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Monday, July 8

Key business requirement of Affordable Care Act delayed until 2015

Key business requirement of Affordable Care Act delayed until 2015
The Obama administration announced last week that it would delay the requirement that all firms with more than 50 workers offer health coverage or pay big fines – a key provision of the Affordable Care Act – for a year, until Jan. 1, 2015. The rules for businesses to show their compliance with the mandate are complex and a burden, the Treasury Department acknowledged, saying it would try to streamline them during the next year. An estimated 200,000 businesses will fall under the mandate, although the administration believes 96 percent already provide insurance. The administration also quietly released rules delaying verification of income and health coverage status for individuals buying from government-sponsored insurance exchanges, but otherwise, the overall individual mandate and new subsidized insurance markets will continue to take effect as planned. Washington state, with its many existing health insurance regulations, will not escape sticker shock when the federal health reforms do take effect. One analyst believes insurance in the Evergreen State will increase in cost by 34 to 80 percent due to the Affordable Care Act.

Verdict on Legislature: messy process creates a good budget but fails to fix transportation woes

Olympia’s double-overtime legislative session managed to find the political center with a $33.6 billion, two-year budget plan that avoids most tax increases and earmarks an additional $1 billion for education, The Seattle Times concludes. They give credit to the bipartisan Senate majority coalition led by Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, and Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, who “nudged the Legislature toward the political center” after seven years of one-party rule by Democrats. Lawmakers produced “a surprisingly good operating budget,” the News Tribune (tiered subscription) writes, with the biggest one-time boost to public education in memory. Still, the lack of a comprehensive transportation package was “a humongous sin of omission,” the Herald writes. Other take-aways:

  • The new fiscal year that began July 1 sees the expiration of two taxes that had been implemented as temporary in 2010 but would have become permanent under early proposals by the Democratic House majority. Those taxes were a surcharge on the B&O tax on some service industries and a surcharge on large breweries.
  • How did the Legislature solve its budgetary puzzle? In short, good news about future revenue, increasing taxes on estates and telecoms in response to court decisions, federal funding through the Affordable Care Act, and the biggest piece of the puzzle, grabbing $354 million from the Public Works Assistance Account. The raid will mean no new loans will go out this year to finance water, sewer and street projects with low-income loans to cities and utilities.
  • The $3.6 billion capital budget, which funds construction and other big-ticket projects, includes $130 million for “an ambitious plan to meet future water needs for farmers, fish and communities in the Yakima River Basin.” It also has $13 million to start pre-planning design for a new state office building near the Capitol at the former site of the HandsOn Children’s Museum. The new $82 million building would also allow demolition of the aging General Administration building, considered vulnerable to earthquakes and too costly to fix.
    Observers rated Gov. Jay Inslee’s first legislative session a mixed bag, noting that he didn’t get many of the items he wanted. The goal of Inslee and House Democrats to pass $1.3 billion in new taxes was thwarted. Likewise, Inslee had lofty goals to change policies related to abortion, guns and immigrant access to financial aid, none of which passed, The Associated Press wrote, and even his successes were watered down versions of what he originally sought. Still, he had victories, including Medicaid expansion, a new drunk driving law and a climate change measure. Looking forward, the governor said he will continue to push for a transportation package to fix crumbling bridges and improve the highway system.

AWB’s Human Resources Forum will address the impending “talent war” July 16
More than 72 percent of workers in Washington aren’t happy in their jobs, a figure that matches the seven in 10 employees who have mentally “checked out” or are “actively disengaged” at work, according to a new Gallup poll. The bottom 20 percent, who actively hate their jobs, cost the economy $550 billion a year. Fortunately, there are ways to engage these low-performing employees while helping retain your best workers, who might be looking to make a move as the economy improves. Join AWB and special guests next week 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. The event has been approved for 4.75 (General) recertification credit hours toward PHR, SPHR and GPHR recertification through the HR Certification Institute.

Presenters include:

  • 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. Room reservations are available at the Seattle Airport Marriott, 800.228.9290. Questions contact Karlee Glasgow, 800.521.9325, or register here.

Former Pierce County Councilman Dick Muri picked to fill open House seat
Dick Muri, a retired Air Force officer, was appointed (Olympian/tiered subscription) last week to fill an open seat in the state House of Representatives. The Steilacoom Republican was the top choice of grassroots GOP members in the 28th legislative district who recommended him at the top of a slate of three candidates to replace former Rep. Steve O’Ban, who was tapped to fill the state Senate seat opened by the death of Sen. Mike Carrell. Muri spent nine years on the Pierce County Council (News Tribune/tiered subscription). He describes himself as a fiscal conservative who can work with Democrats.

