January 9, 2017
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Webinar roundup: AWB's Government Affairs team looks ahead at the issues that will define the 2017 legislative session



The 105-day legislative session began today with Democrats in control of the House and the Republican-led Majority Coalition Caucus controlling the Senate, both by razor-thin margins. There is plenty of difficult work ahead as lawmakers look to craft a balanced budget, comply with the state Supreme Court's McCleary education funding ruling, and decide what to do about billions of dollars in taxes requested by Gov. Jay Inslee. The Washington Research Council and Opportunity Washington discussed the issues in blog posts today.

To give employers a look at all those issues and many more, the AWB Government Affairs team talked with members and other employers last week in a comprehensive pre-session webinar.

AWB's Government Affairs directors covered many issues:

  • Eric Lohnes looked at tax and fiscal proposals, including Gov. Jay Inslee's $8 billion in proposed new taxes (without tax increases, government tax collections will increase by $2.6 billion through healthy natural growth in the economy).
  • Amy Anderson discussed education and workforce issues, emphasizing AWB's commitment to supporting strong public education that helps students graduate with the skills needed to support a rewarding career and serve them in the workplace.
  • Mike Ennis previewed what's coming for transportation and infrastructure on the state and federal levels. He also laid out the employer community's need for regulatory reform and legislative oversight of agency rulemaking.
  • Bob Battles looked at the myriad workplace regulations that are hitting employers, from restrictive scheduling and an $11 minimum wage to paid leave.
  • Gary Chandler, AWB vice president, government affairs, reviewed healthcare issues, including reasons why sharing health insurance across state lines faces difficulties here in Washington.

The full webinar is available on the AWB website and via a Facebook Live post.



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Sustainability in Action

Port Townsend Paper: Renewable and Responsible Fiber Products

By Washington Business magazine

Port Townsend Paper recycles enough cardboard each week to cover a football field 10 feet deep. That chain of renewable paper production includes fiber sourced from certified and sustainable forestry operations for any needs that can't be met by recycled paper.

The company is also an emissions reduction leader. Port Townsend Paper has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent over the past decade by reducing the use of fossil fuels, efficiency improvements, and use of renewable and carbon-neutral biomass.
Read the full article in Washington Business magazine
Rural Washington Is Still Trying to Recover

Don't let McCleary hurt rural economy

By AWB President Kris Johnson

We are a hopeful and hard-working nation. We have proved time and time again that when we come together, we are unstoppable.

After the difficult national election, we believe this is the message that can help move our nation and state forward. And we believe employers are the solution to help heal the divide and restore hope to communities still awaiting the economic recovery.

Employers -- the millions of risk-takers that create opportunity and build communities across this nation -- have a unique responsibility to ensure we send a message that we are committed to be a unifying voice that can, with words and actions, unify the country behind our shared goals.
Read the full op-ed in The Puget Sound Business Journal
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