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Fast Facts

Monday, July 22

From businesses to unions, anxieties increase as health care reform takes hold

From businesses to unions, anxieties increase as health care reform takes hold
Businesses are increasingly anxious as Affordable Care Act deadlines loom, and so are big unions who fear “destructive consequences” from the wide-ranging health reform bill. In the face of claims that the White House is muddling its message on his signature law, President Obama is speaking out (video) about the bill’s benefits. He includes Washington state as example of lower premiums, but the AP fact-checked Obama’s recent claims and declared “Another year, another round of exaggeration from President Barack Obama.” Meanwhile, the state’s Health Benefit Exchange is looking at branding porta-potties and toilet paper at outdoor concerts to reach “young invincibles,” the healthy under-29 set who often go uninsured but whose participation is key (KIRO video) to keeping rates from rising. One million uninsured Washington residents are expected to sign up under the ACA.

Legislature earns a D+ in voter survey
The voters are not impressed (Q13 video) with their representatives in Olympia. In a survey conducted after the Legislature ended its marathon double-overtime session, voters gave lawmakers a collective D+ for their work. A full 55 percent criticized state leaders for “little or no progress” on issues including a comprehensive transportation package. In one bright spot, voters were more engaged and aware of work in Olympia than they have been in 15 years, The Seattle Times reports (tiered paywall).

Washington businesses pay more in taxes for governmental services than national average
Businesses pay just over half (54 percent) of the state and local taxes collected in Washington, according to a new study of taxes and business across the nation. Businesses pay the highest percentage in Alaska (90 percent) and the lowest in Connecticut (30 percent). Across the nation, state governments have been collecting more in taxes in 2011 and 2012 after two years of declines during the recession. Assuming that half of all money spent on education directly benefits businesses, American businesses pay $1.20 in taxes for each dollar in governmental services they receive. In Washington businesses pay $1.40 in tax for each dollar of benefits.

Human Resources professionals learn from the best at first-annual AWB summit
Excellence in human resources took many forms during Tuesday’s first-annual AWB Human Resources Forum in Seattle. For Melissa Clark of Marriott, it’s scheduling time on the calendar to “walk the property” and talk with front-line employees. For Reid Bates of Express Employment Professionals, it’s asking top employees today why they might leave tomorrow, instead of waiting to ask the same question at their exit interview. Ryan’s Delta Emerson explained the value of results-based flexible schedules, Patrick Hopp showed how employers can allow their workers to truly “show up for work,” and Ken Grant helped attendees discover what makes them unique. This year’s forum was “worth driving in from Wenatchee.”Check with us in January for information on next year’s event.

Businesses fight push for $15 minimum wage in SeaTac
Alaska Airlines and the Washington Restaurant Association are suing to block an initiative that would institute a $15 minimum wage in airport-related businesses in and around Sea-Tac International Airport. The proposal is 63 percent higher than the statewide minimum wage of $9.19 per hour, already the highest in the nation, and would send businesses into a downward death spiral, the Southwest King County Chamber of Commerce warned at a public hearing last week.

Retailers wary over proposed ‘Initiative on Initiatives’
Store owners are expressing concern about a Tim Eyman-led ballot initiative that would displace private property rights in favor of the right of signature collectors to set up at retail stores. Initiative 517 would establish the right for canvasser to collect signatures at supermarkets and big box stores. It’s one of just two initiatives on the ballot this November.

Tax advisory vote will cost $240,000, have no weight
Voters this fall will be asked to weigh in on five taxes approved by the Legislature this year on issues ranging from the estate tax to standalone dental coverage. The nonbinding advisory votes, required under 2007’s Initiative 960, will cost $240,000, mostly for the thicker voter guides (Seattle Times/tiered subscription) needed to detail the taxes and provide contact information for the lawmakers who voted for them.

Washington’s cell phone taxes are second highest in America
Taxes and fees add about 25 percent to cell phone bills in Washington, where the 18.62 percent tax is the second highest in the nation, only a sliver behind Nebraska. Federal taxes add another 5.82 percent. If you have trouble deciphering your cell phone bill, you’re not alone. The tangle of state and local sales tax, B&O tax, public utility tax and 911 fees is so complex even the Department of Revenue had trouble tabulating the total, The Spokesman-Review reported.

Fire in Boeing plane was due to faulty emergency beacon
A fire in a Boeing 787 that burned at a London airport July 12 was caused by a rare malfunction in an Emergency Locator Transmitter. This is good news for Boeing, The Seattle Times writes (tiered subscription), “damping fears that the fire was the result of some broader problem with the plane’s electrical systems.” Despite the fire, the 13 airlines around the world that fly the 787 stood by Boeing and none grounded its planes after the fire.

