Newsletter March 16, 2023






Legislative Update

Just 39 days remain of the 105-day 2023 legislative session, barring an extended special session. As of today, legislators have filed 2,035 bills.

The next important deadline is March 29, the last day for bills to pass out of policy committees, with the exception of the House fiscal committees and Senate Ways & Means and Transportation committees.

Here is a short list of bills we are working on:

HB 1155 — Health Data Privacy

One of the more challenging bills this session is House Bill 1155, which relates to health data privacy. The bill seeks to protect sensitive healthcare data not currently covered by the federal HIPAA Law (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). However, the legislation is extremely broad as presently written and would unintentionally include many non-sensitive healthcare products and services, such as numerous over-the-counter medications, vitamins, health foods, health-related clothing, devices, and tools. The bill passed the House of Representatives on March 4, mainly on a party-line vote. The measure was given a public hearing on the 14th in the Senate Law and Justice Committee and now awaits action, at which WR testified.

WR supports consumers having access to and control of their personal data. However, as currently written, this bill will be difficult, if not impossible, for retailers to know what is covered and what is not– leaving them exposed to unwarranted lawsuits and legal actions.

Rep. Vandana Slatter (D-48-Bellevue), is the prime sponsor of HB 1155. The bill must be voted out of committee by March 29, which we expect to happen. Per the AG, the bill doesn’t currently have a fiscal impact, so it will likely go directly to the Rules Committee unless leadership forces it to stop in the fiscal committee for further scrutiny.

SB 5352 — Law enforcement vehicle pursuits

SB 5352 addresses House Bill 1054, which raised the bar in 2021 for police pursuits from reasonable suspicion to probable cause that an individual has committed certain crimes before initiating a pursuit. SB 5352 would authorize law enforcement officers to initiate a pursuit if they reasonably suspect that an individual in the fleeing vehicle has committed or is currently committing a violent crime, sex offense, vehicular assault, domestic violence, an escape, or driving under the influence. It does not include retail theft. The bill includes amendments that mandate additional training and require law enforcement officers to communicate more effectively with local authorities during chases to safeguard bystanders. WR is working for retail theft to be added back into the bill as a reason for pursuit.

ORC Task Force Funding – Operating Budget

The House and the Senate will be releasing their proposed budgets soon. WR has met with the House and the Senate budget writers regarding funding for the Attorney General’s ORC Task Force, and we are hopeful that they will include $3 million in funding for the task force.

SB 5144 Battery stewardship

SB 5144 requires producers of certain types of batteries to participate in a stewardship organization that plans and provides for battery collection and end-of-life management, beginning January 1, 2027, for portable batteries and January 1, 2029, for medium-sized batteries. The department of ecology would be required to report policy recommendations to the Legislature related to the collection and management of electric vehicle batteries by April 2024. Retailers would be prohibited from selling covered batteries from producers that do not participate in an approved stewardship plan. Labeling requirements for batteries sold in Washington and battery disposal collection sites are also covered. While WR would prefer a national solution and recognition of voluntary collection that is already taking place, we feel the bill is a step in the right direction. In particular, we appreciate that the bill does not include a mandatory tack back or point of sale fee.

The bill was voted out of the Senate last week and had a public hearing on March 13 in the House Committee on Environment & Energy. WR testified at the hearing.

HB 1068 — Injured workers’ rights during medical exams  


WR expresses concerns on health data privacy bill

Washington retailers have been at the forefront in shaping our state’s public policy on consumer data. Their efforts work to safeguard the rights of consumers and enable individuals to utilize their data for their own benefit as they see fit—all within a regulatory system that provides clear, practical, and efficient guidance for consumers and businesses alike.

We are steadfast in our commitment to help policymakers in developing such public policy and drives our close collaboration with the Office of the Attorney General. Through this partnership, we actively contribute our constructive recommendations regarding about this proposed bill.

Washington retailers appreciate the legislature’s efforts to protect information that consumers recognize relates to their individual health conditions and diagnoses when attempting to obtain individual health care services. The Association’s issues with HB 1155 are not related in any way to these goals.

WR has concerns regarding the current definitions in the bill which are so broad and so spacious that they could arguably apply to a wide array of transactions consumers regularly make with retailers, grocers, and other service providers that neither the consumer nor the business would consider relating to an individual’s personal health condition or diagnosis. These broad definitions create a vagueness that could only be resolved through costly and time-consuming litigation. More importantly, the ambiguity threatens the ability of the bill to quickly achieve the very same public policy goals on which it is based.

Washington consumers and responsible businesses simply want to follow the law will instead have to wait until the courts decide what the bill means. This is the reason WR has proposed specific and focused changes to the bill so it aims squarely at health care without implicating the countless other transactions we believe would inadvertently be included.

