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Monday, November 11

Inslee signs bills aimed at landing 777X, crucial Machinists' union vote up next

Inslee signs bills aimed at landing 777X, crucial Machinists’ union vote up next

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a pair of bills this morning at the Museum of Flight in Seattle that are aimed at ensuring Boeing builds the 777X airliner in Washington state. House and Senate lawmakers approved the bills Saturday before concluding a three-day special session that Inslee also hoped would produce a transportation package. One of the bills, Senate Bill 5952, extends existing tax breaks from 2024 to 2040, while the other, Senate Bill 5953, adds $17 million into education and training for future aerospace workers. The tax bill is worth an estimated $8.7 billion over 16 years, but will generate more than $20 billion in new tax revenue, said Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond. The jet’s future in Washington state won’t be secure, however, until Boeing Machinists vote Wednesday on a proposed contract that the company says is vital to its long-term competitiveness.

Election wrap-up

Tuesday’s general election will strengthen the Senate’s bipartisan Majority Coalition Caucus and avoid some new business challenges that would have come with two statewide ballot measures. At the same time, voter approval of SeaTac’s $15 minimum wage has unions and other supporters looking eagerly to take the battle to Seattle and beyond. A quick election roundup:

  • I-522 – “Old-fashioned good sense” prevailed, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin wrote, as voters rejected a measure that would have put a warning label on the front of most foods that contained even a trace of genetically modified organisms.
  • I-517 – Smart voters tossed out another dumb initiative, The News-Tribune wrote about I-522 and I-517, which would have created special protections for initiative signature gatherers on both public and private property. “Voters, bless their hearts, were paying attention to their ballots this fall,” the newspaper wrote.
  • Senate, 26th District – Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, will move across the Capitol rotunda to the Senate next year after defeating Democrat Nathan Schlicher. The bipartisan, conservative-leaning MCC now has a 26-23 majority – an “exponential” difference that will reduce the ability of any single member of the caucus to make demands, said Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue.
  • SeaTac Proposition 1 – With heavy backing from unions, voters in SeaTac appear to have narrowly backed a huge boost to the minimum wage for transportation and hospitality workers. Backers of the $15 minimum wage are now looking to the biggest city in the state for their next fight, The Seattle Times (tiered subscription) reports. Mayor-Elect Ed Murray said he wants a phased-in boost to the minimum wage: “we don’t want a business labor war in this city,” he told KIRO.
  • Senate, 8th District: After being appointed to fill an open seat earlier this year, Sharon Brown will return to the state Senate after receiving 75 percent of the vote. She pledges to work on regulatory reform and fighting off tax increases, the Tri-City Herald reports.
  • Senate, 7th District: Northeast Washington voters picked Ferry County Commissioner John Dansel over incumbent Sen. John Smith, The Spokesman-Review reports. Smith had been appointed in December to fill the seat after the retirement of longtime Sen. Bob Morton.

Musical chairs for head of Senate Democrats after Murray’s election as Seattle mayor

Sen. Ed Murray stepped down as head of the Democratic Senate caucus Friday, three days after being elected mayor of Seattle. Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, will serve as named interim leader until Senate Democrats meet later this month to pick a permanent leader. Contenders include Sharon Nelson of Maury Island, Karen Keiser of Kent, James Hargrove of Hoquiam, and Tracey Edie of Federal Way, Crosscut and The Herald report.

Inslee’s push for climate change plan running up against deadline

Time is running out for the bipartisan Climate Legislative Executive Workgroup to put together a package of recommendations by its Dec. 31 deadline, Crosscut reports. Inslee, who chairs the group, missed Wednesday’s meeting as he prepared for a just-declared special legislative session. The committee’s two Democrats want serious consideration of a cap-and-trade program, a carbon emissions tax or lower carbon in fuel. The Republican members of the committee want to know the economic and job impact of those measures first.

State lays out options for fish consumption rates

Washington continues to move toward updating its fish consumption rate, which will lead to greater restrictions on employers, cities and others who discharge into waterways. The Department of Ecology, which held a meeting Wednesday, plans to release its draft rules in early 2014 and finalize them by the end of the year. A similar effort in Oregon resulted in emissions standards so high that they are impossible to meet with current technologies or even anything available in the foreseeable future. The Department of Ecology’s manager for water quality said businesses have a valid concern: “These are going to be really difficult numbers to achieve.”

Explore the benefits of hiring veterans at ‘Standing Shoulder to Shoulder’ seminar

This Veteran’s Day saw major announcement from Northwest companies making a strong commitment to veterans. Starbucks will hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses over the next five years. Microsoft is opening a series of training centers on military bases – starting with JBLM – and Microsoft guarantees jobs to the first batch of graduates.

