Newsletter June 1, 2023









Washington's new capital gains tax exceeds expectations

Capital gains tax collections in Washington state have surpassed expectations, with revenues totaling $849 million for fiscal year 2023 (ending on June 30) compared to the initial forecast of $248 million. This figure, collected through May 9, represents a new tax that faced constitutional uncertainties before being approved by the Supreme Court in March.

This higher-than-anticipated amount resulted from a 7% tax on the sale or exchange of assets, such as stocks and bonds above $250,000, implemented in 2021. However, caution is warranted due to the volatility of this new tax, as the state's ability to maintain these high collections remains to be seen.

Per existing statute, the first $500 million from capital gains tax collections annually funds the Education Legacy Trust Account (ELTA), supporting public schools. An excess above this amount is allocated to the state's construction budget, focusing on school construction projects. Consequently, the unexpectedly high revenue may significantly enhance educational funding and infrastructure development.

Despite this revenue boost, lawmakers remain hesitant about over-reliance on this potentially fluctuating tax source. Any surplus is therefore spent on one-time construction projects. The surplus from the current fiscal year, if sustained, could lead to an increased budget for schools, particularly in areas with lower property values.

The final tax figures could yet change, given that about 2,500 taxpayers who requested extensions still need to file their returns by October 16. If the higher revenues are confirmed, new spending would require approval during the 2024 legislative session.

While Washington currently lacks an income tax, legislators have explored other taxation methods, including a wealth tax and increased tax on multimillion-dollar property sales, to address the burden on low-income residents.

Employer duties for exempt employees under WA Cares tax

The legislature has provided conditional exemptions under WA Cares (Washington’s long-term healthcare tax) for certain eligible employees. Both employers and employees should be aware of their respective responsibilities related to these exemptions. 

Employee responsibilities: Applications for conditional exemptions under WA Cares are available. It is the employee’s responsibility to apply for an exemption if they wish to do so and to notify their employer of any changes to exemption status. Failure to do so may cause back-payment of premiums and penalties. Workers eligible for WA Cares exemptions must apply by today, June 1, to avoid paycheck deductions starting in July.

Employer responsibilities: Once employees submit a copy of their exemption approval letter from the Employment Security Department (ESD), employers:

  • Must keep a copy of the approval letters on file
  • May not deduct WA Cares premiums for exempt workers


Approval letters from ESD will list the effective date of the exemption. Employers may use these links to access the employer tool kit and other communication materials.

Exemption pathways: Employees are eligible for exemptions from WA Cares if any of the following apply:

  • Live outside of Washington
  • Are the spouse or registered domestic partner of an active-duty service member of the U.S. armed forces
  • Have non-immigrant work visas
  • Are veterans with a 70% service-connected disability rating or higher

Workers will no longer qualify for an exemption if their conditions change, except for the veteran’s exemption, since a 70% or higher disability rating is considered a permanent exemption.

The Washington My Health My Data Act Part 1: An Overview

By Mike Hintze

This article is the first in a sequence of blog posts exploring the now-ratified Washington My Health My Data Act. Part 1 of the series offers an initial overview, and subsequent posts investigate individual components and implications of the Act in greater depth.

The ongoing blog series will delve more deeply into individual aspects of the Act and the issues it raises, including the broad scope of “Consumer Health Data,” the wide spectrum of Regulated Entities and Consumers encompassed by the Act, the confusion around effective dates, mandatory and onerous consent requirements, consumer rights, the scope and treatment biometric data, the unusual notice obligations, a comparison between MHMDA and HIPAA, the prohibition in certain geofencing, and other topics.

It’s noteworthy that this blog series began prior to the Act’s formal enactment. Now enacted, the Washington My Health My Data Act stands as a milestone in privacy legislation for 2023. It is arguably the most impactful privacy legislation since the original California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) was passed in 2018.

Purportedly, the Act was aimed to protect health data not covered by HIPAA, the federal law preserving the privacy of health data managed by defined “covered entities.” However, the Act deviates significantly from HIPAA, presenting a broader scope of data and imposing rigorous obligations that go beyond what is required by HIPAA. This divergence manifests significant discrepancies in how personal data is to be managed between HIPAA-covered entities and other types of entities.

The Act’s extensive jurisdiction, formidable substantive duties, combined with its ambiguously defined terms, and a full private right of action pose a considerable challenge and risk for entities striving to conform to its regulations. The Washington My Health My Data Act, through its magnitude and complexity, is not merely filling gaps but is redefining the landscape of health data privacy.

