Washington Restaurant Weekly: 2016 legislative session begins next week

Washington Restaurant Weekly: 2016 legislative session begins next week https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/WashingtonRestaurantWeekly_WebsiteBanner-467x198.jpg

The WRA’s Government Affairs Department is gearing up for the 2016 legislative session, which starts on Monday. It will be a short session, lasting for 90 days. Your WRA GA team will be especially focused on promoting comprehensive views of minimum wage, working to promote tourism, eliminating the 17 percent fee imposed on sales of liquor from retailers to restaurants, defending against any proposals that limit market pricing options for restaurants, protecting WRA members from tax or fee increases that uniquely impact the hospitality sector – including any efforts to repeal the B&O tax credit for pop syrup, and defending against any legislation that adversely impacts the WRA’s RETRO program. For more information, contact the WRA’s Stephanie Davenport.

State’s minimum wage remains the same in 2016

Washington state’s minimum wage of $9.47 per hour will stay the same in 2016. Washington’s minimum wage has long been the highest in the U.S. That changed, on January 1, when the minimum wages in Alaska, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island surpassed Washington’s rate. Several cities in Washington also will have higher minimum wages than the statewide amount in 2016. The cities include Seattle, SeaTac and Tacoma. Washington’s minimum wage applies to workers in both agricultural and non-agricultural jobs. Youth ages 14-15 may be paid 85 percent of the adult wage at $8.05 per hour. The Department of Labor & Industries calculates the minimum wage annually as required under Initiative 688, approved by voters in 1998. This is the second time Washington’s minimum wage remained flat since 1998. The last time was in 2010. Changes to the minimum wage are based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers for a 12-month period ending each Aug. 31. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, that index decreased 0.3 percent. Under state law, the minimum wage can’t be decreased.

Spokane City Council considering paid sick leave

On January 4, the Spokane City Council formally introduced and discussed passing an ordinance mandating paid sick leave for employees in the City of Spokane at its legislative council meeting. After reviewing the proposed ordinance, it appears the Spokane City Council listened to the suggestions put forward by the WRA, during 2015, with some details that still need to be ironed out. Our local Government Affairs team will continue to update you on the status of the ordinance this week. Some of the key components of this ordinance include:

  • Accrual rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked with an annual cap of 24 hours (three days).
  • The 24 hours can be rolled over, but cannot be cashed out.
  • Does not apply to work-study students, independent contractors, seasonal or temporary workers, or those employed by a firm engaged in “construction work.”
  • An employer may require employees to provide reasonable documentation for the use of three consecutive days.
  • Employees are allowed to shift swap.
  • Enforcement details haven’t been worked out yet and will need to be done by October 1.
  • If passed, the ordinance would start Feb. 15, 2017.

You may view the full ordinance here. The Spokane City Council will be soliciting feedback before voting on this ordinance at their next City Council Meeting on January 11. Your local GA team will continue to monitor this issue closely. If you have any questions about the proposed legislation, contact the WRA’s Zachary Lindahl at Zacharyl@warestaurant.org.

Seattle minimum wage increased January 1

On January 1, Seattle’s minimum wage increased. The amount of the increase depends on several factors including the number of employees and benefits offered. The Office of Labor Standards, which provides education about and enforcement of Seattle labor laws, has put together a chart to assist in understanding the new minimum wage. The Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance can be confusing, but the WRA is here to help you succeed. In order to make sure your business thrives, we created a Web series on the Seattle minimum wage implementation that can be accessed here.

Don’t miss Hill Climb and Taste Our Best, coming soon on January 25

Please plan to join us for Hill Climb and Taste Our Best, on January 25, for our annual day on the Hill. This event is free and is the perfect way to ensure your legislator knows the issues important to you. In the evening, the Taste Our Best legislative reception brings together restaurateurs, hoteliers and legislators for a night of the industry’s most superb food, finest beers and wines and hospitality at its best. This relaxed environment gives industry leaders a chance to socialize and visit with the state’s elected leaders. Register here. If you would like more information, please contact the WRA’s Marian Ericks at MarianE@warestaurant.org.

Spokane Chapter Gala coming on February 2

Attention Spokane Chapter Members! The Spokane Chapter Gala, “Celebrating Community” is almost here. Mark your calendars for February 2, 5–9 p.m. at the Lincoln Center for a silent auction, industry awards, music and mingling. Tickets are $55 per person. Register here.

Chrysalis Inn & Spa, Keenan’s at the Pier and Flyers Restaurant & Brewery on this week’s DineNW radio show – now online

Don’t miss today’s DineNW radio show, now online. Ross Boylan and Andy Cook interview Mike Keenan, owner of Bellingham’s Chrysalis Inn & Spa and Keenan’s at the Pier. Paul Schlienz then joins Andy to interview Tony Savoy, owner of Flyers Restaurant & Brewery in Oak Harbor and Burlington.

Washington Restaurant Market Watch: Restaurants look forward to a happy, healthy new year

2015’s healthy eating trend was no flash in the pan. As 2016 kicks off, more restaurants than ever before are making a resolution to offer healthier menu choices. Foods free of additives, antibiotics or other artificial components turned up as a top trend in more than one 2015 survey. “Fresh,” according to Bonnie Riggs, restaurant analyst for The NPD Group, a market research firm, is becoming the “mantra” for healthier food choices that are poised to become even more popular in 2016. Read more…