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Fast Facts

Monday, December 17

AWB holiday closures, final Fast Facts of 2012

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AWB holiday closures, final Fast Facts of 2012

Due to the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, the AWB offices will be closed Dec. 24-25 and Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, 2013. Also, this will be the last edition of Fast Facts for 2012. The next edition of Fast Facts will be published on Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Stay up to speed during the break by visiting the AWB website at www.awb.org, the blog, Olympia Business Watch, and by following AWB on Twitter. We hope you all have a happy and safe holiday season!

Final coal hearing draws large, emotional crowd

A boisterous crowd of more than 2,300 people attended the final hearing Thursday on a proposal to export coal through Northwest ports. Most of those who came wore matching red anti-coal T-shirts, newspaper accounts noted, and many who spoke said they oppose coal exports due to health concerns. But a few speakers voiced support for the exports, including AWB’s Brandon Houskeeper, who said that officials should not expand the scope of environmental review for the proposal, which will create 1,250 family-wage jobs. Doing so, Houskeeper said, would have a “devastating impact” on the state, adding that we might as well hang out a sign at the Washington border saying “Don’t do business here.” Other supporters, which included mayors and labor unions, said opponents need to get beyond emotion and look at the specifics of the export plan.

State gets approval to operate health care exchange

Washington has received conditional approval by the federal government to move forward with a state-based health insurance exchange starting Oct.1 next year. Washington was one of six states to get the early approval announced last week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Washington Healthplanfinder will be the online portal for people to compare and enroll in the health insurance exchange. Washington is among a dozen states that opted to create its own health exchange.

Gregoire to propose major investment in transportation

Gov. Chris Gregoire is expected to release a proposal this week to increase investment in transportation improvements. Gregoire’s proposal is expected to focus on maintenance and preservation and proposed funding for a limited number of projects. The proposal is expected to rival the multi-billion-dollar deal of 2005 that included a 9.5-cent gas tax increase and other revenues that provided roughly $7 billion over about 16 years. Gregoire must deliver a state budget by Dec. 20.

Senate Democrats reject Republican power-sharing arrangement

State Senate Democrats have formally rejected a power-sharing arrangement with Republicans, The Seattle Times reported. Senate Republicans announced earlier this month that they planned to take over the chamber, with the help of Democratic Sens. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, and Tim Sheldon, D-Potlach, who broke ranks to form a new majority caucus in Senate. The new Majority Coalition Caucus proposed a power-sharing arrangement where Democrats would chair six lower-tier committees while Republicans would chair six others, including the budget writing, education and health-care panels. Republicans and Democrats would co-chair three other committees. With Democrats rejecting the coalition, the GOP would have to use its majority during the legislative session next month to change Senate rules and actually take control.

Governors’ race most expensive in state history

The gubernatorial race between Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee was the most expensive in Washington state history, The Spokesman-Review reported. Post-election reports filed last week with the Public Disclosure Commission show the McKenna and Inslee campaigns spent a combined $25.7 million during the race. With other candidates eliminated in the primary, and by incumbent Chris Gregoire before she opted out of the race, spending hit nearly $26.2 million, passing the record set in 2008 by nearly $1 million.

New issue of Washington Business in the mail

Don’t forget to check your mail for the latestissue of Washington Business, AWB’s quarterlymagazine. The focus of this issue is on the state’s manufacturing outlook and how over-regulation is hurting Washington manufacturers. Other articles include Policy Summit highlights, a one-on-one interview with communications expert Frank Luntz and a profile of an AWB member company pursuing asteroid mining.

Don't Miss the Filing Deadline to Exempt Corporate Officers

Companies must report the wages of corporate officers to the Employment Security Department (ESD) unless they are explicitly exempt from coverage with the agency. This is a change in law that took place in 2009, and may require companies to change practices for reporting. The deadline to request an exemption for 2013 is Jan. 15, 2013. If ESD receives a company’s request after that date, the exemption will not take effect until Jan. 1, 2014. Once ESD approves the exemption request, companies don't have to report the wages of corporate officers, and they won't be eligible for unemployment benefits if they lose their jobs. However, companies must still pay the full federal unemployment insurance taxes (FUTA) on them. Exemptions from state taxes stay in effect as long as officers remain eligible. To learn more, visit esd.wa.gov/corporate-officers.

