When I went up to the Hill on May 9 for the bill signing for Substitute House Bill 1798, regarding short-term rentals, I saw a lot of my peers who have been around in government affairs with me for years. Many said they had their worst session in about 25 years.

Our industry didn’t have a bad session.

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Was it a session to celebrate? I’m sure there can be debate about that. But we did pass some significant legislation that will help our workers and will help our industry.

This session we were able to diffuse legislation that could have caused irreparable harm. We encouraged legislation by saying, “We can find a better solution than the one you have in front of you – let’s work on it.”

Hospitality may be one of the only industries representing business standing here saying the “2019 session wasn’t that bad.”

There’s a couple of reasons why.

1. The grassroots work this year was phenomenal. Rather than celebrating the issues, I want to celebrate the fact that the industry got engaged.

Let me give you a sample of three ways when we activated our grassroots network of industry advocates and received responses like never before.

Seven association members traveled to Olympia during session to testify in front of legislators on a range of issues from restrictive scheduling to retirement savings to short-term rentals.

Hill Climb, on Jan. 29, was a success when 138 members converged at the Capitol to talk to their local legislators about the industry. We are proud to report that 58 of those members were Washington Hospitality Association ambassadors.

When we issued an action alert in February for restrictive scheduling, more than 650 members and industry employees sent over 10,500 emails to lawmakers.

2. I’m also proud of how we were true to our core brand values this session.

Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5258, preventing the sexual harassment and sexual assault of certain isolated workers (also called the panic button bill), is good for our workers. The bill was done the right way because we found a solution.

No, panic buttons were not our top priority of session. No, this doesn’t affect everyone in the industry. But even if you’re a bowling alley or golf course, I still want you to be aware of what happens when we’re true to our brand. If we come at legislation to help our workforce succeed, to be synergistic with our community and to find solutions, we can achieve those things.

We want our workforce to always know they’ll be safe and to know that we put great priority on them having a great experience both in their lives and in the workforce. We came up with a solution for how to do these things in an effective, positive way that everyone could rally around, and in turn, make our community stronger. Our workers have the next level of protection and we have a solution that keeps us moving forward.

Our brand values provide a reminder of not only how we should be perceived, but how we should act.

It’s another example of how we can achieve great things, in government affairs, by keeping our brand in mind.

So, thank you to the members who are active on our Government Affairs Committee and thank you to our staff. Amid a tumultuous session, we came out OK.