Forgot Password?

Fast Facts

Monday, April 29

Budgets 'light years apart'; beer tax fizzles; no 'Einsteinian solution'

Lawmakers, still ‘light years apart,’ due back May 13 for special session
State lawmakers adjourned the 2013 legislative session Sunday night after failing to reach agreement on a new two-year budget. Gov. Jay Inslee quickly announced that he’s calling them back to the Capitol for a special session beginning May 13. The new governor has mostly failed to leave his mark on the Legislature, The News Tribune observed (tiered subscription), and he’s regarding the start of the special session as “just in the middle of the process.” In addition to a budget deal, Inslee said he also wants lawmakers to continue working on a host of other issues, including gun violence, a transportation package and abortion insurance. It won’t be easy, even if lawmakers take The Seattle Times’ advice (tiered subscription) and focus solely on the budget. That’s because taxes remain a big obstacle, as the Everett Herald noted. Inslee himself acknowledged that “the parties are not miles apart at the moment, they are light years apart at the moment (The Seattle Times/tiered subscription).”

No Friday Phone Briefing this Friday
The AWB Friday Phone Briefings for the 2013 regular session have concluded. However, we may active the calls during the upcoming special session—and if so, watch Fast Facts for news about those calls. If you’ve already registered for these calls, your call in information will still be valid; no need to re-register. Questions? Contact Jocelyn McCabe, AWB vice president of communications.

Businesses-led Recover Washington coalition highlights tax struggle
Recover Washington, a coalition of business groups including AWB, launched an advertising campaign last week on Western Washington radio stations that calls attention to the fight over taxes that’s occurring this year in the Legislature. The ads feature small-business owners who talk about the Democratic-led House proposal to raise hundreds of millions in taxes, mainly by targeting businesses, as well as the bipartisan Senate budget proposal that increases school funding without raising taxes.

Legislature OKs basic transportation budget, bigger issues likely wait in special
State lawmakers approved an $8.8 billion transportation budget Sunday before the end of their 105-day session. The no-new-taxes budget leaves the door open for continued debate on a number of thorny questions, including whether and how to raise new revenue (proposal outline here) for preservation and big-ticket projects, such as the controversial plan to replace the Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River. The budget approved on Sunday includes just $82 million for planning for the Columbia River Crossing, far short of the $450 million that’s required to match Oregon’s commitment. The $82 million also comes with strings attached: It is contingent upon Coast Guard permit approval, a forensic audit of how bridge funding has been spent to date, and expanded oversight of the project.

House Democrats approve $900 million in higher taxes as session nears end
Democrats in the state House of Representatives needed every vote they could muster last week to — barely — pass a budget that includes $900 million in higher taxes. The vote came with just a few days to go in the regular session, and unlike a Senate budget approved earlier in the session it lacked any bipartisan support.Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2038 targets a range of businesses, from service business and travel agents to bottled water companies and high-tech companies. It would also make it harder for nonresidents to avoid paying sales tax and disallow the B&O exemption for import commerce, except for aerospace products. The legislation is not about taxes, supporters said. It’s about children. Opponents of the bill, including AWB, said the Senate’s alternative budget manages to increase funding for schools without hurting businesses and workers.

House Republicans pick new leadership team
House Republicans unanimously chose Rep. Dan Kristiansen of Snohomish as their new leader on Saturday.Kristiansen, who owns a commercial real estate business, was first elected in 2002. He had been the number three leader in the House GOP. He immediately steps into the contentious negotiations over the state budget and a transportation package with a staunch anti-tax position (The News Tribune/tiered subscription). Interim leader Joel Kretz of Wauconda, who has been filling in since Rep. Richard DeBolt stepped down from the leadership position on April 17 due to health issues, will stay on as deputy caucus leader. AWB member Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, now has the number three post, caucus chair. Republicans hold 43 seats in the 98-member House.

AWB Spring Meeting, May 7-8 in Spokane
Starbucks has changed the world for coffee drinkers, and with its sustainability efforts, this global Seattle-based company also wants to literally change the world itself for the better. You can hear directly from Starbucks’ director of environmental impact, Jim Hanna, at this year’s AWB Spring Meeting. Hanna and a slate of other speakers can help you and your business navigate our changing world. Seats are still available for this two-day meeting of the state’s business leaders May 7-8 at The Davenport Hotel in Spokane. Get the answers to the questions you’ve always had about state regulations at our Q&As with agency directors Carol Nelson (Department of Revenue), Brian Bonlender (Department of Commerce) and Joel Sacks (Department of Labor & Industries). We’ll present the 14th annual AWB Community Service Awards, sponsored by Fluor Corporation, and the 21st annual AWB Environmental Excellence Awards, sponsored by Phillips Wesch Burgess. Recently retired state Auditor Brian Sonntag will receive the C. David Gordon Award. On Wednesday, Spokane Mayor David Condon will speak during breakfast about ways his city has made local government more user-friendly, and the AWB board will hold a meeting. Register online now. See you in Spokane!