There are many good business reasons – as well as patriotic pride – to hire veterans, including federal incentives. Learn more at “Standing Shoulder to Shoulder With Our Military Veterans” this Wednesday in Tacoma. Topics include:

  • The Legal Ins and Outs of Hiring a Veteran – Clemencia Castro-Woolery and Chad Arceneaux, Eisenhower Carlson PLLC; Amy Johnson, AWB Institute
  • “I Want to Hire a Veteran – How Do I Find the Right Match for my Business Needs?” – Mark Brown, JBLM; Todd Burgess, Armed Forces Services Corporation; Hilary Cahill, TrueBlue, Inc.; Greg Mowat, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce
  • “Hiring Veterans Makes Good Business Sense – a Company’s Perspective” – David Fuller and Kris Givens, Walmart; Mick James, Starbucks Coffee Company; Richard L. Truitt, Renton WorkSource; Jason Whalen, Eisenhower Carlson PLLC
  • The seminar at TrueBlue, Inc., 1015 A St., Tacoma, runs from 8 a.m. to noon. Have a question you’d like our panelists to address? Send it to Anne Haller. Learn more and sign up here.

AWB hires Sheri Nelson as government affairs director for education and health care

Sheri Nelson will join AWB on Nov. 25 as a government affairs director specializing in health care and education. Nelson has spent the last 10 years as community relations manager for Sierra Pacific Industries, where she was a key company liaison with state, federal and local governments. An active member of chambers of commerce around the region, she has also been a member of the AWB Board of Directors. She will step down from that volunteer leadership post as she joins the staff. “Sheri understands how to explain the realities of private business to elected government officials and agency employees,” said Gary Chandler, AWB vice president for government affairs. “Our members will be well served when she joins our team on the hill.”

Fitbits, fruit bowls in the break room and making hospitals more like a smartphone

As businesses anxiously watch for how the Affordable Care Act will affect their employees and operations, there are some things that can be done now, according to the AWB Health Care Forum last week in Seattle, which featured such speakers as Washington Health Benefit Exchange CEO Richard Onizuka and John Goodman, the “father of the Health Savings Account.” The ACA includes provisions that allow insurance companies to offer big discounts for companies that provide qualified wellness programs. There is also the potential for an online business insurance plan exchange in the state, but not for another year. The entire event was recorded by TVW and highlights are on Tagboard.

After computer glitch that underestimated cost, 8,000 insurance customers to receive letters

Eight thousand Washington residents will be receiving letters saying their health insurance will cost more than the state’s Health Benefit Exchange had led them to believe. The mistake came from a miscommunication between the state and federal computer systems, exchange CEO Richard Onizuka told the AWB last week. The error will mean more work for people who already went through the sign-up process, The Seattle Times reports (tiered paywall). So far the state has had more than 55,000 enrollments through the exchange, The Olympian reports (tiered paywall), with about as many people signed up but waiting to pay.

Inslee names new chief of staff

Gov. Jay Inslee has named longtime advisor Joby Shimomura as his new chief of staff. Shimomura served in the same role for six years when Inslee was in Congress and managed several of his campaigns. She replaces Mary Alice Heuschel, who will stay on temporarily to continue work on Inslee’s government reform and efficiency efforts, Results Washington.

Democratic ‘rising star,’ Sen. Nick Harper, abruptly resigns from Legislature

The deputy leader of the Senate Democratic caucus resigned over the weekend to spend more time with his family. Sen. Nick Harper, D-Everett, has served in the Senate for three years. Both his daughters were born after his 2010 election, and he said the Legislature took him away from home “far too much.” Harper was seen as a rising star in the Democratic caucus, The Seattle Times reports. His immediate resignation means the Snohomish County Council will pick a replacement from a list of three candidates submitted by the county’s’ Democratic Party. Reps. Mike Sells of Everett and John McCoy of Tulalip are two names being mentioned, The Herald reports.

Limits on coal exports would hurt Native Americans in Montana and the Crow Nation

As Washington regulators undertake a sweeping look at the impact of export terminals in Bellingham and Longview, it’s worth noting one group that would be deeply harmed by restrictions: members of the Crow Nation in Montana. Almost 30 percent of the nation’s coal reserves west of the Mississippi River are in Indian reservations, many of which have few other sources of jobs. Coal mining, and export sites such as the Millenium Bulk Terminal, is key to economic development on reservations. “The war on coal is a war on our families and our children,” tribal chairman Darrin Old Coyote told U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., in a recent meeting.

Online University Honors Don Brunell

WGU Washington has dedicated a scholarship in AWB President Don Brunell’s name, recognizing his contribution to the economic vitality of our state, support for education and military service. The Don Brunell Tribute Scholarship is available to military personnel, retired military, veterans and military spouses. More information about the scholarship and WGU Washington can be found on the university’s website. Brunell has served on the nonprofit online university’s advisory board since 2011 and will retire from AWB on Jan. 2, 2014.

It’s nomination time for the Better Workplace Awards

AWB is now accepting nominations for the 2014 Better Workplace Awards. This 18th annual competition is open to AWB members of any size. We want to recognize companies for innovation, uniqueness, creativity and quantifiable results in programs that result in higher employee morale and well-being, increased productivity and reduced turnover. The awards, sponsored by Davis Wright Tremaine, will be presented during our Legislative Day luncheon Feb. 6. Take a look at this year’s winners, then download the nomination form and help us pick the best workplaces of 2014!


“It's better to have 50-percent or 80-percent of something than 100 percent of nothing.” ~ Aviation analyst Scott Hamilton about the decision facing aerospace engineers as they vote on a contract that would limit benefits but ensure manufacture of the 777X and its composite wing in Washington.

This Week's President's Perspective: Hire Our Vets

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