2024 Session Review




The 2024 legislative session adjourned “sine die” for the year yesterday. This was a short 60-day session, so lawmakers mostly focused on making adjustments to the two-year state budgets and revisiting legislation that failed to pass during the 2023 legislative session. We also saw several new issues emerge this year.

Your government affairs team worked with lawmakers on several key priority issues including Tourism Promotion Areas, reauthorization of lodging relief funds and creating a hospitality center of excellence.

We were also busy defending our industry from harmful legislation, which included burdensome gift card regulations, expanding unemployment insurance benefits to striking workers and another attempt to lower the per se blood alcohol content (BAC) level to 0.05%.

Once again, the GA team extends a huge thank you to our Government Affairs Committee (GAC) for providing the direction our team needs to best represent you at the Legislature. The insight and expertise provided by the GAC is invaluable as we achieve wins for the hospitality industry each legislative session. If you are interested in joining the GAC, send an email to: statega@wahospitality.org.

Another thank you to all Washington Hospitality Association members that responded to our action alerts this session. We issued actions alerts on several important issues this session, which resulted more than 2,000 total engagements from our members. That is double our engagements from last year! Your efforts to contact lawmakers had an impact on the outcome of these critical issues.

You can read the full 2024 legislative session wrap up below. And please reach out to statega@wahospitality.org if you have any questions or comments.


Association Top Priorities

(Support) HB 2137: Tourism Promotion Areas (TPAs) – In late 2023, the Department of Revenue informed many jurisdictions that some Tourism Promotion Areas (TPAs) were not in compliance with local ordinances and gave these areas until 2024 to fix the compliance issues. This bill provides exemptions needed for TPAs to comply without having to go through the assessment process again. The bill also adds retroactive language to allow TPAs formerly not in compliance, to be in compliance. HB 2137 passed and is headed to the governor for his signature.

(Support) Hospitality Center of Excellence – The Washington Hospitality Association has successfully secured $257,000 to establish a Hospitality Center of Excellence based at Columbia Basin College. We worked diligently with Rep. April Connors in the House, and Sen. Nikki Torres in the Senate to make the budget requests and secure funding. Establishing a Center of Excellence solely focused on the hospitality and tourism industry will help us source and develop top candidates to address workforce shortages, foster innovation by providing a platform for industry leaders, researchers and entrepreneurs to share ideas, and ultimately, create a credentialed workforce of passionate employees to help ensure that Washington remains a leader in the tourism sector and continues to attract visitors from around the world.

(Support) Reauthorization of hotel relief funds – In 2022, the Legislature authorized $100 million in relief to the hospitality industry with federal relief dollars. That program established $15 million specifically for hotels that were impacted by the eviction moratorium. Not all of the funds were used, so we needed legislative authorization to use the remaining $12 million funds to support Destination Marketing Organizations. Unfortunately, some of the funds were appropriated to other projects, but we were able to secure $1 million to support the industry.

(Support) HB 2349 & SB 6241: Salary Disclosure – In 2021, the Legislature passed a bill that requires employers to include a salary range and statement of benefits on job postings – a relatively harmless concept. However, the bill included a private right of action with a $5,000 penalty plus attorney’s fees. Nearly 50 lawsuits have been filed against unsuspecting businesses since its passage and our industry is among the most targeted. The association worked to introduce a House and Senate version of the bill, and neither version received a hearing.

Bills Headed to Governor


(Opposed) HB 1589: Natural gas ban – HB 1589, was introduced last year and originally banned new natural gas hookups. In the Senate, an amendment was introduced to remove this prohibition, and instead removed a gas utility’s “obligation to serve” its customers, a requirement placed on electric, gas, water and waste management utilities, as customers don’t have the option to choose which utility serves them. After heavy opposition from our industry, this section was removed. However, language directing Puget Sound Energy to achieve “geographically targeted electrification” remained.

After three hours of debate on the Senate floor, Senate Republican Floor Leader, Sen. Shelly Short called for a point of order and raised a constitutional challenge – and asked Lt. Governor Denny Heck to issue a ruling. Several hours later after reviewing legal arguments, the lieutenant governor agreed, saying the bill was a “hot mess.” The bill violated the state constitution and the Senate would need to fix the bill if they wanted to pass it. The Senate worked overnight to draft an amendment, which did not correct all the errors, and sent it over to the House.

Shortly after 2 a.m. on March 6, the House passed a motion to “concur” with Senate amendments on HB 1589 and sent it to the governor’s desk for signature.

This was a bold and surprising move by the House, that seemingly defied the lieutenant governor’s ruling on the bill from the previous week.

