January 22, 2018
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Top Stories

Agreement reached on Hirst fix and capital budget

Rural communities will benefit greatly after lawmakers agreed on a deal to fix the Hirst water rights issue and fund the state's capital construction budget. The bills were quickly signed into law last week, ensuring that rural property owners can drill wells on their property, and that construction projects have the funding to move forward.

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New report from Washington Roundtable: Unlocking Washington's Full Potential

Although Washington's economy continues to thrive overall, economic progress is uneven and some rural areas are "outright struggling," a new report from the Washington Roundtable shows. Washington should work to drive economic growth more evenly across the state and address several key areas, including workforce development, infrastructure, innovation, trade and investment and regulatory reform, to maintain its status as a national economic leader, the report says.

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Two new AWB videos highlight need for manufacturers to have B&O tax relief

During last year's record 193-day session, the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed a budget that included a reduction in the business and occupation (B&O) tax rate for manufacturers, but the governor vetoed it before it took effect. In a pair of videos AWB launched last week on social media, Stacie Vaughan of the Vaughan Co. and Allison Budvarson of Out of the Box Manufacturing explain why it's important for lawmakers to support manufacturers by restoring the B&O tax relief.

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Amazon announces 20 finalists for second headquarters


Seattle-based Amazon is closer to finalizing the location of a second, co-equal headquarters. The company announced 20 finalists for "HQ2" last week. Washington didn't make the list. Many policy-makers say the company's expansion elsewhere is a sign that Washington needs to improve its competitiveness to retain and attract employers.

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Passages: Gov. John Spellman

Former Gov. John Spellman, a political moderate and public schools advocate, died Tuesday. He was 91. Newspapers across the state recalled a kind, principled executive from another political era.

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Federal Issues

Federal government briefly shuts down; Congress approves short-term extension

The federal government shut down at midnight Saturday morning, but a deal quickly voted into play today will fund governmental operations for the next few weeks. Senate Democrats agreed today to join Republicans to extend governmental funding through Feb. 8 in exchange for assurances that Republicans would take up a larger immigration measure.

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Education Secretary DeVos approves Washington state's Every Student Succeeds Act plan

After a year of work by state education officials, Washington's plan to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act has received federal approval.

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Legislation of Note

SB 6203: Carbon tax

AWB joined a variety of employers last week to testify against Senate Bill 6203, the governor's proposed carbon tax.

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HB 1506 and SB 5140: Pay equity bill passes House without amendments sought by AWB

AWB has been working with legislators on proposals to address gender pay equity issues and supported several amendments to House Bill 1506. The bill passed the House last week without those amendments, but AWB will continue to seek those changes to the bill as it moves through the Senate.

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Rural jobs and broadband: HB 1422, SB 5208 and HB 2749

The AWB Rural Jobs Task Force will hold a conference call this week to hear from proponents of the Rural Jobs Act, HB 1422/SB 5208. That bill has been modified to include an allocation to rural broadband development. Another bill, HB 2749, will have a hearing on Tuesday. It would help fund high-speed internet infrastructure in rural areas.

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HB 2641: Work-based learning

Work-based learning efforts have been growing over the past year as more businesses face a workforce shortage that has the ability to cripple business growth. Having input from businesses about the necessary skills needed to train the next generation of workforce is critical to supporting Washington state businesses.

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HB 2754: Funding airport infrastructure from existing sales tax on aircraft fuel

House Bill 2754 would shift a small part of the aircraft fuel sales tax from the general fund to the state's aeronautics account, where it would help fund airport infrastructure projects.

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Other News

Lobby Lunch series begins Feb. 1 with update from governor's staff

Olympia's "power lunch" resumes Feb. 1 as the AWB Lobby Lunch series kicks off. Top advisors to Gov. Jay Inslee will meet with AWB members to give an update on the legislative session from the gubernatorial perspective. The talks will continue with updates from Republican and Democratic legislative leaders.

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Boeing opens $17 million workforce readiness center in Auburn

Boeing has opened a new workforce training center in Auburn, a $17 million investment that is the first new building at the company's Auburn location in 25 years.

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WSU appoints new dean to oversee agriculture programs across the state

Andre-Denis Girard Wright will serve as dean of one of the largest colleges at Washington State University. He'll lead the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resources Sciences, which includes oversight of 40 county and tribal extension offices across the state. Its 1,200 faculty and staff are key players in Washington's wheat, tree fruit and other agricultural sectors.

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Agriculture safety conference coming in Feb. to Yakima and Wenatchee

Washington's 14th annual Agriculture Safety Day is happening in two Eastern Washington locations again this year. The February events in Yakima and Wenatchee are put on by the state Department of Labor and Industries to help meet the specific safety and health training needs in the agricultural industry.

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AWB Events & Resources

AWB's 2018 employment law webinar series begins in February; early bird pricing 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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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 ideas for how to successfully recruit, train and keep your workforce.

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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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Tweet of the Week

Support Washington Manufacturing



They Said It

B&O Tax Relief

"A reduction in the B&O tax rate for manufacturers would not just get pocketed by owners. We could do things like hire more employees, increase employee-provided benefits, or reinvest in our facilities." ~ Allison Budvarson, vice president and co-owner of Out of the Box Manufacturing, about the importance of re-instating the manufacturing tax relief that passed the Legislature overwhelmingly last summer, but was vetoed by Gov. Jay Inslee.




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Key Workforce Education

Help community colleges meet job training needs

By The Editorial Board of The (Everett) Herald

The state's 34 community and technical colleges are playing an indispensable role in educating and preparing students for further study and advanced degrees at universities but also for more immediate jobs with employers throughout the state, particularly in manufacturing and other trades.

With some 740,000 job openings in the state expected over the next five years -- and more than half of those requiring post-high school education and training -- community and technical colleges represent the best option for many of those students...

Read the full editorial in The Herald
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