June 12, 2017
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AWB testifies in support of Vancouver Energy project permit

AWB and a strong turnout of union members came to support the Vancouver Energy project during an air quality permit hearing last week. Wearing orange shirts, the workers said the jobs that would come with building and operating the facility would be a welcome addition to their community.

Lee Newgent of Washington Building Trades noted that the project's energy products would replace 30 percent of foreign oil imports with domestically-produced fuel.

“There’s $10 billion of privately invested infrastructure money in an area that has no infrastructure investment whatsoever. So, we’re trying to rebuild the infrastructure using private money for products we actually need,” Newgent said. “We’re not climate deniers in any way, shape or form … but we know our economy is tied to carbon use.”

Mike Bridges of IBEW 48 said that other potential employers who would bring jobs to the state are watching the permit process to see if their investment in Washington would be met with a predictable and fair permitting process. He said the Southwest Clean Air Agency has done a thorough review.

Mary Catherine McAleer, AWB government affairs director for environment and climate policy, testified in support of the Vancouver Energy Project. The company is committed to operating in a safe and environmentally responsible way, she said, and the draft air quality permit will help them do that.

"In addition to the federal regulations, Washington is known to have some of the strongest environmental regulations in the country, and that’s good, because properly administered they help us maintain a great quality of life and environment," McAleer said. "This air permit is an example of how that works best. It’s tough, certain and fair, and the projected results –– no violation of ambient air quality or emissions standards –– are achievable."

The Columbian covered the story.

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Eye on Olympia

As deadline looms, Legislature's still split over taxes

AWB President Kris Johnson

Lawmakers began the second 30-day special session with optimistic predictions about reaching an agreement soon on a new two-year state budget and how to address the final piece of the Washington state Supreme Court's 2012 McCleary education funding ruling...

The House Democratic Caucus proposed a $44.9 billion spending plan that relies on roughly $3 billion in new and higher taxes, including a 7 percent capital gains tax and a 20 percent increase in business and occupation tax rates for some employers. That's in addition to the $3 billion in growth because of the strong economy.

The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus proposed a $43.3 billion budget plan, which restructures property taxes to equalize education funding across school districts and moves to a per-pupil funding model.

Neither approve of the other's plan, even though both increase spending by double digits -- the Senate by 13 percent and the House by 17 -- over the current $38.2 billion budget...

But, what we hope is not lost in the budget negotiations is the importance of the state's tax and regulatory competitiveness -- the key drivers of much-needed employment growth and economic prosperity across Washington.
Read the full op-ed in The Puget Sound Business Journal
Effective In-House Training

DIY Way To Beat The Manufacturing Skills Gap: Schweitzer Engineering

By Mary Josephs, Forbes

The projected shortfall in manufacturing workers -- the U.S. is expected to come up a full 2 million employees short of its required 3.4 million new workers in the sector in the decade ending 2025, according to a study by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte -- is so significant that no approach should be ignored. And today, I want to recommend to every manufacturing CEO the very different experience of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, a maker of sophisticated equipment for the global power industry based in Pullman, Wash.

While others outsource, Schweitzer goes DIY. While others establish a tightly focused definition of work history and skills they're looking for, Schweitzer focuses on fundamentals: "I like to hire smart people with good values and strong fundamental education," says founder Ed Schweitzer, who started the company in his basement 35 years ago. Today, it employs just over 5,000 and has revenue of nearly $1 billion.
Read the full column in Forbes
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