unexpected challenges, through which we are continuing to work with the various stakeholders. We will keep you updated when new information on this issue is available.

Legislative fiscal wins came in a variety of forms, including the creation and expansion of federal, state and local relief and grant programs to help struggling businesses survive  the pandemic. On the federal side, the association supported the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), helped secure a second round of PPP funding and provided PPP loan application guidance to members.

At the state level, the association supported the Working Washington Grant Program and helped expand funding by $340 million. And the association helped secure local grant programs in Spokane, Pierce, King, Clark and other counties.

Executive/state agency wins were abundant from the beginning of this pandemic. Executive orders and emergency rules were adopted on a regular basis to protect the public. The association’s government affairs team was there every step of the way to advocate for policies that allowed for safe operations during the pandemic while minimizing any potential negative business impacts of public health orders.

Association members demonstrated our commitment to being a part of the solution when they stepped up to help first responders and stranded travelers find accommodations during the initial shutdown phase. This set a strong foundation, showcasing our willingness to be partners with state and local governments to find solutions as other problems emerged.

The government affairs team successfully advocated for policies like plexiglass windows, statewide cleaning standards and tax deferrals to help businesses continue operations during the pandemic.

These are just a handful of the many lodging wins we achieved during the pandemic. Click here for a more comprehensive list of our lodging wins.

There are no words to accurately describe just how challenging this crisis has been to the lodging industry. And we’re not out of the woods yet. At present, the delta variant is spreading quickly and infection rates are increasing in every state including Washington. The industry will face additional challenges while the public health crisis continues and as we transition toward full recovery.

As always, the Washington Hospitality Association is proud to be your voice with public policymakers. And we will continue to secure wins on your behalf that allow you to run a successful business.