Manweller named lead Republican on labor committee

Ellensburg Rep. Matt Manweller will serve as the top Republican legislator on the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee. The freshman legislator is excited to serve on the committee. “Given the challenges our economy faces right now, I plan to work on policies that bring jobs back to Washington,” said Manweller. The committee considers issues relating to industrial insurance, unemployment compensation, collective bargaining, family leave, safety and health standards, and employment standards, such as wage laws and employment discrimination. The committee also considers issues relating to the building and construction trades, and workforce development issues, including apprenticeships, job skills and working retraining, and implementation of the Workforce Investment Act.

Videos, presentations available from Manufacturing Summit

Videos and presentations from AWB’s first-ever Manufacturing Summit last month are now available online, including:

More information from the event can be foundonline. The response to the manufacturing event was very positive and AWB will plan a similar event in fall 2013.

KEY HEARINGS, MEETINGS
Education and Training Committee meeting Tuesday

|The AWB Education and Training Committee will meet this Tuesday, Dec. 18 from 2-4 p.m. at the AWB office in Olympia. The meeting will focus on higher education and workforce development. The deputy director of the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, Bryan Wilson, will also provide an overview of the agency’s legislative agenda for 2013. Please contact Connie Grande at 800.521.9325 for dial-in information if you are unable to attend in person.

AWB Health Care Committee meeting Thursday

The AWB Health Care Committee will meet this Thursday, Dec. 20 from 2-4 p.m. at the AWB office in Olympia. Discussions will include the upcoming legislative session, health insurance costs, and the health benefit exchange. If you are unable to attend in person, please contact Connie Grande at 800.521.9325 for dial-in information.

OTHER NEWS
Shellfish grower files suit over job-limiting regulations

Seattle Shellfish, an Olympia-based company with dozens of aquaculture facilities throughout Puget Sound, filed a lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court in Seattle, alleging that unnecessary regulations were preventing the company from growing. The company claims (complaint pdf) that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers waited five years to respond to applications to continue commercial operations at established farms, and then wrongly refused to authorize farming in certain areas. It’s not just an issue for Seattle Shellfish, either. Other growers are frustrated by the permit process, too.

Attorney General-elect names transition team

State Attorney General-elect Bob Ferguson has named his transition committee. The team is comprised of a statewide coalition of civic and legal community leaders which will advise Ferguson as he prepares to take office. The team will review the structure of the Attorney General’s office, its budget, and goals for the upcoming legislative session. A list of the transition committee is available here.

Rep. Alexander throws hat in ring for Thurston auditor

Rep. Gary Alexander, R-Olympia, is one of four Republicans in the running for an appointment to fill the Thurston County auditor vacancy, The Olympian reported. Current Auditor Kim Wyman was elected Secretary of State and will resign her position Jan. 15. In addition to Alexander, other applicants include Yelm Mayor Ron Harding, former Thurston County Republican Treasurer and Chairman Dan Cathers, and Olympia real estate agent Carol Person. Alexander currently serves as deputy auditor under Wyman.

State’s record apple harvest keeps growing

The state’s apple harvest keeps getting bigger and bigger, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported. The Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association said the crop destined for sale is 129.7 million boxes, which tops an estimate of 121.5 million boxes a month ago. The latest number is nearly 19 percent larger than the previous record set in 2010. Market demand continues to be strong due to short crops elsewhere and industry representatives remain confident the huge crop can be marketed at profit to growers.

