November 6, 2017
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed
Federal Issues

U.S. House passes Resilient Federal Forests Act, 'but support is minimal'

The U.S. House approved the Resilient Federal Forests Act last week by a 232-188 vote, but there is an internal battle raging within Congress over wildfire management reform, The Columbian reports.

The bill expands access to logging and annually exempts 30,000 acres of forest land activity from environmental review. It moves Endangered Species Act lawsuits to an arbitrator instead of a judge, and lets the U.S. Forest Service use disaster funding to fight fires if it runs out of dedicated firefighting money.

While there is agreement that wildfire management needs reform and that funding is inadequate, there is disagreement over the way to address the issues. The White House opposes the bill as is, saying it could divert disaster relief from hurricanes to wildfires.

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-WA, voted in favor of the bill last week, as she did when an earlier version was introduced in 2015.

“With the recent wildfires that drove people from their homes and scorched the habitat of countless endangered species, we are unfortunately reaping what was sown through 20-plus years of failed forest management,” Herrera Beutler said. "The bipartisan bill we passed today begins to reform this complete mismanagement of our forests in a manner that focuses on healthier ecosystems while preserving environmental safeguards.”

Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA, said Congress needs to address wildfire management, but she opposes this bill and instead supports a bill introduced by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-WA, in October, the Wildland Fires Act, along with the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act.

“The House bill would lead to clearcutting our forests and lead to post-fire work that would cause flooding,” Cantwell said. “Further, much of this bill focuses on the salvage logging to happen after a wildfire. A smarter approach is to be proactive — to restore our most at-risk forests with better management ahead of wildfires.”

Contact Amy Anderson, AWB government affairs director for federal issues, to learn more.

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Manufacturing Week Tour

Manufacturing is huge in Washington. Let's celebrate -- and invest in it

By Kate Lampson and Kris Johnson

Manufacturing has a long history in Washington and it has a great story to tell: In Benton County, careers in manufacturing pay an average annual wage of $55,701, $50,575 in Walla Walla County and almost $41,000 in Franklin County. Not bad for jobs that often require no more than a trade certificate or a two-year degree. It also has a multiplier of three -- for every one job created in manufacturing, another three jobs are created elsewhere.

That's a good return on investment, but the sector faces some headwinds.

As manufacturing comes on a national resurgence, Washington's sector has lost about 48,000 jobs since 2000 -- the vast majority of which are non-aerospace jobs.

Clearly, more can be done to support good-paying manufacturing jobs here and across the state.

Read the full column in The Tri-City Herald
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