Newsletter — May 2, 2024









L&I plans stakeholder meetings to address high cancellation rates for IME caused by recording laws

In 2023, legislation passed HB 1068 allowing workers to request that they can bring a third party to video record their independent medical examinations (IME). Washington Labor & Industries (L&I) relies on the Attorney General’s Office for their interpretation on the right to record being granted to the worker’s rather than the provider.

Sadly, L&I’s data presented to the Workers Compensation Advisory Committee on March 28 shows substantial increases in delays and cancellations of IME’s since this legislation became effective on July 23, 2023.

  • IMEs with recording requests experienced a 30% to 60% cancellation rate compared to the average cancellation rate of 7.5% for IMEs without recording requests before and after the effective date of this legislation.
  • The highest rate of IME recording requests by specialty is psychiatry (14% compared to a range of 5% to 9% for other specialties). During hearings, testimonies from psychiatrists have stated that having a third-party in the room would compromise the code of ethics in their specialty.
  • 86% of claims with IME’s rescheduled for recording reasons are represented by law firms. In comparison, only 29% of claims with IMEs rescheduled for non-recording reasons have attorneys.

Overall, the cancellation rate of IMEs with recording requests is 17% whereas the cancellation rate for IMEs based on a random selection of claims is 11%  

L&I recognizes that a serious problem is emerging and is attempting to craft some kind of solution to the adverse impact on workers' recovery and rising claim costs. L&I is scheduling "listening sessions" with stakeholders over the next few weeks.

The employer’s listening session is scheduled for May 7th from 9:30 to 11 am, in person at L&I’s Tumwater Headquarters or via zoom, with the following login credentials:

Meeting ID: 867 0320 1890

Passcode: f5uH^!$v

WR intends to work with all stakeholders to create solutions to the concerning data trend.

Near-record $33.5 billion Mother's Day spending anticipated

Mother’s Day spending is poised to hit a near-record high of $33.5 billion, a close second to last year’s peak of $35.7 billion, as per the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics survey. Eighty-four percent of adults in the U.S. are anticipated to partake in celebrations, with an average expenditure of $254.04 per person. The age group most inclined to splurge is 35 to 44-year-olds, allocating an average of $345.75 for the occasion.

Traditional gifts like flowers, greeting cards, and special outings are still popular choices, with 74% opting for flowers and greeting cards, and 59% planning special outings. Additionally, consumers are expected to spend $7 billion on jewelry, $5.9 billion on outings, and $3.5 billion on electronics. Interestingly, experiential gifts are gaining traction, with almost one-third planning to offer such gifts.

Online shopping remains the preferred avenue for purchases (35%), followed by department stores (32%), specialty stores (29%), and local businesses (25%). The survey, conducted among 8,213 U.S. adults, gives insights into consumer behavior and spending patterns, guiding retailers in meeting customer needs during key holiday periods.

Washington faces budget shift as estimated reserves decline

Washington faces a budget shift as estimated reserves decline, impacting the 2024 supplemental operating budget. The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) approved a revised outlook, revealing a significant reduction in the unrestricted ending balance for both the current and following biennium. Originally estimated at $510 million, the balance now stands at $100 million due to adjustments in assumptions about reversions—appropriations not ultimately spent.

Historically set at 0.5% of general fund–state (GFS) appropriations, reversions saw an uptick in recent years, prompting the ERFC to revise projections. The new assumptions reduce reversions by $378 million in 2023–25. Additionally, changes in NGFO appropriations further affect the outlook, with an increase of $30 million and a decrease of $11.5 million in the second biennium.

Governor's vetoes modestly impact appropriations, reducing them by $2 million in 2023–25. Overall, the official outlook reflects a $382 million decrease in 2023–25 and a $410 million decrease in 2025–27 from previous estimates, highlighting the need for cautious fiscal planning.

Small businesses can use E-Cycle Washington for free

Washington's e-waste program, E-Cycle Washington, has received significant backing from the Washington State Legislature, including support from WR. As the first state in the country to adopt this model legislation, Washington has paved the way for other states to follow suit, embracing the concept of extended producer responsibility (EPR). This legislative framework has since been adopted by numerous states across the nation.

