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Monday, June 16

AWB and business leaders visit Congress with message of support for Export-Import Bank

AWB and business leaders visit Congress with message of support for Export-Import Bank

AWB members flew to Washington, D.C., last week, joining groups from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers to lobby members of Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The Obama administration has put forward a bill that would reauthorize the bank for five years and raise its lending cap to $160 billion, but the reauthorization faces opposition in Congress. Failure to reauthorize the bank “would be a disaster for Boeing and Washington state,” the Puget Sound Business Journal writes. Erik Smith of The Seattle Times runs down the many reasons to support Ex-Im, saying opponents are “oddly disconnected from the realities of business.” He notes the strong support from AWB, quotes President Kris Johnson: “Ex-Im serves as an important trade lifeline for many small and medium-sized Washington state businesses. Without its support, shipments of our famous wines and other agricultural products would be jeopardized, and with so much of our economy tied to exports, it becomes even more imperative that we continue the Ex-Im charter.”

Supreme Court threatens consequences, demands answers from Legislature on education funding

The Supreme Court is displeased with the recent report from a legislative committee about the plans — or lack thereof — for elected representatives to meet the high court's McCleary funding decision. In a strongly worded opinion last week, the high court ordered lawmakers to explain why they should be held in contempt of court for not making quicker progress to meet the court's 2011 McCleary decision. The court warned it could take a variety of remedies against lawmakers, from fining them to writing its own budget. Lawmakers added a billion dollars in new education funding last year, but might need to add $6 billion more in the years ahead. The Seattle Times has more on the story.

New research shows ‘substantial uncertainty’ resulting from new state regulatory regime

Unprecedented new global environmental reviews delay projects and create a climate of prolonged uncertainty, with more delays and reasons for denial, the Washington Research Council concludes in its latest policy brief, "A Newly Expanded SEPA Threatens Washington's Competitiveness.” Washington's SEPA expansion is part of a concerted national campaign, the National Association of Manufacturers notes. Washington has long looked at environmental impacts at the project site and elsewhere in the state, but officials have expanded the scope for three recent projects to consider their global greenhouse gas and transportation impacts elsewhere in the nation and world. “This is speculative, broad, and could have far-reaching impacts,” the WPC concludes. “Ultimately, Washington's competitiveness will suffer.”

Franchises file suit on Seattle's $15 minimum wage

The International Franchise Association filed a federal lawsuit last week challenging Seattle's new $15 hourly minimum wage. The suit, filed Wednesday in Seattle's U.S. District Court, claims the city unfairly discriminates against small businesses that happen to be associated with a national brand. Non-franchise competitors will have several more years to ramp up to $15 an hour, while so-called "large" franchise businesses — even if they only have a few dozen local employees — must hit the milestone immediately. And as the $15 per hour minimum wage movement spreads, Richard Davis of the Washington Research Council said activists are looking for a second lemming to follow Seattle off the cliff. The News Tribune said Seattle has made a high-risk bet on $15 per hour, with small businesses, low-skill workers and important social service agencies hurt the most.

Starbucks will pay college tuition for its workers through new Starbucks College Achievement Plan

Starbucks will cover the cost for its partners to finish their bachelor's degrees, the Seattle-based coffee chain announced this morning in New York at a press conference attended by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, along with 340 Starbucks employees and their families. The Starbucks College Achievement Plan is open to all partners working at least 20 hours a week at the 8,200 company-owned stores. Starbucks is offering full tuition reimbursement for partners entering ASU as juniors or seniors. Freshman and sophomores will be eligible for a partial tuition scholarship and need-based financial aid. This substantial new job perk is one of many at Starbucks, which already offers its partners good wages, 401(k) matches, shares of company stock and health-care coverage. "The Starbucks College Achievement Plan is part of the answer to the question 'what is the role and responsibility of a public company,' and for me it demonstrates the heart and the conscience of Starbucks," said Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. The Seattle Times and Associated Press covered the story.

AWB forming Minimum Wage Committee to address issue statewide

AWB is in the process of forming a Minimum Wage Committee to examine the impact of recent actions in SeaTac and Seattle, and to look at potential statewide solutions to the issue. Details are still being determined, but the first meeting is expected later this month. AWB members who are interested in serving on the committee may contact Bob Battles.

Organized labor, local government leaders warn of serious impacts from water quality overkill

Washington's economy and its working families would be hurt if strict new water quality standards are implemented as proposed, union leaders representing Boeing machinists and mill workers said this morning. At a joint press conference held by unions and local government officials, the message was clear: the governor's office needs to stand up for both the jobs and the health of Washington's people. Mark Johnson, aerospace coordinator for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, warned that unreasonable and unattainable water quality standards will devastate the economy, cost valuable jobs, freeze economic growth and hurt local communities. As detailed in a recent comprehensive study by HDR Engineering, proposed ratcheting upward of water quality standards would send water treatment costs skyrocketing for consumers and businesses alike.

Senate holds hearing today on insurance commissioner's office and judicial oversight

The Senate Law and Justice Committee met today to discuss ways of reforming oversight of the insurance office's judicial process. Sen. Mike Padden's committee is looking to take away Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler's power to supervise his in-house judges in light of accusations that Kreidler's top deputy threatened employment ramifications if a longtime judge didn't rule in favor of the department. Patricia Petersen was scheduled to testify today, although there were questions late last week if her refusal to sign a Kreidler-requested gag order last week would interfere with her ability to testify. The ongoing whistleblower controversy prompted The Seattle Times looks at Kreidler's background and his controversial efforts to implement the Affordable Care Act.