Boeing, BMW sign carbon fiber recycling deal

Boeing and BMW have signed a deal to participate in joint research on carbon fiber recycling and share knowledge about carbon fiber materials and manufacturing. Boeing makes 50 percent of its 787 airplane out of carbon fiber material and BMW opened a $100 million joint-venture carbon fiber factory in Moses Lake last year and plans to build a second production line to increase capacity. “This will help Washington further develop our capabilities and leadership position in the game-changing technology of carbon fiber,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Alaska introduces Windows 8 deals app

Alaska Airlines has introduced a new app using Microsoft’s Windows 8 that will alert travelers about special deals, the Puget Sound Business Journal reported. The “Deals and Destinations” app will focus on traveler’s specific hometowns and frequently flown routes. Alaska is the first carrier to release a Windows 8 travel app for fare deals.

Tesoro to buy pipeline system

Tesoro agreed Wednesday to buy Chevron Pipe Line Co.’s Northwest Products System for $400 million. The Northwest Products System includes the Northwest Product Pipeline, a 760-mile regulated pipeline that extends from Utah to Washington, a separate five-mile jet fuel pipeline to the Salt Lake City International Airport and the Northwest Terminalling Co., which includes three refined product terminals in Idaho and Washington. Tesoro said the combination of the system with its existing terminal assets in the region will help lower overall costs and increase third-party revenue.

AWB EVENTS & RESOURCES
Legalized Marijuana and the Workplace — workshop Dec. 18; webinar Jan. 15

Now that Washington voters have made recreational use of marijuana legal in Washington, what happens to workplace drug policies? Find out by attending the “Legalized Marijuana and the Workplace” workshop Tuesday, Dec. 18 from 9-10 a.m. at the Davis Wright Tremaine offices, 1201 Third Avenue, Suite 2200 in Seattle. Partner Greg Hendershott will explain the new law and its effect on employers. The cost is $25 for AWB members - $50 for non members - and includes a continental breakfast. Register online. A 60-minute webinar covering the topic will be held Jan. 15 from 9-10 a.m. For additional information, contact Karlee Glasgow at 800.521.9325.

OSHA 10-Hour Compliance Course, Jan. 17-18

Earn your 10-hour OSHA course completion card with two days of in-depth training at the AWB office Jan. 17-18. This training is specifically designed to give you the tools, techniques and, how-to's you need to establish your own organization-wide safety training and support programs; identify and eliminate safety hazards, health threats, and other workplace dangers; and promote a safe and healthy work environment in accordance with OSHA standards and requirements. Register online.

Mandatory poster update — Government-required poster set

On Jan. 1, Washington state is planning to raise the minimum wage to $9.19 per hour. As a member convenience, AWB offers up-to-date laminated state and federal posting sets for $39.99 per complete set, plus local tax and shipping or $19.99 for a single poster. AWB provides posters as a convenience to members. Members may download the 2013 minimum wage notice here. This notice can be posted next to your 2012 poster and you will be in compliance. To place your order, call Karlee Glasgow at 800.521.9325 or email her at Karleeg@awb.org. All employers regardless of size are required to post them. Compliance is convenient and inexpensive. Fines and penalties are not!

Save the Date: Legislative & Lobby Days, Feb. 6-7

AWB is hosting its annual Legislative & Lobby Days Feb. 6-7 at the Red Lion Hotel in Olympia. This meeting is open to AWB members statewide, representing small, medium and large businesses. Legislators are invited to participate in a series of issue panels. Washington’s new governor-elect will be invited as the luncheon keynote speaker. The Better Workplace Awards will also be announced. These awards celebrate businesses for their innovative benefit and compensation programs, job training and advancement initiatives and commitments to workplace safety. The day will conclude with a reception for AWB members, legislators and elected officials. The next morning members will gather for a breakfast and members “day on the hill,” including appointments with their state representatives. During Lobby Day, visit your legislators to explain how your business is affected by decisions that are made in Olympia and encourage them to promote policies that create a positive economic climate for Washington employers and their employees. If you’re interested in being an event sponsor, please contact Anne Haller.

THEY SAID IT

“Pennsylvania will not move forward with a state-based exchange because there are too many unknowns with too little time, not enough flexibility and too high a cost to our taxpayers.” ~ Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett regarding that state’s decision not to set up a health insurance exchange.

This Week's President's Perspective: Redefining The Bush Tax Cuts

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