Fast Facts

Monday, November 25

Overflow crowd greets latest transportation proposal as leaders move toward agreement

Overflow crowd greets latest transportation proposal as leaders move toward agreement

A crowd of 350 people packed several hearing rooms and dozens gave testimony in favor of a $12.3 billion transportation package being considered in the state Senate. The package pays for major highway upgrades, preservation and maintenance of the current system and more, in large part with an 11.5 cent increase to the current 37.5 cent-per-gallon gas tax and with several systematic reforms. The Democratic House and Republican-leaning Senate are still in negotiations, but “we’re closer than you think,” said Senate Transportation Committee Co-Chair Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way. AWB Policy Director Mike Ennis asked (TVW video) for quick action before the regular legislative session in January to keep the transportation plan from getting entangled with climate change proposals.

State’s updated revenue forecast is largely flat; little wiggle room for lawmakers going into session

State economists expect a continued trend of slow economic growth, with nearly flat revenue for the next two-year budget cycle. David Schumacher, director of the Office of Financial Management, said the projections make it “difficult for us to spend money on any new incentives or programs,” TVW reported Wednesday. “It’s enough to hold steady and not much more than that.” The state will collect $33 billion for the general fund during the next budget cycle, the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council projects.

Treasurer: Loss of 777X would hit state’s credit rating; other states ‘salivating’ for jet jobs

If Washington loses construction of the Boeing 777X jet, the state could also lose some of the shine on its credit rating, Treasurer Jim McIntire warned last week. Loss of the plane’s manufacture would be “a credit negative,” making borrowing for roads and bridges “a couple of hundred million dollars” more expensive, The Seattle Times reports (tiered paywall). Officials in a half-dozen states are “salivating” for the 777X after machinists rejected a contract that would have guaranteed construction in Washington. The state can expect Boeing plane construction to peak by 2021, analysts now predict.

Senate Democrats elect Sen. Sharon Nelson as new minority leader

Senate Democrats selected environmentalist Sen. Sharon Nelson of Maury Island as their new leader, replacing Sen. Ed Murray, who stepped down from his leadership post after being elected mayor of Seattle. Nelson, who helped lead the minority Democrats in budget negotiations this year, said she intends to stand up for “core Democratic values” such as maintaining food help for the poor, funding the state health care exchange, extending financial aid to undocumented immigrants and requiring health plans to cover abortion if they cover maternity care. Nelson defeated Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, to lead the 23-member Democratic caucus. The conservative-leaning Majority Coalition Caucus will have 26 members after Jan Angel beat Democratic Sen. Nathan Schlicher.

New faces coming to Capitol as names emerge to replace Angel, Murray, Harper

The Legislature will have new appointed members when the 2014 legislative session begins in January. Sen. Ed Murray, mayor-elect of Seattle, will likely be replaced by Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle. Crosscut has a rundown of front-runners to fill Pedersen’s seat. Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, was elected to the Senate. Republicans have until Wednesday to file for the seat; the Olympian (tiered paywall) and the Port Orchard Independent have lists of possible successors. The Herald lists possible replacement for Democratic Sen. Nick Harper, who resigned earlier this month.

Stabbert named 2013 S. Fred Bruhn winner

Fred Stabbert, who chaired AWB’s Board in 2001-02, was selected as the 2013 S. Fred Bruhn Award winner. He served on AWB’s Board from 1998-2004 and was the Policy Summit chair in 1998 while president of West Coast Paper Co., Seattle. Stabbert was chosen by the 21 past recipients. The award is named in honor of former SAFECO Vice President S. Fred Bruhn, who died unexpectedly after our Spokane Spring Meeting in 1989. Fred was a dedicated AWB Board and Executive Committee member who provided many years of service and leadership to AWB. “Fred is well-deserving,” said AWB President Don Brunell. “He has helped AWB in so many ways.” Stabbert will be presented the award in early 2014.

Tree arrives at Capitol, lighting ceremony set for Dec. 6

A 24-foot noble fir arrived at the state Capitol this morning in preparation for the lighting ceremony Friday, Dec. 6. The tree lighting, which marks the arrival of the holiday season in Olympia, is also the culmination of AWB’s 2013 Holiday Kids’ Tree Project, an annual fundraiser to benefit families in rural counties. The tradition, which began in 1989, includes fundraising and collection of gifts for families in seven counties across the state. To learn more about the 2013 AWB Holiday Kids' Tree Project, including how to donate, visit our web page or contact AWB’s Bonnie Millikan at 360.943.1600 or You can also follow the project on Twitter by searching the hashtag #awbkidstree. There’s still time to make a difference for families in need this holiday season.

AWB closed this Friday for holiday weekend

Just a quick reminder that AWB will be closed this Friday, Nov. 29, as part of the Thanksgiving holiday. We wish you safe travels and look forward to serving you on Monday, Dec. 2 when we re-open.

Locke to step down as U.S. ambassador to China, return to Seattle

Gary Locke will leave his post as U.S. ambassador to China early next year and will return to Seattle, The Seattle Times (tiered paywall) reports. He was, Reuters says, “something of a traveling salesman, plugging American businesses and exports” during his two years in the overseas post. Locke, who served two terms as Washington governor from 1997 to 2005, received AWB’s “Super Heavy Lifter Award” in 2003 for outstanding leadership and public service, based on his priorities of government and competitiveness work.

