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Monday, January 27

Dueling minimum wage bills bring battle to Olympia

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Dueling minimum wage bills bring battle to Olympia

Washington’s highest-in-the-nation minimum age would jump almost 30 percent under HB 2672. The bill, introduced by 32 Democrats on Thursday, would increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2017, then continue to index it for inflation, The Associated Press reports. A hearing on the bill has been set for Feb. 4. Meanwhile, the growing possibility of balkanized, city-by-city workplace standards prompted Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, to introduce an AWB-backed bill that would ensure uniformity by preempting local ordinances from setting higher standards than the state. SB 6307 is up for public hearing Wednesday in the Senate Commerce & Labor committee. AWB is also pushing for a House hearing on a companion measure, HB 2591. “Making the system more complex and harder to deal with is not going to help businesses thrive and people get jobs,” Braun told Q-13 news. The Washington Research Council offers some big-picture perspective on the minimum wage debate.

Tell House lawmakers to vote ‘no’ on mandatory paid sick leave legislation

House lawmakers are planning to vote Wednesday on a bill that would expand Seattle’s controversial paid sick leave ordinance statewide. The legislation, HB 1313, would require virtually every employer in the state to provide paid sick and safe leave to full-time employees. AWB testified (TVW video) against this bill last year, calling it a hidden head tax and an impediment to job growth. The bill is expected to face strong opposition in the Senate if House members approve it, but it’s important to let them know this bill will harm Washington’s economy. Contact your legislators today and urge them to vote ‘no.’

Time is running out! Sign up now to meet lawmakers at AWB Legislative Summit Feb. 5-6

Have you registered for AWB’s Legislative Summit? Lawmakers continue to RSVP for this year’s event, meaning it will be a great opportunity for you to meet and talk with legislators from your district. Mingle with senators, representatives and other business leaders during the informal reception Wednesday night, Feb.5. On Thursday, Feb. 6, join us for the AWB board meeting at 7:30 a.m., followed by legislative issues panels focusing on labor and workplace relations, and transportation. Commerce Department Director Brian Bonlender will also answer questions. We conclude the summit with a keynote luncheon address by Gov. Jay Inslee: “A Working Washington for Everyone.” We will also present the AWB Better Workplace Awards. Register online now and reserve a room at the Red Lion Hotel. Hurry –space is limited!

Lobby Lunch: Inslee administration wants to build better relationships with business

Joby Shimomura, Gov. Jay Inslee’s chief of staff, and Ted Sturdevant, who heads up the governor’s Legislative & Policy Office, kicked off AWB’s first Lobby Lunch meeting of 2014 by telling business leaders they want to improve relations with the business community. “Relationships are everything in Olympia,” said Shimomura. “I think we were slow to get that.” Sturdevant offered updates on a couple of issues that have strained relations over the last year, including possible low-carbon fuel standards and stringent new water quality standards. Check out Olympia Business Watch for more details. Transportation is the focus of this week’s Lobby Lunch, which begins at noon Thursday. Guests are Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, co-chair of the Senate Transportation Committee; Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, chair of the House Transportation Committee; and Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, the committee’s ranking minority member.

Fractured panel releases separate climate reports

The bipartisan state climate change panel that ended 2013 in acrimony has, as expected, released dueling reports about reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Evergreen State. The partisan reports were posted online Wednesday. The Herald (tiered paywall) has details. The report (PDF) by the panel’s two Democrats and Gov. Jay Inslee recommended capping carbon emissions, reducing the use of electricity generated by out-of-state coal plants and promoting cleaner fuels. The Republican report (PDF) recommended studying nuclear power generation, encouraging conservation and encouraging hydroelectric power. They also wrote a letter warning that, if not amended, the 2008 carbon emission targets could have “dramatic impacts on manufacturing jobs and energy prices in Washington.”

AWB files court briefs backing members in two separate cases

AWB filed amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs today in two separate appeals pending before Division I of the state Court of Appeals in Seattle, supporting the legal and public policy position of our members. The first, Currier v. Northland Services, involves an effort to expand the employment anti-retaliation provisions of the Washington Law Against Discrimination to independent contractors outside the employment relationship, for conduct that occurred between other independent contractors. The other, Auburn Valley Industrial v. Northwest Territorial Mint, involves an effort to expand the hazardous waste cleanup provisions of the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) to dust on the interior and exterior of a leased building, without a requisite release of any hazardous substance into the environment. For more information or a copy of either brief, contact AWB’s Kris Tefft, who is representing the association in the appeals.

