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Monday, April 28

Seattle group still negotiating after failing to meet deadline on $15 minimum wage plan

Seattle group still negotiating after failing to meet deadline on $15 minimum wage plan

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said he was disappointed not to have a consensus deal on a $15 minimum wage to announce during a press conference Thursday, the deadline he had set for a committee to get him a report. He said his committee of business, labor and nonprofit representatives is still working and had found common ground on several points, including a phased-in approach for small businesses and nonprofits. The Seattle Times says everyone should slow down. Low-wage workers need help, the paper said, but implementation matters. Meanwhile, a business group called OneSeattle is offering its own proposal that includes a temporary training wage, a phase-in period, and credit for health care, commissions, tips and bonuses to be counted in the $15 minimum wage.

Washington becomes first state to lose No Child Left Behind waiver
The U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday that it would revoke Washington’s waiver on meeting the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. The move was expected after the Legislature failed to pass a fix, opposed by teacher’s unions, that would have brought the state into compliance. Without the waiver, schools in low-income areas will lose the ability to direct $38 million in federal aid. Most districts will also be labeled as “failing.” The news comes days before a deadline for the Legislature to report to the Supreme Court on its progress meeting the McCleary school funding decision. State School Superintendent Randy Dorn has released his own funding plan, which would cost the state an extra $6.7 billion.

Insurance commissioner issues controversial network ruling

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler approved new network adequacy rules today that far exceed federal standards. A barrage of complaints and concerns last week had prompted him to postpone his decision, but in the end he didn’t change much. Kreidler said the new rules are aimed at “narrow network” health plans and will require insurance companies to supply “detailed geographic information” mapping every customer to the closest health providers. Bill Baldwin, a member of the state’s Health Benefits Exchange Board, called Kreidler’s proposal “bureaucratic,” “excessive” and “countercompetitive.” Kreidler said he listened to hundreds of comments over many months but that in the end, “The decision is 100 percent mine.” The new rules take effect May 26. AWB members with questions can contact Sheri Nelson, our government affairs director for health care.

Meet state leaders, candidates and award-winning businesses at AWB’s Spring Meeting

Only 15 days until AWB’s Spring Meeting, which runs May 13-14 in Spokane. Have you signed up yet? This is your chance to meet with top elected officials, candidates who are seeking higher office, and other members of the business community. We’ll also unveil AWB Institute’s newest industry report, 2014 Electric Energy Generation in Washington State. And you will hear from Attorney General Bob Ferguson, former Gov. Gary Locke, and several legislative leaders:

  • House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle (invited)
  • Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville
  • Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane
  • Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda

They’ll be joined by Tom Malone, president and CEO of MicroGREEN Polymers, who will talk about his fast-growing high-tech cup company. Doug Krapas, environmental manager for Inland Empire Paper Co., will speak about his company’s innovative water treatment projects, and you’ll meet the winners of the 2014 Environmental Excellence Awards and Community Service Awards. Learn more and register here. You can also follow on Twitter by searching #awbspring14.


McMorris Rodgers officially kicks off campaign for reelection to U.S. House
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers
, the highest ranking Republican woman in the U.S. House, officially kicked off her reelection campaign last week. The announcement was expected; she has already raised $1.3 million since the end of her last campaign in 2012. McMorris Rodgers, who is running for her sixth term, faces Democrat Joe Pakootas and independent David Wilson.

Nineteen lawyers seeking appointment to state Supreme Court
Nineteen attorneys, including some current and former judges, have applied to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice James Johnson on the state’s highest court. Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to choose a replacement by early May. Several newspapers have called for Inslee to pick someone from a racial minority group or rural Washington to increase the diversity of the court. Johnson, widely seen as the only conservative on the state’s Supreme Court, told TVW that the court will lose a different kind of diversity — political values — when he retires from a “one-party” court.

Greater Spokane Incorporated names new president and CEO

Steve Stevens
, who led the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce for eight years, will be the new president and CEO of Greater Spokane Incorporated, the board of trustees announced last week. Stevens has 30 years of experience in small business management, international trade, state chamber advocacy and bi-state regional chamber executive leadership. He replaces Rich Hadley, who is retiring May 9. Stevens will begin on July 1. “I’ve known Steve for many years and he will do an excellent job in his new role leading GSI,” said AWB President Kris Johnson.

