Newsletter December 1, 2022







AG Ferguson pursues funding for in-house ORC unit

Attorney General Bob Ferguson convened an Organized Retail Crime (ORC) Task Force earlier this year to improve coordination and collaboration among law enforcement agencies to address these multi-jurisdictional crimes.

More than 100 individuals attended the first Task Force meeting, including retailers, workers, small business owners, and state, local, and federal law enforcement. A consistent message at the meeting was the need for additional resources to address these sophisticated crimes. The second Task Force meeting was held yesterday with 144 in attendance, including retailers, law enforcement, loss prevention officers, business owners, and prosecuting attorneys. Topics of discussion included employee safety, best practices for online sales platforms, and the free resources provided on the WR website.

This week, Ferguson announced that he is seeking funding to hire a 10-person unit, including prosecutors and investigators, to combat organized retail crime.

The ORC Unit will be able to assist with investigations — including coordinating them across multiple jurisdictions — and deploy resources where they are most needed. The unit will also be able to prosecute cases referred to the office by county prosecutors. Without such a referral, the Attorney General’s Office has no jurisdiction over criminal matters.

“Washington law enforcement agencies have limited resources to tackle these sophisticated crimes,” Ferguson said in his announcement. “A modest investment in a centralized statewide organized retail crimes unit will hold criminals accountable and deter crimes which cause significant economic harm to our state.”

“As the retail industry continues to recover from the pandemic, there has never been a more critical time in Washington state to address the growing impacts of organized retail crime on public safety and the safety of our customers and retail employees,” said Renée Sunde, president and CEO of the Washington Retail Association. “Funding the unit is an important part of a multi-pronged approach to coordinate the efforts of state and local law enforcement, prosecutors, retailers and policymakers at multiple agencies and levels of government.”

WA State Supreme Court issues “stay” on lower court capital gains tax ruling

The Capital Gains Tax, approved by the legislature and signed by the governor, was challenged and overturned by the Douglas County Superior Court.. While oral arguments are scheduled to begin on January 26, 2023, the Washington State Supreme Court issued a “stay” on the lower court ruling yesterday, meaning the state can begin issuing rules and start the process for collection before next year’s tax due date.


WR strongly encourages the court to uphold the Douglas County Court decision that the tax is unconstitutional and cannot be collected by the state.


The tax is scheduled to take effect in April 2023. The State Department of Revenue has been busy preparing to collect the tax if it is upheld as constitutional, while other efforts are underway to prevent the DOR from collecting the tax until the Supreme Court rules. It is uncertain whether the Supreme Court will rule in time to prevent the state from attempting to collect the tax. Additionally, steps are in motion to allow the state to collect it even if the Supreme Court hasn’t ruled by April.


WR opposes the Capital Gains Tax because it is unconstitutional and an income tax—forbidden in our state—and because the tax will severely impact small retailers that choose to sell their businesses when they retire. The tax is 7% of everything above $250,000. For many retailers and small business owners, the business is their retirement. They have poured their blood, sweat, and tears into making their business worth something in hopes of one day selling and making a profit so they can live out their golden years. They have already been paying property taxes, payroll taxes, business and occupation taxes, and collecting the state sales tax. It is fundamentally wrong to now ask them to pay an additional 7% on their retirement.


Additionally, there is some discussion that the case may even be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court as there are potential Commerce Clause implications with taxing folks from other states.


WR will continue to support efforts by the Opportunities for All Coalition to nullify this illegal and misguided tax.

House passes INFORM Consumers Act

The US House of Representatives passed the INFORM Consumers Act (HR 5502) last week with a strong bipartisan vote, an important step in the fight against retail theft and ORC. WR applauds the House’s decisive action.

In addition to the House action, the INFORM Consumers Act is still part of the Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). While there is an ongoing discussion for removing the provision from the NDAA over jurisdictional issues, the move by the House sets up the ability for the bill to be included in an overall year-end omnibus package. It continues the way ahead for the INFORM Consumers Act to be approved by the Senate this year. This critical legislation is one of the multiple “prongs” necessary to crack down on retail theft and ORC. WR is cautiously optimistic that the bill will be passed by congress and enacted into law.

The Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces (INFORM) Act will make it more difficult for criminals to fence stolen and counterfeit goods in the shadows of the internet and help law enforcement investigate these illegal activities. 

Seattle voters approve ranked-choice voting by slim margin

Faced with a complex combination of ballot measures, Seattle voters approved a new “ranked choice” voting system by a very slim margin.

