March 5, 2018
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Legislature heads into the home stretch; still time to support manufacturers with B&O tax relief

This Thursday is the last scheduled day of the legislative session. Budget-writers in both chambers are negotiating on the final shape of a budget, including the potential for both new taxes and tax relief. AWB continues to advocate for statewide manufacturing tax relief.

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Carbon tax bill does not advance through Senate; citizen initiative filed Friday

A carbon tax proposal advocated by Gov. Jay Inslee fell short of the votes needed in the Senate, supporters said last week. Meanwhile, advocates for a carbon tax filed an initiative last week. If enough signatures are collected, voters will decide on the issue this fall. Manufacturers, household energy customers and drivers would see costs rise.

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Rural broadband bill passes Senate, moving forward in House

A top priority for AWB this legislative session, to follow up on last year's two Rural Jobs Summits, is rural broadband. The primary broadband bill this session, Senate Bill 5935, passed the Senate 45-3, and had a public hearing in the House Appropriations Committee on Saturday.

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After public outcry, Gov. Inslee vetoes public records law

Gov. Jay Inslee announced late Thursday that he would veto a public records bill for the Legislature that had drawn heavy criticism, both for the content of the bill and for the hasty pace of its passage. Lawmakers and media companies agreed to a more deliberative and inclusive process in crafting a replacement law that opens the Legislature up to the state Public Records Act yet protects sensitive constituent information.

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Races emerge as incumbents announce intent to leave Legislature

Familiar faces are leaving Olympia. A handful of lawmakers announced last week that they will not run for reelection this year. Among those departing the Legislature: Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane; Rep. Melanie Stambaugh, R-Puyallup; Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland; and Rep. Jay Rodne, R-Snoqualmie.

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A Lifetime of Learning

Workforce development begins young, continues over lifetime

By AWB President Kris Johnson

We all want our kids to grow up in a state with good-paying job prospects and the training to match them.

Today, there is a laser focus by our association's membership and other groups about the need to fill the workforce pipeline with skilled, job-ready workers. There simply aren't enough workers to fill the high-tech, high-wage jobs available in our state and nation.

We're working to address that problem by advocating for robust career and technical programming in our middle and high schools, training and certificate programs for high-demand jobs at our state's community and technical colleges.

We'll be talking about those very issues at the second-annual AWB Workforce Summit on March 21 in Bellevue.

Read the full column in The Wenatchee Business World
Dealing with Debt

State needs to begin paying down its bond debt

By The Everett Herald Editorial Board

Duane Davidson, now in his second year of office, hasn't been one to pursue many policy issues with lawmakers, unlike his predecessor who outlined an ambitious tax reform proposal that earned little interest. But Davidson has taken a stand to defend against raids of the "rainy day" fund and asked lawmakers to consider using some of the additional revenue to pay down the state's bond debt, add to its "rainy day" reserves or pay more toward its unfunded pension obligations. Their choice.

"I think that money would be better spent paying down any debt, pick your debt," Davidson said.

And there's significant debt to pay down.

The state's Debt Affordability Study for 2018, released by Davidson's office, reports that the state's debt portfolio has over the course of the last 20 years grown from $6.8 billion to more than $19 billion and totals $21 billion when financing contracts are included....

Read the full editorial in The Herald
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