GOAL: Introduce legislation to pre-empt local governments from enacting wage, benefit and employment policies.
With the recent passage of paid leave ordinances in Seattle, the sweeping wage and benefit initiative in SeaTac, and growing interest in Tacoma to impose paid leave policies on employers, it is becoming evident that businesses could be subjected to different employment standards in different municipalities. The WRA believes that businesses need certainty in how wage and benefits are regulated and that individual county or cities imposing different approaches will make it very difficult for employers. The Legislature should examine the consequences to business and taxpayers if local governments regulated wage and benefit policies, as well as the cost to those municipalities from enforcement. Liquor
GOAL: Eliminate the 17 percent fee imposed on sales of liquor from retailers to restaurants.
The Liquor Control Board imposed a 17 percent fee on the sales of liquor from retailers to restaurants in their rules when implementing I-1183. In 2013, the Legislature eliminated the fee on sales of liquor from former state stores and state-contracted stores to restaurants. In 2013, this issue required a two-thirds vote of the Legislature because the initiative had passed within the previous two years. In 2014, the change will only require a simple majority vote. The WRA expects wholesalers to again aggressively work to prevent elimination of the retail fee and to enlist the support of the Teamsters Union in bolstering their efforts.
GOAL: Defend against any proposals that limit market pricing options for restaurants.
The Liquor Control Board has formally proposed enacting rules that effectively eliminate the ability of restaurants and wholesalers to negotiate the best terms for their businesses. The LCB’s proposal does not recognize that pricing differentials are allowed under the law and that manufacturers, wholesalers and restaurants have legitimate reasons for pricing products differently.
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GOAL: Ensure that any legislation to establish and
fund statewide tourism promotion adheres to WRA member guidance. The Legislature eliminated funding for promotion of tourism two years ago. In response, the WRA joined with other stakeholders to form the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA). The WTA is exploring how to organize, fund and implement statewide tourism promotion through a privately led and funded mechanism. The WTA is working on legislation to set the stage for a privately-run tourism promotion agency, funded through an assessment, or fee, collected by the state in the future. While the WRA has participated in the WTA’s efforts to develop an approach for funding tourism promotion, we have not agreed to the emerging funding approach and are seeking member input on the specifics of the WTA proposal.
Defeat any proposals to raise excise or special taxes on quick service restaurant.
Defeat any legislative proposals that restrict the ability
of quick service restaurants to offer products of their choice and offer promotions – unless agreed to by the sector. Defend against any legislation that would adversely impact the member benefits of WRA’s Retro program. Other Retrospective Rating program providers may seek legislative changes to allow for Retro programs to manage and close claims more efficiently. While the WRA is neutral on such proposals, our primary focus will be to defeat any legislation that attempts to encumber our ability to offer a cost competitive Retro program to members.
Support reforms that lower the costs of Washington’s workers’ compensation system.
Two years ago, the Legislature enacted major reforms to Washington’s workers’ compensation system to allow workers to opt to settle pension claims with employers under a narrow set of circumstances. Allowing for voluntary settlements saves the overall system considerable money over the long run. There are proposals to expand that authority to include younger workers. While the hospitality sector rarely incurs the types of claims that these reforms are targeted at, lowering overall costs to the system benefits all businesses. ■
2014 Legislative Session Overview What’s in store for the restaurant industry during the upcoming legislative session?