In August, a campaign to create an “approval voting” system turned in enough valid voter signatures to qualify for the November ballot. At that point, the Seattle City Council also placed ranked choice voting on the ballot. Both of the proposed voting systems give voters the option to vote for multiple candidates in a primary. Voters must rank the candidates they vote for in a ranked-choice system, and the approval system allows voters to vote for multiple candidates without ranking them in order of preference.

Seattle voters were confronted with two questions. First, asking if they wanted to change the voting system, and the second question was if they preferred a ranked choice or approval voting system. The “yes” vote was barely above 50% for the “change” question and could still face a recount. However, on the second question, voters chose ranked-choice voting by about a 3 to 1 margin.

Assuming that the “yes” margin holds up, Seattle would implement the new voting system in time for the 2027 primary election. Seattle would join about 50 cities and counties -- and the states of Maine and Alaska – in adopting ranked-choice voting.

WA State House Republican and Democrat Caucuses announce leadership 

WR congratulates the newly elected House Caucus leadership team members who were announced this past week, including:


The 2023-25 House Republican Caucus leadership team (partial list):

  • Leader – Rep. J.T. Wilcox (R-Yelm)
  • Deputy Leader – Rep. Joel Kretz (R- Wauconda)
  • Caucus Chair – Rep. Paul Harris (R-Vancouver)
  • Whip – Rep. Dan Griffey (R- Allyn)
  • Floor Leader – Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber (R- Republic)
  • Assistant Floor Leader – Rep. Chris Corry (R- Yakima)
  • Assistant Floor Leader – Rep. Peter Abbarno (R- Centralia)


The 2023-25 House Democratic Caucus leadership team (partial list):

  • Speaker of the House (designate*): Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma)
  • Majority Leader: Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-West Seattle)
  • Majority Caucus Chair: Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self (D-Mukilteo)
  • Majority Floor Leader: Rep. Monica Stonier (D-Vancouver)
  • Majority Whip: Rep. Alex Ramel (D-Bellingham)
  • Speaker pro tempore (designate*): Rep. Tina Orwall (D-Des Moines)
  • Deputy Speaker pro tempore (designate*): Rep. Dan Bronoske (D-Lakewood)

The full House of Representatives votes for Speaker of the House. This vote will occur when the 105-day legislative session convenes on January 9, 2023, hence the “designate” title at this time.


Announcement of the Assistant Whips and the Vice Caucus Chair(s) appointments will come at a later date.

House approves imposing rail labor deal after Biden urged Congress to prevent rail strike

Rail unions are drawing their lines in the sand after President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass legislation that would enforce the tentative rail labor agreement.

Yesterday, House lawmakers voted 290 to 137 on legislation to force adoption of the tentative labor agreement Biden brokered with rail workers, in accordance with a 1926 law that allows Congress to intervene in railroad disputes that threaten to disrupt the U.S. economy. On expanding paid leave for rail workers, lawmakers voted 221-207 to approve the proposal—Democrats in favor and nearly all Republicans opposed.

Both measures now on their way to an evenly divided Senate, where 60 votes are required to advance most legislation. The Senate has yet to schedule a vote, which is expected in the coming days. The leaders of both parties have backed the measure adopting the tentative labor agreement, purposed to end the strike, however, Republican leaders have reservations about the second proposal expanding paid leave.

Smooth and stable rail operations are crucial this holiday season and avoiding a rail strike is imperative to avoid supply chain disruptions, especially for retailers.

The railroad industry forecasts that a strike could inflict economic damage of $2 billion per day, and other industry groups have warned of a direct hit to GDP and inflation increase. According to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), 40% of cargo is based on weight, and long-distance freight is moved by rail.

The American Petroleum Institute said that 467,000 trucks and trailers would be required to move the amount of rail-bound freight per day if there was a strike, which would significantly strain the nation’s supply chain.

American businesses and families are already facing increased prices due to persistent inflation, and a rail strike will create greater inflationary pressures and threaten business resiliency. Please support H.J. Res 100 and encourage the Senate to stop any potential rail strike and the resultant catastrophic shutdown of the freight rail system.

Record 197 million consumers shop over Thanksgiving weekend

A record 197 million Americans shopped in brick-and-mortar stores and online during the five-day holiday shopping period from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday. The total number of shoppers grew by nearly 17 million year-over-year, the highest number in the past six years.

