Fast Facts

Monday, June 3

Entire transpo system deserves speedy response; keep state 'open for business'; AWB testifies against last-minute estate tax 'fix'

Temporary I-5 bridge coming soon, but what about a transportation revenue package?
A temporary Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River will be in place by mid-June with a permanent replacement to follow sometime in September. That’s according to Washington Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson, who gave an update Friday to nearly 100 AWB members during a conference call hosted by Mike Ennis, AWB’s government affairs director for transportation issues. Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, and Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, also joined the call and provided an update on legislators’ work on a transportation revenue package, the controversial Columbia River Crossing and a possible transportation reform bill. Overall, the call provided employers with some welcome news, Ennis said. Read more on Olympia Business Watch.

AWB joins wide coalition asking governor to ensure Washington is “open for business”
Most of Washington is in the shadow of economic expansion in and around King County, but there is a solution: expansion of permit streamlining to projects around the state. That’s what a diverse group of business, agriculture, labor and political leaders said in a letter sent last week to Gov. Jay Inslee. The Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports applauded Inslee’s promise to streamline regulations and expedite permits for Boeing’s 777x airplane manufacture. That helpful attitude should be expanded to projects such as three proposed bulk exporter facilities, two of which are facing onerous review by the Department of Ecology.

Sen. Mike Carrell dies after bout with blood condition
Republican Sen. Mike Carrell of Lakewood died Wednesday after a bout with a pre-cancer blood condition. AWB President Don Brunell echoed the many tributes from those who described Carrell as a gracious gentleman. Donations to help Carrell’s widow, Charlotte, pay for his medical care are being collected The Pierce County Council will choose a replacement from a slate of three finalists selected by county Republicans: Pierce County Councilman Dick Muri, freshman Rep. Steve O’Ban and University Place City Councilman Javier Figueroa, The News Tribune reports (tiered subscription). The earliest the replacement could be on board without a rule change is June 11, the last day of the special session. But council members, who are under pressure to make a faster appointment, approved an item today that could allow them to appoint a new senator tomorrow.

Budget deadline comes and goes as special session stalemate continues
The June 1 legal deadline for approving a new state budget has come and gone as legislators continue to make little visible progress in negotiations. With the start of a new budget year now looming July 1, The News Tribune reports (tiered subscriptions) that Gov. Jay Inslee’s staff members are beginning to look at options for running agencies. Meanwhile, Steve Mullin, president of the Washington Roundtable, says there is still time for legislators to improve Washington’s business environment. They should focus, he wrote on the website Crosscut, on improving education and transportation.

AWB testifies against last-minute attempt to override Supreme Court’s estate tax
The state House narrowly passed an estate tax bill Thursday in an attempt to prevent the state Department of Revenue from refunding millions of dollars due to survivors. The state Supreme Court’s Bracken decision last year found that the estate tax did not apply to married couples who used a certain estate tax planning tool before 2005. The Republican alternative in the Senate would agree to nullify the refunds in exchange for lowering the estate tax rate by 25 percent and raising the limit (from the current $2 million to $5 million) on estates that are taxed. The standoff is the first big drama of the special session, Washington Wire reports. After delaying the refunds in hopes of a legislative fix, the Revenue Department said last week it could no longer wait (Seattle Times/tiered subscription) and would begin sending out checks within days if there was no legislative action. Amber Carter, AWB’s government affairs director for tax and fiscal policy, testified (TVW video) against House Bill 2064, saying the push for a “do-over” by retroactively applying a tax is both unfair and unwise.

McKenna unveils blog devoted to improving government efficiency
Former Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, who took 48.5 percent of the vote in last year’s gubernatorial election, unveiled this morning. McKenna lists the state DOT’s response to the Skagit River bridge collapse as an impressive example of great work in tough circumstances thanks to government streamlining its regulatory processes. “Perhaps we shouldn’t need a crisis to try and make it easier to rebuild and improve our infrastructure in Washington State,” McKenna added. The Everett Herald calls McKenna “the state's best known Republican and [a] potential gubernatorial candidate in 2016,” although The Seattle Times notes that McKenna has repeatedly said he is unlikely to run for governor the next time around.

Economic growth expected to weaken later this year
Growth is expected to weaken during the second half of this year and into early 2014, the Washington Economic Forecast Council predicted in its preliminary June forecast issued last week. Worsening financial headwinds from the federal sequester and a decline in aerospace jobs will be partially offset by increased construction activity, according to the Business Examiner. Overall, employment growth is forecast at an annual average of 1.8 percent through 2017. Personal income growth is projected at 4.7 percent per year.

Lautenberg, last WWII veteran in U.S. Senate, dies at age 89
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., the oldest member of the United States Senate and the chamber’s last World War II veteran, died this morning at age 89. Lautenberg was best known for promoting federal restrictions on tobacco use, including the 1987 law that banned smoking on airplanes, and for advocating gun control legislation. Lautenberg, the son of Polish and Russian immigrants, co-founded the payroll processing company Automatic Data Processing before winning election to the Senate in 1982.

