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The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and the National Retail Federation (NRF) both expressed their approval of District of Columbia Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s decision to veto the Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA) of 2013. The act, which was passed by the D.C. City Council in July, set a high wage scale for retailers operating in spaces larger than 75,000 square feet – in other words, big-box retailers like Walmart.
Commending Gray’s ability “to recognize the discriminatory effect of this poorly crafted legislation,” Joe Rinzel, VP of state government affairs for Arlington, Va.-based RILA, noted: “Without question, this law would have hindered job creation in the District, weakening an already shaky recovery by preventing new growth and investment. Our industry prides itself on providing stable jobs with upward mobility opportunities to communities across America. Mayor Gray’s veto protects that opportunity for his constituents.”
In March, the organization sent a letter to the council urging it to bear in mind the chilling effect the bill would have on business in the region, warning that the legislation would deter retailers from beginning or expanding operations in the District.
In opposing the measure, RILA pointed out the positive contribution retailers provide to the communities in which they operate, such as offering positions with competitive wages, donating back to the areas and stimulating local economies by spurring further development.
“With a stroke of his pen, the mayor brought power back to D.C.’s ‘Open for Business’ sign,” said David French, SVP for government relations at Washington-based NRF, who attributed the legislation to a “narrow agenda pushed by special interests. The mayor recognizes the positive role that retail plays in economic development, and retailers’ unmatched ability to improve communities and provide desperately-needed jobs and careers. His veto is a testament to the commitment he has to D.C. residents, especially young people."
Continued French, “The retail industry will continue to talk about its positive contributions to the District of Columbia – one in 10 D.C. jobs is supported by retail – and demonstrate retail’s economic and employment importance to the City Council and the mayor.”