One noteworthy aspect of E-Cycle Washington is its accessibility to small businesses. Did you know that businesses in Washington with fewer than 50 employees can utilize E-Cycle Washington's services for free? This initiative offers a convenient solution for recycling outdated or unwanted electronics. Accepted items include computers (such as laptops, desktops, and tablets), monitors, and televisions. With over 220 drop-off sites scattered across the state, small businesses can easily locate a nearby facility.

Participating in the program is simple. Small businesses can drop off up to 10 accepted electronics at any designated location, free of charge. To find the nearest drop-off site, businesses can visit the locator website. Once at the drop-off location during business hours, they can hand over their accepted products for recycling.

For those seeking additional information about the program, including contact details for E-Cycle Washington, the website offers comprehensive program details. It's worth noting that E-Cycle Washington was established through Washington State legislation. Since its inception in January 2009, the program has made significant strides, recycling over 465 million pounds of electronics to date. This demonstrates the tangible impact and success of Washington's commitment to sustainable e-waste management.

Seattle City Council begins work on revising app-based worker compensation law

On April 25th, the Seattle City Council's Governance, Accountability & Economic Development Committee initiated discussions on Council President Sara Nelson's proposal to rewrite the PayUp law, which establishes minimum compensation standards for app-based workers.

The existing law, which came into effect on January 13, mandates that app-based workers receive $26.40 per hour in compensation and $.74 per mile driven for deliveries. Almost immediately after its implementation, drivers started attending City Council meetings to urge its repeal. They cited a significant decline in orders, leading to reduced earnings. Restaurants echoed this sentiment, reporting a 30-40% decrease in to-go orders.

In response to these concerns, Council President Nelson engaged with restaurants, drivers, delivery companies, and Drive Forward, an advocacy organization representing drivers. Her proposed legislation seeks to set the minimum compensation at $19.97 per hour (aligning with the Seattle minimum wage) and establish the mileage reimbursement rate at $.35 per mile.

The Governance Committee is anticipated to consider amendments to the legislation and advance it out of committee on May 9. The full Council may then consider the legislation as early as May 14.

Re-districting outcome - Representative Gina Mosbrucker (R-14) will not seek re-election

Rep. Gina Mosbrucker (R-14) has announced that she will not seek re-election this fall. Unfortunately, redistricting has shifted her out of the 14th legislative district seat, requiring her to run in the adjusted 17th legislative district.

Throughout her tenure, Rep. Mosbrucker has been a steadfast advocate for the retail sector. During the 2021-2023 biennium, she served as the Ranking Member on the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee. Currently, she holds the position of Ranking Member on the House Community Safety, Justice, and Reentry Committee.

Among her notable achievements, Rep. Mosbrucker was the prime sponsor of WR’s legislation allowing small businesses to collaborate with nonprofit organizations to offer light-duty return-to-work opportunities. She has also been a champion of WR’s efforts on public safety, organized retail crime, and legislation combating human trafficking and upholding human rights.

WR extends its gratitude to Rep. Mosbrucker for her dedicated service to the State of Washington and wishes her the best in her future endeavors.

Call to Action! Urge Federal Reserve Board to implement a “reasonable and proportional” debit card regulated rate

WR joins forces (with the Food Industry Association) in a crucial call to action urging the Federal Reserve Board to implement a "reasonable and proportional" debit card regulated rate.

For over a decade, retailers and merchants have borne the burden of paying high swipe fees for debit transactions, far exceeding the actual processing costs incurred by banks. Despite legislation mandating a review of these fees, the rate set by the Federal Reserve in 2011 has remained unchanged. Here is an opportunity for reform, as the Federal Reserve has proposed a reduction in these fees and established a process for regular revision.

It is imperative that we continue to advocate for a rate that truly reflects the principles of fairness and proportionality. We need to ensure that the voices of merchants and consumers are heard loud and clear by the Federal Reserve, emphasizing the positive impact a reduction in fees will have on the economy and individual buying power.

To lend your support to this critical cause, we urge you to click here to share your message directly with the Federal Reserve in the proposed rule docket.

Thank you for your commitment to promoting fairness and equity in the retail industry.