Election: Voters will decide initiatives on food, initiatives this fall
Voters will cast ballots on just two initiatives (The News Tribune/tiered subscription) in November, the Secretary of State’s Office announced last week: Initiative 522, which seeks to require labels on genetically engineered food, and Initiative 517, a Tim Eyman-led measure that would make it easier to get initiatives on the ballot. It will be the first time since 1989 without an initiative to the people on the ballot. I-522 and I-517 took a different path, going first to the Legislature. AWB opposes I-522 because it would needlessly raise costs for farmers and families without making food safer. If opponents of genetically engineered foods succeed on a large scale, they could also make it difficult to feed the world’s growing population.

Tax Council to review recently passed legislation

The AWB Tax and Fiscal Policy Council will hold its regularly scheduled meeting July 17 from 9:30 a.m to noon in Seattle (location to be announced). Officials from the Department of Revenue have been invited to present an overview of SB 5882 — the tax incentive legislation that includes paymaster — including how they plan to implement it, what it means for the ETA and challenges they anticipate. The group will also discuss the DOR budget, tax preferences review, surveys and public disclosure requirements. If you have items you would like to add to the agenda, contact Amber Carter. A detailed agenda, conference call information and other details will be sent prior to the meeting.

Workers' comp COLA increases 3.4 percent due to overall wage increase

Workers’ compensation time loss and pension benefits have increased by 3.4 percent for the 2014 fiscal year, which began July 1. The new maximum monthly benefit will be $5,160, or 120 percent of the state’s average monthly wage, L&I reports, adding, “Less than 4 percent of L&I claimants receiving wage-replacement benefits collect the maximum.” The boost is based on the state’s overall wages, which increased by the same percentage, to $51,595 ($4,300 per month), in 2012.

‘Aggressive bet’ pays off for Boeing as it tops Airbus in deliveries
Boeing has delivered 306 planes this year, including 17 of its new 787 “Dreamliners,” compared with 295 deliveries by European competitor Airbus. That’s despite a three-month grounding of the 787 due to battery problems. “Boeing made a very aggressive bet” by continuing 787 production in Everett and South Carolina during the grounding, Aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia told KPLU. The bet paid off – they were able to deliver those planes as soon as the newly modified batteries got the OK from regulators. Among the deliveries was the first of ten 787s to Hainan Airlines in China.

‘The South is winning’ in fight for future aerospace manufacturing
Meanwhile, the Puget Sound region faces increasingly serious competition from the South as a home to future Boeing work, the Puget Sound Business Journal reports in a package of stories. South Carolina and other southern states have 20 percent lower wages, a less union-friendly environment, a lower cost of living and a growing base of workers skilled in nearby high-end auto factories. “As the South pries away more pieces of Washington state’s aerospace industry, some experts have arrived at a striking conclusion: There’s little Washington state can do to stem the loss,” the Puget Sound Business Journal concludes. One possible fix would be to make Washington a right-to-work state, where unions cannot force employees to be members, but that change faces “enormous” opposition in Olympia, capital of the nation’s fourth most unionized state. KPLU reports that aerospace observers say lawmakers may have damaged the state’s chances of landing Boeing’s new 777 factory by failing to pass workers’ compensation reforms, a transportation package, and by moving forward with controversial revisions to water quality standards.

Add your voice to the discussion at AWB’s upcoming regional meetings
Tell us what’s on your mind during AWB’s 2013 Regional Meetings, which are coming to a city near you this September. These meetings are a great place to network with AWB members in your area. The meetings are open to both AWB members and non-member businesses to learn about the association’s proposed updated to the 2013-2014 legislative priorities. Our government affairs staff will be on hand to answer questions and legislators from local districts will be invited. We want to hear your ideas about how to get our state’s economy back on track. The meeting schedule:

  • Southwest WA (Vancouver) – Sept. 4, 8:30-10:30 a.m.
  • Central WA (Kennewick) – Sept. 5, 8:30-10:30 a.m.
  • Eastern WA (Spokane) – Sept. 6, 8:30-10:30 a.m.
  • South Puget Sound (Federal Way) – Sept. 10, 8:30-10:30 a.m.
  • North Puget Sound (Everett) – Sept. 11, 8:30-10:30 a.m.
  • Central Puget Sound (Bellevue) – Sept. 12, 8:30-10:30 a.m.

Please RSVP by Aug. 30 to Bonnie Millikan at 800.521.9325.

Washington Business magazine
Did you receive the latest issue of Washington Business magazine? The new issue features an in-depth article on immigration reform and information on our Environmental Excellence and Community Service Award. You can access it online as well. If yours hasn’t arrived, contact J-Anne Nepomuceno at 360.943.1600.

