January 11, 2016
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Legislative session kicks off today

Washington’s two-year budget cycle will receive its off-year fiscal tune-up during the 60-day legislative session which began today in Olympia. Their top priority is getting bipartisan agreement on a school funding plan to meet the state Supreme Court’s McCleary funding decision, and meet the 2018 deadline.

A bipartisan, bicameral legislative working group on Friday released its plan to reform K-12 funding, as laid out in House Bill 2366 and Senate Bill 6195. The governor’s office has more on the bipartisan framework on education funding. The goal is to fully fund basic education and end the longstanding, but unconstitutional and inequitable, practice of paying for basic ed through local school levies. Full legislative agreement on bipartisan plan for such a big task might need to wait until the longer 2017 legislative session, the Northwest News Network reports.

Local districts are beginning to worry about an upcoming “levy cliff,” the end of a temporary increase level for local school levy funding. Without a legislative fix, at least half of the state’s 295 districts will lose hundreds of millions of dollars in taxing authority. For more on the politics of fixing the state’s illegal reliance on local education levies, check out this story from last summer’s edition of Washington Business magazine.

AWB’s government affairs team was on the hill today, but their work has been ongoing since the last session ended in July. Worked kicked into high gear last week, with many AWB committees hosting lawmakers to discuss issues ranging from the minimum wage and mandatory sick/safe leave to carbon emissions and education.

For more on AWB’s work to bring a solution-oriented perspective to the Capitol – and how you can be part of it – contact AWB’s vice president for government affairs, Gary Chandler. Also consider joining the 300-plus people who have already registered to attend the 2016 AWB Legislative Day and Hill Climb on Jan. 19.

And for more on how to connect with the Legislature, check out this Spokesman-Review column on how to keep tabs on the Legislature from across the state. Also consider attending the first AWB “Webinar Wednesday” this week – “Becoming an Insider: Navigating the Legislature Online and in Person.”

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Costly Carbon Cap Sends Money Elsewhere

Ecology's Carbon Rule: A Money Transfer from Washington to California and Wall Street

By the Washington Climate Collaborative

Washington is one of the lowest-carbon states in the nation when it comes to emissions from road vehicles, electricity generation, manufacturing, or commercial and residential buildings. A combination of forward-thinking policies and innovation has reduced our carbon emissions below what they were in 1990 and created a clear and downward trend into the future. We fully expect the state to meet its emissions goals for 2020, which is to have Greenhouse Gas emissions reduced to 1990 levels. All of us -- families, farmers, workers and employers -- are invested in protecting our environment, and it shows in the many ways this success has been achieved.

The reality of this makes Gov. Jay Inslee's proposed carbon cap all the more puzzling. A year ago, he submitted a cap and trade proposal to the Washington State Legislature that would have created a $1.3 billion energy tax on Washington consumers. His most ardent supporters in the Capitol saw the problems with implementing this policy, and his proposal failed to even get a vote.

Click here to read the full blog post from the Washington Climate Collaborative
The TPP is Good for Washington

Ratify Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact

By The Herald Editorial Board

More than 40 percent of all jobs in the state are tied to trade, reports the Washington Council on International Trade. The state Department of Commerce reports that state exports topped $90.5 billion in 2014, a 10 percent increase over 2013. On a per capita basis, the state agency says, Washington state is the nation's largest exporter.

Washington state and many of its businesses and workers now also stand to benefit following the completion this fall of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement among the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim countries, the largest trading partners being Japan, Australia, Canada and Mexico. President Barack Obama is expected to put the pact before Congress later this year for either its approval or its rejection.

Click here to read the full editorial in The Herald
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