Call to Action! Tell Congress to protect small businesses from “drive-by” privacy lawsuits

Congress is considering the American Privacy Rights Act, sweeping privacy legislation that would leave Main Street businesses vulnerable to "drive-by" lawsuits and predatory litigation. The APRA includes a private right of action provision, shifting liability onto small businesses for privacy violations by their service providers.

This sweeping legislation, marketed as a solution to data privacy concerns, disproportionately shields major tech giants while leaving small businesses exposed. If passed, it will limit small businesses' growth and ability to meet customer needs by hindering their capacity to leverage data solutions for marketing and customer engagement.


Retailers support a comprehensive national data privacy law that establishes protections for consumer data in a consistent manner. Congress should ensure fair protections for Main Street businesses by removing the private right of action provision in the APRA.

Send a message today

Why Congress must pass CORCA to combat organized retail crime

Congress faces increasing calls to pass the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act (CORCA) as the retail industry grapples with escalating threats. The National Retail Federation (NRF) spearheads efforts to advocate for this crucial legislation, emphasizing three urgent reasons for its passage.

Firstly, organized retail crime poses not only economic repercussions but also threatens the safety of store employees and customers. NRF's 2023 National Retail Security Survey reveals a disturbing rise in violence and aggression from perpetrators. Additionally, these criminal networks intertwine with activities like human trafficking and drug smuggling, underscoring the necessity for federal intervention.

Secondly, CORCA proposes the establishment of an Organized Retail Crime Coordination Center, facilitating collaboration between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies alongside retail industry stakeholders. This coordinated approach aims to enhance law enforcement's effectiveness in tackling retail crime by pooling resources and expertise. 

Lastly, CORCA enjoys widespread support from both the retail community and Congress, boasting over 130 bipartisan co-sponsors. Such bipartisan consensus in a divisive political landscape highlights CORCA's potential to garner broad agreement and drive meaningful legislative progress.

With momentum building and the stakes high, NRF urges stakeholders to rally behind CORCA's passage, emphasizing its critical role in safeguarding the retail industry and communities nationwide.

NRF challenges settlement over credit card swipe fees

In a bold move, the National Retail Federation (NRF) is challenging a proposed settlement in a class-action lawsuit over credit card "swipe" fees, arguing it falls short of addressing key issues. NRF asserts the settlement, negotiated without significant input from major retailers or their advocates, fails to tackle anticompetitive practices by Visa and Mastercard.

The proposal, which aims to reduce fees marginally, is deemed inadequate, especially considering the substantial financial burden these fees impose on businesses and consumers.


Despite projected savings, the NRF contends the reduction is insignificant compared to the overall volume of fees. Additionally, the settlement's restrictive terms, including a ban on future litigation and lack of opt-out provisions, raise concerns about fairness and potential violations of antitrust laws. NRF advocates for the Credit Card Competition Act, emphasizing the need for legislative action to foster competition and address the longstanding issues surrounding swipe fees. This legal challenge underscores the ongoing battle between retailers and credit card companies over transaction costs, highlighting the complexities of the retail landscape.

WR provides 2024 legislative recap at WAORCA King County meeting

At the recent WAORCA King County monthly meeting, Crystal Leatherman, WR’s Local & State Government Affairs Manager, provided a recap of the 2024 legislative session, highlighting that the supplemental budget included a proviso for $1 million to develop strategies against organized retail crime (ORC). Crystal also outlined WR’s ongoing local efforts, which include collaborations with Pierce County’s top officials and interim discussions with state lawmakers.

During the meeting, participants shared their experiences and evolving strategies to tackle the increasing threat of retail theft and ORC. Carl Kleinknecht, Kemper Development Director of Security, shared a breakthrough on the recent dismantling of a prolific, multi-state retail theft ring. The group is allegedly responsible for stealing over $537,000 worth of clothing in Washington, also face charges in multiple counties in Oregon, and is accused of stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of designer bags in California. There has been a noticeable decrease in thefts at the targeted stores since the early April arrests of the group members.

Investigators executing a search warrant at the suspected ring leader’s home seized suspected stolen goods, vehicles that may have been purchased with fraudulent documents, and three semi-automatic rifles. It is important to note that those arrested are convicted felons and are prohibited from possessing firearms, which underscores the seriousness of the crime.