Both low- and high-end health insurance plans in trouble as ACA kicks in
More than 400,000 people in Washington who buy health care insurance on the private market could receive cancellation notices because their coverage doesn’t meet the minimum standards of the Affordable Care Act, the AP reports. Backers of the overhaul say most people will actually be able to enroll in better coverage for a similar cost. That doesn’t fly with one industry consultant, who compares the change to showing up at an airline ticket counter and being told not to complain about a forced $300 upgrade, since you’ll now be flying first class. Meanwhile, workers with high-cost health plans also could be losing them thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s “Cadillac tax.” The New York Times reports that eventually as many as 75 percent of plans could be affected by this provision in the law designed to make workers feel the true cost of medical care and prompt employers to better control it.

Artfully negotiated immigration reform deserves passage
America needs immigration reform, particularly the “artfully negotiated” bipartisan measure crafted in the U.S. Senate, The News Tribune writes (tiered subscription). Although Republicans in the House are skeptical, the newspaper argues that there is common ground around the need for workers to harvest crops, slaughter livestock and generally keep American agriculture in business. Washington is particularly dependent on immigrant labor on farms, but at least two-thirds of the people who pick this state’s apples, cherries, pears and grapes could theoretically be deported, the newspaper writes. AWB is part of a broad coalition, the Washington Compact, supporting thoughtful and comprehensive immigration reform.

Skagit County is open for business and ‘worth the trip’
Business owners in Skagit County want remind visitors that their shops not only remain open following the collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River, they are “worth the trip.” From picturesque waterfronts, abundant farmers markets and historic downtowns, the county’s visitor attractions are open for business and worth a visit. There are four bridges across the Skagit River and many alternative routes to move throughout the county. Go online to to plan your trip.

Palin delivers some blunt advice to tiny graduating class in Republic
Sarah Palin spoke (video) Saturday to the 26-member graduating class in the town of Republic, 90 miles northwest of Spokane. The former governor of Alaska gave each graduating senior a small gift of a $1 bill taped under their seats, offering “two life lessons,” Palin said. “The first one is: you’ve got to get off your butt to make a buck and that students would never have found that gift had they not taken the time to look for it.” The 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate also praised the virtues of small town America with a story about how a mechanic in Republic gave crucial help to her own family during their move to Alaska 49 years ago, when Palin was 3 months old. “You got us on our path towards destiny,” she said to the crowd of 700 in a town of 1,100.

Newspaper profiles U.S. Chamber president Donohue
Tom Donohue, the “pugnacious” president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, was profiled Saturday in The New York Times. The article (tiered subscription) credits Donohue with turning around the chamber during his 16-year tenure, transforming it from a struggling organization into a “free-enterprise research outfit, Supreme Court advocacy group and lobbying powerhouse.”

Budget includes battle over cutting Department of Ecology’s Bellingham office
The Department of Ecology’s office in Bellingham could be closed under provisions in the Senate’s proposed budget, Crosscut reports. Ecology workers would travel from Bellevue when needed in Bellingham in this move that Sen. Doug Erickson, a Republican who represents Bellingham, calls a move toward greater efficiency and legislative oversight.

Push is on for paid sick leave in Tacoma
Like a bad case of the flu, the idea of mandatory paid sick leave is spreading. A group of labor unions and other organizations in Tacoma is pushing for an ordinance requiring businesses there to offer paid time off for illness. AWB has worked to quarantine such measures to Seattle, noting the heavy impact that the requirement would have on businesses during this shaky economic recovery. A move to require paid sick leave throughout the state failed in the Legislature earlier this year.

AWB Institute studying effectiveness of training employees by distance learning
The AWB Institute is working with the state’s Workforce Training & Education Coordinating Board and the community college system to determine the effectiveness of training employees in the workplace using distance learning techniques and technology. If you have had experience training employees by distance learning or would like to learn more about it, please contact the Institute’s Mike Hudson at or by phone at 360.943.1600.

Sonntag inducted into State Open Government Hall of Fame
Former Washington state Auditor Brian Sonntag has become the 13th person inducted into “Heroes of the 50 States: The State Open Government Hall of Fame.” He received the honor on May 18 in New Orleans. Sonntag, who retired this year after five terms as auditor, is “a public official who gave two decades to making government more open to the citizens of his state,” said Peter Bhatia, editor of The Oregonian and a member of the selection committee. The honor came just two weeks after Sonntag received AWB’s C. David Gordon Award for service to the citizens of Washington.

Accident Prevention Plan webinar set for June 20
An accident prevention plan is a key element in any organization’s safety and health program. In fact, failure to have one can be one of the fastest ways to receive a citation, whether from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration or state jurisdictions. This one-hour webinar is designed for anyone who is responsible for safety and health within a workplace, including risk assessment managers, safety and health directors, personnel or committee members, and human resources department personnel. Topics will include: Developing an accident prevention plan; job hazard analysis; training on the plan; accident investigations; and ongoing review of the plan. Presenters are Bob Battles, and Chrystina Solum, from the law firm Eisenhower Carlson. Join us Thursday, June 20 from 9-10 a.m. Register online. Members: $35. For more information, contact AWB’s Karlee Glasgow.