The House Republicans objected to the constitutional challenges, but unlike the Senate, the House speaker rules on parliamentary proceedings. We believe the bill is still in an illegal form and will begin to discuss next steps following adjournment of the Legislature.


(Neutral) SB 5838: Establishing an artificial intelligence task force – This bill establishes a task force to address opportunities and issues with emerging technologies, specifically artificial intelligence (AI). The task force would be charged with assessing the uses of the tech, developing guideline principles, and making recommendations for regulation. The bill establishes who the taskforce will comprise and sets a timeline for completion. In the House, a spot specifically for the hospitality industry was added to the makeup of the taskforce.

Business Operations

(Neutral) SB 6105 – Creating safer working conditions in adult entertainment establishments – SB 6105 creates safety standards for adult entertainers and authorizes the Liquor & Cannabis Board (LCB) to issue liquor licenses to adult entertainment clubs. This is a bill the Washington Hospitality Association has taken a neutral position on. However, in response to recent raids by the LCB targeting LGBTQ nightclubs, many legislators became increasingly concerned about LCB’s targeting of establishments. The bill passed with a requirement to repeal the lewd conduct rule enforced by the LCB.

Employment Law


(Oppose) SB 5778 – Protecting the rights of workers to refrain from attending meetings or listening to their employer’s speech on political or religious matters – This legislation prohibits companies from holding mandatory meetings to discuss political and religious matters. The bill’s intent is to stop companies from “discouraging employees from unionizing.” Similar legislation has been passed and challenged in other states and has not been implemented anywhere in the country. The association will work with other coalition partners on possible legal action.

(Support) HB 2102: Requirements for the disclosure of health care information for PFML The Paid Family Medical Leave program can experience long delays, in part because some medical providers take a very long time to sign off on a medical certification. This delays the department from deciding, slows employee’s benefits and leaves employers in the dark. This bill requires medical providers to provide the medical certification within five working days.

(Oppose) SB 5793: Paid Sick and Safe Leave – SB 5793 expands the definition of “family member” for which an employee is allowed to access their paid sick and safe leave bank to include any individual who regularly resides in the employee’s home, except that it does not include an individual who simply resides in the same home with no expectation that the employee care for the individual. This puts employers in the awkward position of needing to confirm the relationship statuses of their employees.

(Support) HB 1901: Unemployment insurance voluntary contribution program – During the pandemic, the legislature authorized relief for businesses that experienced layoffs due to government mandated closures. One of the relief tools authorized to expand the “voluntary contribution” program, which allows businesses to pay off benefit charges up front instead of having the benefit charges factored into their rate class for four years. This was scheduled to sunset, but HB 1901 removed the sunset, permanently authorizing this option for businesses.

Dead Bills


(Oppose) HB 1951: AI framework – This is a framework bill setting out to establish guidelines and regulations on the use and implementation of AI. This bill contained a private right of action (PRA) and would have allowed the attorney general’s office to bring suit on behalf of the state or anyone that has been “harmed.”

(Oppose) SB 6299: Protecting employee rights in the workplace with regards to the use of digital technology – This bill aimed to create guardrails for the use of AI by prohibiting employers from using a replica of an employee’s voice or likeness without consent and prohibiting employers from using artificial intelligence/generative artificial intelligence to make employment decisions such as hiring, placement, etc., without express consent from the employee. The bill also attempted to define what artificial intelligence and generative artificial intelligence mean, without any consultation from a task force.

(Concerns) HB 2277: Licensing of business entities engaged in the act of brokering data – This bill attempted to define what data brokers are and dictated what must be done if consumer data is sold, shared or transferred. It required businesses to report collected consumer data to the Department of Licensing annually. The bill also required businesses to submit their information. The department would have then submitted businesses’ collected data to the governor and to the Legislature.


(Oppose) HB 2196 & SB 5002 Concerning BAC concentration – This year, the House introduced a bill to mirror the Senate bill introduced last year to lower the per se BAC threshold from 0.08% to 0.05%. In the House, the bill received a hearing but did not have support to move out of the policy committee. In the Senate, the bill started this year in the rules committee and was advanced to the Senate floor. Again, the association, along with overwhelming engagement from our members and other coalition partners was able to block the bill from moving forward.

(Support) HB 2252: Allowing small business establishments in residential zones – HB 2252 was originally introduced to override cities and towns that prohibit cafés in residential areas, allowing for small restaurants and retail shops zoned for residential buildings. In the Senate, the bill was amended and allowed cities and towns to prohibit a café or retail store if it had a liquor license. We worked to remove this amendment, as cities and towns already have an approval process for liquor licenses, and we didn’t want to duplicate or alter the current process. The bill did not advance.