There is a better way. We need to ensure the definitions in this bill accurately describe the scope of transactions and decisions that consumers and retail employees rightfully expect to be related to their health. We have proposed several amendments to the Attorney General and we appreciate his team’s good faith consideration.

While progress has been made, we have yet to achieve our ultimate goal. We need to build a workable, practical, and effective regulatory system that will produce predictable results for Washington consumers and businesses. Our members feel strongly about this bill because it is their customers and their sales associates—you, your friends, and neighbors—who will be called on to make this bill work through millions of individual sales transactions.

We look forward to continuing our discussions with the Attorney General and the bill’s supporters and look forward to reporting back as our collaborative efforts continue.

Police pursuit legislation still alive

In 2021, the Legislature enacted House Bill 1054, which raised the bar for police pursuits from reasonable suspicion to probable cause that an individual has committed certain crimes before initiating a pursuit. Since then, criminals have enjoyed a free ride as officers can only watch as they drive away. Several bills in this 2022/2023 session have tried to remedy the issue.

Nearly two years since HB 1054 took effect, there has been a noticeable increase in car thefts and drivers unwilling to pull over for law enforcement.

Earlier this month, a Washington State Patrol trooper observed a man driving at a breakneck speed of 111 mph on Interstate 90 in Eastern Washington. However, because of the prohibition on vehicular pursuits, the trooper could not chase the 20-year-old suspect as he fled the scene.

Per the law, mere speeding is an insufficient basis to pursue a suspect. At the time, there was no reasonable suspicion that the man was allegedly driving under the influence. Approximately an hour later, he purportedly collided with another vehicle, resulting in the tragic deaths of an 8-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy.

At the start of last week, the House majority party declined to allow a comprehensive debate and floor vote on the bipartisan legislation addressing police vehicular pursuits. Substitute House Bill 1363 proposes that officers be allowed to pursue if there is "reasonable suspicion" that an individual in the vehicle has committed a violent crime, sex offense, domestic violence, vehicular assault, an escape, or driving under the influence.

Republican efforts to move the bill were fruitless.

In the other legislative body, Senator Manka Dhingra, a Democrat from Redmond and the Senate Law & Justice Committee chair, had declined to consider any proposed amendments to the existing police pursuit regulations.

Only a few hours remained last Wednesday as the final deadline for bills to be approved by their originating chamber approached. At the same time, advocates for police vehicular pursuit reform legislation gathered at the Capitol Campus to rally support within the House of Representatives.

<Read more>

Among those present at the event was Amber Goldade, the grieving mother of a 12-year-old girl who died in a hit-and-run accident in Midland in January 2022. The perpetrator was a man who had stolen a flatbed pickup truck.

"If the police were able to pursue him, he could have been caught and put back in jail, preventing him from harming innocent, law-abiding citizens and not kill my daughter," an emotional Goldade said.

A surprising turn of events later on Wednesday resulted in legislation passing the Senate giving police in Washington state more discretion in engaging in vehicular pursuits. The ultimate fate of the bill remains to be determined.

Engrossed Senate Bill 5352, introduced by Senator John Lovick (D), has bipartisan support and passed on a 26-23 vote. The proposed legislation would authorize law enforcement officers to initiate a pursuit if they reasonably suspect that an individual in the fleeing vehicle has committed or is currently committing a violent crime, sex offense, vehicular assault, domestic violence, an escape, or driving under the influence.

The bill includes amendments that mandate additional training and require law enforcement officers to communicate more effectively with local authorities during chases to safeguard bystanders.

The approval of ESB 5352 in the Senate surprised many, as Senator Manka Dhingra, who heads the Senate Law & Justice Committee, had previously stated that she would not consider the bill in her committee. Nonetheless, the lawmaker introduced the revised bill, and it subsequently passed.

Gov. Jay Inslee indicated he's open to a police pursuit reform bill coming across his desk for a signature.

"I'm very happy that the Senate is advancing the cause of some reform of our police pursuit policies," Inslee said at a press conference last Thursday. "I hope the House will consider those proposals the Senate has made. I think that some changes on adjusting that needle of where we set it on police pursuits, realizing there's always some danger in pursuits, but there's a danger of further criminal conduct as well. I think that needle needs to change, and I hope the House will consider the Senate proposal."

WR is working for property crimes to be added back into the bill as a reason for pursuit.

