November 21, 2016
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Election update: Walsh leading in 19th; legislative leadership changes announced after election

Democratic control of the state House tightened last week as Republican Jim Walsh took the lead over Democrat Teresa Purcell in the 19th District. Walsh will be the first Republican to represent the southwest coastal corner of the state since the 1980s.

In the 30th District, Republican Teri Hickel trails Democrat Kristine Reeves. If Hickel can overcome the deficit to win the race, her victory would put the House into its first 49-49 tie since 2001. That's seen as unlikely, however, setting up a Legislature nearly as divided as it can be: tight Democratic control of the House and tight Republican control of the Senate.

The Senate now looks to have a 25-24 split, narrowly favoring the Republican-led Majority Coalition Caucus. With elections and retirements, the chamber will have 12 new faces in place.

The divided Legislature could mean a return to the centrist politics of the "Roadkill Caucus," Jerry Cornfield reports in The Herald of Everett. That bipartisan collection of Senate moderates, active six years ago, took its middle-of-the-road name from getting run over by the extremes on both sides.

“The reality is with a one-vote split it does empower moderates on both sides of the aisle,” said the newly elected Sen. Guy Palumbo, D-Maltby. "They can drive the agenda if they choose to. Compromise is not a dirty word in my book.”

Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, was reelected as Senate Majority leader. Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, was reelected as Senate minority leader.

Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, will serve as caucus chair, the second-highest position in the Majority Coalition Caucus. Responsibilities include setting the agenda for and presiding over caucus meetings, representing the caucus on operational matters and serving as the lead Republican on the Senate Facilities and Operations Committee. She replaces Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, who retired this year.

Senate Democrats elected Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, as caucus chair, replacing the retiring Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Olympia. Democrats chose Sen. Marko Liias of Lynnwood as floor leader. He had previously served as assistant floor leader.

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Focus on Sustainability

Feed Commodities LLC: Giving Unused Bakery Goods a New Life

This Tacoma company helps divert past-its-prime food from the landfill to ranchers, feeding cattle across the Northwest.

From Salem, Ore., to the Canadian border, Feed Commodities, LLC is the Pacific Northwest's premier recycler of bakery byproducts into livestock feeds. The company acquires otherwise unusable raw bakery goods around the Pacific Northwest to process at its Tacoma facility. Each month, the plant repurposes thousands of tons of bakery products that would otherwise end up in landfills, turning it into high-quality livestock feed sold in bulk to ranchers.

The company has also taken the lead in food waste reduction through the development of Normandy Waste Management Systems, a web-based software service designed to help the food production community learn how to track and reduce waste in their daily operations.

Read the full story in Washington Business Magazine
Time to Build Millennium Bulk Terminals

Still waiting for good jobs in Cowlitz County

By Mike Bridges, president of the Longview/Kelso Building and Construction Trades Council

Millennium's $680 million private investment stands to create more than 1,000 union construction jobs over a two-year build-out under a Project Labor Agreement. That's also 135 permanent jobs when the facility is complete and 2,650 direct and indirect construction jobs overall. And that doesn't count the ongoing maintenance work that would employ different trades for years to come. For Cowlitz County, this represents a significant private investment that would have an enormous economic impact on thousands of tradespeople and their families. All told, Millennium would bring in $43.1 million in state and local taxes during construction, and $5.4 million in state and local taxes each year when fully operational.

It would also mean fewer people on the road, working closer to home.

Right now, most of our tradesmen and women work outside of Cowlitz County. Many work out of state, driving home on weekends or once a month for visits. I get so tired of people criticizing these Millennium jobs as "temporary." Anyone in the trades knows our work is always "temporary." And for someone who drives thousands of miles each month to a job in Montana, visiting their kids once a month back home in Kelso, the promise of a local "temporary" job sounds pretty appealing...

Read the full column in The Stand
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