AWB, Colorado Chamber partner in support of those in need for Super Bowl XLVIII

The Seahawks have a chance to make history this Sunday in Super Bowl XLVIII. In the spirit of good sportsmanship and the team’s own charitable efforts, AWB President Kris Johnson has reached out to his counterpart, Chuck Berry, at the Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry, to place a friendly wager. In addition to the usual “wear the winning team’s jersey” kind of bet, AWB is challenging CACI to donate to a charitable non-profit in Washington state; AWB will do the same in Colorado. The thought is to fill backpacks with school supplies and personal care items for students and families in need, with the help of our member companies. If you or your organization would like to donate to this effort, please contact Bonnie Millikan. #GOHAWKS

PRIORITY LEGISLATION
Workplace bills target business, open up employers to new costs, risks of criminal penalties

Tim O’Connell, chair of AWB’s Legal Affairs Committee, testified Tuesday about the many new costs, risks and even criminal chargesbusiness owners and operators could face under a set of House bills. The bills would clamp down on the use of independent contractors, prohibit perceived retaliation against employees for exercising a variety of employee rights, and increase punitive damages against employers in wage disputes. HB 2332 (triple punitive damages in wage disputes), HB 2333 (anti-retaliation), and HB 2334 (independent contractors) passed out of committee on Friday but are likely to face stiff opposition in the Senate. Read more at OlympiaBusinessWatch.com. Contact Government Affairs Director Kris Tefft to learn more.

Legislation to help close ‘skills gap’ advances out of committee

SCR 8409, a bill that would help close the skills gap by getting employers more engaged with students, passed out of the Senate Higher Education Committee last week and now awaits a possible vote before the full Senate. Sheri Nelson, AWB’s government affairs director for education, testified in favor of the bill earlier, telling lawmakers it had wide support. The bill, which would also bring career development to lower grade levels, is part of the High Skills, High Wages initiative endorsed last year by a coalition that includes both business and labor.

Common-sense bill would help economy and ag community

Matthew Ewers, vice president of Inland Empire Distribution Systems, testified before the Senate Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development Committee last week in favor of a bill that would exempt pesticides from the state’s hazardous substance tax in cases where the material briefly enters the state only to be shipped out again. Passage of SB 6157 would keep companies from moving out of state, AWB’s Brandon Houskeeper testified. Read more on AWB’s blog.

Extending high-tech R&D tax credit would keep state strong

A bipartisan effort to keep Washington on the cutting edge of research – and highly paid high-tech jobs – got a boost from AWB members who testified last week in favor of extending a key B&O tax credit. Read more at Olympia Business Watch.

AWB testifies against unprecedented to workplace mandate for paid vacation

Government Affairs Director Kris Tefft testified Friday against HB 2238, an unprecedented expansion of workplace mandates. The bill would require paid vacation for employees who work 20 hours a week or more. Read more at Olympia Business Watch.

Privacy of businesses at risk under proposed consolidation of reporting rules

Representatives of Darigold and Ryan LLC testified with AWB Government Affairs Director Amber Carter Thursday on HB 2201, proposed consolidation of tax surveys and reports. The bill as written would increase recordkeeping and reporting requirements, reduce confidentiality protections, establish an excessive and unnecessary new penalty, and not fully implement reform suggestions offered by the Department of Revenue. Read more at Olympia Business Watch.

KEY HEARINGS, MEETINGS
Regulatory Reform Committee to meet and review legislation on Wednesday

AWB’s Regulatory Reform Committee is being revived this year and needs new members. If you’re interested in joining, please contact AWB’s Mike Ennis or Brandon Houskeeper. The committee will meet at 10 a.m. Wednesday at AWB to hear from Department of Commerce officials about the Red Tape Index, a new tool modeled after one in Europe that the state will use to identify and reduce regulatory burdens faced by the business community. The Governor’s Office has asked AWB for input on the effort. There will also be a regulatory reform session with Commerce Department Director Brian Bonlender Feb. 6 at AWB’s Legislative Summit.

OTHER NEWS
Friday Phone Briefings continue with behind-the-scenes look at the 2014 session

The AWB Friday Phone Briefing last week focused on transportation, with a full run-down from AWB Policy Director Mike Ennis. To join the weekly call, register online then use that number to call in at 7:30 a.m. each Friday during the regular legislative session. Your registration code is good for all calls this session. Questions? Archives are online (requires member log-in). Contact J-Anne Nepomuceno if you need assistance registering for the call or accessing your membership on awb.org.

Snohomish Council appoints replacement members to Senate and House

As expected, the Snohomish County Council quickly appointed Rep. Marko Liias to fill the Senate seat vacated by the retirement of Paull Shin. After some deliberation, the Council then appointed Lillian Ortiz-Self to fill Liias’ briefly vacant position. Ortiz-Self was the top choice of Democratic activists. She is a middle school counselor and member of the Washington state Commission on Hispanic Affairs. The Herald has more (tiered paywall).