SHB 1068 is a no-win proposal adversely affecting injured workers and employers

SHB 1068 allows injured workers to record independent medical exams (IME), but it neither protects the integrity and privacy of the recordings nor does it require two-party consent. WR opposes this bill. L&I predicts scheduling delays may arise if a provider does not consent to audio or video recording, and even more problematic amongst mental health providers. Combined with the prediction of increases in long-term disability that hurts workers and increases claim costs, this is a lose-lose proposal.

In the 2020 Legislative Work Group on IME Report, audio/video recording was one of the nine strategies that were not recommended. The Legislature needs to honor the bi-partisan workgroup’s recommendations, and this proposal contradicts their investment in the effort.

This bill contains several significant flaws relating to the previously stated concerns:

  • It gives the worker the right to record only with little notice to the IME provider.
  • It provides no structure or indication of what would happen with that video after the exam. This allows the doctor (and possibly the worker) to misuse the video.
  • Most IME examiners are repulsed by granting recording rights to workers only. Many have indicated the intent to quit offering these exams.
  • Workers who have a mental health condition will experience a disproportionately negative impact. Adding audio or video recording into the examination process could render these exams invalid, hindering the workers’ future options for evaluation and treatment.

Proponents of SHB 1068 claim that this newly established right will help eliminate subpar examiners. However, a process to challenge the exam, the examiner, or any other concerns of workers is already in place. The Senate should carefully weigh the importance of protecting and respecting the privileged, confidential relationships between health providers and patients.

At a minimum, statutory language must in put in place regarding the use of the recordings, who can record, and how recordings must only be only utilized under restricted circumstances, such as appeal proceedings.

IMEs are crucial to workers’ recovery because they provide a valuable second opinion in the review of treatment, help identify misdiagnoses, and are often the first-time injured workers see an MD in person. IMEs often result in a recommendation of continued treatment which benefits the worker and can end stalemates that keep the worker from establishing ongoing pension resolutions.

WR will continue to ensure the integrity of the workers’ compensation insurance system.

Growing coalition emerging against onerous warehouse legislation

A broad coalition is emerging in opposition to HB 1762, a bill backed by the Teamsters Union. This proposal includes new private rights of action and legal vulnerabilities for warehouse employers. Practically, it is reintroducing legislation proposed in the last two years that would overlay existing rest, meal break, and safety regulations with new regulations related to quotas in warehouse operations. Unfortunately, this bill passed the House on a narrow 53 – 46 vote.

At the outset of the 2023 session, Senator Steve Conway (D-29) introduced SB 5348, a significant departure from prior proposals. It changed the debate over new regulations and legal vulnerabilities of warehouse employers to focus on greater transparency on quotas and working with their employees on performance measures. Sadly, the Senate took no action on Senator Conway’s Warehouse legislation.

A letter opposing HB 1762 has been sent to all members of the Legislature emphasizing the need to continue focusing on economic recovery and to solve supply chain issues that have impacted small businesses disproportionately. The letter will be updated before a public hearing on HB 1762 on March 16.

The broad coalition includes Washington Retail, Association of Washington Business, Washington Food Industry Association, Northwest Grocery Association, Washington Farm Bureau, Washington Tree Fruit Association, Washington Trucking Association, Building Industry Association of Washington, Associated Builders and Contractors, National Federation of Independent Business, and some individual Chambers. Hopefully, a bill that aligns more with the original SB 5348 proposal can emerge.

World Relief leaders, local representatives join in on the ribbon cutting ceremony.

World Relief opens new location to welcome refugees to Thurston County

WR joined with World Relief Western Washington for their grand opening ribbon-cutting event in Olympia last week. The occasion brought together a diverse group of participants, including World Relief staff and volunteers, supporting organizations, leaders of state agencies, and prominent figures from the local community. In addition, Rose Gundersen, WR VP of Operations & Retail Services, and Andy Ryder, Lacey Mayor and WR board member, attended the event.

World Relief Western Washington’s focus will be providing settlement services and establishing a safe landing in Thurston County to support refugees from around the globe. Specifically, they will offer resettlement support for refugees entering the community and help them by facilitating access to safe housing, providing cultural orientation, and offering support in enrolling their children in nearby schools.

Of note is World Relief Western Washington’s history over the past 40 years of working with hundreds of local companies to employ newly arrived refugees and immigrants. The organization supports the process with various services, including necessary paperwork, transportation, and language translation. Their employment services align with WR’s Workforce Initiative, a practical application of our commitment to our JEDI (justice, equality, diversity, and inclusion) principles.

This new location anticipates welcoming at least 50 refugees in its first year of operation.

“We are thrilled to open this new office as an expansion of Western Washington’s efforts to welcome refugees and demonstrate God’s heart for displaced people,” said Medard Ngueita, Executive Director of World Relief Western Washington. “At World Relief, we walk alongside refugees and immigrants in the beginning stages of their move to Washington to help them rebuild a sense of home.”

