Multiple bills from Rep. Waters, including legislation to increase workforce opportunities, pass out of committee

The House Regulated Substance and Gaming Committee passed three bills from Rep. Kevin Waters this week, including one that would increase the hiring options for many of Washington’s smaller businesses.

House Bill 1730 would help the state’s workforce by opening certain job positions to a larger group of applicants. The legislation would allow youth between the ages of 18 to 20 to be employed in establishments traditionally classified as off-limits to persons under the age of 21, under specific and limited circumstances.

“This legislation is very personal to me. As a small business owner, I know how important it is to be able to hire and keep enough employees to remain open,” said Waters, R-Stevenson. “This policy was vital during the pandemic and helped many companies stay afloat. We need to make this a permanent option for small businesses.”

The bill would make it legal for anyone at least 18-years-old to perform services unrelated to the sale or service of alcohol to enter and remain on premises, but only to carry out the duties of their employment as a dishwasher, cook, chef, sanitation specialist, or other kitchen staff. They would not be allowed to perform any work in the bar, lounge, or dining area, or serve any food and drink.

In addition to HB 1730 the Regulated Substance and Gaming Committee also approved two other bills from Waters this week.

House Bill 1731 would help the hospitality industry by allowing short-term rental operators, such as individuals who rent properties through Airbnb, to acquire permits to offer their rental guests, who are age 21 or over, a complimentary bottle of wine upon arrival.

Additionally, the committee approved House Bill 1772, which would make it illegal to manufacture, import, offer, or sell in Washington a consumable product that contains cannabis or any form of tetrahydrocannabinol in combination with beer, wine, spirits, or any other type of liquor in the same product.

“Mixing alcohol and THC can be dangerous and this bill would make it illegal for products to contain both substances simultaneously,” said Waters.

“I’m happy to see all these bills move forward, but especially 1730,” said Waters. “Our small businesses need all the assistance they can get from the state to help address our workforce shortage.”

All three bills now wait for a vote from the entire House.

The 2023 legislative session is scheduled to last 105 consecutive days and end on April 23.

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