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Monday, February 24

Senate proposes modest spending hikes in supplemental budget

Senate proposes modest spending hikes in supplemental budget

Senate leaders unveiled a proposed supplemental operating budget (PDF) this afternoon that slightly boosts funding for education and mental health, extends tax incentives for high-tech research and development through 2025, and still leave a balanced budget when lawmakers begin work next year on a new two-year spending plan. Budget writer Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, emphasized the modest nature of the adjustment — which would increase spending by $95.7 million this year — saying it did not represent a “second bite at the apple.” Unlike Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget proposal, the Senate plan does not include funding for teacher cost-of-living raises. The Senate Ways & Means Committee is scheduled to hear the proposal Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.

Boeing says new 777X wing – ‘the biggest thing we’ve ever done’ – will be made in Everett

Boeing announced Tuesday that the high-tech composite wing for the 777X will be made in Everett, after difficulty transporting the 114-long wings sunk an alternative site in Pierce County. The company will build a 1-million-square-foot factory at Paine Field to manufacture the cutting-edge wings, which Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner called “phenomenal … the biggest thing we’ve ever done.” AWB President Kris Johnson was there for the announcement, and said, “Boeing plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to build these facilities. This will bring much-needed economic certainty to the Puget Sound region.”

Congressional Budget Office: Raising federal minimum wage would cost 500,000 jobs

Raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would mean the loss of 500,000 jobs – maybe up to a million – by the time the proposed federal wage increase takes full effect in 2016, according to a new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Those workers who kept their jobs would see an increase in income, but only 19 percent of that money would go to families below the poverty line, the report notes. In Seattle, where a push is underway for a $15 minimum wage, one so-called “liberal do-gooder” says the math of such a wage hike is brutal, and could lead to $17 burgers and the end of employer-provided health care.

Inslee says he might raise minimum wage for state workers by executive order, bypassing Legislature

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Friday that he is looking at an executive order that would unilaterally raise the minimum wage for state workers, The Seattle Times reports (tiered paywall). Inslee made his comments outside the White House after meeting with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. This is the first time Inslee has raised the possibility of such a move without legislative approval. He didn’t name a specific new government worker minimum wage, but in the past has spoken of increasing the statewide minimum wage by as much as $2.50 an hour. Still unsolved: how to pay for it.

Army Corps announces limited study of Longview export terminal

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Tuesday that it will take a traditional, site-specific look at the impacts of a proposed bulk export terminal in Longview. The Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County, however, will continue an unprecedented sweeping global examination of impacts from the $643 million terminal project, The Daily News reports (tiered paywall). Keep Washington Competitive, a broad coalition representing business, organized labor and farmers, said the Army Corps’ decision further highlights the extreme scope – and problematic precedent – of the state’s broad review. “Altering Washington’s long-standing and effective process for trade-related projects increases uncertainty for businesses and communities, and will complicate major trade investments at a critical time for our region,” said AWB President Kris Johnson.

State faces loss of $44 million in federal education funds after surprise Senate vote

Washington is set to lose $44 million in federal education funding and a key waiver of No Child Left Behind Act after the Senate voted down (The News Tribune/tiered paywall) a bill last week that would partially tie teacher evaluations to student test scores. The imperiled money, which goes to high-poverty schools, is being “flushed away” due to opposition from the teachers’ union, The Seattle Times said. The Spokesman-Review and Washington State Wire noted that Democrats were for the bill before they were against it. Gov. Jay Inslee met with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan over the weekend about getting a federal waiver, but The News Tribune’s Peter Callaghan (tiered paywall) doesn’t see cause for optimism.

Businesses would lose privacy under proposed tax preference bills

The House passed HB 2201 Tuesday by a 52-45 vote. This bill, which AWB opposes, would require public release of information on tax preferences for many job creators in the state, The Spokesman Review reports. “Sometimes information can be used as a weapon,” said Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, arguing the bill didn't have enough safeguards to protect small businesses.

