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Fast Facts

Monday, March 17

Legislature ends 'forgettable' session with budget deal but little else

TOP STORIES
Legislature ends ‘forgettable’ session with budget deal but little else

The 2014 legislative session ended a few minutes before midnight on Thursday with a balanced budget that earned overwhelming bipartisan support. Unfortunately, some major issues important to the business community went unresolved, said AWB President Kris Johnson. While the supplemental budget avoids new taxes, it also lets several important tax incentives expire. Overall the session was “forgettable,” The Seattle Times wrote, and Gov. Jay Inslee said the modest accomplishments of a divided Legislature left him with feelings of “joy,” “happiness,” and “pride,” as well as “disappointment” and “great frustration.” The Washington Research Council said the divided Legislature acted in part to set up campaign issues for the coming election. AWB’s Government Affairs team is already at work compiling information for our vote record, which will be available later this spring.

Transportation plan in ‘cryogenic freeze’ as new report highlights costs of failing infrastructure

Two years of negotiations weren’t enough as a much-discussed statewide transportation plan fell short before Thursday’s adjournment. The plan is in a deep freeze, “to be awakened who knows when,” Crosscut writes. With a heavy budgetary agenda already on top for 2015, the plan could be pushed out to 2016 or beyond. The top Senate Democratic and Republican negotiators sparred on TVW over who was at fault and what lies ahead. At the same time, a new report details the costs for inaction. The Spokesman-Review concluded that lawmakers “needed to go big or go home. They went home.”

State stands to lose $40 million after teachers’ union successfully kills evaluation bill

A hard push by the Washington Education Association succeeded in killing a bill that would have incorporated student test results into teacher evaluations, thus ensuring a key federal waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act. Without a waiver, Washington stands to lose nearly $40 million in federal aid for low-income students. Nearly every school district in the state will also have to send letters home saying they are failing. This victory for the teachers’ union was a defeat for local schools, the Washington Research Council writes. Rejection of the federal money will be hard to explain to voters, The News Tribune warns.

Minimum wage increase pulls ladder of economic opportunity out from under new workers

Teens in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area saw their employment rate drop almost in half between 2000 and 2012, according to a new study by the Brookings Institution. It’s one more consequence of Washington’s highest in the nation minimum wage. The Seattle Times examines how Washington’s highest in the nation minimum wage makes it hard for young people to get their first job and that key early work experience. Economics are looking for lessons in how big minimum wage hikes have affected local economies elsewhere, but the magnitude of the increases being considered in Seattle is without precedent, the Washington Research Council notes.

Supreme Court Justice James Johnson to retire April 30

Washington State Supreme Court Justice James Johnson announced his retirement from the bench, effective April 30. His term was set to expire in January 2017. In a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee, Johnson cited recent health issues as a factor in his retirement. Johnson was endorsed by AWB in both of his most recent elections and has a lifetime 89 percent “pro-business score” in our Judicial Scorecard.

New video asks, “What does manufacturing mean to you?”

Jobs. Security. Family. The Future. Those are a few answers in a new video that asks a simple but powerful question: “What does manufacturing mean to you?” The video, created by the National Association of Manufacturers, underscores the high-tech resurgence of “Made in America” and the career opportunities available in the manufacturing industry. Share your thoughts on manufacturing on Twitter using the hashtag #WeAreMFG.

PRIORITY LEGISLATION
Tax credits headed for Dec. 31 death after Legislature fails to act

On Jan. 1, 2015, Washington will become one of only eight states without any incentives for the technology sector when the current B&O tax credit for research and development expires. Likewise, the data center tax incentive will expire. That’s because although the Senate approved extending these important tax incentives, House Democrats opposed them and they ultimately died during final budget negotiations. This has happened before, resulting in companies like Apple, Facebook and Adobe choosing other states. Also expiring at the end of the year: a sales and use tax deferral on construction labor and materials.

Senate protects taxpayer confidentiality, rejects tax incentive disclosures

HB 2201, which increased public disclosure requirements for tax incentives, failed to gain traction in the Senate during late-session negotiations. AWB opposed this legislation, which would have required employers to publicly disclose sensitive tax information.

Bill setting up 24-credit high school graduation requirement goes to governor for signature

Students now in seventh grade will be required to earn 24 credits before they can graduate from high school after the Legislature passed SB 6552. The bill also allows course equivalency credits in science and math to be obtained through career and technical courses, The Olympian reported.

Government-run retirement system shot down

HB 2474, which would have created a government-run retirement system in competition with private industry, did not pass the Senate. AWB, which offers an affordable option for small businesses, MyFuture 401K Plan, opposed the bill.

Governor signs bills requiring departments of Ecology, Fish & Wildlife to ‘show their work’

Gov. Jay Inslee signed bills Thursday requiring the departments of Ecology and Fish & Wildlife to make public the sources of scientific information they use when taking significant actions. Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, sponsored the “show your work” bills, HB 2261 and 2262. The bills passed unanimously in both houses. “More transparency, accountability and responsibility in state government aren’t partisan issues,” said Short.

