Weekly Update: Our 2018 Legislative Priorities

Weekly Update: Our 2018 Legislative Priorities

Government Affairs Committee Adopts 2018 Legislative Priorities

The Government Affairs Committee (GAC) held its annual meeting this week in Seattle and adopted the Association’s 2018 legislative priorities. Identifying these priorities helps your state government affairs team plan for the upcoming legislative session in January. The legislative priorities adopted by the GAC encompass a range of industry-wide issues categorized under eight main topics. These topics are: tourism, employment, regulatory and business operations, taxation, workforce development and safety, the environment, health and nutrition, and helping communities thrive. Our top legislative priority is to pass a statewide tourism marketing program. We understand that with a Democratic governor and slim Democratic majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate, we may play more of a defensive role in protecting our industry than we have in previous legislative sessions. With the guidance of the GAC, your state government affairs team is prepared to meet the many demands of the legislative session. For more detailed information about the 2018 legislative priorities, please contact State Government Affairs Director Julia Gorton.


Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan Signs Executive Order Creating Small Business Commission

This week, former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan took the oath of Seattle mayor at five different ceremonies across the city. Upon her fifth swearing in at Elliot Bay Brewing Company, she spoke of the importance of small businesses and their role in providing more jobs in the city than the tech industry. Yesterday, in her first full day in office she signed an executive order establishing a small business commission. Mayor Durkan was endorsed by Seattle Hospitality for Progress, which represents the city’s diverse restaurant and hotel sectors and seeks to educate candidates on issues facing the hospitality community.


Spokane City Council Approves More Inclusive Hiring Processes

Private employers will be issued fines starting in 2019 for asking about an applicant’s criminal history before an interview. The council voted to approve the policy 5-2 Monday night, according to the Spokesman-Review. This comes after Spokane County voted to remove questions about past criminal history from county job applications in October. According to the council briefing document, the ordinance prohibits employers from using criminal conviction or arrest records to make employment decisions prior to an in-person or Skype interview. The ordinance also prohibits employers from advertising a restriction on job applicants based on criminal conviction or arrest records unless the restriction was a bona fide condition of employment. For more information, including a sample job application, click here.


Kirkland City Council Passes Short-Term Rental Regulations

The Kirkland City Council voted to implement an ordinance regarding short-term rentals that includes regulations and makes short-term rental properties subject to lodging taxes. The ordinance requires owners to occupy the residence at least 245 days per year and have a property manager living within 15 miles of the rental when neither the owner nor an authorized agent are occupying the property. Additionally, short-term rental property owners are required to submit a business license and pay licensing fees. The regulation was implemented after numerous complaints were submitted to the city regarding excessive noise, trespassing and litter around short-term rental units. For more information, contact Morgan Huether.


Tacoma Mall Neighborhood Subarea Plan Delayed Until 2018

The Tacoma City Council postponed the Tacoma Mall Neighborhood subarea plan public hearing that was previously scheduled for Nov. 21. The rescheduled date has not yet been determined but will be in 2018. The goal of the project is to make the Tacoma Mall Neighborhood a thriving center of regional significance by 2040. According to the planning document, more than 4,650 people live in the neighborhood and 9,749 people work there. The project is being funded by a $250,000 National Estuaries Program Watershed Protection Grant, according to the city’s websiteClick here to view the website dedicated to the subarea changes. The site contains extensive data and research regarding the plan.


Learn How Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Leave Laws Will Affect Your Business

The Seattle Office of Labor Standards has proposed legislation that would apply I-1433 requirements, when more generous the city’s, equally to hourly and overtime exempt employees (with a few limited exceptions). It is holding a series of webinars in early December to review how PSST laws will apply to Seattle employers. Click here for the schedule


Getting Ready for January 1:  Minimum Wage Increases Across State

Under I-1433, the minimum wage and paid sick leave law approved by voters in 2016, Washington state’s minimum wage will increase to $11.50 per hour on Jan. 1, 2018.  The wage for teen employees under 16 is $9.78.

Businesses must follow their local minimum wage requirements if they are higher than the state minimum wage.