Angel joins Hobbs as co-chair of Senate committee

The state Senate voted today to make newly elected Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, co-chair of the Senate Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance Committee. Angel will share the committee leadership duties with Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, who had been one of the few remaining Democrats to serve as a sole committee chair in the Majority Coalition-led Senate. The move, labeled a demotion for Hobbs by the Associated Press, came after a caucus-line 26-23 vote.

Report: Secret donors fund never-ending ‘progressive’ campaign in Washington state

Public radio reporter Austin Jenkins offered a revealing look last week at the way liberal donors are funding a “never-ending ‘progressive’ campaign” in Washington.” The donations that fund a web of liberal “social welfare” organizations are generally not reported or disclosed. These groups were active in the 2012 campaign, opposing Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna, Jenkins reports. “It’s a network that has the potential to eclipse individual candidates and even the state Democratic Party itself,” he said.

Passages: Ted Bottiger, former Senate majority leader, dies at age 81

Ted Bottiger, the south Tacoma Democrat who served as Senate majority leader in the mid-1980s, died Thursday at age 81, The Olympian reported (tiered paywall). Bottiger also served time as the minority leader, and explained that one can oppose the majority without shutting down the political process entirely. “The role of the queen’s loyal opposition must be exactly that … We shouldn’t sink the ship,” he said. After leaving the Senate he served on the Northwest Power Planning Council and Port of Tacoma Commission.

McMorris Rodgers to give GOP response to Obama speech

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, will give the GOP response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, The Seattle Times reports (tiered paywall). McMorris Rodgers is chair of the House Republican Conference and the highest ranking Republican woman in Congress. The Washington Post shares fives things to know about McMorris Rodgers.

AWB EVENTS & RESOURCES
New workplace posters with 2014 minimum wage now available

As a service to members, AWB offers a complete laminated set of workplace posters with full updates for 2014. The state and federal poster sets are available for $39.99, or individual posters are $19.99 each. To place your order, call Karlee Keith at 800.521.9325 or e-mail her at KarleeK@awb.org. The Department of Labor and Industries also offers printable updates for free at their website. And a note of caution: be on the lookout for scammers who send official-looking bills for hundreds of dollars to buy these posters. L&I and Olympia Business Watch detail the ruse.

Send us your nominations for environmental excellence

AWB is now accepting nominations for its 22nd annual Environmental Excellence Awards. This is a showcase for companies successfully implementing programs that demonstrate initiative in the area of environmental protection. Award categories include: Sustainable Communities & Green Building, Green Enterprise & Technology, Resource Conservation and/or Pollution Prevention, Leading Environmental Practices and Environmental Innovator. The awards focus on actions that create a better environment, products that help environmental quality, actions to prevent or reduce environmental problems as well as conserve resources and processes; including education and business operations that improve the environment. Awards will be presented May 13 at The Davenport Hotel in Spokane, in conjunction with the AWB Spring Meeting. Download a nomination form today. For more information contact AWB’s Karlee Keith.

There’s still time to nominate great businesses for Community Service Awards

Last year’s AWB Community Service Awards featured positive stories of how employees and workplaces are making their communities stronger and more vibrant. It’s time once again to nominate businesses for this important and meaningful award. Nominate in categories such as community beautification, education, helping people in need, mobilizing people into action, recognizing volunteerism and aiding youth organizations. The Community Service Awards will be presented at a special dinner during the annual AWB Spring Meeting May 13 at The Davenport Hotel and Tower in Spokane. Nominations are due by Feb. 10. Download a nomination form here.

Register now: DOs and DON’Ts for Employer Social Media Policies and Discipline Issues

Can you discipline an employee for posting negative comments about your company on Facebook or Twitter? Are your work rules up to date about your workers’ web-based conduct? Get answers and best practices during our March 6 seminar, DOs and DON’Ts for Employer Social Media Policies and Discipline Issues, in Seattle. The 9:30-11 a.m. seminar will be presented by Selena Smith, a labor and employment attorney with Davis Grimm Payne & Marra. Register and learn more here.

Prepare for the worst – flood, storm, earthquake, even zombie apocalypse, at our March 26 seminar

Did you ever notice that the people who survive the zombie attack in the movies are the ones who are prepared? The same goes for any disaster. Learn how to ready your business for a power outage, severe storm, wildfire, earthquake or flood at a one-day class held March 26 by Eisenhower Carlson PLLC in Tacoma. The details and registration page are here.

THEY SAID IT

“These are complex issues. It's not as simple as just saying, okay, raise the wage.” ~ Bill Gates, explaining that raising the minimum wage leads to job destruction by pushing businesses to automate or relocate jobs away from the high-cost areas.

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