U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor loses in stunning Virginia upset

The effort to renew the Ex-Im Bank’s authorization faces a steeper hill after last week's surprise defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., The Puget Sound Business Journal reports. Cantor, leader of the House Republican majority, was a supporter of the important Ex-Im Bank. Although he was a stalwart conservative member of the House, he was outflanked by a tea party insurgent. CNN runs down some take-home lessons from this upset loss.

Timmons calls on business to increase appeal to all Americans, especially millennials

The surprise defeat of U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., is part of a troubling trend in which “fringe elements” are driving some business-friendly Republicans into the wilderness of defeat, Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, said last week during a gala held by the Friends of Adam Smith Foundation. It comes after many years of losses for business-friendly Democrats, he said. To counter the trend, Timmons called on business leaders to increase their appeal to all Americans, particularly the millennial generation. Read more on Olympia Business Watch.

Inslee announces trade mission to England and Finland

A trade delegation led by Gov. Jay Inslee will visit Great Britain and Finland beginning July 13. Also on the trip will be Commerce Director Brian Bonlender, along with business executives, economic development professionals, local government leaders and academics from around the state. The first stop will be the Farnborough International Air Show, followed by a trip to Helsinki, Finland. They will visit with the Nordic Council of Ministers and Nokia, whose mobile devices and services business was acquired by Microsoft in April. The governor will return to Washington July 20.

Chinese airline signs $7.4 billion order for Boeing 737s

China Eastern Airlines Corp. will buy 80 jets from Boeing for $7.4 billion, the companies announced last week. The 737s will be delivered starting in 2016. The order is good news for Boeing in its ongoing competition with Airbus, Bloomberg reports, since China is on pace to become the world's biggest aircraft market. Boeing delivered a record 143 jets to China last year. The Puget Sound Business Journal notes another significant fact — the order was not for a Chinese aircraft, even though China's home-grown C919 was supposed to have been released this year. In fact, the plane promised by Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd. (Comac) is years behind schedule.

Fast Facts is getting a makeover — and you can preview the redesign now

Over the years, AWB’s Fast Facts e-newsletter has developed into one of the best ways for you to track the latest news from Olympia, Washington D.C., and beyond. Now we’ve given the newsletter a fresh new look. Starting next week, Fast Facts will be delivered in a colorful and expanded format that will be easier on the eyes but with links to full write-ups that tell you what's happening in politics and business. Here's a sneak peek.

HR professionals: plug in to the latest in human resources at AWB's HR Forum in Seattle

Millions of employers and workers connect online every day using LinkedIn, and you can hear from LinkedIn’s enterprise manager for talent solutions, Michelle Cowden, at AWB’s Human Resources Forum July 10 in Seattle. She’ll be joined by other experts with practical ideas about recruiting, retaining and managing your employees. “Strategies for Securing Your Competitive Advantage,” will kick off with an interactive “LinkedIn” breakfast and Employment Law Update with Bob Battles, AWB’s general counsel and government affairs director for employment law. This program has also been approved for 4.50 (HR General) recertification credit hours toward PHR, SPHR and GPHR recertification through the HR Certification Institute.

Participatory sessions include:

  • “Go Social or Go Home” — LinkedIn’s Michelle Cowden, Enterprise Account Manager, Talent Solutions will explain how to keep up with HR trends and challenges using social media tools.
  • “Your Survival Guide to Generational Communications in the Workplace” — With four distinct generations now actively participating in the workplace, it doesn't always go smoothly! Learn tested coping strategies from a seasoned HR professional Michael Lee, Seattle franchise owner, Express Professionals.
  • Ryan, Swanson, & Cleveland’s Susan Fox, Gulliver Swenson and Kristin Meier will shine the light on opposing views in real-life legal cases. “How the simple act of hiring spawned two lawsuits and derailed a company’s strategy to secure a competitive advantage” in Employment Law Court.

The forum runs from 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall in Seattle. Learn more and register here. Send two or more staff and receive a discount. Follow the event online at with the hashtag #HRforum.

Register now for the 25th anniversary AWB Policy Summit
In 1990, Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart and Maggie Simpson debuted on Fox, Nelson Mandela was released from prison and AWB held its first Policy Summit. Twenty-five years later, we are planning the silver anniversary of Policy Summit with a major celebration of Washington entrepreneurship. Retired U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal will keynote the event, one of many policy makers, thought leaders and successful employers at our annual gathering at the beautiful Suncadia Resort. Online registration has now opened for the 2014 Policy Summit, Sept. 16-18 event. Sign up now, and consider sponsoring this enjoyable and valuable event. Contact Anne Haller for sponsorship information and visit for a list of last year’s sponsors and check out this video rewind of highlights from the 2013 Policy Summit.

Director of state's Department of Financial Institutions to speak at Equity Crowdfunding Summit

A new law this year, HB 2023, allows “equity crowdfunding” — which is a bit like Kickstarter, but with donors actually becoming investors who receive a small piece of the company. AWB is co-sponsoring the 2014 Equity Crowdfunding Summit to learn more about this new law. Our panel will include Joe Wallin, a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine, who wrote a good summary of the new law. The panel will also include the prime sponsor of HB 2023, state Rep. Cyrus Habib, D-Bellevue. They will be joined by two top administrators from the Securities Division of the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, Director Bill Beatty and Chief of Registration Faith Anderson. High-tech lobbyist Lewis McMurran will round out the panel. The summit will be held from 4-8 p.m. on Thursday, June 26 in “The Grove” building at North Seattle College. For more information and to register, visit


“I truly believe education is the way to opportunities and a better life.” ~ Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who announced a new program today that will allow employees to complete their college education through collaboration with Arizona State University.

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