Good news for brewers and beer drinkers as House drops tax plan
House Democrats backed away last week from their plan to extend a “temporary” beer tax on large brewers, and extend it to small, craft brewers. Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, cited the likelihood of a ballot challenge as one reason for the decision, which was one of just a few pieces of good news to come out of the Capitol last week for employers. The Democrats also dropped a plan to eliminate a tax break for insurance agents and dockworker, The News Tribune reported (tiered subscription). The beer tax idea could find new life, though, as part of proposed DUI legislation. The Capitol Record reported that an amendment to Senate Bill 5912 would use revenue from a beer tax to pay for the costs associated with stricter DUI laws, and that another amendment could tap liquor taxes for the same purpose.

Eyman files initiative limiting new taxes to one year, opponents vow to counter with one
targeting exemptions
Initiative promoter Tim Eyman filed his latest ballot measure last week, a proposal seeking to limit all tax hikes approved by the Legislature to just one year. Eyman hopes to gather enough signatures to place it on the November ballot. The initiative is a response to the Washington Supreme Court’s decision in February declaring that a previous voter-approved initiative requiring a two-thirds vote of lawmakers to approve new taxes is unconstitutional. Meanwhile, representatives from the groups Tax Sanity and the Northwest Progressive Institute said they will counter Eyman’s initiative with one of their own requiring more scrutiny of tax exemptions.

AWB backs movie theaters in disability rights case
AWB submitted a “friend of the court” brief to the Washington Supreme Court today in a case involving the rights of disabled individuals in public places.The case, Washington Communications Access Project v. Regal Cinemas, asks whether movie theaters in Washington were under a legal obligation to provide specific captioning technologies to assist hard-of-hearing individuals enjoy movie exhibitions.Although the law is not clear, the movie theaters as part of an industry-wide technology update began providing the requested accommodation while the suit was pending.Nevertheless, the court held against them, awarding hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees to the plaintiffs.AWB’s brief encourages the Supreme Court to take a look at the case and clarify the legal obligations of businesses that operate places of public accommodation.For more information, contact AWB’s Kris Tefft.

U.S. Senate approves Internet tax plan
After years of debate, Congress is moving ahead on a measure allowing states to require online retailers to collect and remit sales tax. The measure easily passed two key U.S. Senate hurdles last week and will be up for a final Senate vote in May. It faces an uphill battle in the House, where some members consider it a new tax. The bill exempts small online shops that gross less than $1 million a year in online out-of-state sales. Gov. Jay Inslee praised the bill, saying that while he supports e-commerce, and also wants to see a level playing field for brick-and-mortar stores. Still, even if the bill does pass, don’t expect it to solve state budget woes, Erik Smithwrites in the Washington State Wire. While it was once projected to bring in a billion dollars or more to state coffers, the revenue is now estimated at just $184 million for state-government purposes over the next two years.

Senate approves bill overhauling Model Toxics Control Act
The state Senate approved legislation last week overhauling the Model Toxics Control Act. Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5296, prime-sponsored by Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, is an AWB-backed bill aimed at boosting cleanup work and adding jobs to the state. The bill establishes new uses for the fund, which is generated by a tax on hazardous products, and creates a trust fund for brownfield development, among other changes. “I think this will be the greatest jobs creation bill in the state,” Ericksen said.

Senate votes to repeal unfunded family leave law
The Senate last week voted to repeal a 2007 paid family leave law that has never been funded or implemented. As envisioned, the bill would have started paying workers $250 a week for up to five weeks to be with a new child or a sick family member. With no funding source identified, however, the Legislature has twice postponed implementation. In introducing the repeal bill, Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, called the unfunded family leave a “broken promise.” The repeal bill, which passed 72-21, would eliminate the law unless a way was found to pay for it by 2015. Federal laws requiring unpaid family leave would remain in place. The House, controlled by Democrats, views the repeal skeptically.

