Four issues to pay attention to this summer

By: Editorial Staff Posted: 08/06/2019

Speakers at the Chamber's July Business Issues Forum dig into local elections; operational issues for local employers

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Summer may be here, but as Chamber members learned at July’s Business Issues Forum, there are plenty of active policy and political issues affecting businesses in our region.

Chamber’s political arm focuses on transparent, accountable leadership in the 2019 City Council elections

Markham McIntyre, executive director of CASE, the Seattle Metro Chamber’s political action committee, gave an overview of the upcoming elections for the seven district seats on the Seattle City Council and business community engagement to date. Polling shows that voters are frustrated with the current Council, creating an opportunity to elect leaders who will restore trust and represent their districts.

CASE released its endorsements in June, and McIntyre encouraged interested members to reach out for more information about how to get involved. 

Council’s proposed “hotel legislation” also has high financial and operational impacts for small, non-hotel businesses

John Lane and Anna Boone with the Washington Hospitality Association briefed Chamber members on several bills moving through the Seattle City Council that would affect small businesses that are tenants of, or vendors to, a Seattle hotel property, such as restaurants and retailers on the ground floor of a hotel. 

As currently drafted, these bills would have steep financial and operational impacts on these ancillary non-hotel businesses. Any of these businesses with 20 or more employees worldwide would need to take on healthcare expenditures above what the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires, blacklist accused guests, and follow preferential hiring requirements. 

Read more from the Washington Hospitality Association and contact Council about these proposals.

City Light completes new substation in SLU; looks for business input on updates to Strategic Plan  

Debra Smith, general manager and CEO of Seattle City Light, gave Chamber members a window into the utility’s recent activity, as well as forthcoming updates to its six-year strategic plan. City Light recently completed its first new substation in decades, with the opening of the Denny Substation in South Lake Union. 

Smith highlighted her priorities at Seattle City Light:

  1. Creating a customer-centric culture
  2. Enhancing the employee experience
  3. Revenue stabilization through rate redesign
  4. Innovation is electrification
  5. One Seattle

Smith noted that the Seattle City Light review panel is looking at how to stabilize rates, and emphasized how important listening and engaging with the business community is to Seattle City Light.

She also elaborated on her fifth point: the Mayor has launched a good government initiative aimed and Smith noted that “we are focusing on how we can work closely together and make it easier to deal with the City of Seattle.” This includes a more uniformly positive experience with various departments, from Seattle City Light, to the Seattle Department of Transportation, to Seattle Public Utilities.

Is your building’s fire and life safety system up to date?

For one out of three systems in Seattle, the answer is no, said Ken Brouillette, technical code program manager with the Fire Prevention Division of the Seattle Fire Department.  

To address this, the Seattle Fire Department is increasing education, engineering, and enforcement around building owners’ responsibility to conduct mandatory systems testing. SFD has made 48,000 contacts in first 12 months of the systems testing program. Brouillette shared that the Fire Department is also working to add a citations as a new, less punitive enforcement tool to help gain compliance, compared to the current penalty of $1,000/day fines and court prosecutions.

SFD is also working with building owners to reduce preventable false alarms, which account for about one out of every three fire calls.


The Chamber's Business Issues Forum is the place to learn about and discuss emerging policy issues that matter to your business and the community. A benefit available only to members, meetings include informational briefings from guest speakers and structured discussion with fellow members.