Session is over, now what?

Jun 5, 2019
Written by Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs

I often get asked, “So what do you do when the legislature is not in session?”

Interestingly, I am as busy now as when we were in session – the focus simply changes.

Several bills passed the legislature that directly or indirectly impact retailers, their customers and their employees.  Often times when a bill becomes law it requires the writing of rules known as Washington Administrative Code or WACs.  Some WACs are longer than the actual law.  It all depends on how specific or broad a law was written and which agency is tasked with implementation.  With this in mind, I spend a considerable amount of time working with agencies and stakeholders on adopting rules.  If you are not involved in the rule-writing process sometimes a law can become watered down or take on a new direction and life of its own that was never intended by the author.

Another important body of work during the interim is reporting to our members what took place, what new laws they must operate under and what new taxes they must pay.  This comes in the form of a legislative law review and a voting record to let voters know which legislators support the retail industry.  In addition to the reports, we make the rounds speaking to chambers of commerce and other business groups that want to hear from the retail industry.  We also host member board meetings and conferences to discuss what happened and what to prepare for.  In order to be effective when the next session starts, you need to spend the interim preparing by visiting with legislators, members and other stakeholders to build support for your issues.

Finally, one of our large focuses between sessions is campaigns.  Washington Retail has two political action committees.  One for state and federal races and one for local races.  We survey and interview candidates for office and make recommendations to our PAC boards on endorsements and contributions.  No contributions are allowed during a legislative session.  All contributions are reported to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission and are open for public review.

These are just a few of the tasks that we embark on during the interim so that we are ready for the next session that begins in January of 2020.