January 2, 2018
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Top Stories

Sixty-day, 2018 legislative session begins Monday

After ending the record-long 2017 legislative session in July, the Legislature reconvenes Monday with a new Democratic majority in the Senate after the fall special election in the 45th District. Of the many issues on the table for the 60-day session are passage of the supplemental state operating budget, reaching agreement on a permanent fix for the Hirst water rights ruling and passage of the capital budget. These issues and more will be discussed during the Government Affairs team Legislative Preview webinar on Wednesday and at AWB's annual Legislative Day and Hill Climb on Jan. 16 at the Hotel RL in Olympia.

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AWB's annual Legislative Day and Hill Climb is Jan. 16

Hear from issue experts on education, climate and tax and fiscal policies and learn more about the economic trends shaping your community during the lunchtime keynote at the 2018 Legislative Day and Hill Climb. This event gives employers and business leaders the chance to engage on issues that impact job creation directly with state leaders. Online registration is now open.

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AWB Government Affairs team to host 2018 Legislative Preview webinar tomorrow

What are the key issues facing the state's employer community during the 2018 session? Find out during the AWB Government Affairs team Legislative Preview webinar on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 10-11:30 a.m. The webinar is free for all AWB members and online registration is open.

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New Year brings new paid leave program and higher minimum wage

As of Jan. 1, the statewide minimum wage increased from $11 to $11.50 per hour and employers are now required to provide paid sick and safe leave to all their employees. The changes are the result of the passage of Initiative 1433 by voters in 2016.

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Heroes come to aid of victims of train derailment

Amid the tragedy of the Amtrak train derailment in DuPont, heroes rushed to rescue strangers and provide life-saving aid to the victims. Dozens of military personnel from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near the derailment, were first on the scene to render aid. An Eagle Scout driving to work and a surgeon from Portland also stopped to tend to the injured. As always, hundreds of brave first responders -- firefighters, police and emergency medics -- arrived promptly to ensure the roadway was secured, passengers were led to safety and the many injured were tended to in a timely manner.

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Federal Issues

Senate committee rejects Garrett's nomination to serve as U.S. Export-Import Bank president

Congress took historic action on tax reform in December, but equally important was the Senate Banking Committee's rejection of former U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) to lead the U.S. Export-Import Bank. Garrett was opposed by business groups across the nation for his outspoken opposition to the bank. Congress still needs to act on filling the bank's board with a voting quorum and hear from the other nominees to fill the role of chairman and president.

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Tax reform clears Congress, signed by president

After months of debate, Congress passed its sweeping tax reform bill and the president signed it in the Oval Office on Dec. 22. Dubbed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the bill represents the most significant overhaul of the nation's tax code since Ronald Reagan was president.

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Other News

Governor to have final say on fate of Vancouver Energy project

After four years in the permitting process, the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council on Dec. 19 recommended the state deny permits for the Vancouver Energy export terminal project. Now, the final permitting decision falls on Gov. Jay Inslee, who has 60 days to make a determination.

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Washington Council on International Trade to host discussion on 'future of freight'

Top leaders from the rail, trucking and maritime industries are scheduled for a Jan. 19 panel discussion on improving Washington's freight networks to better move goods to market. Register today for the luncheon, sponsored by BNSF, at Seattle's Columbia Tower Club.

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Special committee created to land Boeing's all-new 797 airplane

Gov. Jay Inslee has announced the Choose Washington NMA Council, a concerted effort by top state leaders to convince Boeing to design, build and assemble its new airplane in Washington.

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Seattle city government spending surging faster than most U.S. cities

Lots of people are moving to Seattle, employers are hiring, and new construction is underway in the Emerald City. City government is staffing up, too -- but some observers wonder if the pace of government spending is sustainable over time.

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Port of Seattle appoints new executive director

Stephen P. Metruck, a retired U.S. Coast Guard rear admiral, has been appointed executive director of the Port of Seattle. Port commissioners voted unanimously to give Metruck the top job on Dec. 19.