Learn more about World’s Relief’s work in Washington and how to get involved at

John Wilson, King County Assessor, and Renée Sunde, WR CEO and President

Washington Retail attends reelection campaign kickoff for King County Assessor John Wilson

Washington Retail President/CEO Renée Sunde, board member Blake Garfield, and Retail Industry Coalition of Seattle director John Engber, joined a crowd of 300 to help King County Assessor John Wilson launch his reelection campaign.

After the crowd heard words of praise for Wilson—and some well-directed jokes at his expense—from Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and King County Executive Dow Constantine, the County Assessor discussed his work on property taxes. He highlighted his efforts to make property taxes less harmful for seniors trying to stay in their homes and small businesses. Constantine also talked about a webpage he launched that enables King County residents to see exactly how much a ballot initiative or referendum would raise the property taxes on their specific home. He committed to continue finding new ways to help taxpayers if reelected this November.

Robert B. Haase, WR Director of Communications, speaking on public safety methods to the Covington Chamber members.

Covington Chamber hosts ORC luncheon

The Covington Chamber of Commerce hosted a special ORC luncheon this past week, their largest gathering to date.

Attendees displayed genuine interest in how Organized Retail Crime had been affecting their community, and actively participated in discussions surrounding prevention strategies and planning.

Speakers included Robert Nelson, President of the Washington Organized Retail Crime Association (WAORCA), Robert B. Haase, WR Director of Communications and author of WR’s ORC resource guide, and Covington Police Chief Adam Easterbrook. Robert Mosely from Lowes’ loss prevention was also part of the Q&A team.

I had no idea that organized retail crime was so broad and touched so many areas of our lives. [Their presentation] really opened my eyes,” said Dana Neuts, Covington Chamber Executive Director.

Register now for AG’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force Tacoma meeting on March 29

The Office of the Attorney General is holding its third Organized Retail Crime Task Force meeting on March 29, 2023, between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.


In-person space is limited. To join in, RSVP by Wednesday, March 22. The meeting will be hybrid. In-person attendance at the Tacoma Office is limited due to available space. RSVPs for in-person attendance will be accepted in the order received.

All in-person attendees must show proof of vaccination and booster and complete a wellness screening upon arrival. Individuals who cannot verify their vaccination and booster status will not be admitted to the in-person meeting but may participate via Zoom. Masks are optional and will be available on-site.  

For any questions, please reach out to the Policy Team at

Investigating incidents to improve future safety outcomes

Following a workplace accident, determining its cause, and making proactive changes can help prevent future accidents.


Before businesses can address safety issues, they must be aware of them. An effective accident investigation program should include an open-door policy that encourages personnel to report any concerns, including injuries, hazards, near-misses, and suggestions for improvement. Creating a culture of open communication provides opportunities to correct minor problems before they escalate into more significant issues.


Employers must conduct investigations and notify DOSH (Department of Occupational Safety and Health) within 8 hours of an employee’s workplace fatality or in-patient hospitalization. Additionally, employers must report non-hospitalized amputations or loss of an eye of any employee to DOSH within 24 hours. L&I provides additional information here.

A thorough accident investigation should explore all aspects relating to incidents of injury, including each step of the incident:

  • Why did the action make sense to the employee?
  • How did training (or lack of it) impact each step?
  • How did communication (or lack of it) impact each step?
  • How did planning (or lack of) affect each step?
  • What procedures (or lack of) affected each step?
  • Did the employee take ownership of their role in the accident?
  • Did management take ownership of their role?


Once the cause of an incident has been identified, corrective actions need to be taken to help prevent similar incidents from recurring. Corrective actions could include modifying processes or procedures, implementing new safety measures, or providing additional training or resources to staff.


Finally, updating training materials and procedures to reflect any new understanding or insights gained from the investigation is vital. Doing so can help ensure that all future staff members are well-equipped to prevent similar incidents and are aware of necessary safety measures and protocols.


See an Incident Report template example here.


Our safety team is available to help members take their safety program from compliance to quality safety practices. Contact us 360-943-9198 x122, or to learn more.

WR diversity statement

WR is committed to the principles of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. We strive to create a safe, welcoming environment in which these principles can thrive.

We value all people regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, identity, sexual orientation, nationality, or disability, and that is the foundation of our commitment to those we serve.

Washington Retail Staff

Renée Sunde




Rose Gundersen

VP of Operations

& Retail Services



Mark Johnson

Senior VP of Policy & Govt. Affairs



Robert B. Haase

Director of




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