Washington Retail’s board of directors met for an annual summer retreat last week with state legislators who represent the Tri-Cities’ 8th legislative district surrounding Richland, where the two-day event was held.
The board also heard from Carl Adrian, President & CEO of the Tri-City Development Council and Lori Matson, President & CEO of the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Senator Sharon Brown and Representatives Brad Klippert and Matt Boehnke learned about the three top issues facing Washington Retail in the coming months: data privacy, employee scheduling and a proposal to greatly expand state eligibility rules to qualify for overtime pay.
Though the Legislature passed 16 new tax laws in the 2019 session, the Republican contingent of legislators said existing state tax revenues could have met the state expenses without tax increases. They each pledged their support for retailers and urged WR members to engage their employees in testifying before elected officials to explain the damaging impacts of higher taxes on retail companies.
“Your success is my goal,” Rep. Klippert assured the board. He supports a bill WR will re-introduce next year to reduce organized retail theft by enabling law enforcement to question shoppers known to be concealing merchandise before they leave a store.
Adrian emphasized the rapid population growth of the Tri-Cities. He said the region’s population has grown from 66,000 in the early 1960s to nearly 297,000 today.
Matson said chambers are eager to partner with associations such as WR on issues of mutual interest. She pledged to help spread WR’s messaging on key issues including the top priorities of protecting personal data, employee scheduling and expanded overtime eligibility rules.
The retreat was the inaugural meeting for board members Alfonso “Al” Cornish, Director of Government Affairs for Target stores; Andy Ryder, owner of the Shur-Kleen Car Wash chain and Mayor of Lacey; Michelle Markus, Chief People Officer for the Olympia-based pet supply store Mud Bay; and Theresa Signorini Treat, Vice President of People Services for Ben Bridge Jeweler.