October 23, 2017
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Amazon received 238 bids for its HQ2; what's next after last week's bid deadline?

Amazon received 238 bids from across North America to become home to a second-and-equal headquarters for the fast-growing online retailer. The new headquarters would mean 50,000 employees and a $5 billion investment.

Sites across Washington submitted proposals, and Opportunity Washington said such submissions are a useful form of self-assessment, since a "business-friendly" environment is one of the qualifications that the company has for its future second home as it looks beyond Seattle.

The Wall Street Journal notes that the incentives being offered to woo the company are substantial. New Jersey, for example, is offering a potential $7 billion in tax incentives. Last week, Washington state officials detailed existing tax incentives that would apply to Amazon if it sets up HQ2 within its home state.

Meanwhile, Seattle's elected leaders have said they want to rebuild the city's relationship with its largest employer, but questions remain about pushing the reset button even as proposals for an employee headcount, also called the "Amazon tax," continue to be debated in the city.

Many of the suitors have opted for publicity stunts to attract the attention of Amazon's decision-makers. Chalk messages in support of Calgary's bid appeared all over Seattle last week, along with a billboard featuring a bearded man pledging to fight a bear if necessary. New York City lit the Empire State Building up in Amazon orange. Philadelphia set up a chalkboard in the middle of town, asking people to write down what they loved about their city. And an attempt by New Jersey to charter a plane to circle Amazon's headquarters with a banner was grounded last week because of rainy, windy weather in Seattle.

Amazon is expected to announce its HQ2 location by the end of the year.

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Rail Keeps Our Economy Rolling

We must keep trains rolling safely and fairly

By Rep. Dick Muri, R-Steilacoom

As a state representative, I've spent quite a bit of time studying and learning about rail safety. It's a subject I take seriously. I live in the Town of Steilacoom, where trains are a way of life.

In fact, the Puget Sound coastline in my district is defined by the rail line. And, it's not just about moving freight. Amtrak will soon transport passengers at a very high speed through Lakewood and DuPont. Rail safety is a big deal for our communities.

In 2014, more than 119 million tons of freight traveled by rail over more than 3,000 miles of rail tracks across the state. This activity supports Washington businesses across a variety of important industries, from lumber to agriculture to oil.

Freight rail is also directly responsible for nearly 4,000 jobs and supports tens of thousands more throughout the state...

Read the full column in The News Tribune
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Ecology's decision harming state's future

By Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen

The Washington Department of Ecology seems determined to oppose any industrial development in Cowlitz County. And the rest of the 19th Legislative District.

About three weeks ago, Ecology issued an opinion denying a water-quality permit sought by Millennium Bulk Terminals (MBT) to complete its coal export facility. Ecology bureaucrats claimed that the project would cause "significant and unavoidable harm" to nine environmental areas: global air quality, vehicle traffic, vessel traffic, rail capacity, rail safety, noise pollution, social and community resources, cultural resources and tribal access to traditional fishing locations near Bonneville Dam.

A few of these factors -- particularly "global air quality" -- are not described in any relevant federal or state law. Rationalizing the unprecedented opinion, Ecology Director Maia Bellon relied on some broad rhetorical strokes...

The Department of Ecology's focus on "global impacts" is a luxury paid for by limiting the prospects for the working people of Cowlitz County. Director Bellon and the other Department of Ecology bureaucrats need to return their focus from global ambitions to local concerns.

Read the full column in The Daily News
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