AWB’s Human Resources Forum will address the impending “talent war” July 16
As the unemployment rate drops, many of your employees will be looking to make a move. A recent survey by FPC, a national executive search firm, found that 88 percent of employees across all industries and all job levels are planning to look for a new job as the market improves. What can you do to retain your current stars as well as attract the best and brightest to your business? Join AWB and special guests for a high-energy discussion on creating a better workplace through innovative initiatives, creative benefits and cultural shifts. Learn from award winning companies as they share their success stories (and challenges) in transforming their workplace environment. HR continuing education credits have been applied for.

Presenters include:
· Top Threats Facing Employers Today, Reid Bates, franchise owner, Express Employment Professionals
· Your People Are Your Brand, Where Science and Comedy Meet to Increase Employee Engagement and Performance: Ken Grant, president, Motivated Branding and Dr. Patrick Hopp, senior consultant, Leadership Development Worldwide
· Ingredients For an Innovative Workplace: Panel of past AWB Better Workplace Awards for Innovation moderated by Ken Grant
· Implementing Innovative Initiatives Successfully, Real World Experience in Making Significant Cultural Changes: Delta Emerson, executive vice president and chief of staff, Ryan, LLC.

The forum is from 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. July 16 at the Seattle Airport Marriott. There is a limited group room block at the Seattle Airport Marriott so make your reservation early; call 800.228.9290. Questions contact Karlee Glasgow, 800.521.9325, or register here.

Space available at Export-Import Bank’s seminar on trade finance solutions
The Export-Import Bank of the United States, an official credit agency of the United State government, is offering two days of seminars in early June for exporters and lenders. “Trade Finance Solutions for Exporters and Importers” will be held on June 6 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for $199 per person. “Working Capital Delegated Authority Qualifying Training for Lenders” will be held June 7 from 8:30 to 1 p.m. and costs $125. Both classes will be held at the Westin Building in downtown Seattle. Click here to register. The Ex-Im Bank, according to Seattle regional office director John Brislin, assumes country or credit risks that commercial lenders are unable or unwilling to accept, helping lenders to profit, U.S. exporters to capitalize on business opportunities, and international buyers to purchase high-quality “Made in the U.S.A.” products and services.

‘Morning Joe’ duo and Time magazine’s economy editor to headline Fall Policy Summit
The line-up for AWB’s 24th annual Policy Summit in September will feature a powerful lineup of speakers addressing national politics and economic issues. MSNBC’s morning show team of Joe Scarborough andMika Brzezinski will speak at the keynote dinner. We will also hear from:

· Rana Foroohar, Time Magazine columnist and economy editor
· A CEO panel featuring Scott Morris (Avista) and Colin Moseley (Green Diamond Resource Company).
· A health care panel featuring Don Conant, an active AWB member and a member of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board; Gubby Barlow, president of Premera Blue Cross, and Hadley Heath, a senior policy analyst at the Independent Women's Forum and an expert on the Affordable Care Act

The Policy Summit will be held Sept. 17-19 at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum. Sponsorships for the new Policy Summit App are now available. Details here or contact Anne Haller, AWB’s director of member relations and events, at 360.943.1600 or Registration opens June 10. Go here for Suncadia room reservations.

Annual golf tournament set for Rope Rider Golf Course Sept. 17
AWB Institute is excited to be hosting the annual fundraising tournament for Washington Business Week — an educational program that offers students a chance to experience simulated career challenges in a general business setting or in the career-focused pathways of health care, energy, manufacturing and agriculture. The tee time at Rope Rider Golf Course is 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17, during AWB’s Policy Summit. Golfers will enjoy playing on this spectacular course designed by Jacobsen Hardy Design, one of the nation's most respected course architecture firms. Registration is $140 and opens online June 10. Golf sponsorships are available here.

AWB offers simple 401(k) plan for members
Members can take advantage of an exciting retirement program – MyFuture 401(k) – an easier, more cost-effective plan for your company. Each adopting employer retains control of the vesting, eligibility requirements, matching contributions, profit sharing, and general plan design while decreasing the administrative burden and fiduciary liability. On-site education and enrollment services are provided to your employees by Integrity Financial, a local investment advisor, along with institutional grade investment options and professionally managed risk-based portfolios. For more information, please contact AWB at 1.800.521.9325 or visit

“This little town is heaven to us, so don’t drive like hell through it.” ~ Washington Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson, joking in a conference call with AWB members, about possible signs along I-5 detour routes in Mount Vernon. Despite perceptions that shopping near the fallen bridge is impossible, businesses are still open in town. Traffic delays are only 6 to 10 minutes during most time periods outside rush hour.

This Week's President's Perspective: Higher Taxes and Costs Will Send Jobs Out of State

Back To News