  • $15 per hour for large employers that pay toward medical benefits.
  • $15.45 per hour for large employers who do not pay toward medical benefits. This reflects the 2018 inflation adjustment.
  • $11.50 per hour for Seattle small employers who pay $2.50/hour toward medical benefits and/or for an employee who earns $2.50/hour in tips.*
  • $14 per hour for small employers who do not pay $2.50/hour toward medical benefits and/or an employee does not earn $2.50/hour in tips.*

TACOMA:  $12 per hour

SEATAC:  $15.64 per hour for certain hospitality and transportation employers subject to the city’s 2013 minimum wage ordinance.

*This was incorrectly reported in the Winter edition of Washington Hospitality magazine.


Hearing on 29.3 Percent Increase to Lodging License Fees, Dec. 8

The Washington State Department of Health is currently considering a rule change resulting in a 29.3 percent increase in the transient accommodation licensing fees. Lodging facilities offering three or more units to guests for periods of less than 30 days are required by law to have a lodging facility license. Short-term rentals available on online platforms are not subject to the transient accommodation licensing fee imposed by the state, however, some cities require these rentals to comply with a fee schedule. The Washington Hospitality Association testified at a recent hearing of the proposed rule change and recommended a reduction to the proposed fee and the exploration of new revenue options from short-term rentals. The association also advocated for a delay in implementation until at least March 2018 or adoption of a phased-in approach. The increased transient accommodation licensing fee proposed to take effect on Jan. 1 would cause additional regulatory burdens on our members and would leave them without any time to prepare for these changes.


The public comment period for the proposed rule change and subsequent fee increase is open until Dec. 8. To leave a comment about the proposed fee increase click here, or contact Peter Beaton at 360.236.4031 or via email at peter.beaton@doh.wa.gov. Your input is a critical part of the process.


Restaurant Neighbor and Faces of Diversity Awards, Final Deadline: Dec. 1

It’s that time of the year again, and we are looking for nominees for the National Restaurant Association’s awards. These awards are:

  • Restaurant Neighbor Award– The Restaurant Neighbor Award recognizes restaurants for outstanding community service and philanthropy. National winners are chosen from a pool of state winners to win $10,000 to support their favorite charity or non-profit.
  • Face of Diversity American Dream Award—The American Dream Award honors individuals from a diverse background who, through hard work and determination, have realized their American dream. Three winners are honored each year with this award and three $2,500 scholarships are awarded to ProStart students in the names of the winners.

There are many great restaurants and individuals out there who are worthy of these honors, so please click here and nominate deserving recipients for these awards.



Hill Climb 2018 Registration Now Open

Please join your hospitality industry colleagues for the association’s annual Hill Climb and Taste Our Best Reception on Jan. 29, 2018 in Olympia. The annual event ensures that the voices of our industry are heard in our state’s capitol! Your government affairs team does all the work, from setting appointments with legislators to providing simple talking points to use during your meetings. It’s the perfect way to ensure your legislator knows exactly what you need to be successful. In the evening, the Taste Our Best legislative reception brings together restaurateurs, hoteliers and legislators for a night of the industry’s best food and finest beers and wines. This relaxed environment gives you a chance to socialize with your industry peers and visit with the state’s elected leaders. We look forward to seeing you on Jan. 29!



Two Minute Video: What You Need to Know

Don’t miss this great video recap of the news you need to know. Topics include an update on the McCleary education funding case, the Seattle City Council’s review and rejection of a jobs tax proposal, and Seattle short term rental legislation.


Polar Bear Mechanical and North Country Business Products on DineNW Radio Show – Listen Online!

Don’t miss this week’s DineNW radio show, now online. Andy Cook kicks off the show with an interview with Garry Belcher of Polar Bear Mechanical. Paul Schlienz then joins with Andy to interview Doug Bush, of North Country Business Products.


Eye on Hospitality: Get Ready for Paid Sick Leave

Paid sick leave is coming to Washington state, effective Jan. 1, 2018, and it is essential that all employers get prepared. While the state Department of Labor and Industries will issue the rules on paid sick leave in late 2017, here a few of the highlights of the new law. Read more…



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