University of Washington beats goal for new startups
The University of Washington has announced 17 startup companies at its new commercial incubation facility. That beats a goal set a year ago and puts UW at the forefront of universities spinning off businesses from academic work. The startups put human cells on a chip and create anti-aging makeup, among other innovations. Not coincidentally, Seattle was also recently named the world’s 13th most inventive city (Seattle Times/tiered subscription) based on patents per capita.

Japanese company to open $30 million algae factory in Moses Lake
A Japanese pharmaceutical company has announced plans to build a $30 million facility in Moses Lake to manufacture an algae-based nutritional supplement. Fuji Chemical Industry picked Grant County because of its cheap hydro power, abundant water supply, skilled labor force and a culture that is welcoming to Japanese companies.

Inslee aides outline plans for lean management and disruptive change
Eight months after winning election on a promise of “disruptive” change to state government, Gov. Jay Inslee is about to start delivering on his promise for “Lean” management, The Olympia reports (tiered paywall). Inslee’s “Results Washington” approach will focus on education, the economy, sustainable energy and a clean environment, healthy and safe communities, and efficient, accountable government. This is the latest in a 50-year string of government reform efforts, the Washington State Wire notes, all of which have had to battle bureaucratic resistance and disinterest.

Top Bonneville Power Administration officials suspended amidst federal investigation
Two top administrators at the Bonneville Power Administration were abruptly put on administrative leave last week as the Department of Energy is reviewing allegations of discriminatory hiring practices and retaliation against whistleblowers. The federal nonprofit that manages and markets hydropower along the Columbia River is accused of disadvantaging veterans applying for jobs, then retaliating against employees aiding in the federal investigation.

Special election to fill Inslee’s congressional seat cost $791,000
The special elections to fill Jay Inslee’s seat after he resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives last year to campaign for governor cost $791,000. Democrat Suzan DelBene won both the short-term special election and the regular election to fill Inslee’s seat. The state will reimburse Snohomish, King and Kitsap counties for the “oddball” special election held to fill out the final months of Inslee’s term last year.

State admits its $300 million data center was overbuilt
Washington won’t need two of the four highly secure, climate-controlled, earthquake-safe vaults it designed in its $300 million data center, a new report concludes. Critics have said for years the data center complex was overbuilt, and the state’s chief information officer now agrees. So far, attempts to lease out the unfinished data center space have been unsuccessful.

Nominations open for civics award to be given to community-minded corporations
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman is asking for nominations for Washington’s highest civics award to be given to community-centric corporations. The Corporations for Communities program recognizes exceptional Washington businesses that help improve social and environmental conditions. Last year’s winners were Jim’s Pharmacy in Port Angeles and TreeTop in Selah. The deadline for nominations is Aug. 31.

Nominations due Friday for the 2013 Manufacturing Excellence Awards
Time is running out to submit nominations for the AWB and AWB Institute’s 2013 Manufacturing Excellence Awards sponsored by UPS. Manufacturers are responsible for more than 70 percent of all private sector R&D, which ultimately benefits other manufacturing and non-manufacturing activities. Two-thirds of our nation’s total exports of goods and services are related to the manufacturing sector. The awards, sponsored by UPS, will be presented Oct. 25 at the 2013 Manufacturing Summit: Manufacturing Matters Now! Recipients will be featured in a video highlighting their accomplishments. Download the nomination form here. Applications are due by Friday.

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.

‘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 slate 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, and Ezra Eckhardt, President and Chief Operating Officer, Sterling Bank.
  • 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; Dr. Lee A. Antles, MD, West Olympia Internal Medicine 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. Panelists include Lee Huntsman, University of Washington President Emeritus, Gerald Pumphrey, South Puget Sound Community College President, Retired (invited)and Brain Benzel, Vice President for Finance and Administration, Whitworth University (invited).
  • Gov. Jay Inslee will address attendees at lunch on Wednesday September 18.

Policy Summit will be held Sept. 17-19 at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum. Register online and go here for Suncadia room reservations. Follow Policy Summit on Twitter at @AWBSummit or by searching the hashtag #awbsummit13.

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.

Save the date for Manufacturing Summit — Oct. 25
Mark your calendars on Oct. 25 for the 2013 AWB Manufacturing Summit. This annual event includes our second-annual Manufacturing Awards, sponsored by UPS. A full slate of speakers will include

· Developing Local Relationships That Build Your Workforce

Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Manufacturers Association, leading a panel of Washington CEOs

The McGladery 2013 Monitor results, presented by Wendy Sancewich

Contact Anne Haller at 800.521.9325 for more information or to learn about remaining sponsorship opportunities.

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

“It’s not kumbaya. … It’s a business imperative to break artificial, outdated workplace constraints.”
~ Delta Emerson, chief of staff at Ryan, speaking at AWB’s 2013 Human Resources Forum about her company’s innovative flexible work plan, which eliminated 9-to-5 office hours in favor of focusing entirely on results.

This Week's President's Perspective: The Magic of Washington Business Week

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