November 21, 2016
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Election update: Walsh leading in 19th; legislative leadership changes announced after election

Republican Jim Walsh is now leading in the 19th District, which means an even closer balance of power in the state House. The Senate, meanwhile, could see an empowered "Roadkill Caucus" helping lead from the center. With the 2017 legislative session just six weeks away, both parties are beginning to announce leadership roles.

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New budget forecast predicts $354 million more in tax revenue than expected

The state is taking in more money than expected, bumping up expected tax collections in this biennium and the next. Since the March forecast, anticipated revenues have increased by more than $1.2 billion. While that's good news, there are plenty of calls to increase spending by even more as the Legislature prepares for the budget-writing process in the 2017 session. In a split decision, the panel decided to project $5 billion in additional state education spending by 2021, even though the Legislature hasn't made that decision. Read more »

Education Funding Task Force zeroes in on cost of final McCleary compliance -- but agreement may be difficult

A six-month wait ended last week as consultants unveiled a thick report that slices and dices its way through how hundreds of local school districts supplement teacher pay with local levy dollars. The report is unclear on the cost to address this levy issue. Now, lawmakers in a joint legislative task force will sift through that data to decide how much more money the Legislature will need to provide to local districts. Estimates range from $2 billion to $3.5 billion.

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EPA approves parts of Washington's water quality rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized water quality standards for Washington, adopting a stricter version of what the state Department of Ecology had proposed. The impact for employers could be significant, since current technology isn't able to clean water to the level required by the standards.

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Celebrate outstanding employers at inaugural Evening of Excellence Nov. 30 at Benaroya Hall

Seats are still available at AWB's inaugural Evening of Excellence. Twenty award finalists will be among the many guests who will walk the red carpet at the formal event Nov. 30 at Benaroya Hall when the winners will be announced. The awards, presented by Banner Bank, recognize employers who harness innovation, take the lead on environmental stewardship, and build a better Washington for their employees and communities. Reserve your spot today for a memorable evening in Seattle!

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Tree-lighting family announced for Holiday Kids' Tree program on Dec. 2

Olympia's favorite holiday tradition returns Friday, Dec. 2, at 6 p.m. The AWB Holiday Kids' Tree Project has raised more than $370,000 since 1989 to buy Christmas gifts for families in need across the state. Plans are coming together for this year's event, including the announcement of the military family that will light the tree. Join the lighting of the state's tree and consider donating to this festive and heartwarming project.

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Focus on Sustainability

Feed Commodities LLC: Giving Unused Bakery Goods a New Life

This Tacoma company helps divert past-its-prime food from the landfill to ranchers, feeding cattle across the Northwest.

From Salem, Ore., to the Canadian border, Feed Commodities, LLC is the Pacific Northwest's premier recycler of bakery byproducts into livestock feeds. The company acquires otherwise unusable raw bakery goods around the Pacific Northwest to process at its Tacoma facility. Each month, the plant repurposes thousands of tons of bakery products that would otherwise end up in landfills, turning it into high-quality livestock feed sold in bulk to ranchers.

The company has also taken the lead in food waste reduction through the development of Normandy Waste Management Systems, a web-based software service designed to help the food production community learn how to track and reduce waste in their daily operations.

Read the full story in Washington Business Magazine
Time to Build Millennium Bulk Terminals

Still waiting for good jobs in Cowlitz County

By Mike Bridges, president of the Longview/Kelso Building and Construction Trades Council

Millennium's $680 million private investment stands to create more than 1,000 union construction jobs over a two-year build-out under a Project Labor Agreement. That's also 135 permanent jobs when the facility is complete and 2,650 direct and indirect construction jobs overall. And that doesn't count the ongoing maintenance work that would employ different trades for years to come. For Cowlitz County, this represents a significant private investment that would have an enormous economic impact on thousands of tradespeople and their families. All told, Millennium would bring in $43.1 million in state and local taxes during construction, and $5.4 million in state and local taxes each year when fully operational.

It would also mean fewer people on the road, working closer to home.

Right now, most of our tradesmen and women work outside of Cowlitz County. Many work out of state, driving home on weekends or once a month for visits. I get so tired of people criticizing these Millennium jobs as "temporary." Anyone in the trades knows our work is always "temporary." And for someone who drives thousands of miles each month to a job in Montana, visiting their kids once a month back home in Kelso, the promise of a local "temporary" job sounds pretty appealing...

Read the full column in The Stand
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