December 14, 2015
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Obamacare tax penalty increasing by nearly 50 percent next year

Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance is both mandatory and in many cases subsidized. While federal subsidies are declining, the penalty for failing to have health insurance is going up. Households that don’t have health insurance in 2016 will pay an average of $969 when the fee is due as part of their 2017 tax bill.

This is the largest and final jump of the penalty since a phase-in began in 2014. However, MarketWatch reports that even this 47 percent increase from the average $661 penalty due in 2016 for failure to have insurance in 2015 is unlikely to make health insurance look like the less expensive option.

Those who are exempt from the penalty are people whose income is below the tax threshold as well as undocumented immigrants. Those who are uninsured for less than three months won’t face the penalty, and people who are uninsured for part of the year pay a lesser penalty.

The state Office of the Insurance Commissioner also has information on the increased penalties.

For more on health insurance issues, contact AWB Government Affairs Director Sheri Nelson.



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Leading Without New Top-Down Mandates

Recognize success industries are having in cutting CO2

By Kris Johnson, AWB president, and Daren Konopaski, vice president and business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 302

It is true this year's drought and wildfire season wreaked havoc on the state, a point that Gov. Jay Inslee makes while promoting his government-centric carbon emissions reduction plan. But the governor's labeling of those who disagree with the details of his plan as "fear mongers" is not fair.

There is no denying there is more work ahead, but there is also no denying that Washington employers and their employees are already leading the way toward the cleaner future that Gov. Inslee -- and frankly all Washingtonians -- so strongly desire.

Gov. Inslee has continued to say "it's time to lead," but Washington employers and employees are already leading the way toward environmental solutions that work -- without top-down, bureaucratic mandates that raise taxes on everyday citizens but don't solve the problem.

Click here to read the full op-ed in The Herald
Delays Hurt Workers and Economy

State should speed up permits for export docks

By Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch

While our neighbors to the north and south of Washington watch their port infrastructure grow and flourish, our state -- the most export-dependent in the nation -- is improbably holding up billions of dollars in private infrastructure development that would only help us compete with California and Canada.

The delay with regard to the export terminal expansions in Bellingham and Longview is patently unacceptable. Proposed projects and potential investments in this state should benefit from a fair, timely and predictable review process. Yet that is not the case with these projects, whose review has been in process for three years and subject to numerous, ongoing delays.

It is one thing to politically disagree with these projects on the basis of exporting a particular commodity -- in this case, coal -- and to express concern over the environmental standards to which these projects must adhere. It is quite another to attempt to bind these projects with endless government bureaucracy and red tape in hopes that the investors will give up and go elsewhere. Our competition is ready and willing to accept new business and is making the needed investments to do so.
Click here to read the full column in The Olympian
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