By Anthony Anton, Washington Hospitality Association President & CEO 

The Washington Hospitality Association’s mission is to deliver wins that produce the most preeminent hospitality climate in the world. Our passion is to serve the industry that’s dedicated to providing great hospitality experiences to millions of people each year.  

One of the ways we achieve this vision is through strong and effective government affairs advocacy. Our industry has been hit the hardest by the pandemic through shutdowns, labor shortages, supply chain disruptions and many other issues. As we enter the third year of the pandemic, access to relief funds has been the difference between staying open and closing for good for many hospitality operators. 

These funds have been a lifeline for so many businesses, which is why our advocacy teams have been working day and night to secure additional relief for our industry. The Washington Hospitality Association Government Affairs team stepped up to the plate on your behalf, and I’m pleased to say they hit a home run this week! 

Before the Legislature adjourns for the year today, they will be voting on a state budget that contains a HUGE win for the hospitality industry. Your state Government Affairs team was able to secure $160 million for assistance to the hospitality industry, conventions, arts sector, and small businesses 

Of that funding, $100 million is earmarked specifically for the hospitality industry, with $15 million dedicated to assist lodging properties that incurred costs associated with the eviction moratorium.  

Our team will continue to work with the Department of Commerce on the details related to implementation of this relief program and will share details including a potential timeline with members as soon as we can. Be sure to bookmark our Financial Relief Toolkit where we post the latest information about relief programs for the hospitality industry.  

Another big win for hospitality – the budget includes $7 million to offset lower liquor license fees through the implementation of HB 1359. This bill will reduce liquor license fees by 50% for those set to expire or issued between April 1, 2022, and December 31, 2023. 

In addition to pursuing relief at the state level, our Government Affairs team has been working with our federal partners on securing additional funding for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). 

Congressional leadership announced a bipartisan agreement on their annual spending bill this week.  Much to our disappointment, the agreement did not include a replenishment of the RRF. This means no new federal relief funds will be allocated in this latest spending bill. 

Our federal Government Affairs team has been working with Sen. Patty Murray’s office and Sen. Maria Cantwell’s office and other members of our congressional delegation on this issue for several months. Even with this latest news, our congressional delegation is continuing pursue RRF replenishment. Our team will continue to engage on this issue and keep you informed of their progress. 

Pivoting back to the state relief win for a moment — securing this additional relief was the top priority of our state Government Affairs team. I couldn’t be more impressed by the work they put in to secure this win. But they could not have done it alone. Your direct engagement with lawmakers, participation in Hill Climb and responses to our action alerts all played key roles in securing this additional relief.  

Thank you for your service to your communities and for your continued advocacy for the hospitality industry. Stay tuned for more details about these relief efforts.  

If you would like to thank your legislator know how much you appreciate the $100 million+ in relief for the hospitality industry in the budget, please click here.