As inflationary pressures continue, consumers have endured by stretching their dollars in every way they can. Retailers have responded by offering shoppers buying convenience, matching sales and promotions across online and in-store channels—accommodating their customers at each interaction.

While retail sales gains are partly due to higher prices, the historic growth in the number of consumers who are shopping in-store and online during the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend and into Cyber Monday is noteworthy.

According to a survey, more than three-quarters (76%) of consumers say they shopped over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, up from 70% in 2021. Retailers saw a significant increase of in-store shoppers, with more than 122.7 million people visiting bricks-and-mortar stores over the weekend, up 17% from 2021. The number of online shoppers grew at a slower pace—a 2% increase over 2021.

Black Friday continues to reign as the most favored day for both in-store and online shopping. Approximately 72.9 million consumers opted for traditional in-person shopping, up from 66.5 million in 2021, and roughly 87.2 million consumers shopped online approximately the same as the year before.

In total, Americans have spent $210 billion so far this holiday season, according to Adobe, spanning from October 1 to present. 

Fading supply-chain problems signal season of plenty for holiday shoppers

Austen Hufford and Sharon Terlep — The Wall Street Journal

After two years of disruption, supply chains are almost back to normal. That means shelves should be fully stocked, and some prices actually will be lower this holiday season, industry executive and analysts say.

“The script has been flipped,” said Steve Pasierb, president of manufacturing group The Toy Association. “From a supply-chain standpoint, it’s the opposite of last year.”

To be sure, isolated shortages persist, and only some items are seeing lower prices. Overall inflation is still high and squeezing incomes.

Still, the widespread stockouts that marked the last two holiday seasons are largely absent thanks to increased capacity throughout the supply chain, slackening demand driven by spending shifts from goods to services and higher interest rates, and a “new normal” for supply-chain management that emphasizes earlier delivery lead times and heftier inventories.

Companies from big-box chains to makers of apparel and luxury goods to smaller and specialty retailers say they expect to be well stocked for the holidays.

“We have been chasing in-stock for the last two and a half years, and we’re finally in a great position going into the holiday event period,” Kathryn McLay, chief executive of Walmart Inc.’s Sam’s Club division, said Tuesday.

Target Corp., in a reversal from a year ago, said Wednesday it was rolling out deep holiday discounts and shortening lead times for product orders after shipments arrived more quickly than anticipated, leading to a buildup of items.

At smaller chains, the story is the same.

Read the whole story at

Help prevent workplace falls on stairs

Falls are the second highest cause of accidental deaths in the US and nearly half of falls at the workplace occur on stairs. The number of falls each year are increasing, but these falls can be prevented.

Falls are often due to inattention, fatigue, haste, and illness, all of which can increase the likelihood of an accident.

The following tips will help reduce the risk of stair accidents:

  • Maintain proper stair cleanliness and repair.
  • Replace deteriorating coverings, such as frayed carpets or worn traction strips.
  • Encourage employees to maintain situational awareness.
  • Ensure stairways have secure handrails and guardrails.
  • Handrails should always be used, regardless of whether one is ascending or descending the stairs.
  • Stairways should be well lit and clear of obstacles.
  • The bottom step should be visually distinct – painting the edge a different color, such as yellow, can provide a good visual cue to differentiate the stairs from the floor.
  • If throw rugs are positioned at the top or bottom of a stairway, they should be secured with skid-resistant backing.
  • Outdoor stairways should be kept free of snow, ice, and accumulated water.
  • Anyone wearing lower-traction footwear, such as sandals, dress shoes, or high heels, should take extra care and caution when using stairs.
  • When someone is carrying objects up or down stairs, it is essential for them to maintain visibility of the walking path while holding the object with one arm and the handrail with the other.

Safety is as important as workers’ productivity. Management must communicate that safety is a higher priority than speed, especially when stairs are involved. Managers and supervisors can use hallway conversations as an opportunity to engage employees in discussions on how to prevent falls on stairways. These interactive conversations demonstrate management’s care, builds relationships and trust, and results in employees being more likely to follow safety suggestions when their thoughts have been heard.


Safety resources:

Rick Means, Director of Safety and Education, is available to help members with safety. Contact Rick at 360-943-9198, Ext. 118

Notice: The staff of WR will be hosting its annual meeting of the WR Board of Directors on Monday, December 5. Look for the next Inside Washington Retail Newsletter in your inbox on December 15!

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 & Government Affairs



Robert B. Haase

Director of




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