OTHER NEWS
AG investigating O’Reilly Auto Parts’ alleged refusal to provide same-sex healthcare benefits

The Attorney General’s Office filed a petition today in King County Superior Court seeking to force Missouri-based O’Reilly Auto Parts to hand over information about the company’s alleged failure to provide healthcare benefits to same-sex spouses of its Washington state employees. Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the company has failed to respond to his request for information about its alleged decision to not provide the benefits. “In Washington, you cannot deny healthcare benefits based on sexual orientation,” Ferguson said. “Under Washington law, if a business provides benefits to opposite-sex spouses, it must provide them to same-sex spouses.”

Immigration activist Pramila Jayapal jumps into 37th District Senate race

Pramila Jayapal, the founder of immigrant advocacy group OneAmerica, will run for the 37th District Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Adam Kline, according to The Seattle Times. Jayapal, a Democrat, is among several activists running for the position in one of the state’s most diverse legislative district, Crosscut reports.

Democratic Sen. Tracey Eide will not run for reelection

Sen. Tracey Eide, the co-chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, announced that she will not run for reelection this fall. Eide, D-Federal Way, has represented the 30th District in for 18 years, including four terms in the Senate, according to TVW. She will likely be remembered for outlawing driving while texting or talking on a cell phone, The News Tribune reports, and her push for eliminating the supermajority requirement to pass local school levies. The decision could mean the GOP picks up a seat in the Senate, according to the Washington State Wire.

Religious unpaid holidays for state workers

State employees would be allowed to take up to two unpaid days off a year for religious reasons under SB 5173, which passed the Legislature Tuesday. Public school students would also be excused for two days. The bill was supported by lawmakers from both parties and many religious traditions, TVW reports.

Legislature will review any new health rules from insurance commissioner

Washington’s elected insurance commissioner will need to run any new health insurance regulations past a pair of legislative committees under a bill that passed through the Legislature last week. SB 6458 has been heavily watered down since it was originally introduced as a measure that would replace the insurance commissioner with an appointed commission. Now the bill would allow House and Senate committees to request a formal review process if they object to rule changes, the Puget Sound Business Journal and Crosscut report.

PDC bill requiring better disclosure for lobbyists’ freebies gets ‘lost in the shuffle’

A bill requiring lobbyists to file reports electronically died in the Senate during the last days of the session. HB 1005 passed the House unanimously and had the support of Senate leadership as a way to make it easier to track free meals given to lawmakers, The Olympia reports.

AWB EVENTS & RESOURCES
It’s time to nominate new AWB board members

AWB is looking for a few good men and women to serve as members of the board of directors. Please send your nominee’s name and contact information to AWB’s Bonnie Millikan at 360.943.1600360.943.1600360.943.1600360.943.1600 or email no later than March 31. The new board members will be selected at AWB’s Spring Board Meeting on May 14.

‘Economic Disruption in Healthcare’ seminar in Seattle zeroes in on trends

Sign up now for “Economic Disruption in Healthcare II,” the second annual symposium produced by the UW Foster School of Business and Premera Blue Cross. The inaugural symposium last year brought 350 business leaders to Seattle. This year’s event will highlight disruptive trends in health care, including winners and losers, along with implications for health and costs. Learn more here.

Review the legislative session at AWB’s Spring Meeting May 13-14 in Spokane

Attorney General Bob Ferguson, former Gov. Gary Locke and the leader of hot new high-tech manufacturer MicroGREEN Polymers, Inc. will speak at AWB’s Spring Meeting May 13-14 in Spokane’s Davenport Hotel. AWB will present Locke with the C. David Gordon Award to honor his service to our state and nation, and more than a dozen Washington companies will receive community service and environmental excellence awards. Meet fellow business leaders and hear from legislative leaders in both chambers, on both sides of the aisle, about what’s ahead after this legislative session. Learn more and register here.

Practical advice will help you plan now for the next disaster – whatever it might be

There is still time to register for our March 26 class, “Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse... And Other Disasters.” While an attack by the living dead is unlikely, the lessons of preparation ring true for whatever storm, power outage or natural disaster might lie ahead. Emergency preparedness expert Joe Teeples will give you the ideas and tools you need to organize your emergency management system. He’ll help you prepare a continuity of operations plan and a recovery template for getting back to work when the worst is over. You’ll leave with some practical ideas and a 295-page book on disaster preparedness. Sign up now.

Apps, Bitcoin, the Cloud and more: Learn the ABCs of licensing, buying and selling technology

As the importance of technology grows in your business, so does the need to understand the legal issues behind tech transactions. Garry Fujita and Rick Leitner, partners at Eisenhower Carlson, are experts in technology and intellectual property transactions. They’ll lead an April 22 AWB webinar that explains the tax issues, licensing laws and latest developments related to smartphone apps and digital currencies. Details and registration are available online.

THEY SAID IT

“In answer to your question, I don’t know the answer.” ~ Gov. Jay Inslee at a midnight press conference, speculating on what he thinks the Supreme Court’s response will be to the Legislature’s McCleary-related actions this session.

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