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Fast Facts

Monday, May 13

Starbucks exec headlines Spring Meeting; slow start to special session; Labor Board takes a hit; WA biz climate ranks 36th

AWB Spring Meeting brings together business, government leaders 
AWB members from around the state met with top business and governmental figures at last week’s Spring Meeting in Spokane. Small family-owned businesses and representatives from the state’s biggest corporations mingled with a dozen elected officials and other state leaders. Among the highlights:

· Jim Hanna, director of environmental impact for Starbucks, detailed how he has increased his success in environmental initiatives by selling his colleagues on the cost savings that come from going green.
· Spokane Mayor David Condon detailed how his city has reduced processing time for permits, acknowledging that delays cost money for those wanting to build or expand.
· Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon and Department of Commerce Director Brian Bonlender took questions from AWB members and pledged to work with the business community.
· New state agency directors Joel Sacks (L&I), Carol Nelson (Revenue) and Dale Peinecke (Employment Security) introduced themselves to the business community
· Recently retired Democratic state Auditor Brian Sonntag, who received the C. David Gordon Award, thanked AWB for being one of the most trustworthy and helpful organizations he found after arriving in Olympia in 1993. Addressing a crowded ballroom of business owners and executives, Sonntag said, “You don't just support the communities of Washington, you are the communities of Washington.” Learn more in this video.
· Ed Vander Pol, co-owner of Oak Harbor Freight Lines, received AWB's Briggs Award for his contributions back to his community. Oak Harbor donates space in its trucks to carry surplus produce from farms to food banks in more populated areas. “I’m doing what my parents raised me to do, serve others,” he said.
· Don Conant, general manager of Valley Nut & Bolt in Olympia and a Saint Martin’s University business professor, earned the Judy Coovert Award for his dedicated AWB volunteer work. Conant has chaired AWB’s health care committee and served on the board of directors. He also represents the business community on the state’s new health benefit exchange. This video tells his story.
· We recognized the contributions of our award winners for community service and environmental excellence.

Thanks to all of our generous sponsors for making the Spring Meeting such a success. We have photos of the winners here and videos telling the stories of the award winners here. We’ll see you next spring in Spokane!

Special Session begins with a whimper
Some lawmakers returned to the Capitol today for the start of a special session of the Legislature, but they were off to a slow start following a two-week break that failed to result in a budget deal. House members did not plan to return at all on Monday, and no votes were planned all week, tweeted Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane. The session is looking like it could take the full allotted 30 days, possibly longer, The Associated Press reported. Lawmakers must not only find a way to reconcile differences between Senate and House budget proposals, but House members must first fix their own budget, which no longer balances since they dropped plans to raise taxes on brewers and eliminate tax exemptions for dockworkers, insurance agents and janitorial services.

Initiative 522, to require new food labeling, will raise food costs and hurt farmers
The AWB board of directors voted unanimously last week to oppose Initiative 522, a proposal to require extra labeling for foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. The initiative is similar to a proposal voters rejected last year in California; that proposal would have raised food costs for the average family by $400 a year. I-522 would open up farmers, food processors and grocers to frivolous lawsuits and would create consumer fear and concern about products that the scientific and medical communities widely deem to be safe. AWB member Alex McGregor, a family rancher and agricultural supply company president, calls I-522 a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Oppose this unnecessary and costly initiative.

Court rules with manufacturers against NLRB requirement to post union organization poster
The National Labor Relations Board violated the free speech rights of employers with a rule that would require them to put up posters informing workers of their right to form a union, a federal appeals court panel ruled on Tuesday. The rule would have affected more than 6 million employers who otherwise wouldn’t be subject to NLRB regulation, challengers successfully argued. One of those appellants, the National Association of Manufacturers, called the ruling “an important victory in the fight against an activist NLRB and its aggressive agenda,” saying, “The poster rule is a prime example of a government agency that seeks to fundamentally change the way employers and employees communicate.”