Safe harbor bill passes Senate, but likely to face trouble in House

HB 5158, which creates a good faith legal defense for businesses that act on advice from the Department of Labor & Industries on wage payment disputes, passed the Senate last Monday 25-23. It is scheduled for a hearing in the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee Wednesday at 3:30 p.m., but with strong Democratic opposition, it faces a tough road in the House.

Regulatory reform bill passes House, moves to Senate for hearing

A bill that would give businesses more transparency and clarity on permit timelines passed the House 96-0 earlier this month and will be heard in the Senate Trade & Economic Development Committee this Thursday. HB 2192 implements recommendations by the state auditor and is an AWB priority.

Water quality trading bill up for hearing in Senate after House passage

HB 2454, which works to establish an innovative water quality trading program in Washington, passed the House 93-5 last week and will be up for a hearing in the Senate Agriculture and Water & Rural Economic Development Committee on Tuesday. AWB supports this bill, which aims to introduce flexibility and alternatives as the state tightens its water quality standards.

‘High skills, high wages’ workforce training bill to be heard in House

SCR 8409, an AWB-backed bill, approves the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board's “high skills high wages” plan. The bill passed the Senate unanimously earlier this month and will be heard before the House Labor & Workforce Development Committee on Tuesday. AWB will testify in support.

Career and college readiness standards bill passes House

HB 2383, which integrates career and college readiness standards into K-12 and higher education, passed the House last week 71 to 27. AWB will testify in support of the bill Wednesday when it comes up for a hearing before the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education.

Key budget forecast shows revenue essentially flat

The state’s February revenue forecast — a key measure for state budget writers — showed state tax income and social service caseload as essentially flat. The general fund is projected to increase slightly — by $30 million — this year compared with November’s forecast. Rep. Larry Springer, D-Kirkland, speaking at last Thursday’s AWB Lobby Lunch, said this is the best news possible, since a dramatic increase or decrease in money would require major budget rewrites. The state is expected to collect $33 billion this biennium, which ends in 2015. Income for the 2015-2017 biennium is projected to increase by $82 million more than expected, thanks in large part to $51 million in projected revenue from sale of legalized marijuana. This is the first time pot tax revenue is included in the budget forecast.

Rep. Ross Hunter to speak during upcoming Friday Phone Briefing

Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, will join the conversation this week during AWB’s Friday Phone Briefing. Hunter, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, will discuss the budget, revenue and transportation during the 30-minute call that starts at 7:30 a.m. Last week’s guest, Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, pledged to finish the session on time, fight higher taxes and regulation, push for a transportation package and ensure a long-term balanced budget (the audio is archived for members here). He also thanked AWB members for testifying in Olympia, saying lawmakers need to hear about the real experiences of job creators. To join this Friday’s members-only phone briefing, register online. You’ll receive a call-in number and code good for the rest of the legislative session. Contact J-Anne Nepomuceno if you need help registering for the call or accessing your membership on

Holmquist Newbry, Newhouse formally announce candidacy for House seat

A former state agriculture secretary and a prominent state senator both formally jumped into the crowded race for the U.S. House seat long held by Doc Hastings. Dan Newhouse, a Sunnyside farmer and former Republican state lawmaker who ran the Department of Agriculture under Gov. Chris Gregoire, formally entered the race on Thursday. One day earlier, state Sen. Janéa Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, who heads the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee, announced that she would run for the seat in Congress this fall instead of running to retain her state Senate seat. Rep. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, will run to fill Holmquist Newbry’s state Senate position. The district is the most Republican-leaning in the state.

Democratic leaders bring their message to final AWB Lobby Lunch of 2014

Two top Democrats from the House spoke Thursday at AWB’s final Lobby Lunch of the year. Rep. Larry Springer called for an on-time end to session, a supplemental budget that adds money to social services, and passage of a comprehensive transportation program. Rep. Kristine Lytton addressed education, workforce training and cost-of-living adjustments for teachers. Olympia Business Watch rounds up the presentation. That talk — and the entire Lobby Lunch series — is archived online.