Read the full blog post

Safer Products for Washington announces important dates

The Safer Products for Washington team will present an online webinar on June 21, open to all stakeholders. In the presentation, the team will share highlights from the upcoming Draft Identification of Priority Chemicals Report and provide time for attendees to ask questions. The draft report will be available on June 7, with the comment period running until July 14.

The report identifies priority chemicals and chemical classes to use during the second cycle of Safer Products for Washington implementation.

Stakeholders can review and comment on the Draft Identification of Priority Chemicals Report to the Legislature from June 7–July 14, 2023. Once the comment period ends, the team will respond to all of the comments they receive.

The Safer Products for Washington team is holding an online webinar on Wednesday, June 21, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. PDT. Zoom meeting information will be sent before the event. Highlights from the report will be shared, and time will be provided for a Q&A portion with the attendees.

For up-to-date information, visit the Safer Products for Washington stakeholder webpage throughout the Cycle 2 implementation. Questions and concerns can be sent to

Strong spending and vigorous labor market growth dissuade thoughts of recession

As of April, the U.S. economy continues to exhibit signs of strength and stability, as supported by solid job growth, historically low unemployment, and robust consumer spending.

The labor market demonstrated a strong upward trend, adding 253,000 jobs in April and bringing the unemployment rate down to a historic low of 3.4%. This development surpassed economists’ expectations and represented a positive economic momentum, even amid financial uncertainties.

The labor force participation rate, which illustrates the share of individuals employed or actively seeking work, was 62.6% in April. In tandem with this, average hourly earnings, a key indicator of wage growth, followed a positive trajectory, climbing by 0.5% in March and by 4.4% compared to last year.

Consumer spending, a vital supporting force of the economy, hit new highs in April. This trend could reflect the solid job market and rising wages, likely boosting American consumers’ confidence and purchasing power. Nevertheless, some analysts warn of potential pressure from rising costs and possible interest rate hikes, which could impact affordability in the future.

While the Federal Reserve remains watchful of the labor market, concerned that it could fuel inflation that’s already running high, Fed Chair Jerome Powell expressed optimism that the workforce was “coming back into better balance,” albeit still “very tight.”

Even with certain headwinds, the combined strength of the labor market, low unemployment rates, and robust consumer spending create a picture of a resilient economic environment. This overall positive outlook suggests that fears of an immediate recession may be premature, reaffirming the overall strength of the U.S. economy.

Coastal Caucus gives session wrap-up

The Greater Grays Harbor Chamber held a wrap-up presentation on the 2023 Legislative Session this past week. Presenting were Rep. Jim Walsh (R-19-Aberdeen), Rep. Mike Chapman (D-24-Port Angeles), and Senator Jeff Wilson (R-19-Longview). U.S. Chamber of Commerce representative Chris Eyler also presented from the national political front. Representatives from the 19th and 24th Legislative Districts are known as the “Coastal Caucus” because their districts encompass the entire Olympic Peninsula, from Neah Bay to Ilwaco.


WR has worked closely with members of the Coastal Caucus (CC) for many years and long partnered with the U.S. Chamber on national and local issues.


Overall, the session ended well for Grays Harbor and the Olympic Peninsula. Of note were several transportation and capital budget appropriations that directly benefit citizens in those areas. Notably, the construction of a highway overpass above an active rail line stands out. This development will enable uninterrupted motor vehicle movement, even as numerous trains navigate into and out of the harbor vicinity. 


The well-attended luncheon attendees at the Rotary Log Pavilion event came away with a sense of true bipartisanship on most issues. The Costal Caucus has three D and three R members, and they have a good working relationship, enabling them to get things done.


The carefully negotiated drug possession and use law passed during a special session this past month was highlighted during the presentations. The so-called “Blake fix” bill—referring to the Washington State Supreme Court decision that essentially decriminalized drug possession and use—received overwhelming support by both D’s and R’s in both the House and Senate. WR was a strong advocate and supporter of the “Blake fix” to help those struggling with substance use disorders to receive treatment and hopefully break the cycle. Retailers realize that often these individuals are preyed upon by organized retail crime rings that recruit them to commit retail theft and other crimes.


WR commends the Greater Grays Harbor Chamber for orchestrating such a crucial wrap-up and fostering connections with state-elected representatives, national business collaborators, and their members.