Seminar Teaches the ‘7 Virtues of Exporting’
Jim Foley, the author of “The Global Entrepreneur: Taking Your Business International,” will keynote a two-day exporting seminar in Port Angeles. The seminar will teach the “7 virtues of exporting,” offering practical tips on how to understand export procedures, know when your company should expand internationally, avoid common mistakes and adapt your marketing for international success. The seminar will be held on July 22 and 23. More information on “Double Your Money Grant: The 7 Virtues of Exporting,” is here.

‘Morning Joe’ duo, Time magazine’s economy editor to headline Fall Policy Summit
The line-up for AWB’s 24th annual Policy Summit, sponsored by AT&T, will feature a powerful lineup of speakers addressing national politics and economic issues. MSNBC’s morning show team of Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski will keynote the dinner. Other featured speakers include:

  • Rana Foroohar, Time Magazine columnist and economy editor
  • A CEO panel featuring Scott Morris, chairman of the board, president and CEO, Avista Corporation, Spokane, and Colin Moseley, chairman, Green Diamond Resource Company, Seattle.
  • Health Care at a Crossroad … What’s Next? featuring Don Conant, an active AWB member and a member of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board; Jeff Rowe, executive vice president, Premera Blue Cross of Washington; and Hadley Heath, a senior policy analyst at the Independent Women's Forum and an expert on the Affordable Care Act
  • Skills Gap Threatens Washington’s Economy: What is the Solution? Panel of educators and business leaders moderated by Doug Bayne, Walla Walla Community College Foundation

Policy Summit will be held Sept. 17-19 at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum. Register online and go here for Suncadia room reservations.

Policy Summit debuts new mobile app
Sponsorships are available now for AWB’s new Policy Summit mobile app. Later next month, attendees can download the new app onto smartphones, providing digital access to all of the summit materials, including event updates, social media integration, and the power to connect directly with speakers and guests. Email Anne Haller, AWB’s director of member relations and events, or contact her by phone at 360.943.1600 for complete sponsor details.

Annual golf tournament set for Rope Rider Golf Course Sept. 17
The AWB Institute is excited to host this year’s fundraising golf tournament, sponsored by Altria, for Washington Business Week — an educational program that offers students a chance to experience simulated career challenges in a general business setting or in the career-focused pathways of health care, energy, manufacturing and agriculture. The shotgun start at Rope Rider Golf Course is 10:30 a.m. sharp on Tuesday, Sept. 17, during AWB’s Policy Summit. Golfers will enjoy playing on this spectacular course designed by Jacobsen Hardy Design, one of the nation's most respected course architecture firms. Registration is $140. Golf sponsorships are available here.

Conducting Effective Pre-Hire Interviews That Bring Results, Sept. 10

From the top executive to front-line employees, having the right people on your team is key to executing any business strategy. The company with the most talented team wins — period. The pre-employment interview is crucial to understanding a candidate’s history and potential. Learn how you can effectively choose and ask clear and probing questions that lead to the right hire. Jenifer Lambert, vice president of TERRA Staffing Group, will lead a webinar with “tricks of the trade” to help you significantly improve your odds of selecting top performers that will provide your company a real competitive advantage. This session is geared toward any manager that has responsibility for hiring and will cover:

  • Avoiding potential legal landmines during the pre-hire process
  • Classic hiring mistakes that all managers make and how to avoid them
  • An “ESP” process that will help you get beyond “interview answers” to the truth
  • Strategies for gathering references that lead to more effective hires
  • The three questions you must be have clear answers to before hiring anyone
Lambert’s lessons comes from more than 20 years in the recruiting and staffing industry helping clients across diverse industries hire more effectively. This Sept. 10 webinar runs from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The cost for AWB members is $49 and for non-members is $69. Contact Karlee Glasgow at 800.521.9325 for more information.

At the Speed of Now: Crisis Communications in a 24/7 World webinar Sept. 26
When and how should you respond to a reporter’s questions? What should you do when a television crew shows up at your facility? Find out answers to these questions and more during a Sept. 26 webinar (rescheduled from July 9) featuring strategic communication veterans Randy Pepple and Jennifer West. Members: $49. Non-members: $79. Register now. For more information, contact AWB’s Karlee Glasgow.

AWB offers simple 401(k) plan for members

Members can take advantage of an exciting retirement program – MyFuture 401(k) – an easier, more cost-effective plan for your company. Each adopting employer retains control of the vesting, eligibility requirements, matching contributions, profit sharing, and general plan design while decreasing the administrative burden and fiduciary liability. On-site education and enrollment services are provided to your employees by Integrity Financial, a local investment advisor, along with institutional grade investment options and professionally managed risk-based portfolios. For more information, please contact AWB at 1.800.521.9325 or visit

"The beer tax is dead… We’ll drink to that!”
~ A tweet from @EndWABeerTax after a plan to extend a “temporary” tax died in the Legislature and the 2010 surcharge on brew expired June 30.

This Week's President's Perspective: Military News a Mixed Bag For Washington's Economy

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