(Support) SB 6122: Licensing delivery of alcohol – Following the passage of SB 5448 last year, which extended pandemic privileges for on-premises licensees for to go and delivery of alcohol, the Legislature required the LCB to submit recommendations for all licensees for delivery and best practices for compliance.

SB 6122 took those recommendations into account and required the LCB to create a license for third-party delivery and apply consistent training requirements to all alcohol delivery.

(Support) SB 5291: Concerning liquor licenses – This bill would have required the LCB to issue a decision on licenses within 45 days. Since the LCB can extend the process up to an additional 30 days with good cause, this bill would have mandated that applicants be provided with temporary licenses to operate during the additional time. If a decision was not made within the allotted time, the temporary license would have automatically converted to a permanent license.

Business Operations

(Neutral) HB 2052: Increasing the availability of diaper changing stations – HB 2052 would have required public restrooms to install a diaper changing station in at least one bathroom accessible to men and in a bathroom accessible to women if there was a construction project in a bathroom over $10,000.

(Oppose) HB 2094 & SB 5987: Improving consumer protection on gift certificates – Under current law, if a gift card has less than $5 on it, the gift card holder can redeem this amount in cash. The proposed legislation would have raised this threshold to $50. These bills would have eliminated minimum reload amounts on gift cards, allowing any dollar amount to be reloaded, ultimately allowing “penny loading.” The association and coalition members, along with members who responded to calls to action blocked this bill from advancing.

(Oppose) HB 2095/SB 5988: Concerning gift certificates as unclaimed property – These bills would have mandated that all unused gift card balances be remitted to the state after three years. The language included loyalty points, in which case they would have reverted to the state after three years. Businesses would still be required to honor gift cards after funds have been remitted to the state. Businesses would have to notify consumers when the three-year period was completed. The association and coalition members, along with members who responded to calls to action, blocked this bill from advancing.

Employment Law

(Support) SB 6056: Training requirements for human trafficking – This bill establishes requirements at lodging accommodations to help prevent human trafficking incidents. The bill’s sponsor brought this bill forward in preparation for the 2026 World Cup  in Seattle. The bill passed the Senate unanimously, testimony from sex workers in the House encouraged lawmakers to consider amending the language so training would have to include sensitivity towards their activities. We objected to this change and the bill died in committee.

(Oppose) HB 1959: Extending the Paid Family and Medical Leave program – The Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program requires employers with more than 50 employees to pay a share of the PFML premium. HB 1959 would have removed this 50 employee threshold and required employers with fewer than 50 employees to pay into the program.

(Oppose) SB 5924: Personnel records – SB 5924 would have required an employer to furnish an employee record within 21 calendar days of a request, included vague language of what should be in an employee’s record and allowed an employee to sue an employer that did not meet the requirements. Like last year, the association asked for changes that required an employee to go through a process in which Labor and Industries facilitated, instead of bringing a lawsuit. We also asked for clarity on what information would have been required to be in a file.

(Oppose) HB 1893 & SB 5777: Unemployment insurance for striking workers – This bill would have extended unemployment insurance benefits to workers while on strike, and socialized the benefits across all employers, placing the cost of the benefits on employers who would not even have been involved in the labor dispute.

The bill was amended in the House to charge benefits to employers, which would have impacted employers that have striking workers tens of thousands of dollars to tens of millions. Additionally, once charged benefits reached 5.4%, benefits would have been socialized to all employers. The bill was also narrowed to provide four weeks of benefits.


(Oppose) HB 2144: The Bottle Bill – This bill would have created a bottle deposit system, much like Oregon’s program, here in Washington state.

This bill would add a 10-cent charge to all cans, water bottles, alcohol bottles, wine bottles and other beverage containers sold to a customer.

To get their 10-cent charge returned, businesses would need to:

  • Return the bottles to a deposit site even though there are no requirements for these sites to be in every community, or
  • Hold on to the empty bottles in the back of the house until their distributor can pick it up, which creates space and safety issues for operators.

Businesses that reject either of those options would be forced to take the loss on the extra tax they paid on the product and continue using the curbside recycling service they already have.

(Oppose) HB 2049: Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) – Like other versions we have seen over the last several years, the state took another crack at trying to improve our solid waste management outcomes by holding producers accountable for packing they distribute, sell and bring into the state. The bill would completely change the way the state handles recycling, but with a lot of unknowns. Who will be considered a producer under and responsible for reporting obligations? What products is the state targeting to increase recycling rates on? Which products already have a great recycling rates and should they be excluded from the program? HB 2049 was still very complex, very technical and left too many questions unanswered.