AWB’s CompWise retro program members have received $220,000 in Stay at Work reimbursements

Members of AWB’s CompWise retrospective rating program stand to receive more than $220,000 in state reimbursements thanks to the state’s new Stay at Work program. This innovative injury response technique helps employers pay for light duty as workers recover. The state picks up half of the costs without dinging the employer’s workers’ comp rates. In its first two years the program has saved businesses nearly $20 million. For information on how AWB can help your business take part, contact Forterra at 800.521.9325800.521.9325800.521.9325800.521.9325.

McGladrey asking for information to build its Manufacturing & Distribution Monitor

McGladrey has just launched its 2014 Manufacturing & Distribution Monitor survey, and AWB members are invited to participate in this valuable survey of the business landscape. The survey results are presented by McGladrey at AWB’s annual Manufacturing Summit. Last year’s survey had more than 1,000 participants whose participation created a robust snapshot of industry. Survey participants will receive:

  • Customized benchmark reports comparing your responses to that of your peers across the country and across Washington state.
  • Data to help you plan and execute your strategic objectives.
  • An industry advocate who will provide insights to congressional and administrative representatives on your behalf.

Deadline to participate is March 7. All responses will be kept strictly confidential. Click here to take the survey.

Johnson joins America’s Edge in op-ed calling for education reform

Businesses have plenty of jobs open but can’t find enough trained workers to fill them. That’s what AWB President Kris Johnson and retired CH2M Hill executive Kathy Lombardo co-wrote last week for an editorial in The Olympian. The article highlighted a December report on ways to enable student success and improve economic competitiveness. Citing a December report by America’s Edge, “Ensuring Washington State's Global Success,” Johnson and Lombardo noted that there are innovative high schools already pointing the way.

Washington sets export record of $81.9 billion in 2013

The Evergreen State set a new record in 2013 with $81.9 billion in products and services sold to international customers, the Department of Commerce reported last week. Washington was one of 16 states setting new records as American exports hit the $2.3 trillion mark – also a new high. Washington’s exports are led by aerospace, fuel, industrial machinery and wheat. Also impressive, Commerce noted, is that 12,677 Washington businesses are exporters, up from 8,551 in the previous survey.

There is still time – barely – to nominate for Environmental Excellence Awards

Don’t miss the opportunity to highlight the great environmentally friendly work being done at your company or in your community. Take a few minutes now to nominate member companies for the AWB Environmental Excellence Award. Nominations are due March 3. These are awards that can attract much more attention – two of last year’s winners, for instance, won national awards. Award categories include: Sustainable Communities & Green Building, Green Enterprise & Technology, Resource Conservation and/or Pollution Prevention, Leading Environmental Practices and Environmental Innovator. Awards will be presented May 13 at The Davenport Hotel in Spokane, in conjunction with the AWB Spring Meeting. For more information contact AWB’s Karlee Keith.

AWB to honor former Gov. Gary Locke at Spring Meeting in Spokane, May 13-14

Save the date now: you won’t want to miss this year’s Spring Meeting. Connect with new AWB President Kris Johnson and congratulate former governor, U.S. commerce secretary and ambassador Gary Locke for earning AWB’s C. David Gordon Award for his distinguished service to the people of Washington. The theme of this year’s Spring Meeting is “Balancing State Policy with Global Competition.” The event will be held May 13-14 at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane. Learn more and register here.

Social media, your employees, and you – best practices for business

You’ll want to click “like” after attending “Social Media: Dos and DON’Ts for Employers” on March 6 in Seattle. This 90-minute class by labor and employment attorney Selena Smith will guide you through the ever-changing legal landscape surrounding social media in the workplace. You’ll learn how — and what — you can include in your workplace policies and your discipline for online employee misconduct. Register and learn more here.

How to prepare your business for anything (even a zombie apocalypse)

When the ground starts shaking or the fire alarms go off, it’s too late to prepare. AWB and disaster planning expert Joe Teeples are offering a one-day class that will help you set up an emergency management system, continuity of operations plan and a recovery template for getting back to business when a disaster ends. “Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse... And other disasters” will be held March 26 in Tacoma from 8 to 4 p.m. Details and registration are available online.


“March the 13th is probably the only agreement that’s universal here in Olympia.” ~ Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, on the legislative session’s scheduled end

BUSINESS #TRENDING: Small votes show direction of organized labor

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