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Kathleen Drew named as new chair of the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council

Gov. Jay Inslee has appointed Kathleen Drew to chair the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council. The council reviews siting of major energy facilities in Washington state. Drew will officially assume her new role on Jan. 16, taking over for Roselyn Marcus.

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AWB Events & Resources

Save the date: AWB Institute Workforce Summit takes place March 21

Back by popular demand, AWB's Workforce Summit will again be held in the Seattle area. Registrations are now open for this March 21 event, which will zero in on the latest in employment law, best practices, and idea for how to successfully recruit, train and keep your workforce.

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AWB's 2018 employment law webinar series begins in February; early bird pricing is still available

AWB's popular employment law webinar series is back for the third year. Top legal experts will again look at the many facets of increasingly complex labor laws, offering up-to-date information to keep your workplace in compliance with the latest legal changes. Sign up for all the classes now to receive an early-bird package discount and a complete kit of all presentations.

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Spring Meeting dates set for May 15-16

Reserve your room in the AWB room block now for the 2018 Spring Meeting, to be held in the new Davenport Grand hotel in downtown Spokane. AWB's annual meeting in Spokane is only going to be bigger and better as it moves to this deluxe new hotel near the city's Riverside Park.


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Key Hearings/Meetings

AWB Climate/Energy Committee to meet Wednesday via webinar to revise Legislative Objectives

The AWB Climate/Energy Committee will hold an online meeting via webinar this Wednesday at 3 p.m. to revise and adopt AWB's Climate/Energy Legislative Objectives. Contact Mary Catherine McAleer to learn more, or click here to register for the webinar.

AWB Employment Law Committee to meet Wednesday

The AWB Employment Law Committee will meet Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. to discuss potential legislation and ongoing agency rulemaking. Because of construction during AWB's remodeling project, the meeting will be held at the Washington Hospitality Association, 510 Plum St SE, Olympia. Contact Bob Battles to learn more about the content of the meeting, or because space is limited, contact Connie Carlson to let her know you are attending in person or for information on the call-in option.

Tweet of the Week

The Place to Be



They Said It

Another New Tax

"What can I do? I have no power. Seattle is too expensive. Everything is a tax." ~ Jong Kim, owner of Summit Foods, a corner store on Capitol Hill in Seattle, about the new city tax on sugary drinks that took effect on Monday. The new tax will add $2.52 cents to the cost of a 12-pack of Coke, and Kim is increasing the cost of a single 20-ounce soda by 35 cents to account for the new tax.




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Rule of Law Matters

Washington's carbon overreach

By The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board

Washington Governor Jay Inslee calls climate change an "existential threat," and he has channeled President Obama in using executive powers to impose his policy response. But like Mr. Obama he suffered a major blow this month when a Washington court ruled that he exceeded his authority under state law.

Washington lawmakers have declined to pass Mr. Inslee's signature cap-and-trade legislation, and in 2016 voters rejected a carbon-tax ballot measure. So "now we have to do it administratively," the Sierra Club's Doug Howell said last year.

Mr. Inslee suddenly discovered authority to act unilaterally under the Washington Clean Air Act and a 2008 law that required greenhouse gas reductions...

And in a Dec. 15 oral ruling, Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon found that the Inslee Administration lacked the legal authority to regulate indirect emitters.

The decision is a victory for the rule of law and another rebuke to progressives who try to ignore democratic consent to impose their climate agenda by regulatory fiat.

Read the full editorial in The Wall Street Journal
Innovation is Key to Carbon Reductions

Washington can have energy independence without economic damage of carbon tax

By State Rep. Drew MacEwen, R-Union

Here in the United States, Washington is the leading producer of hydroelectric power, contributing nearly one quarter of the nation's total hydro generation. We rank only behind California in terms of the amount of renewable energy we produce each year.

That is why it is so critical that as we continue to debate the merits of a carbon tax, we be mindful of the steps we have already taken toward establishing a greener economy. Proposing a carbon tax to fund education or increase general fund spending is the wrong approach.

I truly believe Washington can achieve energy independence one day, but we must be strategic in how we get there. Causing self-inflicted economic hardship along the way would be foolish.

Read the full column in The Olympian
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