Launch of health exchanges marks key milestone of Affordable Care Act
Launch of health exchanges marks key milestone of Affordable Care Act
Washington’s Health Benefit Exchange website goes live at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow as major provisions of the Affordable Care Act take effect. The website is geared to individuals and families; businesses have few government-orchestrated options so far. The Vancouver Business Journal has a useful Q&A for businesses. The good news is that AWB’s HealthChoice plan will still be in place to provide health coverage to employers and their workers.
AWB joins coalition urging Congress to avoid government shutdown
A partial government shutdown appears likely to take effect at midnight, despite a call today from a multi-industry coalition urging Congress to pass a resolution raising the debt limit. The letter to Congress from the 251-member coalition, which included AWB, argued that a government shutdown will hurt the economy at a time when it remains fragile. It’s better to pass a resolution raising the debt limit, the letter stated, before tackling some of the underlying spending issues facing our nation, which include unsustainable spending on entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Minimum wage to increase by 13 cents to $9.32 for 2014
Washington’s minimum wage, which is indexed to annually increase with inflation, will go up 13 cents to $9.32 per hour on Jan. 1, the state Department of Labor & Industries announced today. This reflects a 1.455 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners and clerical workers. Washington continues to have the nation’s highest minimum wage, trailed by Oregon, which is increasing its rate by 15 cents to $9.10 per hour in 2014. In California, lawmakers recently passed a law that will gradually raise their state’s minimum wage to $10 per hour by 2016.
Former Democratic party official faces embezzlement charges for campaign fund spending
The former executive director of the Washington State Senate Democratic Campaign Committee has been charged with eight counts of theft after allegedly admitting to embezzling $250,000 to $300,000 in campaign money to spend on alcohol and gambling. Top Democratic senators say the misspent money could have changed the outcome in the tight Vancouver race that went to Republican Don Benton last fall and allowed the Majority Coalition Caucus to take over the Senate.
Hundreds turn out for public hearing on coal export terminal
Environmentalists dominated a public hearing held by the Army Corps of Engineers in Spokane about a coal export terminal in Longview, but the business community was also represented. “This is a great project that brings jobs to this state at a time when we need jobs,” said Rich Hadley, president and CEO of Greater Spokane Incorporated. Redeveloping an old aluminum smelter site in Longview would create 2,650 temporary construction jobs and 300 permanent jobs.
Learn more about energy distribution terminal in Vancouver — meeting tonight
A public meeting tonight in Vancouver will offer information about a proposed energy distribution terminal at the Port of Vancouver. Learn about how North American crude oil will be transferred from railcars to ships for transport to refiners serving West Coast families and businesses. The community presentation from Tesoro-Savage will be held in the Hudson’s Bay High School commons, 1601 E. McLoughlin Blvd. Doors open at 7 p.m.; the presentation starts at 7:30 p.m. Learn more at VancouverEnergyTerminal.com.
Unionized workers at QFC, Safeway, Albertson’s and Frey Meyer voted Thursday to authorize a strike over stalled contract talks, but any actual walkout could be weeks away. The 30,000 workers in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties are most dissatisfied with health care provisions. Employers currently offer health insurance when workers are on the job more than 16 hours a week; the new offer is for workers over 30 hours a week, the level required under the Affordable Care Act. A 1989 grocery worker strike in Seattle lasted 81 days.
Transportation listening tour moving to larger venues as hundreds response
Upcoming transportation forums in Spokane and Vancouver have been moved to bigger rooms after overwhelming attendance at hearings held in Bellevue, Everett, Wenatchee, Yakima and Pasco. Legislators need to hear from you and your employees about the importance of maintaining and upgrading our roads and highways through reforms and a revenue package. Upcoming hearings are in Spokane, Vancouver, Tacoma, Seattle and Bellingham, or give feedback online. Contact Mike Ennis, AWB’s government affairs director for transportation, to learn more.
Did you know: Washington’s electricity is the cheapest in the nation and its workers’ comp benefits are the highest? These and other key facts are in the just-released 2014 Competitiveness Redbook, AWB’s annual listing of business climate indicators. Contact J-Anne Nepomuceno at 360.943.1600 for copies. Books are $8 for members and $10 for non-members.How did your lawmaker vote? 2013 Legislative Review has the answers
The annual AWB Legislative Review and Vote Record is now available in print and online (pdf) with a full look back at this year’s long, contentious but ultimately productive legislative session. This special edition of Washington Business magazine will be arriving in your mailbox soon.OTHER NEWS
Studies of Seattle’s sick leave law unlikely to look at issues that matter to business
As Seattle’s paid sick leave law turns one year old, an ongoing University of Washington study has found increasing compliance but hasn’t looked at costs, whether few or more workers are coming in sick, or its effect on business competitiveness. Meanwhile, the Seattle councilman who pushed for the law concedes the city should have delayed an implementation the study calls “confusing and time-consuming,” The Seattle Times reports.
Inslee, state worker unions back at the negotiating table on health care
Gov. Jay Inslee and two dozen-plus labor unions are negotiating health insurance details for more than 100,000 state workers, The Olympian reports (tiered paywall). The governor is pushing to include wellness programs, one of his major campaign issues. It’s unclear if Inslee is asking workers to pay more than the 15 percent of premiums they pay today.