Health exchange board raises CEO’s salary 15 percent; nearly 100,000 enrolled so far

Richard Onizuka, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, received a 13 percent pay raise last week, taking his annual salary up from $157,000 to $177,400. The raise, which is retroactive to August, will give him parity with heads of other state health exchanges, board members said. The exchange is budgeted to spend $65 million next year, and must be self-sustaining by 2015, the Seattle Times reports (tiered paywall). Meanwhile, the exchange has enrolled 98,000 people for health coverage so far, with 12,000 buying their plans and 86,000 enrolling for Medicaid. Washington is a national leader in complying with the Affordable Care Act, the Puget Sound Business Journal reports, but noted that the state’s exchange website still has problems.

Brunell honored by community and technical college presidents

The presidents of the state’s community and technical colleges honored AWB President Don C. Brunell at a luncheon in Port Angeles on Nov. 14. Brunell and Earl Hale, former state board for community and technical college executive director, were cited for their cooperative work on workforce training and educational programs.

State loses 9,500 jobs in latest unemployment report

Washington lost 9,500 jobs over the last two months, according to the latest report by the Washington Employment Security Department. The official unemployment rate was listed at 7 percent, up slightly from 6.9 percent in September. The state lost 1,400 jobs in September and 8,100 in October. The biggest losses came in education and health services, construction, leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing. Gains came in trade, government, and other services. More than 241,000 people were unemployed and looking for work in Washington last month.

GMO-labeling advocates pledge to try again in 2016

Supporters of Initiative 522 say they plan to try again with a GMO labeling proposal in 2016, with hopes that wider turnout in a presidential election year will improve their chances. The measure, which would have required labeling on some genetically modified foods, failed 49 to 51 percent in an election that saw only 45 percent of registered voters submit ballots.

SGL to double production in Moses Lake with $100 million investment

SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers will invest $100 million to double the size of its Moses Lake carbon fiber plant to keep up with future demand for the building material used in BMW’s i3 all-electric car. The state Department of Commerce is doing what it can to streamline the permitting process by declaring the SGL expansion a “project of statewide significance,” only the second project (after a possible 777X Boeing production site in Snohomish County) to receive the designation.

Save the date: Legislative Summit set for Feb. 5-6 at Red Lion Hotel, Olympia

In response to member feedback, a new format for this year’s Legislative Summit will allow more time for participation in the Legislative Reception, issue panels and board meeting. The legislative reception the evening of Feb. 5 will allow attendees to get to know their legislators in an informal setting. The next morning the event kicks off with an AWB board meeting followed by legislative issue panels and policy analysis by AWB’s government affairs experts. The summit concludes the afternoon of Feb. 6 with the Better Workplace Awards. Gov. Jay Inslee has been invited to give the keynote luncheon address. Register online now and reserve a room at the Red Lion Hotel. For event sponsorship information, contact Anne Haller at or 800.521.9325.

Help AWB recognize the state’s best places to work

AWB is still accepting nominations for the 2014 Better Workplace Awards. This 18th annual competition is open to AWB members of any size. We want to recognize companies for innovation, uniqueness, creativity and quantifiable results in programs that result in higher employee morale and well-being, increased productivity and reduced turnover. The awards, sponsored by Davis Wright Tremaine, will be presented during our Legislative Day luncheon Feb. 6. Take a look at this year’s winners, then download the nomination form and help us pick the best workplaces of 2014!

‘Train the Trainer’ forklift safety workshop coming Jan. 8

Without realizing it, many companies fail to fully comply with the increasingly stringent safety laws for forklifts and other power industrial trucks. Proper forklift safety training will make your company a safer place to work — and keep you in compliance with the law. This seminar, from 8 a.m. to noon on Jan. 18 at the AWB office in Olympia, will teach current operators how to conduct safety training for their employees. Attendees will receive a certificate of completion, a CD with a PowerPoint presentation and a PDF manual they can reproduce to train their own employees on proper forklift safety. Register now or contact Karlee Keith by email or at 800.521.9325 with questions.

At the Speed of Now: Crisis Communications in a 24/7 World webinar Jan. 15, 10:30 a.m. - noon

When and how should you respond to a reporter’s questions? What should you do when a television crew shows up at your facility? Find out answers to these questions and more during a Jan. 15th webinar featuring strategic communication veterans Randy Pepple and Jennifer West. Members: $49, Non-members: $79. Register online or contact AWB’s Karlee Keith for more information.


“They have to fix it. They can’t just go around and say this is working great. In my opinion they ought to shut it down and just get all of it straightened out.” ~ Jessica Sanford, of Federal Way, who was one of 8,000 Washingtonians to receive incorrect health care subsidy information from Washington Healthplanfinder. Her early elation – including a shout out from President Obama, who said in a Rose Garden speech that Sanford’s story “is what the Affordable Care Act is all about” – turned to dismay when she learned there was no way she could afford insurance under the ACA after all. She will now have to pay a $95 penalty.

This Week's President's Perspective: Americans Need to Be Thankful for What We Have

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