Conservatives blast Heritage Foundation report claiming immigration bill will cost,
rather than boost, economy
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., one of the so-called “Gang of Eight” lawmakers working to overhaul U.S. immigration policy, led the charge (The New York Times/tiered subscription) last week against a controversial Heritage Foundation report claiming that proposed legislation would cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion. Rubio said the report is flawed, noting that every other analysis has concluded that immigration reform will be a net positive for the economy. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce highlighted two such studies, including one that claims the bill will create 3.22 million jobs by 2024. The Heritage Foundation is now in “damage-control mode” and one of the report’s co-authors has resigned. Meanwhile, Reuters reported that the bill passed an early test last week in the Judiciary Committee.

CEOs rank Washington’s business climate 36th in the nation
Due chiefly to its regulations and taxes, Washington state comes in 36th in the latest rankings compiled by Chief Executive magazine. Texas, Florida and North Carolina topped the list, while Illinois, New York and California rounded out the bottom in a survey of 736 CEOs. Washington earned only two stars out of five in the taxation and regulation category, but fared better (3.5 stars each) for workforce quality and living environment. “While the magazine's rankings amount, simply, to the perceptions of business leaders, perceptions matter. So do costs,” the Washington Research Council observed.

It’s filing week for elected office
Filing week opens today and runs through Friday. This off-year election is largely local, but a few of the races are of statewide note: the eight-way campaign for Seattle mayor and three recently appointed senators who now must face voters and potential challengers. Those seats, and their new incumbents, are: northeastern Washington’s 7th District and Sen. John Smith, R-Colville; the 8th District in the Tri-Cities, represented by Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Richland; and the Kitsap Peninsula’s 26th District, represented by Sen. Nathan Schlicher, D-Gig Harbor. Candidates for city and county races register in person or online through their county election office. Those running for state or federal races register through the Washington Secretary of State’s office, which offers a how-to guide to filing for office. The 2013 primary is Aug. 6. The general election is Nov. 5.

Washington is third safest state in the nation, yet workers’ comp rates still among the
Washington state had the third-lowest worker fatality rate in the nation in 2011, with 60 deaths on the job, according to the AFL-CIO. That’s a rate of 1.9 deaths per 100,000 workers, well below the national average of 3.5 deaths per 100,000 workers. Washington may be among the safest states in the country for workers, but that hasn’t resulted in reduced workers’ compensation costs for employers. According to the latest calculations by the National Academy of Social Insurance, Washington ranks No. 1 in the country in terms of benefits paid, and No. 13 for taxes paid. The juxtaposition highlights the need for continued reform, something that lawmakers can accomplish in the Special Session by passing Senate Bill 5127. Unfortunately, recent stock market gains have some lawmakers believing that Wall Street can mask the state’s $720 million workers’ comp problem. Tell them it can’t — contact your legislator online or call 1-800-562-6000 and ask them to support SB 5127.

Inslee examining incentives for Boeing to do 777X work in Washington
Gov. Jay Inslee will offer incentives for Boeing to build its next updated plane, the 777X widebody jet, in Washington, but the tight state budget doesn’t appear to have room for anything like the $3 billion tax break the company got in 2003. Inslee and his advisors proposed reviewing existing tax breaks for airplane manufacturing, streamlining permits in Everett, paying for a new cargo facility at the Port of Everett, and improving I-5, I-405 and SR 167, The Seattle Times reported (tiered subscription). The state will also examine extending the tax breaks given to the company a decade ago, which are currently set to expire in 2024.

Former Congressman Norm Dicks takes job as lobbyist
Norm Dicks, the longtime elder statesman of Washington’s congressional delegation, might have retired after 36 years in Congress, but he will continue (Seattle Times/tiered subscription) to work at least part time in Washington, D.C. The Bremerton Democrat has accepted the position of senior policy counsel with Van Ness Feldman, a law firm and lobbying operation specializing in energy and environmental issues. Ethics rules mean Dicks, 72, will have to wait a year to lobby his former U.S. House colleagues, but he’ll be able to advise clients and lobby the executive branch during this “cooling off” period.

Holmquist Newbry unemployment reform bill signed into law
Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill Wednesday sponsored by Sen. Janéa Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, that brings Washington’s unemployment insurance system into conformity with federal regulations. Failure to enactSenate Bill 5355 could have jeopardized $200 to $300 million in federal tax credits for Washington employers. “Washington employers pay the sixth-highest unemployment insurance taxes in the country, and are the fifth-highest in the distribution of benefits,” said Holmquist Newbry, chair of the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee. “This bill maintains the benefits and solvency of the UI trust fund while protecting workers and employers.”