The new AWB website is one of the best in the nation, according to GD Magazine, a 50-year-old graphic design magazine based in New York. SiteCrafting, the Tacoma firm that created the new AWB site, just won a 2013 American Graphic Design Award for the work. Check out the site today! Contact J-Anne Nepomuceno if you need help logging on to the members-only section.Take time to get ready for the worst during Disaster Preparedness Month
If this weekend’s storms weren’t enough of a reminder: Protect the future of your business, family and even your pets by making a plan and setting up an emergency supply kit during Disaster Preparedness Month, which starts on Tuesday. This winter could pack a wallop, so get ready to “take winter by storm.” Prepare for our next earthquake with the Oct. 17 Great ShakeOut drill.Climate Workgroup holding public hearings in Spokane, Seattle and Olympia
The Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup, created by law this year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, will hold three public hearings over the coming months. To learn more, contact AWB’s Brandon Houskeeper at 360.943.1600.Tickets now on sale for Washington Business Week breakfast fundraiser at CenturyLink Field
Show your support for Washington Business Week by attending its first-ever fundraiser breakfast at 7 a.m. Oct. 23 in the Root Sports Lounge at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. KOMO-TV news anchor and business reporter Brad Goode will be master of ceremonies. Students and alumni will share stories of how Business Week helped them. Register online now for “Takin’ Care of Business: Breakfast Benefit for Washington Business Week”.Consider donating to the Don Brunell scholarship and Washington Business Week
As you develop your corporate giving budgets for 2014, consider donating to the Don Brunell Scholarship Fund administered by AWB Institute, which supports higher education in business-related fields. Contact AWB Institute’s Mike Hudson for donation information. Another worthy recipient is Washington Business Week, which gives real-life entrepreneurial experience to more than 3,000 teens a year thanks to generous donors. Contributions to AWB Institute and Washington Business Week are tax deductible under IRS code.AWB EVENTS & RESOURCES
CEO of Snap-on, Nicholas Pinchuk, to keynote 2013 Manufacturing Summit
Nicholas Pinchuk, the chairman and CEO of Snap-on Incorporated, has confirmed that he will keynote the 2013 AWB Manufacturing Summit on Oct. 25. Pinchuk is an enthusiastic speaker about the importance of manufacturing to the economy. The 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.
AWB members get a discount on employment law seminar (bring your therapy horse, if needed)
A limited number of rooms are available at Cedarbrook Lodge. Reserve by Sept. 30 to receive the AWB group rate of $179. Contact Anne Haller at 800.521.9325 for more information or to learn about sponsorship opportunities.
Is your organization ready for Seattle’s new rules limiting criminal background checks?
Are you ready for Seattle’s new “ban the box” ordinance, limiting an employer’s ability to ask about an applicant’s criminal background? Kris Teft, AWB director of government affairs for employment law, and Greg Hendershott, a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine, will answer your questions on this hot topic on Oct. 3 from 10-11:30 a.m. in the John Davis Conference Center at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, in Seattle. Cost is $40 for members, $65 for non-members. This program is pending recertification credit hours toward PHR, SPHR and GPHR recertification through the HR Certification Institute. Contact AWB’s Anne Haller at 360.943.1600 for more information.
What do guns, therapy horses and tattoos have in common? They’re part of the discussion at the half-day Breakfast Briefing Oct. 30 in Seattle hosted by Littler Mendelson. AWB members get a 25 percent discount in this talk on practical workplace accommodations/accessibility and independent contractors. Contact Cheri Devlin at email@example.com for information, or learn more here.‘Standing Shoulder to Shoulder’ seminar details the business case for hiring veterans
Patriotism aside, there is a strong business case for hiring veterans. Learn more at “Standing Should to Shoulder With Our Military Veterans” on Nov. 13 in Tacoma. Topics include “The Legal Ins and Outs of Hiring a Veteran,” “I Want to Hire a Veteran – How Do I Find the Right Match for my Business Needs?” and “Hiring Veterans Makes Good Business Sense – a Company’s Perspective.” The seminar at TrueBlue, Inc., 1015 A St, Tacoma, runs from 8 a.m. to noon. Contact Anne Haller for information or learn more here.Get help making sense of health care reform at AWB 2013 Health Care Forum, Nov. 6
Learn about the rapid changes coming with the Affordable Care Act at the AWB 2013 Health Care Forum Nov. 6 at the Renaissance Seattle Hotel. “Understanding & Implementing the Changes in Health Care” will feature John Goodman, president & CEO, National Center for Policy Analysis. Goodman, widely known as the father of health savings accounts, will have copies available of his new book, “Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis.”Additional sessions to include:
- Affordable Care Act Impact on Employers: What do employers need to be ready for and what’s next?
- Opportunity for Employers: Can my company really reduce health care costs?
- Transform Your Workforce. Strengthen Your Bottom Line: Panel of successful case studies in wellness programs
“What's in a name? When it comes to the debate over health care, apparently a lot.” ~ CNBC, reporting a survey that found 46 percent opposition to “Obamacare” and 37 percent opposition to “the Affordable Care Act,” even though the two are the same thing.
This Week's President's Perspective: Dangerous Duels With Americans Caught in the Middle
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