Cost to repair Bertha could exceed $125 million — and who will pay is unknown
Repairing and restarting Bertha over the next year could cost more than $125 million — 1 ½ times the original $80 million price tag to buy the machine in the first place, The Seattle Times reports. It’s not clear whether the state Department of Transportation or the contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners, or both, will have to foot the bill. Meanwhile, the contractor has requested $62.6 million extra for what it considers unexpected costs, including $17.6 million for work stoppage delays and the expense of hiring extra longshoremen to end last summer’s picketing at the site.

Moses Lake Port begins wastewater expansion project to handle growth

The Port of Moses Lake is beginning a $2.6 million wastewater facilities expansion project to hold and treat an increase in runoff from industrial growth. A new 30 million gallon storage lagoon will handle growth from current tenants at the port — including Chemi-Con, SGL and Genie — as well as new businesses such as new tenants such as AstaReal, The Columbia Basin Herald reports.

Inslee appoints Mary Margaret Haugen and Lisa Wellman to Public Works Board

Gov. Jay Inslee has appointed two Western Washington women to the state’s Public Works Board, a 13-member panel that finances and helps local governments on infrastructure projects. Former senator and representative Mary Margaret Haugen represented the 10th District in the Legislature for 30 years, including service as chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. Lisa Wellman has been an executive in Fortune 100 companies, served on many nonprofit boards and served six years on the state’s Community Economic Revitalization Board.

Reminder: families of AWB members qualify for discount to Washington Business Week

It’s that time of year again — time for teens to register for Washington Business Week. AWB has long supported Washington Business Week, which helps build entrepreneurial skills in the leaders of tomorrow. Learn more and sign up at, or join the more than 450 businesses, individuals and service clubs who support WBW by clicking here. Remember, all family members of AWB members are eligible for a $100 discount off Washington Business Week tuition.

Public invited to webinar on progress of Disability Employment Task Force

The governor’s office is inviting the public to a webinar to discuss the strategies and recommendations developed since Gov. Jay Inslee signed an executive order last year establishing the Disability Employment Task Force. The webinar will be held from 1-2:30 p.m. on May 9. To learn more and for details on the webinar, contact the AWB Institute’s Mike Hudson.


Help inform the debate by sharing your manufacturing story during our statewide listening tour
The AWB Institute is holding seven listening sessions around the state over the next two months. We want to hear from manufacturers as we write a follow-up to our 2012 report, Challenges & Opportunities for Manufacturers in Washington state. If you’d like to share your story about running a manufacturing business in Washington — including what could be done to ensuring the industry’s continued growth and presence in our state — contact Amy Johnson to learn about a listening session near your.

Webinar: Health care reform — do you play or do you pay?
It’s been four years since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, and federal agencies have now issued final regulations on many health reform issues. That means you and your business face an important question: do you play — or pay? Attorney Howard Bye-Torre of Stoel Rives will give you the facts and explain the details during AWB’s May 7 webinar, “Health Care Reform: Next Steps for Employers.” Bye-Torre, an author and attorney who specializes in health care law, will detail:

  • Delay of pay-or-play penalties for certain small employers
  • Pay-or-play penalty transition relief for all employers
  • Mandates for coverage of dependents
  • Changes in the definitions of “full-time” and “seasonal” employees
  • Developments in 90-day waiting period rule
  • Reporting rules for plans and employers

Get the details and register here.

Save the date: AWB’s 2014 Human Resources Forum, July 10 in Seattle

Explore the latest HR trends, generational differences and employment law issues at AWB’s 2014 Human Resources Forum on July 10 in Seattle. The forum, “Strategies for Securing Your Competitive Advantage,” will include a networking breakfast and sessions on creating a top rated company by leveraging your human resources expertise and experience. Examine emerging technology for recruitment and maintaining your top talent, explore the impact of generational differences to the workplace and review employment law nuances that can keep your company out of the legal quagmire. The forum will run from 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall in the Seattle Center. Learn more and register here.


“I need a scotch.” ~ Businessman Dave Meinert, after a meeting in which the Seattle minimum wage panel could not reach consensus by Mayor Ed Murray’s deadline.


$15 hourly wage will be a killer for many small businesses, by Bob Mandel, owner of a Dairy Queen franchise in the Tacoma area

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