February 19, 2018
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Bringing Business Up to Speed
Federal Issues

Bill to enact liability reforms in ADA compliance claims passes House

Current law doesn’t require those filing a lawsuit under violations to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to state the specific nature of the violation, nor allow employers to take measure to comply with the act prior to legal action. This has resulted in aggressive lawsuits by third parties, who are only seeking monetary settlements, not improvements in accessibility.

House Resolution 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act, aims to stem the flow of lawsuits by requiring those filing an ADA claim to cite the specific violation and allow employers a limited amount of time to come into compliance with the law before litigation could move forward.

Representative Ted Poe of Texas, who co-sponsored the bill, said after introducing the measure in 2017, “This bill will change that by requiring that the business owners have time to fix what is allegedly broken.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports the measure and sent a letter to members of Congress last week along with a key vote document.

AWB President Kris Johnson also sent a letter to members of Washington state’s congressional delegation encouraging support for the measure: “I am writing to encourage the Congressman to support H.R. 620, ‘The ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017.’ The provisions in the bill allow business to efficiently and effectively address ADA issues that arise within the confines of their workplace. Currently, because of the lack of parameters laid out in H.R. 620, businesses across Washington state, and the country, face a barrage of litigation and/or settlement demands making it even more difficult to address the ADA issues that have been brought to their attention.”

The bill passed the House with a vote of 225-192 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

For more information on this issue, contact Amy Anderson, AWB government affairs director for federal issues.

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B&O Tax Relief for Manufacturers
Support All Manufacturers

AWB tells House committee, 'It's time to let all manufacturers win'

By Jason Hagey, AWB

AWB President Kris Johnson called on lawmakers to lower the business and occupation (B&O) tax rate for all Washington manufacturers, not just those in some parts of the state, during a hearing Friday before the House Finance Committee.

In its current form, Substitute House Bill 2947 would lower the B&O rate for manufacturers in 30 counties. It would leave out nine counties, including many that consist largely of rural areas, such as Kitsap and Benton.

"It's time to let all manufacturers win," Johnson said, echoing language that Rep. Gael Tarleton, D-Ballard, used during a floor speech last week on a separate measure aimed at boosting Washington's boat manufacturers. "We're going to let our fishing fleet win," Tarleton declared before the House voted 97-1 in favor of her bill.
Read the full blog and watch the video at Olympia Business Watch
Preserving Local Commitment

Avista sale is good for customers, community

By Scott Morris, CEO, Avista Corp.

Six months ago, Avista and Hydro One announced plans to combine and form one of North America's largest regulated utilities. Since that time, as we've moved toward closing, our confidence has only grown in the benefits of this merger for all of our stakeholders, from our customers and employees to our shareholders and the communities we serve.

Given the central role that Avista plays in its service territories, both as an energy provider and a member of the community, we understand why customers and community members want assurances that they will continue to receive safe, reliable and high-quality energy at a fair price and that Avista will continue to be an active corporate citizen.

The short answer is that the proposed transaction is designed to help preserve -- and even enhance -- Avista's commitments to its customers and its communities. In a changing industry landscape, joining forces with Hydro One will help safeguard Avista's proud legacy and way of doing business...

Read the full op-ed in The Spokesman-Review
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