L&I offers safety tips for employers of teens this summer
Going to work as a teenager is an important milestone, but young workers need extra training and repetition about job tasks, the Department of Labor and Industries noted last week. Businesses employing teens should remember that teens are injured at a higher rate than adults and might not always question a workplace situation that doesn’t seem right, L&I said. Rules allow 14- and 15-year-olds to perform light tasks such as office work and stocking shelves, working up to 40 hours a week when school is out. There are fewer restrictions on the kinds of work that 16- and 17-year-olds can do, and they can work up to 48 hours a week. Employers who hire teens must obtain a minor work permit endorsement on their business license, along with a parental authorization form for the job assignments and hours.

U.S. House votes to allow workers to choose either comp time or overtime pay
The U.S. House of Representatives voted along party lines on Wednesday to allow hourly workers the right to choose comp time off instead of overtime, a right that Congress gave to government employees in 1985. This change would give families more flexibility, Republican leaders say, while preserving all existing rights to overtime pay. However, with unions opposed to it, this modification to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act is unlikely to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate. Even if it does, President Barack Obama has promised to veto it.

Space available at Export-Import Bank’s seminar on trade finance solutions
The Export-Import Bank of the United States, an official credit agency of the United State government, is offering two days of seminars in early June for exporters and lenders. “Trade Finance Solutions for Exporters and Importers” will be held on June 6 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and costs $199. “Working Capital Delegated Authority Qualifying Training for Lenders” will be held June 7 from 8:30 to 1 p.m. and costs $125. Both classes will be held at the Westin Building in downtown Seattle. Click here to register. The Ex-Im Bank, according to Seattle regional office director John Brislin, assumes country or credit risks that commercial lenders are unable or unwilling to accept, helping lenders to profit, U.S. exporters to capitalize on business opportunities, and international buyers to purchase high-quality “Made in the U.S.A.” products and services.

Accident Prevention Plan webinar set for June 20
An accident prevention plan is a key element in any organization’s safety and health program. In fact, failure to have one can be one of the fastest ways to receive a citation, whether from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration or state jurisdictions. This one-hour webinar is designed for anyone who is responsible for safety and health within a workplace, including risk assessment managers, safety and health directors, personnel or committee members, and human resources department personnel. Topics will include: Developing an accident prevention plan; job hazard analysis; training on the plan; accident investigations; and ongoing review of the plan. Presenters are Bob Battles, and Chrystina Solum, from the law firm Eisenhower Carlson. Join us Thursday, June 20 from 9-10 a.m. Register online. Members: $35. For more information, contact AWB’s Karlee Glasgow.

Registration open for AWB’s 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.

‘Morning Joe’ duo and Time magazine’s economy editor to headline Fall Policy Summit
The line-up for AWB’s 24th annual Policy Summit in September will feature a powerful lineup of speakers addressing national politics and economic issues. MSNBC’s morning show team of Joe Scarborough andMika Brzezinski will speak at the keynote dinner. We will also hear from:

· Rana Foroohar, Time Magazine columnist and economy editor
· A CEO panel featuring Scott Morris (Avista), Colin Moseley (Green Diamond Resource Company) and Mark Grescovich (Banner Bank)
· A health care panel featuring Don Conant, an active AWB member and a member of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board; Gubby Barlow, president of Premera Blue Cross, and Hadley Heath, a senior policy analyst at the Independent Women's Forum and an expert on the Affordable Care Act
· Remarks by David Azerrad of The Heritage Foundation, asking “Is the American Dream still alive?”

The Policy Summit will be held Sept. 17-19 at Suncadia Lodge in Cle Elum. Contact Anne Haller, AWB’s director of member relations and events, at 360.943.1600 or for more information or to register.

“Save our planet. It’s the only one with coffee.” ~ Closing slide from Starbucks executive Jim Hanna’s keynote Spring Meeting address on sustainability.

This Week's President's Perspective: Who Says Congress and the President Can’t Move Quickly?

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