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Fast Facts

Monday, August 19

Consensus grows that state needs transportation package

Consensus grows that state needs transportation package

The recent announcement by the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus of a statewide listening tour focused on transportation improvements and systematic reform is a good move that needs to be followed by action, the Washington Alliance for a Competitive Economy says. WashACE notes the chorus of newspaper editorial boards calling for action to increase safety, reduce gridlock and help get goods to market. The Seattle Times said the listening tour must lead to compromise. The Spokesman-Review says delaying action will be costly. The Everett Herald says the listening tour is a meaningful step forward that needs humility and leadership to serve the public interest. AWB continues to support the implementation of transportation reform measures to control project costs and encourage lawmakers to come together around a transportation package this year.

Rich Hadley to retire as head of Greater Spokane Inc.
Rich Hadley, president and CEO of Greater Spokane Incorporated for the past 20 years, will retire in April of 2014. Jeff Philipps, chair of the chamber’s Board of Trustees, praised Hadley as a change agent. “His vision, leadership, collaboration and ability to create consensus have brought significant economic growth and quality of life improvements to Spokane and the region,” Philipps said. Linda Elkin of U.S. Bank and Scott Morris of Avista will co-chair the search committee that will replace him. A committee will be appointed in September to conduct a national search

Trade-dependent Washington relies on rail

With transportation a hot topic this year, the Washington Research Council is releasing a four-part study on trade, exports and cargo movement. Part one looks at rail, which is in the midst of a building boom not seen since the Gilded Age. Rail yards and tracks are seeing a $14 billion upgrade for speed and efficiency this year. Washington’s 3,215 miles of track are seeing both private and public upgrades as use continues to grow.

AWB urges better protections for utility customers in Columbia River Treaty update

Thousands of farmers, manufacturers and other utility customers would be poorly served by the recent proposed updates to the 1964 Columbia River Treaty, as AWB wrote last week in a letter to the Bonneville Power Administration, members of Congress and the governor. The treaty, which can be updated, cancelled or left as-is, needs to take into account the ecological work by local utilities and should address low-flow problems that impair shipping on the Columbia and Snake rivers. A consortium of groups who see the need for a better treaty update have hired recently retired Congressman Norm Dicks to keep watch over the process.

State’s teacher evaluation system flunks federal requirements

Washington is one of three states put on “high risk status” for failing to meet federal standards for judging teachers and principals, the AP reports. Federal education officials warned Washington, Oregon and Kansas that they have only one year —until May 2014 — to do a better job of including student test scores as a factor in teacher evaluations. Current Washington law says teacher evaluations “can” include test scores. The state superintendent says he’ll ask lawmakers to change that to “must,” The News Tribune reports (tiered subscription).

Report: ‘Living wage’ initiative would cause job loss, lower tax revenues and increased city costs

As activists push to institute a $15 minimum wage for all workers in Seattle, a Washington Research Council report finds that the similar ‘living wage’ initiative going before voters in SeaTac would cost 5 percent of employees their jobs as employers automate and innovate to cut costs. Another 5 to 10 percent of workers would be replaced by better-educated and more highly skilled employees attracted by wages 60 percent above the state’s already highest-in-the-nation rate. SeaTac’s tax revenues would decline as businesses inside the city limits struggle with higher costs; meanwhile, municipal expenses would grow as they enforce the rules and paperwork requirements.

Consumers likely to pay more after latest Obama administration delay of Affordable Care Act rules

It took months for anyone to notice, but buried in a federal government Q&A earlier this year was a one-year delay on a new Affordable Care Act cap on consumer out-of-pocket expenses, The New York Times (tiered paywall) discovered. The Obama administration said the delay was needed to allow insurance companies to upgrade software. Critics say it’s another sign of the need to repeal a complex law that is coming apart at the seams. Those looking to replace the Affordable Care Act have one possible model in proposal from Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., an orthopedic surgeon who describes his plan – which avoids the ACA’s dependence on tax penalties – as “a carrot instead of a two-by-four.”

Tax change proposed to help Puget Sound ports, Eastern Washington fruit growers
Importers divert an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 shipping containers to Canada from Puget Sound each year to avoid a $109-per-container Harbor Maintenance Tax. Most of those loads are then shipped directly overland into the U.S. without being taxed. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are introducing legislation to replace that tax with a $109 fee that wouldn’t penalize the ports like those in Tacoma and Seattle. The new fee would also pay for port projects, rather than the current practice of diverting the money for dredging and other projects across the nation. Bringing more imports into Tacoma and Seattle would also help Eastern Washington fruit growers, whose exports need a good supply of “backhaul” ships and containers returning to Asia.

New laws aim to increase hydropower on existing dams

Only about 3 percent of the nation’s 80,000 dams currently generate hydropower. That could change with approval last week of two new laws, one of which was sponsored by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, easing the heavy permitting burden on small hydro projects. The U.S. could generate an additional 12.6 gigawatts of electricity without building a single new dam by adding generating power to existing structures, according to a Department of Energy report.