Governor, AWB join Worker Memorial Day ceremony
Gov. Jay Inslee called for a renewed culture of safety during Washington’s annual Worker Memorial Dayceremony held at the L&I headquarters in Tumwater on Tuesday. AWB President Don Brunell offered condolences to the families of the 66 workers who died from job-related illnesses or injuries. This will be the last such ceremony for Brunell, who is retiring at the end of the year. Inslee praised heroes who died on the job,including a Sumner truck driver killed instantly in a fiery crash after deliberately steering his big rig and load of aviation fuel off the highway and away from traffic stalled by a separate collision caused by a drunk driver.

Senate confirms Brunell’s appointment to state Workforce Board
The state Senate voted unanimously Saturday to confirm AWB President Don Brunell’s appointment to the state Workforce Training & Education Coordinating Board. Brunell is one of three members of the board representing business.

Sine Die without confirmation of WSDOT secretary
Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Lynn Peterson as the new state transportation secretary in February and the Senate is responsible for confirming the appointment. However, the Legislature adjourned yesterday without a confirmation and senators have not even held a hearing on it in the Senate Transportation Committee. In Washington state, the WSDOT secretary can serve with or without a senate confirmation, so it is unclear whether lawmakers will take up the issue during special session or not.

Survey shows strong support for hydroelectric power
A strong majority — 72 percent — of respondents in a recent survey view hydroelectric power as a clean, renewable source of energy, according to Northwest RiverPartners, an alliance of farmers, utilities, ports and businesses that promote the economic and environmental benefits of the Columbia and Snake rivers. Another 67 percent said Congress and state legislatures should define hydroelectric power as a renewable energy resource. Find out more about the survey and its implications on AWB’s blog, Olympia Business Watch.

New state auditor deployed to South Korea
State Auditor Troy Kelley, a lieutenant colonel and judge advocate in the National Guard, departed for a two-week deployment to South Korea last week with little fanfare. His managers and presumably some employees knew that he left last Monday or Tuesday, but no public announcement was made and an email to all staff was not send until Friday. Kelley, a Tacoma Democrat who took office as the state’s financial watchdog in January, is keeping in daily contact with his executive team; he has no deputy auditor who takes over in his absence. While on active duty he will advise soldiers on tax and family law issues. He will also meet with a South Korean provincial government audit chairman.

Novo Nordisk opens new U.S. headquarters in New Jersey
Novo Nordisk, an international biotech firm with a growing presence in Seattle, has unveiled plans for its new U.S. headquarters in New Jersey. The $225 million redevelopment in Plainsboro, N.J., is proof of the Denmark company’s continued commitment in the United States to solving the problem of diabetes, said Jurek Gruhn, president of Novo Nordisk’s U.S. business. Novo Nordisk established a Type 1 diabetes R&D center at their Seattle location in 2012, expanding an inflammation research facility established in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood in 2009.

The Northwest Export Webinar: Breaking Down Barriers to Exporting, April 30
The world is shrinking, but that means your marketplace is expanding. Learn about the trends, opportunities and challenges of international trade from a leader in the transportation industry, UPS. Register online now for a 90-minute webinar on April 30.

Registrations are now open: Human Resources Forum, July 16
As the unemployment rate drops, many of your employees will be looking to make a move. A recent survey by FPC, a national executive search firm, found that 88 percent of employees across all industries and all job levels are planning to look for a new job as the market improves. What can you do to retain your current stars as well as attract the best and brightest to your business? Join AWB and special guests for a high-energy discussion on creating a better workplace through innovative initiatives, creative benefits and cultural shifts. Learn from award winning companies as they share their success stories (and challenges) in transforming their workplace environment.

· Top Threats Facing Employers Today, Reid Bates, franchise owner, Express Employment Professionals
· Your People Are Your Brand, Where Science and Comedy Meet to Increase Employee Engagement and Performance: Ken Grant, president, Motivated Branding and Dr. Patrick Hopp, senior consultant, Leadership Development Worldwide
· Ingredients For an Innovative Workplace: Panel of past AWB Better Workplace Awards for Innovation moderated by Ken Grant
· Implementing Innovative Initiatives Successfully, Real World Experience in Making Significant Cultural Changes: Delta Emerson, executive vice president and chief of staff, Ryan, LLC.

The forum is from 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. July 16 at the Seattle Airport Marriott. Contact Anne Haller for sponsorship information. Registrations are now being accepted.

“I can’t tell you that I’ve providedsome Einsteinian way to solve some disagreements here.” ~ Gov. Jay Inslee, regarding his plan to end the budget standoff in the Legislature

This Week's President's Perspective: What Happens in Seattle Should Stay in Seattle

Back To News