How Costco's unique strategies thwart rising retail theft

Retail theft is soaring across the US, with giants like Walmart, Target, and Dollar Tree bearing the brunt of losses. However, Costco remains resilient, reporting no significant surge in inventory losses due to theft or fraud.

Costco's CFO, Richard Galanti, revealed a brief increase in shrinkage following self-checkout introduction three years ago, but rates soon returned to usual levels. As its competitors struggle with escalating losses, with Target predicting shrinkage costs to top $1 billion in 2023, Costco's success raises the question: what's its secret?

The answer lies in four strategic practices:

  1. Personal data collection: As a members-only retailer, Costco collects customers' personal information only, creating a potential deterrent for theft.
  2. Strict membership rules: Shoppers must prove membership upon entry and at purchase, ensuring all visitors are accountable members.
  3. Receipt check at exit: Costco ensures receipts match cart items before customers leave the store, an added layer of scrutiny against theft.
  4. Oversized packaging for valuable items: This discourages pilferage as items cannot be easily concealed. Even for organized retail crime rings, bulkier items prove less profitable for online reselling.

These core strategies have allowed Costco to navigate a climate of rising retail theft with minimal losses, demonstrating the effectiveness of its unique approach.

Read more from the Business Insider

Meet Brittany Shannon, our new Business Development Manager

Washington Retail Services welcomes Brittany Shannon, who joined WR in April 2023 as the new Business Development Manager. Brittany’s primary focus is building trusted relationships with association members and stakeholders to support membership retention and grow association business development efforts.

Brittany brings a broad depth of experience to her new position, including government and private sectors. Her background includes work with three state agencies where she filled a variety of capacities and roles demonstrating her aptitude for teamwork and her drive to expand service capabilities.

Brittany’s recent experience included overseeing over 275 commercial customer accounts every week in the private sector. In addition to customer service, she managed accounts payable and receivable, demonstrating her financial competency.

Her new role will focus on customer service, membership communication, marketing, project management, and data analysis. Brittany is a native of Washington State, where she and her family reside in Olympia.

Immigrant workforce hits record high, reinforcing role in U.S. labor market amid labor shortages

The U.S. labor force has witnessed a historic influx of foreign-born workers, as per recent Labor Department data. This comes amidst labor shortages and more Americans retiring, underlining the increasing importance of immigrant contributions to the labor market.

Over the years, there's been a steady increase in the proportion of foreign-born labor. In 2022, the number of foreign-born workers in the U.S. rose significantly to 29.8 million, up approximately 6% from the previous year. Conversely, the number of native-born workers saw a minimal 1% increase. This can be attributed to a larger share of the immigrant population being of working age (18-64), at 77%, compared to about 59% of the native-born population.

Despite this, the relative size of the immigrant population has remained stable over the past two decades, at 13.6% of the total U.S. population in 2021. Foreign-born workers tend to occupy different roles than native-born workers and typically earn less. Their median weekly income in 2022 was $945, or 87% of their native-born counterparts' earnings.

Contrary to the belief that foreign-born workers are taking jobs from Americans, there were ample jobs available in 2022, with two jobs for every job-seeker at times. The unemployment rate also continued to hover around a record low.

Amidst decreasing workforces, many wealthier nations are revamping immigration policies to attract more workers and combat inflation. However, immigration policy in the U.S. remains a contentious political issue. As Phillip Connor, a senior demographer at FWD.US, an immigration advocacy group, stated, "If you want a growing workforce, without immigration, that isn't going to happen."

Two practical tips to make safety the company culture

Creating a culture of safety in the workplace goes beyond minimal compliance requirements. Leaders must help nurture employees toward a personal connection to the safety program.

Below are two practical ways to establish a culture of safety:

  • Leaders need to be actively involved on the frontline, consistently offer guidance, and mentor in a way that aligns with the safety principles they uphold.

  • Building an ownership mindset where everyone feels responsible for safety, no matter their job title. When everyone feels responsible for safety, it creates a positive atmosphere and a healthier work environment.

Instead of just getting workers to participate in safety activities, it's essential to build a culture where safety becomes an integral part of the organizational fabric, seamlessly integrated into everyday operations. This normalization of safety transforms it into a fundamental aspect of everything the company does.

A safety culture encompasses the values, attitudes, and behaviors that drive the organization and is an absolute priority for every employee. By creating such a culture, leaders can ensure that safety is not just a set of rules and regulations but a fundamental aspect of the organizational identity.

Our safety team is available to help members transition their safety program from minimal compliance to quality safety practices. Contact us at 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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