State promises four-week permits for Boeing plant, down from normal 18-month wait

The state has announced an exception to the normal 12- to 18-month permit review period that normally delays a project with the potential to have a significant economic impact in Washington. If Boeing decides to build a new 777X facility in Snohomish County, it will have permits in hand in just four weeks. Gov. Jay Inslee said building the 777X and its components here is “Washington’s greatest economic development priority.” This comes two weeks after the state announced an exhaustive two-year analysis of proposed export terminals supported by business and labor that would provide thousands of family-wage jobs.

Paid sick leave can actually increase the number of ill people coming in to work

It sounds backward, but the problem of sick peopled coming in to work and possibly infecting coworkers has actually increased in some cases under Seattle’s year-old paid sick leave law. Employers with paid sick leave were more than a third more likely (page 7) to report sick employees coming to work. Why? Perhaps because paid time off encourages workers to abuse the privilege and then find themselves without any sick leave left when they actually do fall ill. On-the-ground experience is demonstrating that claims of employee benefits from paid sick leave are exaggerated and that these laws destabilize staffing, creating uncertainty for businesses.

International trade dispute poses threat to Moses Lake silicon manufacturer

REC Silicon, which employs 500 people in Moses Lake, faces the potential loss of 80 percent of its customers due to a 57 percent Chinese tariff on the raw materials for solar panels. The Seattle Times reports (tiered paywall) that Chinese retaliation on an American tariff put in place last year to protect American manufacturers could end up dealing a potentially “massive blow” to REC Silicon.

Brunell to throw out first pitch at Aug. 28 Mariners game
Don Brunell, who is finishing up the last of his 26 years as president of AWB, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Aug. 28 Mariners game versus the Texas Rangers. The Mariners will thank and recognize Don for his leadership in the business community, the state and at AWB. It’s an afternoon game – a businessman’s special – with the first pitch scheduled for shortly after noon.

Save the date for 2013 Manufacturing Summit - Friday, Oct. 25, Cedarbrook Lodge, SeaTac

Mark your calendars for the second annual AWB Manufacturing Summit. This 2013 summit sponsored by McGladrey includes our ninth-annual Manufacturing Excellence Awards, sponsored by UPS. Sessions include:

  • “Developing Local Relationships That Build Your Workforce,” panel moderated by Gary Chandler, AWB vice president, government affairs.
  • “Manufacturing Challenges and Opportunities in Washington,” panel moderated Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers.
  • McGladrey 2013 Monitor Results, presented by Wendy Sancewich, CPA, CFE, National Manufacturing Team Director, McGladrey.
  • Manufacturing Excellence Awards Luncheon sponsored by The Boeing Company.

Registration opens Sept. 3. Contact Anne Haller at 800.521.9325 for more information or to learn about sponsorship opportunities.

‘Morning Joe’ duo, Time magazine’s economy editor to headline Fall Policy Summit

AWB’s room block is sold out at Suncadia Resort, but you can still register to attend next month’s Policy Summit. AWB’s 24th annual Policy Summit, sponsored by AT&T, is less than a month away. This year’s line-up features a powerful slate of speakers addressing national politics and economic issues. MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” 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 Roe, 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’s 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 Brian Benzel, Vice President for Finance and Administration, Whitworth University.
  • Gov. Jay Inslee will address attendees at lunch on Wednesday, Sept. 18.

Policy Summit will be held Sept. 17-19 at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum. Register online here. Please note that AWB’s block of rooms at Suncadia is now sold out. Attendees can call AWB at 800.521.9325 to be placed on a waiting list or look up other lodging options at our website. Follow Policy Summit on Twitter at @AWBSummit or by searching the hashtag #awbsummit13.

Policy Summit debuts new mobile app

A few sponsorships are still available for AWB’s new Policy Summit mobile app. Later this 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 Jacobsen Hardy Design course, one of the nation's most respected course architecture firms. Golfers will check in at Inn at Suncadia/Prospector Golf Course to warm up on the driving range and participate in the putting contest. Registration is $140. Golf sponsorships are available here.

Don Brunell Scholarships Applications Now Being Accepted

Washington Business Week has “a magical quality that transforms lives,” AWB President Don Brunell recently wrote. To help spread the opportunity for Business Week’s transformative power, the AWB Institute is now accepting applications for the 2013 Don Brunell Scholarship for Future Business Leaders. AWB members with children or grandchildren are encouraged to apply. The scholarship is targeted to undergraduate, graduate, or career/vocational students currently pursuing or who intend to pursue a course of education that will lead to a degree or certification in business. Recipients may receive up to $2,000. Details and an application packet are online, or contact the scholarship administrator, Mike Hudson, at The deadline for submitting applications is Oct. 31.

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 the 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 Jennifer Davis at 800.521.9325 for more information.

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


“I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work. I've never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job, and I never quit my job until I had my next job.” ~ actor Ashton Kutcher in a speech at the Teen Choice Awards that has gone viral on YouTube.

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