This case challenges the notion, held by some advocates and lawmakers, that ORC is a victimless crime affecting only large retailers. Washington, ranking as the state most impacted by retail theft, also sees its smaller businesses frequently targeted by these sophisticated crime rings. The broader implications for the community include endangered retail employees, inflated consumer costs, and the revenue from stolen goods used to fund other illicit activities including drug and human trafficking.

Additionally, the recruitment of vulnerable populations, including individuals suffering from addiction or mental illness and children, into these crimes is particularly alarming. For example, in addition to the three members of the Bellevue ORC ring, two of which are 18 and 24 years old, there is also a suspected 4th participant, an 11-year-old. This highlights the urgent need for legislative action to curb these crimes, protect communities, and reduce the youth-to-crime pipeline that is gaining traction across the state.

These recent efforts to tackle retail crime marks progress but there is still much more to be done. Lawmakers must address this pervasive issue head on to protect Washingtonians and the economic health of this state.

Seattle mayor's office organizes community safety forums

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell’s Office has organized five community safety forums to address public concerns. These forums, spanning various regions of the city, aim to engage citizens in discussions with representatives from key departments, including the Police and Fire Departments, CARE Department, and Department of Transportation.

Each forum will provide localized insights and information, making attendance particularly beneficial for residents of the respective areas. Mayor Harrell emphasizes the importance of community participation in refining safety strategies, inviting feedback on six key approaches outlined by the city.

To facilitate open dialogue, the forums will cover topics such as reducing gun violence, improving emergency response, tackling root causes of violence, and fostering community trust. Additionally, a promotional video highlighting collaborative efforts among relevant departments has been released.

The forums offer an opportunity for citizens to contribute to shaping their city's safety initiatives, demonstrating the value of community engagement in creating a safer environment for all.

Remaining forum dates and sign-up links:

  • South: Rainier Beach Community Center, May 7th, 6-7:30pm, Sign up
  • North: Bitter Lake Community Center, May 9th, 6-7:30pm, Sign up
  • Southwest: Concord Elementary School, May 14th, 6-7:30pm, Sign up
  • West: Queen Anne Community Center, May 16th, 6-7:30pm, Sign up

Register today for the 2024 Unemployment Insurance Issues Conference June 26-28, in Spokane, WA!

We're thrilled to have the picturesque state of Washington as the host for this year's highly anticipated National Conference on Unemployment Insurance Issues. From June 26-28, 2024, immerse yourself in the vibrant city of Spokane for an insightful and engaging event that promises to shape the future landscape of unemployment insurance policies.

Agenda Highlights:

  • Legislative Updates: Dive into proposals shaping UI policies.
  • Economic Impact Analysis: Explore COVID-19's effects on unemployment.
  • Special Focus on WA: Learn about innovative state programs.

 Why Attend?

 Network with experts, exchange best practices, and shape the future of UI legislation.

 Register Today!

AI empowers small business leaders: Optimizing productivity for success in 2024

Small business leaders are turning to Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a key ally in navigating the challenges of 2024. With 38% expressing heightened worries about their businesses' health this year and 40% perceiving 2024 as a make-or-break period, a proactive stance is palpable. A whopping 74% are swiftly deploying strategies to mitigate economic uncertainties, including bolstering marketing efforts and setting aside emergency funds. Moreover, 43% are keen on embracing new technologies to enhance productivity and efficiency.

AI emerges as a game-changer, promising cost-effective solutions to streamline various facets of business operations. Despite apprehensions surrounding AI adoption, such as security concerns and uncertainty about implementation, the potential benefits are undeniable. From optimizing marketing and sales to revolutionizing customer service and support, AI holds the promise of catapulting small businesses into a realm of heightened efficiency and competitiveness.

As businesses gear up to navigate the challenges and opportunities of 2024, the message is clear: Embrace technology, particularly AI, as a catalyst for growth and resilience.

Read 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, President/CEO — 360.200.6450 — Email

Mark Johnson, Sr. VP of Policy & Government Affairs — 360.943.0667 — Email

Crystal Leatherman, State & Local GA Manager — 360.200-6453 — Email

Rose Gundersen, VP of Operations & Retail Services — 360.200.6452 — Email